school vision Founder & conductor

What if schools were truly created for the students they serve rather than for the forcing of those students to serve the school or the latest education reform notion ? How do we create the schools that (our) children and our teachers deserve?

These two questions first hit Dr. Darian C. Jones in his first classroom in Durham, North Carolina, and he has struggled between that rock and that hard place for the past twenty three (23) years as he has moved from classroom to schoolhouse to district to the cutting edge of educational reform in Tennessee.

Dr. Jones taught high school science before the struggle with these two questions pushed him back to graduate school in which he recalls, in his very first graduate class, a professor, named Dr. David Purpel, announced at the beginning of class, “Did you know, a child won’t learn on an empty spirit?” From that moment, Dr. Jones’s educational underpinnings were forever changed.

Still struggling with this notion of how do you serve the state, still serve your children, and still remain true to who you are as an educator, Dr. Jones’s graduate work and ultimately his Ph.D. centered-around Curriculum and Teaching in a Culturally Relevant Context. All of his school leadership and district work has been in urban settings, but he credits his belief that all children will achieve at high levels when the adults decide that it will be so – a no excuses stance he has maintained, from his first year as an assistant principal working in a blue-ribbon school of excellence where they “did school” regardless of if a student had special needs, was from a poor demographic background, first generation, could not read, or had lost hope. He learned quickly from his mentor what excellence looked like for all kids and he never lost this belief when the zip codes of his own schools changed.

After spending eight (8) years in Atlanta, Dr. Jones commuted to Memphis, Tennessee to participate in an Educational Entrepreneurs Fellowship that was a two-year program designed to support high capacity leaders in developing outstanding charter schools. His first school design was approved and authorized by Shelby County Schools (Tennessee) and set to open in 2017; however, Dr. Jones yearned to return to Atlanta to create highly powerful, culturally relevant community-based schools. He completed the inaugural class of the Georgia Charter Center Incubator in the Fall of 2016 and he looks forward to building a dynamic, creative, driven, and student-centered team over the next eighteen (18) months to launch Sankore’ Prep. Sankore' Prep will focus on building the socio-emotional foundation of every child, cultivating high level literacy, empowering artistic expression, and launching experiential learning experiences where the greater Atlanta area and the world is the classroom. Restorative justice programs will function as a problem of practice for a community of learners and prepare every student for attainable and successful choice in the college or career of their choosing.

What makes Atlanta so unique is our industry, our colleges and universities, our civic activism, and the diversity and commitment of our people. Atlanta, Georgia has such a powerful and rich history and spirit from which to build. Sankore’ literally means “noble community of knowledge.” That is just what Atlanta is and the areas we hope to serve.

As Dr. Jones builds thriving school communities, he reminds students, faculties, and families: "This is not just HARD work, it is HEART work and if you can’t commit the latter you can never help our most precious resources achieve their dreams." `



Dr. T. Lynn Smith is an anointed spellbinding teacher, who leaves her audiences anxious for more. Her dynamic instructional delivery is rooted in a foundation of education, research and prayer that provides listeners with a great deal more than accurate teaching and singing. Dr. Smith is a certified LifeWorks Coach, author, musicologist, songwriter, organist and clinician. Dr. T. Lynn Smith is a graduate of North Central College where she earned a BA in Music and Humanities.  She is also a graduate of National-Louis University where she earned an MS Degree in Business and Management (MSM), and the Interdenominational Theological Center where she earned a Master of Arts Degree in Church Music (MACM). 

Dr. Smith received her Doctorate in Sacred Music (D.S.M.) from Union Bible Theological Seminary. The Churches of God in Christ, music extraordinaire - the ED of Expressmi Music, and the CEO/President of Real Solutions of Georgia, Inc. consulting firm. 



Dr. Burks is the Chief Learning Officer of LEADright, is an award-winning education expert who coaches and trains leaders for excellence. His ideas and insights center around thinking differently, taking different actions, and having different breakthrough results. He is among five educators featured in Walking the Equity Talk: A Guide for Culturally Courageous Leadership in School Communities by Dr. John Robert Browne II. He has written six books and contributed to four. His book, Bought Wisdom: Tales of Living and Learning, is an interactive leadership memoir that invites you to tell your own stories. A Fulbrighter and fellow of the British-American Project, he is a graduate of Morehouse College, Trevecca Nazarene University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 




Allison is a national leader in her field and has over 15 years of professional experience working to implement policies and procedures related to ADA and Section 504 federal compliance regulations in university settings. She is the Director and ADA Compliance Officer for the University and Healthcare system. She has extensive experience in developing data supported university policies with students, faculty, and staff, providing guidance related to best practices that are directly linked to federal guidelines, automating cumbersome processes, managing teams and conducting risk management assessments and audits. 

She has worked with all entities in a university setting, from enrollment services to campus life, she has taught in college classrooms and collaborated with college faculty and she has led and supervised disability professionals. She serves Emory University as a subject matter expert in all areas of Disability Compliance as it relates to students, faculty, staff, guests and facilities. In a collaborative effort, she has created and developed policies and procedures, trained the community, and implemented best practices in all areas related to Access and Disability Services.

Jessica Gourdet

Jessica Gourdet


Jessica Gourdet is a young ambitious and skillful consultant currently residing in the city of Atlanta GA. Jessica matriculated at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where she received a Master's of Management Studies. Prior to this, Jessica graduated from Spelman College in 2013 with a bachelor's of arts in psychology. She currently works as a management consultant for Accenture, based out of the Atlanta, GA office.

Throughout her academic studies, Jessica has served as a leader both in her community and internationally. She has worked on several community service efforts aimed at improving the quality of life for women, battling homelessness, and encouraging education. in 2013, Jessica served as a Foreign Language English teacher for an academic school year in Northeast China, where she developed a passion for Chinese culture and business. As for her personal life, Jessica is of Haitian descent, and works with her family and other Haitian leaders to provide support to the ongoing relief efforts back in her country, including sending school supplies and educating people locally on the ways they can assist the country's development.

Jessica's future goals include traveling, using her current language fluencies in Haitian Creole/French, Spanish and Chinese to teach English as a foreign language, advocating for the rights and welfare of women, investment management and business ventures.


Tamika Jackson

Board CFO

Tamika Jackson (Board CFO) is a Senior Program Accountant with over a decade of experience managing multi-million dollar Construction, Engineering, and Manufacturing Projects (Commercial and Residential). She has a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management from Keller Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Central Michigan. She serves on several boards and is a member of the NABA as well as a host of other professional associations. 

Seldom in life does one encounter an individual that totally transforms your life. I had that chance encounter and the unique opportunity to be mentored by an awesome transformational leader, Dr. Darian Jones. Under Dr. Jones’s leadership, I truly developed my passion for educating at-promise students. Dr. Jones provided me with job-embedded professional development and experiences that enhanced my talents as a leader and developed my skills to learn and implement a transformational model that was nationally recognized. Because of the awesome educational experience with which the students were engaged, I thought it to be an awesome place for my son to complete his high school experience. I removed my son from a local private school and he began his journey to receive a world class educational experience. My son was exposed to many programs to ensure that he was both college and career-ready. Programs like GA Tech Tutors, 21st Century Leaders, Kappa League, Distinguished Young Gentleman of American paved the way for developing him as a young man. Additionally, he was able to participate in an internship under the CFO at Grady Health Systems. My son's success story is one of many students that were given the tools necessary to soar in life. Dr. Jones is not only a great visionary leader, he is also a great teacher and developer of top talent. There are many success stories of staff members who worked under his leadership and are now transforming schools all across the country. I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to serve alongside such a great leader. I reflect on my experiences on his team often as I work to transform the lives of students that I now have been afforded the wonderful opportunity to serve.  I have listened for years about Sankore' and believe in the mission.  All the more I have lived in and been apart of his vision and believe the Sankore' Prep Board will transform lives. 

Former Principal, McClarin High School (Former Parent/ Teacher)
Assistant Superintendent School LeadershipKansas City Public Schools 



Transformational Life Coach Nikhol B. Jackson is the founder of Just A Journey Counseling & Psychological Services, LLC, a comprehensive behavioral health agency servicing the Metro Atlanta area. In her family practice, clients receive clinical treatments from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model which supports Nikhol strong belief that people can bring about change in their lives by first changing their thoughts and beliefs. Nikhol, a certified marriage and family therapist, provides practical exercises and encouragement to assist clients in changing their thought process and behavior to achieve a specific goal or outcome. 

Nneka Carter-Young

Nneka Carter-Young 

Nneka Carter-Young is a well-known business coach who has helped many companies develop their brand, expand their reach and increase their profits. She also has been instrumental in startups and organization development and systems. Ms. Carter-Young has a B.S. in Organizational Communications from Wilberforce University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Manchester Development Authority. Where she focuses on creating economic opportunities to improve the quality of life for residents. 

Carter-Young credits her ability to help businesses strive is her understanding of people. Her service to the 39 / 75 development of people includes Assistant Dean of Students and Career Center Coordinator at Point University, a Christian school located in West Point, GA. She managed multiple City of Atlanta Center of Hope Recreation Centers, an initiative of Former Mayor Kasim Reed. She served eight years as an Executive Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. She is a former National Trainer Associate for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She served as the Program Facilitator for the Female Rites of Passage Program for the Omega Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio. 


LaRhonda Palmer

Board Member

LaRhonda Palmer has been in secondary education since 2009 with a focus on healthcare as a CTAE Department Chair. She has 20 plus years of experience in the medical field. LaRhonda has worked as a Paramedic in the leading level 1 trauma facility at Grady hospital where she trained future healthcare providers and educated the community in underserved urban areas. 

Dr. Crystal LaVoulle

Dr. Crystal LaVoulle has over 20 years of experience in education, including administration, teaching, and consulting. She now heads up the LaVoulle Group that is an International Educational Consulting Firm that seeks to provide equity, diversity, and inclusivity training by reversing the barriers of systemic racism. Dr. LaVoulle has authored several books, including the most recent, Read, Write, 41 / 75 Rhyme Institute: Educators, Entertainers, and Entrepreneurs Engaging in Hip-Hop Discourse. Dr. LaVoulle, has a Ph.D. Teaching and Learning, Middle and Secondary Education and Instructional Technology Reading, Language and Literacy Education; an MPA from Georgia State University (2014) in Urban Economic Development, University of West Georgia (1997) and a B.A. in Urban Sociology, State University of NY at Stony Brook (1994). 


Keala Edwards-Cooper

Board Member

Kella Edwards-Cooper has 24 years of committed leadership in education. Mrs. Edwards-Cooper started her career in her native Miami, Florida as a teacher in alternative education and then matriculating to Student Services Chairperson position at her alma mater Miami Springs Senior High School as well as Ronald Reagan High School. Upon relocating to Atlanta, Mrs. Edwards-Cooper has served as the Head of the Counseling Department of a number of high schools including BTW in Atlanta - the neighborhood SCPA will be located. 

Mrs. Edwards-Cooper holds a BS in Rehabilitation Services from Southern University, an MS in Guidance and Counseling (St. Thomas University). In addition, Mrs. Cooper holds a specialist degree in Education Administration (St. Thomas University). Mrs. Edwards-Cooper is committed to being a voice for the voiceless and serving the underserved student who has been counted out. 

Board Committees:


Dr. Smith, Dr. Burks, Dr. Jones, Vacant Attorney


Ms. T. Jackson, Ms. Gourdet, Ms. Carter-Young, Dr. Jones

School Performance / Accountability

Dr. Lavoulle, Dr. Burks, Ms. Edwards-Cooper, Ms. Butler, Dr. Jones, Vacant (2)

Development (Fundraising/Partnerships)

Ms. Carter-Young, Ms. N. Jackson, Ms. Palmer, Vacant (2)

Ad Hoc Updates: Facilities

Ms. K NiBlack – Broker

Dr. Jones