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.

Timothy A. Smith

President, and Co-Founder

Timothy Smith began operating and managing Arizona charter schools in 1996. Since then, he has successfully led administrative and leadership teams in the following area: strategic planning, International Baccalaureate authorization, school and district level budget planning and authorization, and professional development planning and implementation. He is passionate about bringing together collaborative, dedicated teams to help students and families succeed.

  • B.A. in Asian Studies and Korean Language from Brigham Young University
  • M.A. in International Management from Arizona State University
  • Global Executive EdD University Southern California USC

Shannon Creamer Smith

Executive Vice President, and Co-Founder

She specializes in professional development, committee and team building, and team mentoring. She also has great experience with curriculum design and 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

Vicki McFarland

Director of Federal Programs

Vicki McFarland has served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction since 2007 at Learning Matters Educational Group. Currently, she leads administrators and teachers in systemic change utilizing data to drive instruction. Vicki has led several professional development sessions on the topic of new educational standards in math and language arts.

  • M.A. in Special Education and Teaching from University of New Mexico
  • Completed National Institute for School Leadership Program

Brenda G. Congo

Special Education Director & School Psychologist

Brenda has worked in education for over 12 years as an instructional assistant, teacher, school psychologist, and administrator. She is passionate about helping ensure students succeed and are receiving the right support both in and outside the classroom.

  • B.A. in Spanish: Language and Literature from California State University, San Bernardino
  • M.A. in Teaching from Azusa Pacific University
  • M.A. in Educational Psychology from Azusa Pacific University
  • Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology

Karen Ruffner

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 a teacher – her favorite position of all. She loves helping students and teachers reach their highest potential and is proud to continue serving them.

  • A. in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.F.A. from University of California, Irvine
  • Teaching Credentials from California State University, Long Beach

Aaron Ritter

Principal and Online Director

Aaron began working in education in 2001, first as a teacher and coach. In 2007, Aaron accepted his first administrative role, working as a vice principal in Lancaster, CA. Since then, he’s gained experience in both traditional and online settings in California and Idaho schools as an assistant principal, principal, executive director, and is currently the Online Director/Principal at Taylion. In 2002, Aaron earned his Bachelor’s in Public Relations from Oklahoma Baptist University. In 2011 Aaron received his Master’s from California State University, Bakersfield.

  • B.A. in Public Relations from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2001 with a minor in Art
  • M.S., Education with concentrations in Education and Special Education from California State University Bakersfield in 2011