Our leaders at Taylion are passionate about making sure students and families receive the best education and services possible. Through collaboration and hard work, the leadership supports teachers, counselors, and other staff in providing the best resources for guiding students in their journeys.


Shannon Creamer Smith

Executive Director, and Co-Founder

Shannon is Taylion’s executive lead for operational oversight and reporting at the state and local level. She is equally passionate about providing Taylion teachers and staff with professional development, committee and team building, and team mentoring opportunities. Shannon also has in depth experience with curriculum design as well as instruction with an emphasis on literacy assessment. Shannon has taken a lead role on creating employment policies, procedures, and board development. With a degree in education, Shannon passionately supports educators and students in defining and meeting their goals.

  • B.A. in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Reading Instruction from Ottawa University


Principal, and Lead Administrator

Brenda has worked in education for over 15 years as an instructional assistant, teacher, school psychologist, and administrator. She is passionate about helping ensure students succeed and receive the support necessary to achieve their goals. Brenda currently holds a Spanish Language Teaching Credential, and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential: School Psychology.

  • B.A. in Spanish: Language & Literature from California State University, San Bernardino
  • M.A. in Teaching from Azusa Pacific University
  • M.A. in Educational Psychology from Azusa Pacific University
  • Ed.S. in School Psychology from Azusa Pacific University
  • Currently enrolled in University of Massachusetts Global’s M.A. in Educational Leadership


Director of Compliance

Karen Ruffner has served with Taylion Academy since 2014. Her roles with the school have included Student Council Advisor, Testing Coordinator, Director of Compliance, and teacher – her favorite position of all. She loves helping students and teachers reach their highest potential and is proud to continue serving them. Karen received her teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach.

  • BA. in English/Dramatic Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.F.A. from University of California, Irvine


School Counselor

Veronica has worked at Taylion since 2017. She absolutely loves her job! She is grateful to work with such an amazing team who share her same passion. Her mission is to advocate for our students, work together on a personalized learning plan, and provide them with resources that can help them be more successful. There is no better reward than working from your heart to help make a difference. Veronica currently holds a Pupil Personnel Services Credential: School Counseling.

  • B.A. in Human Services from California State University, Fullerton
  • M.A. in Educational & Clinical Counseling from Azusa Pacific University


Lead Teacher

Maria Angel is the Lead Teacher at Taylion High Desert Academy and has been with the organization for her third school year. She has recently graduated from National University with a Master’s in Education. Maria has worked in education for approximately 8 years in both traditional and charter school settings with students in grades TK-12 General Education, as well as Special Education. She loves to work closely with her students based on their individualized learning plans and aims to ensure students are successful academically. Maria currently holds a Career Technical Education Credential: Education, Child Development, and Family Services.

  • B.A. in Social Work; minor in Psychology from Brandman University
  • M.A. in Education: Specialization in Best Practices from National University