The Board of Directors:
Executive Director and Lower Grades Teacher:
Marla Cocalis has a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Education. She has taught lower elementary grades for public schools both in Chicago, Illinois as well as Savannah, Georgia. Her training and experience include implementing Balanced Literacy, the Writer’s Workshop designed by Lucy Calkins, and Understanding by Design (Backward Design). She develops her lessons with a focus on differentiation, inquiry methods, and critical thinking skills. She coordinates the K-2nd grade classroom.
Upper Grades Teacher:
Tommy Simmons has a Master’s degree in education with a focus on teaching and curriculum from Harvard University. He has experience teaching a variety of contents (humanities, math, literacy, history, and English as a second language). His experience teaching with the Breakthrough Collaborative in Florida, the Peace Corps in Mozambique, and Boston Public Schools makes for a unique curriculum focused on differentiation and inquiry. Tommy’s extensive development and collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves has led to a pedagogy built on civic action. He coordinates the 3rd-5th grade class.
Middle Grades Teacher:
Sara Jodon has a Master’s degree in Teaching with a concentration in Middle Level Education. She has experience teaching all middle grades, as well as sign language at Georgia State University. Sara designs lessons that lead to student-driven learning and authentic assessment of that learning. It is her goal to encourage students to become more critical thinkers, purposeful writers, and life-long learners, while developing a better sense of self and global citizenship. Sara coordinates the 6th – 8th grade class.
Ramona Robinson Petersen
As a recent transplant to Savannah, Ramona joins the Board of SHA as a former Texas educator with degrees in Business Administration and Political Science. Before her relocation, Ramona embraced the role of Community Liaison, promoting community involvement in economically challenged public schools in North Texas. By developing relationships with a variety of religious and secular organizations, she connected local volunteers to a population in need. Prioritizing relationships has also enabled Ramona to mentor young women, provide vision and organization as a Board member of Young Men’s Service League, North Texas Enrichment Classes, and The Whitefield Foundation, and devote herself to the educational needs of her son with learning differences. As the mother of three adult children and volunteer at Savannah Honor Academy, Ramona agrees with the words of Marian Wright Edelman: “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
Mario Incorvaia is a violinist and arts administrator who advocates music in everyone’s lives. He holds a Master of Arts degree in liberal and professional studies from Armstrong State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Ohio’s Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music. He is currently the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Vice President for Operations. At HHSO he works with the region’s preeminent classical musicians to bring our community excellent music through concert performances, in-home recitals, and school outreach initiatives. Previously he was the Arts Marketing Coordinator and Auditorium Manager at Armstrong State University where he continues to instruct the arts management course sequence. He is a member of Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island and is a member of the Board of Directors at HHSO and the Hilton Head Choral Society.