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About LR Tippens Education Center



  • Our Mission:
    • The mission of L. R. Tippens Education Center is to ensure all students have individualized opportunities to learn the skills necessary to be positive, successful, and contributing members of society. The Tippens program takes a “whole child” approach which provides academic, therapeutic, and behavioral supports in an environment that is safe and productive for staff and students. A program incorporating the philosophy and components of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and a variety of research-based therapeutic supports has been designed to help students develop strategies for communication, self-control, and social-emotional learning. Our goal is to develop in our students the skills they need to safely transition to their home school to receive the most typical and positive educational experience possible.
  • Our Philosophy:
    • Tippens Educational Center consists of a multidisciplinary team of professionals that are committed to providing students with learning experiences that will equip them with the tools they need to reach their highest potential. It is our mission to provide a welcoming, supportive, safe environment where students feel a sense of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. We are committed to helping each student develop their potential academically, emotionally, and behaviorally, using current best practice and research-based interventions.
  • Program History and General Information
    • Arrival begins at 7:45 AM and dismissal begins at 2:10 PM, Monday through Friday, following the Cherokee County School District calendar.
    • Tippens serves students from Kindergarten through 12th grade in Cherokee County. Students must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and the IEP committee must determine that placement at Tippens is the most appropriate placement available. Tippens serves students with autism, emotional behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, and/or students experiencing mental health crises.
    • We are located at 2450 Holly Springs Pkwy, Canton, GA 30115. Our phone number is (770)721-6450.
    • Our program is located on the site of the former Holly Springs Elementary School, built in 1956. The LR Tippens program was established in 2010, and the building was renovated in 2015 for our use. Our program is named after Cherokee County native, lifelong educator, and principal of Holly Springs Elementary, LR Tippens.
  • Our Team
    • Principal Kimberly Barger, Ed. S.
      • Kimberly McCurry Barger is Principal of the L. R. Tippens Education Center in Holly Springs, GA.  A lifelong Cherokee County native, she entered education more than 22 years ago, beginning her career as a Paraprofessional at Cherokee High School in 1999.  While earning her credentials, she had the opportunity to fulfill part of her student teaching requirements on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, NC.  She then served as a Special Education Teacher for 7 years at Liberty Elementary School, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2008.  For the next 9 years, Mrs. Barger was a Special Education Facilitator, routinely assigned to 2 or sometimes 3 schools at a time.  In this capacity, she ultimately worked at 8 different schools throughout the district.  In 2018, she was named as a Teacher on Special Assignment filling the position of Assistant Principal for the county’s Preschool program.  She was appointed to her current position in 2019. 

        Mrs. Barger earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Kennesaw State University, a Special Education Certification from Western Carolina University, and both a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Specialist’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Piedmont College.  She completed Leadership at Berry College.

    • Assistant Principal Dr. Wesley Satterfield, Ed. D.
      • Dr. Satterfield assists in leading the educational and therapeutic programs at Tippens, specializing in facilities, evaluations, professional development, and school operations. He has been working with children and adults with intellectual disabilities, autism, emotional and behavior disorders, and mental health challenges in a clinical setting since 2003 and has worked in the education field since 2006. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies, master’s degree in multiple and severe disabilities (with an emphasis in autism and severe emotional behavior disorders), along with specialist and doctoral degrees in educational leadership.
    • Counselor Kelly Schalliol, Ed. S.
      • Mrs. Schalliol has worked in the field of mental health and education since 1993. She is certified by the Georgia Department of Education in School Counseling, Special Education Adapted & General Curriculum Consultative P-12, Special Education Language Arts, Math, Reading, & Science Cognitive Level P-8, Special Education Social Science Cognitive Level P-12, and ESOL. She is a member of the American School Counselor Association and the Georgia School Counselor Association. Mrs. Schalliol has a Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University, a Master’s degree in Counseling from Webster University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida.
    • Therapist Nancy Acevedo
      • Nancy has worked in the mental health field since 2013. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from Kennesaw State University. Mrs. Acevedo is licensed by the state of Georgia as a Clinical Social Worker and is currently working towards becoming a Registered Play Therapist. She is also a Certified Anger Management Specialist. Mrs. Acevedo has worked as a therapist in a variety of settings, including juvenile detention centers and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. Mrs. Acevedo utilizes a variety of therapeutic techniques, including cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy, sandtray therapy, and trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Mrs. Acevedo specializes in working with children and adolescents, especially those struggling with trauma, disruptive behaviors, and emotional dysregulation. She has a passion for helping students work through barriers and achieve their full potential. Mrs. Acevedo is a member of the Georgia Society of Clinical Social Work, where she serves on the board. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Association of Play Therapy. She is excited for the opportunity to work with the students and families at Tippens Education Center.          
    • Instructional Technology Specialist Merry Hofmeister, Ed. S.
      • Mrs. Hofmeister supports teachers and staff using technology with their students and works with students in their classrooms to increase their technology skills. She provides teacher training and staff development on a monthly basis for all staff and helps with special projects as requested.
    • Behavior Analyst Ernest Whitmarsh, BCBA
      • Dr. Whitmarsh has been in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 1994. His professional career includes time at Marcus Institute, Cobb County School District, private autism service providers, and adjunct faculty at Savannah State University. He has 15 years of experience providing technical assistance for severe behavior for Cobb County School District. At Tippens Education Center he provides an array of ongoing behavioral services including Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) development and training. He also provides supervision of ABA duties of staff holding Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification. He holds a doctorate in School Psychology as well as BACB board certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral level (BCBA-D).
    • Facilitator Adam Parker, M. Ed.
      • Mr. Parker chairs the IEP meetings with parents/guardians, teachers, and related service professionals. He ensures that special education services and procedures are in compliance and facilitates discussions regarding students’ Individual Education Programs (IEP). Mr. Parker’s additional responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Serving as a compliance facilitator to monitor for special education procedural compliance; providing support to Case Managers for preparation for meetings and necessary paperwork; guiding the learning process toward the writing of measurable goals that assist in developing a plan to accelerate student learning; Providing specific training, coaching, and mentoring for teachers; completing any assignment that facilitates the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities; assisting with progress monitoring for students to ensure they are receiving FAPE; participating in all required staff meetings, IEP/Eligibility meetings requested to participate and staff development activities; maintaining accurate, complete and correcting records as required by law, district policy and administrative regulation.
  • Services
    • Special education services
      • All previously agreed upon IEP services, including all accommodation and modifications, will be offered at Tippens
    • Therapies offered
      • Play therapy
      • Individual talk therapy
      • Counseling
      • Group therapy
      • Social skills training
      • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
      • Speech therapy
      • Occupational therapy
      • Physical therapy
    • Adapted music
    • Adapted PE
    • Art Exploration
      • Ms. Christen leads our art exploration classes. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art. She enjoys the process of art making, how each student engages with the medium and seeing the creativity come through their art.
    • Music Exploration
      • Along with teaching our high school DD students, Mr. Hofmeister teaches music to our Elementary and Middle School students.  He holds a BM in Music Education from Georgia Southern University.  His primary instrument is the trombone however he has learned/played many different instruments over the years including baritone, tuba, piano, handbells, recorder, etc.  He has played in many different types of musical groups including wind ensembles, orchestras, jazz bands, pep bands, marching bands, pit orchestras, etc.  Along with his love of instrumental music, Mr. H has been involved with vocal music, most recently being the director of a church choir.  Mr. H currently plays trombone with the Marietta Pops Orchestra and is involved with church music.  He is so excited to share his talents with the school.
    • 2 sensory rooms
    • Sensory walk
    • 3 cool down rooms
    • Student circles
    • Drum circle
    • Breathing and Movement program
    • Alternative seating options
    • Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP)
      • Each student has a behavior intervention plan (BIP) developed from data collected through functional behavior assessment (FBA) and sometimes functional analysis (FA) if necessary. Students who do not require BIPs have individual safety plans. BIPs are monitored by our on-site Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
  • Transition Program & Step-Down
  • TEAM System
    • The TEAM system is a school-wide level system. Student progress is monitored through levels: Training, Evolving, Achieving, and Mastery. Each level specifies expectations, criteria for moving to the next level, privilege guidelines, and consequence guidelines. As students move through each level, they are learning new ways of communicating, improving self-control, and exhibiting pro-social skills.
  • Additional safety precautions
    • Completely enclosed fence along the perimeter of the property
    • All exterior doors have electronic locks
    • All classroom doors remain locked
  • Staff Training (* Some individual staff trainings differ depending on class placement)
    • Mindset De-escalation Training
    • Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI)
    • Applied Behavior Analysis


Ongoing training with renowned author and national speaker on behavior and classroom management Brian Mendler.