Meet Our Leadership Team
Leverage the Experience of a Seasoned Leadership Team
Our administrative and support staff is committed to ensuring the finest education possible for your children. From providing expert tools and strategies to teaching materials and parent support, our leadership team is dedicated to making sure that you have what you need to deliver a well-rounded, enriching education to your children. Here are some of the people who maintain our high standards of education.
Charles Smith, Head of School, is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida (BA, English) and Fort Hays State University in Fort Hays, Kansas (Master of Liberal Studies). In addition, Mr. Smith holds a post-graduate certificate in Educational Leadership and principal certification from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Formerly, Mr. Smith was Visiting Professor of English at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea. As an educational leader, Mr. Smith has owned and operated his own after-school learning program, served as principal and assistant principal on various campuses, and has worked as an educational consultant and curriculum writer.
Dawn Kaiser, Director of Operations, has been in various roles within K12 Texas for 6 ½ years ranging from Advising, Compliancy, Deputy Head of School, and now Director of Operations for Texas schools. She brings solid operations experience and she is known as the “process queen of Texas.” Dawn holds her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and is finishing her Master’s in Business Administration. Dawn is a U.S. Army veteran and served in a NATO operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina where she met her husband of 17 years. Dawn also has two loveably nerdy girls, Madeleine and Gabriella. In her spare time, Dawn’s nose is deeply buried in any book and is excited for this new challenge. Her focus as the Texas Director of Operations is to implement best practices, develop effective processes, build strong relationships and create a culture of excellence.
Rebecca Finka, High School Principal, has recently joined the team at K12 after 18 years in traditional schools. Mrs. Finka has a BS degree from the University of Houston-Downtown and an MS degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She is certified in secondary English and secondary ESL. She is a certified principal for grades EC-12. Mrs. Finka has served as both a middle school and high school teacher and as a district level curriculum writer. She also served in campus leadership roles that included assistant principal, Dean of Instruction, and Dean of Students. Mrs. Finka loves that online teaching offers the ability to customize and meet the academic needs of all students. Mrs. Finka is an avid reader and has read well over 1,000 books.
Elizabeth Nelson, Middle School Principal, graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in economics. In 2009, she earned a second bachelor’s degree, this one in secondary math education. She received a Master of Science in educational leadership from Ball State University in 2014. Prior to joining TOPS, Elizabeth worked at Arizona Virtual Academy for three years. Previously, Elizabeth taught math in Arizona and Indiana for 4.5 years. She became a business owner and mother before ultimately realizing that teaching was her passion. Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her husband and their combined eight children. Elizabeth loves photography, math, adventures, learning, and spending time outdoors with her family.
Blanda Watt, Elementary School Principal, graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and religion. She completed her master’s in educational leadership with Lamar University in 2011. Blanda began her educational career at a private school in Fort Worth where she had the opportunity to teach students in PK through 12th grade and eventually served as elementary principal. In 2013, Blanda joined the K12 team as a high school English teacher and later became the ELA department chair. She and her husband, Michael, live in a small town in west Texas with their four boys and two pet prairie dogs. Blanda enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles, binge watching Netflix, cooking, and dreaming on Pinterest.
Jennifer Gover, Family Engagement Administrator, 3-12 grades, is entering her 15th year in education. She graduated from Baylor University (BA) and the University of Houston (MFA). Over the course of her career, she has worked as a classroom teacher, theatre director and coach, as well as an academic dean, district testing coordinator, and fine arts director. She has worked passionately to provide a demanding, dynamic education to all those she has served. Jennifer values classrooms filled with data driven instruction, classroom discipline, and great compassion. As for her hobbies and interests, she completed the Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, Texas, and she will run the Houston Marathon in January of 2018.
Kathy Richey, Sr. Manager of Special Programs for Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Educational Supervision. Kathy is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. She previously taught at K12 for 5 years as a teacher and was a science team lead. Prior to coming to K12, she was a national trainer for Istation and an academic assistant at Lamar University, Arkansas State University, University of Phoenix, and American College of Education. Kathy began her educational career as a special education teacher. From this beginning she went on to be an educational diagnostician, counselor, special education coordinator, and retired as a special education director. Kathy is currently over the special programs of Texas Online Preparatory School.