We Have a Great Team of Teachers & Staff
Leadership of the school and the student body is only as good as the staff that makes up The Cottage School family. We are proud of our family and the great work they do to drive our students to achieve their fullest potential. Below you will find bios of our leadership team. To see the staff broken out by school, visit the Academics page.
Dr. Steven Palmer
Steve Palmer’s professional experience includes serving at every level – teacher, principal, Executive Director and Superintendent. Prior to joining The Cottage School in 2015, Steve was Superintendent in Michigan. Steve led major efforts resulting in increased student achievement and significant improvements in teaching, learning and school status. His central work focused on enhancing the educational culture with “Best Practices” and ensuring that all high school graduates were prepared for college and careers. Under his leadership, his high school received national recognition from U.S. News and World Report as One of America’s Best High Schools.
Steve previously served as CEO and founder of a state-of-art aviation high school for the Dick DeVos Foundation. He has also served as Principal of three special education K-8 schools with 600 students with learning differences. In addition, Steve has been a national presenter on various special education topics and educational “Best Practices”. A member of numerous national, state, and local boards, Steve has participated with national agencies and associations to reform special education.
Steve’s academic background includes a Doctorate in Education, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, a Master of Science in Counseling, a Bachelor of Science in Education and minor in Business, and Certifications from various states in Special Education and Educational Leadership.
Some of his accolades include: Dr. Landis Special Education Administrator of the Year, S.T.A.R. Administrator of the Year, Tandy Scholars Outstanding Teacher, Teacher of the Year, South Lake High School, 1 of 3 finalists for the Lake County Teacher of the Year, Educator of the Year Finalist Branch County Michigan, Disney’s Teacherrific Finalist, South Lake High School Teacher of the Year, Radio Shack Outstanding Teacher, Clermont Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year, Leadership North Fulton and Greater North Fulton Chamber Non-Profit Leader of the Year.
“For myself, education provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as the Head of School is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.”
Laura Finnell, M.Ed.
Laura began her career with The Cottage School as an English teacher in 1991. She has lived in Roswell and Alpharetta most of her life, graduated from Milton High School and completed her bachelor’s degree in English, Speech and Drama from the University of Georgia. She earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University in 2000. During that time, she was initiated in Pi Lambda Theta, an honor society for graduate candidates, and was invited to present at the national convention in Boston. In the Atlanta community, she completed six years of service with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Associates young professionals organization, Bravo!, served for two years as Co-President of their board. She participates with educational organizations including: Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools, International Dyslexia Association; Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia; Georgia Independent School Association and presents at the annual conference; National Association of Secondary School Principals; and the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce graduating from the NFCC Leadership program in 1999.
When not at TCS, you may find Laura hanging out with her daugther, playing outside, doing yardwork, trying to catch a few minutes of a Georgia Bulldog football game, or volunteering with Happy Tails Pet Therapy group.
Julie Crudgington, M.Ed., MS
Julie holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Georgia, has an extensive background in Special Education, and is certified in all areas of middle school education. She spent ten years as a special education teacher and department head in the public school system before her tenure began at The Cottage School. She served as learning specialist, high school career counselor, middle school assistant principal and is the current middle school principal.
Julie has always been involved in mentoring new TCS teachers and assisting them in adapting to the students’ many learning styles. She is active in facilitating the faculty’s professional development programs and assists teachers with certification processes.
Besides being actively involved in her middle school students’ educational and life skills development, Julie is and always has been a dog lover. You will often see her in carpool spoiling the dog visitors. If you cannot locate Julie, look for the person wearing red, white and blue.
Lynn Bosworth, M.Ed.
Lynn was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in North Carolina. Moving further north, she attended The University of Delaware and graduated with a degree in Community and Family Services. She also holds a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership. She entered into the teaching profession as a member of the 2009 class of the Teach for America program and served in the Ben Hill community of Atlanta where she was an inclusion Special Education teacher.
She joined The Cottage School, where as the Reading Specialist, she developed and implemented an eclectic reading program that addressed each student’s strengths and challenges in the classroom. In 2017, she was awarded as the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Middle School Teacher of the Year. As principal of the Elementary program, she brings a depth and breadth of experience to the role, and she anticipates that the growth of the program will offer all Elementary students, teachers, and staff outstanding opportunities to reach their greatest potentials.
Richie Briggs, M.Ed.
Richie Briggs is in his seventeenth season as head coach for The Cottage School Cougars varsity boys’ basketball program. He also serves as the schools’ Athletic Director, PE/Health Instructor, and is Co-Commissioner of the Atlanta Athletic Conference and Secretary for GISA Region 5AA.
Coach Briggs has taken the Cougar basketball program to unprecedented heights. In his sixteen years at the helm, he has led The Cottage School to their first ever Atlanta Athletic Conference championship in 2009, then added six more rings in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2020, and 2021.
Briggs joined The Cottage School after serving two seasons as assistant varsity girls basketball coach and PE teacher at Franklin County High School in Carnesville, Georgia, where he helped lead the Lady Lions to a region championship in 2004 and back-to-back state playoff appearances in 2004-2005. His second year as coach, earned him assistant coach of the year honors.
Prior to coaching on the high school level, Briggs served four years coaching women’s college basketball for Emmanuel College and the University of West Georgia and before that as a student athlete at Emmanuel College. Briggs played a large part in the success of each of those programs as a coach and athlete. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management in 1999 from Emmanuel and a master’s degree in Physical Education in 2005 from West Georgia.
“I am honored and thankful to teach and coach here at The Cottage School. My vision is to continue to run a respectful physical education and health department and to help guide the athletic program to teach adolescents to succeed both in and out of the classroom. With the students’ dedication, both in skill and in self-confidence, we have been able to accomplish historic success on and off the courts and fields. I am blessed to be a part of this amazing environment and plan to continue guiding our youth to be strong, confident, open-minded, and honest hard-working citizens.”
Richie Briggs is married to his lovely wife Nadine and they have two children.
Mary Clark joined The Cottage School in 2022 and serves as the Chief Financial Officer. In her role, Mary works collaboratively with the school’s leadership and oversees a broad range of functions including accounting, financial reporting, human resources, payroll, treasury management, and the day-to-day business operations of the school.
Mary possesses extensive leadership, financial management, and administrative experience. She has a passion for non-profit work and strives to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Prior to her current role at TCS, Mary served for eleven years as both the Director of Accounting and Director of Project Management for The Guardian Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) that provides administrative/professional support services to multiple affiliated long-term healthcare organizations. Ms. Clark successfully managed and streamlined the affiliate’s accounting and business processes and was a key contributor across various financial sectors. Her past leadership roles also include Assistant Chief Financial Officer (behavioral health/addiction hospital), Senior Reimbursement Manager (acute care hospital), and Financial Manager (home health and hospice services).
Mary is a versatile project manager who often “wears many hats”. She is credited with developing business strategies, policies, and procedures; conducting large-scale staff training and development; administering a Wellness Program for 700 participants; executing successful grant writing/fundraising programs; and developing multiple high-level projects and analyses for executives, board members, and business partners.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management. She maintains active memberships in the Society for Human Resource Management and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Atlanta Chapter.
When not at The Cottage School, Mary enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing the piano, bowling, music, and travel.
Brenda Fetherston Hall
Brenda was born and raised in Connecticut, settling in the Atlanta area 19 years ago. After 12 years of private school education she graduated from Western New England University in Massachusetts with a BSBA in Marketing/Finance.
Brenda’s entire career has been in Marketing – focused in the insurance arena. She has held many positions including Vice President of Marketing, New Business Leader, Marketing Manager and Director of Producer Management.
While in her VP role, Brenda was responsible for the US Program Division where one of the largest programs was for both Private Schools and Public School districts. During her tenure she was able to double the size of the program through her marketing efforts. She was actively involved with the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) – a large non-profit association focused on the well-being of children with a particular emphasis on quality of education and development services available to them.
In local educational activity, Brenda held multiple roles for 6 years on the PTA Board at her children’s elementary school, was in an appointed position on a Fulton County LSAC (Local School Advisory Council) and served 3 years as Co-President of the Parent Advisory Committee at The Cottage School. She was also named Emory University/Genetics Division liaison for children with genetic disorders in the State of Georgia.
Brenda’s knowledge of, and passion for, The Cottage School is unrivaled. She has seen first-hand the direct impact TCS can have on a student as she continues to watch her son thrive exponentially in his 6th year at the school!
In her spare time, Brenda loves family time with her 21 year old twins and their dog, Fenway! Her passions (other than the THREE “kids”!) are travel, photography and sports (high school, college AND pro!)
Kim Weber joined The Cottage School in 2018 as the Director of Advancement after serving as the Special Events Coordinator for the City of Roswell. In that capacity she worked closely with local nonprofit organizations and became intimately acquainted with the vital need for fundraising and connections for these organizations. Through her time with the City Kim developed lasting connections with local political leaders, service providers, businesses and community leadership that enable her to match the needs of nonprofits with their best resource providers. Her service to the community as a Relay For Life event chairman applied many of these resource opportunities and solidified her love of community service. Additionally, she served on the Board of Directors for Keep Roswell Beautiful for 20 years in various roles including Chairman. She is currently a Diplomat for the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and sits on several committees that support their efforts.
In 2021 the Advancement Department expanded its resources by adding additional leadership which allows Kim to focus on the role of Director of Special Events and Alumni Affairs.
Kim is a long time resident of Roswell with her son graduating from Roswell High in 2012. She has a deep network, high energy with a passion to help others and build community. When she’s not on campus she enjoys spending time with family and friends and whenever possible she is in her pottery studio sharing with others the joy of working with clay.
Tangela believes that you never get a second chance to make a first impression and bases her personal and business ethic on that primary belief. As Director of Philanthropy, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, her mission is two-fold. To create strategies to enhance fundraising goals through Key Annual Fund, GOAL, Glitter Gala, Grants and Foundations, and to foster relationships to support the inclusion of all areas of The Cottage School.
Tangela was born in Florida and grew up in Mobile, AL, with additional career moves to Boston, Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Her greatest accomplishments are being the mother of three adult sons, whom she adores, and a proud supporter of multiple non-profit initiatives.
As the owner of Events Exemplifying Excellence, Inc., she has had the privilege to be of service to nonprofits, corporations, and clients celebrating milestone events, both domestically and internationally. Understanding the need and creatively executing a vision, is her passion and she put that passion to work at The Cottage School from 2014-2019 as the Director of Special Events.
With a background in accounting from Florida A&M University and past careers in auditing, Tangela brings a wealth of real-world knowledge of budgeting, time management and the logistics needed to execute events on all levels. Her involvement with non-profits and fundraising has spanned more than twenty years and includes Chair – Habitat for Humanity Community Family Home Project, Chair – Morehouse College Renaissance Room-Clothes Closet, Executive Planner – The King Center’s-Coretta Scott King Desert Rose Book Launch, Planner – BET/Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, Planner – The Galloway School, and Planner – Every Woman Works, Inc., just to name a few.
TCS Board of Directors
Since its inception in 1985, The Cottage School has been guided by the advice, experience and heartfelt commitment of its board members. Their leadership has helped the school navigate through times of challenge and times of celebration, never wavering in their goal to uphold the mission of the school and provide the highest quality education for the families who seek our services. We are thankful to have an amazing board that is generous with their time, talents and resources.