PACE Charter School Staff
Katie Doherty is the Special Education Teacher in the primary school classroom. She is from Massachusetts where she received a masters degree is Severe Disabilities from Simmons College. Katie has expertise in ABA (applied behavioral analysis) and specialized curriculum. She is a big foodie and loves going to local farmers markets. In her free time, she likes to craft and make jewelry.
J. Elaine Fort is currently serving as Principal at PACE Charter school. She earned a Bachelors in Special Education at College of Charleston. After working in Charleston County School District for six years in a self-contained classroom, she felt a passion moving her towards administration so that she could bring together teachers, parents and students as a whole unit with one focus; the students. She has always had a place in her heart for PACE after working the summer camp a while back. After completing her Masters in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina, she had been looking for a place to call home. PACE Charter has become just that. She looks forward to working together with the families, students, teachers and the board in order to continue to strive for what is best for our students. She believes with her whole heart that we are the best at what we do and we will become the model for programs like ours not only in the state but also nationally. She is humbled to be a part of such a wonderful program. When away from work, Elaine enjoys being outdoors, reading, playing sports and spending time with family and friends.
Lauren Gaylard is a native of Charleston and a College of Charleston graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She has always had a passion for working with children and has previously worked in child care centers including The O'Quinn School. She picked up her love for children and families with special needs from working in private therapy companies for 6 years as an office administrator. In her free time, you can find her cooking, fishing, traveling, watching the local soccer team the Charleston Battery or Clemson football.
Lauren Griffen is currently serving as a Teacher’s Assistant in Mr. Zach’s classroom. She fell in love with the students of PACE after a summer as a camp counselor and decided she wanted to make a career change to special education. She is originally from Connecticut, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication. Her favorite thing about working at PACE is getting to make the kids smile and laugh. In her leisure time, Lauren loves painting, the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Gwendolyn Henderson graduated from Gateway College in New Haven, CT with an associate degree in liberal arts. Her work experience includes 25 years of service with children with cognitive disabilities. The mission of PACE is to improve the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities and Gwen values being a part of the teamwork that makes this mission a reality. After recently returning to her home state of South Carolina, a new resident of Charleston, Gwen is enjoying the agreeable weather and the historical aspects of her new home. She is happy to be back in her home state.
Nicole Kaesar brings a sense of joy and light to our team here at PACE Charter School. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2012 with a Bachelors in Developmental Psychology. She has always had a passion for students with disabilities and is excited to work towards a further degree in the near future. In college, she wrote a grant to work with students with Special Needs in Romania and the rest is history. She began her career working with our special students in 2012 and has not looked back since. She has built a significant relationships with our students and continues to spend time with them as often as possible. We are excited to have her here with us as a part of our PACE Charter School family.
Zach Kramer is a teacher in the middle school classroom at PACE. In addition, he serves as the lead teacher for PACE Charter School. He graduated from The Ohio State University where he earned a degree in Special Education with a focus on Moderate to Severe disabilities and recently graduated with a Masters Degree from George Washington University with a degree in Brain Injury: Educational and Secondary Transition Services. His experience with children with special needs includes teaching both LD and Self Contained classrooms in rural Alaska for 4 years as well as 3 years at PACE. In his work, Zach specifically values the special relationships he forges with the students and their families. Personally, Zach enjoys being outdoors, cooking, going out with his friends and relaxing with his wife and pup in his leisure time.
Susan Litchfield is a graduate of Trident Technical College where she earned an associate degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Her experience includes working with children who have Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and ADHD. Susan’s professional goal is to make a difference in the life of each child in her care. She is the mother of 2 children who are active in sports and enjoys her work with athletic boosters.
Ryan Locklear is a lead teacher assistant in the high school classroom at PACE and has also worked at Pattison’s Academy Summer Camp. Ryan coordinates a variety of partnership experiences between PACE and community businesses and agencies. He graduated from The Citadel where he earned a degree in Exercise Science. Ryan is in the process of applying to graduate school to meet his career goal of being an occupational therapist. In his work, Ryan often fills a leadership role in the collaborative team experience at PACE. Personally, Ryan enjoys Grey’s Anatomy in his leisure time.
Courtenay Read is a graduate of Trident Technical College of Nursing and holds a ADN degree. Her work experience includes medical surgical pediatric unit at MUSC. Courtenay brings a wealth of knowledge in caring for special needs children as she is the mother of Caroline, one of PACE’s forever children. Courtenay is a member of the pediatric family advisory committee for children’s hospital including serving on the design for Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. Courtenay served on the planning committee for PACE prior to opening in 2010. She is the mother of three girls and enjoys the beach in her leisure time.
Julie Simpkins has a unique perspective as a teaching assistant here and it shows in her constant commitment to our school. She has a daughter, Emily, that attends here at PACE and is dedicated not only to her but to each and every student in this school. She has an Associates of Applied Science in Legal Administration which couples with her laid back California style that brings a much needed unique vibe here at the school. She enjoys camping and being outdoors as well as spending as much time as possible with her family. She has been at PACE Charter School since February 2015 and plans for her and “Emmy” to stay a part of this wonderful family.
Bailley Tomkins is a graduate of West Ashley High School and works as a school-wide assistant at PACE. She assists with office routines, classroom chores, and works throughout the facility to maintain an efficient, organized environment for teachers and students. Bailley enjoys friendships with the students and staff at PACE. When not at work, she likes writing stories, biking, and Anime.
Lisa Williams is a teacher in the secondary classroom at PACE. She graduated from Arcadia University where she earned a bachelors degree in education. She went on to earn a Masters in Special Education at Holy Family University. Her experience with children with special needs includes 9 years of teaching in Philadelphia across 2 districts, numerous ages and classrooms including learning support, life skills, and inclusion settings. She demonstrates an expertise in using children's literature as a framework for instruction and incorporates a data- based approach to teaching and learning in her classroom. When not at work, Lisa enjoys running, kickboxing and spending quality time with her three boys.
Barbara Wright is an experienced child care provider with over 30 years of service to families and children. Barbara has been at PACE since it was founded in 2010. She focuses her attention on caring for the whole child including communication, physical mobility, and personal comfort. Barbara enjoys her work and especially loving on each child whom she considers to be an angel. When not at work, Barbara loves to walk and enjoys her grandchild and family gatherings.
Tina Yonce is a teaching assistant in the secondary classroom at PACE. She recently completed a certificate in Special Education from Trident Technical College and is currently completing her degree in Early Childhood Special Education. Her experience with children with special needs includes home health care, mental/behavioral health, ICU/PICU, and Day Care/Camp for young adults with multiple disabilities. Tina has experience as a pre-school teacher in an inclusive classroom working with children with various disabilities. Tina enjoys working with children to promote independence and daily living skills through a variety of sensory experiences as well as cooking experiences. Personally, Tina enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, and her parents, gardening and traveling.
Our Transportation Team - Sarah Commodore, Malayshia Kinlaw, Linda Broughton
PACE operates two school buses adapted to transport six children in wheelchairs, with space for three additional people. Our dedicated transportation team is led by Sarah Commodore who is also a driver. The team is completed with Darcus Gadsden, bus driver, and Malayshia Kinlaw, bus assistant. PACE is proud to have this professional team to help us start and end each day.