Cottage School Leadership

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.

Dr. Steven Palmer

Dr. Steven Palmer

Head of School

Steve Palmer’s professional experience includes serving at every level – teacher, principal, Executive Director and Superintendent. 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.

“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 Finnell, M.Ed.

High School Principal

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.

Lauren Pinto, MAT

Lauren Pinto, MAT

Middle School Principal

Lauren is a Georgian transplant from Connecticut who has spent most of her school-age years in the the Johns Creek and Alpharetta areas. She attended Georgia Southern University for her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis on History Ed. In 2017, Lauren earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Queen’s University of Charlotte. Her teaching career began with The Cottage School in 2009 as an on-level and access English teacher before transferring over to the Social Studies department the following year. While teaching, Lauren sponsored the Middle School’s drama class, yearbook, and Student Council. Additionally, she has coached soccer, basketball and track teams for the Cougars and is proud to have a championship banner year displayed in the Cougar Center. In 2015, Lauren transitioned into an administrator role as the Assistant Principal of the Middle School before becoming Principal in 2023.

When Lauren is not at TCS, you can find her spending time with her two young children and husband. While free time is a rarity, it’s often enjoyed with a book in hand, playing board/card games, or cheering on Atlanta United.

Lynn Bosworth, M.Ed.

Lynn Bosworth, M.Ed.

Elementary School Principal

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, M.Ed.

Athletic Director

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.

Kelley LeRoy, CPA

Kelley LeRoy, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Kelley LeRoy joined The Cottage School in 2022 as the Chief Financial Officer, two months after her son started 6th grade at TCS! Kelley was born and raised in Boston, MA, settling in the Atlanta area in 2009 with her husband, Jeff.  She holds a BS in Business Administration with concentration in Accounting from the University of South Florida and is a Certified Public Accountant. She joins us with over 25 years of diverse accounting, finance, and leadership experience.

Kelley’s career started as an Accounts Payable Specialist, and it was there that she found her passion for accounting. She started working for a CPA firm and attended college classes in the evenings. Her time at the CPA firm proved to be most rewarding as she gained extensive knowledge in areas of accounting, payroll, and tax compliance. She has worked for a wide range of companies from small Mom and Pop to large publicly held such as GE and Synchrony.  Her most recent experience was with Primrose School Franchising Company where she managed the monthly financial close and reporting, treasury management, payroll, annual audit and tax compliance in addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations.

Kelley is passionate about helping children and was actively participating, utilizing her accounting knowledge, in the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation Inc. which supports the West Lakes Early Learning Center in Orlando.  The Early Learning Center is a scholarship-based education and childcare facility for underserved children.  Her passion now resides in partnering with Dr. Palmer, the TCS Board, principals, educators, staff, parents, students, and the entire community to continue the wonderful success at The Cottage School.

In her spare time, Kelley enjoys being with her husband, son, mom, dad, and Australian Labradoodle, Ziggy!  She loves her Boston sports teams, Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. She enjoys tennis and golf and admittedly is better at watching than playing! She looks forward to their annual family beach trip to Hilton Head Island every May.

Brenda Fetherston Hall

Brenda Fetherston Hall

Director of Admissions and Enrollment

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!)

Tangela McFarlane

Tangela McFarlane

Director of Advancement

Tangela joined The Cottage School in 2014 as Director of Special Events, and in 2021 as Director of Philanthropy, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. In her current role as Director of Advancement, her mission is two-fold. To lead the Advancement team with a focus on stewardship and donor strategy, through the planning, management, and implementation of all fundraising, marketing, communications, alumni engagement, and community building initiatives; To foster and support inclusion in all areas of The Cottage School.

“Advancing philanthropy through the giving and receiving of gifts is where my passion and creativity connect. I am thankful to be a part of a community that aligns with my innate abilities to lead, personal desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and the opportunity to exercise acquired business attributes.”

Tangela grew up in Mobile, AL, with additional career moves to Florida, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. With a background in accounting and auditing from Florida A&M University and a BA degree, she brings a wealth of real-world knowledge of budgeting, time management and the organization needed to manage and execute events on all levels. Her involvement with non-profits and fundraising spans more than twenty-five years and includes partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Morehouse College Renaissance Room-Clothes Closet, The King Center, BET/Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, and the Galloway School, to name a few. Besides being actively involved and passionate about meeting the needs of The Cottage School, Tangela enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and is an avid lover of the Arts.

You can reach Tangela at

TCS Board of Directors

The Cottage School Board of Directors in attendance during April 2022 ribbon cutting for Founders Hall.

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.

The 2022 – 2023 Cottage School Board of Directors

  • Gordon Owens, Board President
  • Kurt Hilbert, Vice-President
  • Blake Harbin, Treasurer
  • Becky Thelen, Secretary
  • Wally Mrozik, Past President
  • Bob Hagan, Advisor
  • Rich Alterman
  • Tod Baker
  • John Barber
  • Leslie Bassett

  • Denise Betts
  • Kirk Brown
  • Sandy Buhler
  • Doug Curling
  • Amy Gates-Stroud
  • Jerry Humphries
  • Jeff Kincaid
  • Jean Mense
  • Ronnie Merlin
  • Tillie O’Neal