Meet Our Team
A DEDICATED TEAM OF EXPERTS, MEET THEM TODAY!
Mr. William H. Parker
Vice President of Community Development
Mr. Parker has a masters of administration and supervision degree and has served as a classroom teacher, department chair, assistant principal and principal with the Richmond and Henrico County school divisions. He has also served as a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, principal coach, and external lead partner in the Richmond, Virginia area. Under his principalship, Henrico High School attained full accreditation, and he was recognized as High School Principal of the Year for Virginia. Upon retirement from the Virginia school System, he became the executive director of secondary schools and career technical education for Mooresville Graded School District, where, under his leadership, the graduation rate for minority students increased from 60 percent to 95 percent in a four-year period. Mr. Parker has also served as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, teaching leadership courses for school administrators, and he has worked as a consultant for several school systems.
Dr. Omega W. Wilson
Vice President of Operations
Dr. Omega Williams Wilson has served as an educator in the Goochland County Public Schools
system, Caroline County Public School system and Henrico County Public School system. She served as principal of Hermitage High School and the director of high school education in the Henrico County Public Schools system located in Henrico, Virginia.
Under Dr. Wilson’s leadership, all nine high schools in Henrico County were fully accredited from 2015-2018, in the Henrico County Public School system (HCPS). Dr. Wilson assisted in increasing the number of high school students in dual enrollment. Dr. Wilson led an audit of all specialty centers in HCPS. From the audit came name changes for three specialty centers: the Todd Allen Phillips Center for Medical Sciences, the Center for Spanish Language and Global Citizenship, and the Center for Communications and Media Relations.
Dr. Wilson serves as an associate professor at Virginia Union University and the University of Richmond. She is the founder and CEO of Innovative Strategies Consulting, LLC, a company dedicated to empowering others to grow in leadership and to achieve their goals.
Administrative Assistant/Human Resources
LaFon Pleasants is an experienced and talented administrative professional who is an asset to the ChallengeU team. Her customer service, organizational, and communication skills are exceptional in every way, adding value and advancing our organization.. She recently retired from Henrico County Public Schools, the sixth largest school division in Virginia, after thirty-two years of distinguished service. Ms. Pleasants’s passion in working in the educational environment has continued into her current role as administrative assistant and human resource coordinator at ChallengeU. Her professionalism, positive attitude, and enthusiasm are contagious to everyone she encounters.
Director of Curriculum
Audrey Baylor, director of curriculum, has worked in content development for over twenty years, developing one of the first online instructional programs in distance learning. She has served as a reader for the College Board and as an invigilator for International Baccalaureate programs. Mrs. Baylor has also served as a national teacher trainer in cities across the country, leading workshops and mentoring teachers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, and Salt Lake City. She is passionate about creating engaging and interactive content across the disciplines for students who want to reach measurable goals.
Education Course Manager
Jennifer Barnett has returned to education by joining the ChallengeU team. She has been a classroom teacher and technology integrationist in the public education arena as well as a corporate trainer and people manager.
Madeline Paul has joined the ChallengeU team as a graphic designer. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University’s prestigious art program, Ms. Paul worked as an interior designer for various medical facilities. Through this career, she was able to discover her passion in graphic design and boldly made the career change. Prior to coming to the ChallengeU team, Ms. Paul worked as a freelance graphic designer and as a youth program coordinator for a local synagogue.
Greg Hudson leads video production from A to Z — he directs, shoots, and edits videos — implementing the curriculum director’s vision. Greg brings a decade of experience in video production — working with top Fortune-500 companies to small non-profits to deliver videos for launch events, instructional, documentaries, advertising, television, and more — driving connections and stories through the power of video. He has created content across all platforms and is excited to work on something so rewarding as ChallengeU.
Melinda Hammond received her bachelor of science degree in mathematics with a concentration in education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms. Hammond furthered her education at Averett University, where she received her master’s degree in education. She then earned a post master’s certificate in administration and supervision in December of 2014.
Ms. Hammond became an educator in 2008, teaching various mathematics courses at Highland Springs High School in Highland Springs, Virginia. Under her talented leadership, her students performed outstandingly! She incorporated best practices, which facilitated exceptional student results among all the demographics in her classes. Because of her leadership and passion within the mathematics department, she was appointed assistant principal of Highland Springs High School. She was instrumental in developing and strengthening the remediation and acceleration program, which involved the Mathematics Department preparing students for success on state assessments. Ms. Hammond, currently serves as the math curriculum writer and Algebra l math tutor.
RECRUITERS & SUCCESS COACHES
Jasmine Bates Alston is a native of Richmond, Virginia, and has been an educator since 2005. She earned a B.A. in English from Virginia Union University and an M.Ed. in counselor education from Virginia State University. Ms. Alston taught English for students in grades 6- –8 in Henrico County Public Schools for three years. She later become a high school counselor, serving students in the Williamsburg-James City, and Chesterfield County Public Schools systems, as well as in the Wake County Public School System (Raleigh, North Carolina). While in the Wake County school division, Ms. Alston also served as a dean of students, was an assistant track and field coach, and received a nomination for High School Counselor of the Year.
Ms. Alston currently serves as a success coach for ChallengeU, allowing her to support students academically and personally as they work to earn their high school diploma. She supports her students with the philosophy that the educational experience is more than simply giving students an accumulation of knowledge, but an accumulation of great experiences and meaningful opportunities.
With over ten years in the educational field, Kai Butler holds a BA in English from Old Dominion University. She taught English, but after three years, she saw the need to deepen her theory and practice for helping inner city youth in the areas of social-emotional and academic support, as well as career exploration. She obtained an MEd in school counseling from Howard University in 2011.
She has served as a school counselor in the middle and high school sector in New York and Richmond, Virginia, including Varina High School. She was also the director of school counseling at The Academy at Virginia Randolph. Serving the underdog and those forgotten is her true passion, and she relishes the opportunity to connect real-life practicality with her approach.
Today, she serves as regional recruiter at ChallengeU. What she loves most about her current position is the ability to instill a sense of hope while developing resiliency within her students. Allowing them to tap into their unique potential and seeing them walk across the stage fills her heart with immense pleasure.
Cheryl G. Watkins began her career in education as a high school special education teacher in 1978 in Dinwiddie, Virginia. Her continued interest and love for teaching led her to positions in Richmond Public Schools, the Rehabilitative School Authority, and Spotsylvania County Public Schools.
Administratively, Cheryl has served as an assistant principal and a principal in Spotsylvania County Public Schools. Her most recent position before retiring was that of the principal of the Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Center.
Cheryl holds a bachelor of arts degree in special education from Virginia Union University, a master’s degree in special education from Virginia State University, certification in administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Aside from public education, Cheryl has also served as an adjunct professor at Mary Baldwin College and Virginia Union University. Cheryl has served as an educational consultant for Graduation Alliance, providing services to Richmond Public Schools, by. working directly with district administrators and academy staff to ensure the fidelity and integrity of the Graduation Alliance model.
Erin McCauley Ingles attended Richard Bland College and Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received her undergraduate degree in history. In 2008, she began working for Henrico County Public Schools, where she was an instructional assistant for two years. During that time, Erin worked one-on-one with students with autism. While working as an instructional assistant, Erin took courses at Mary Baldwin College to obtain her teaching license.
In 2011, Mrs. Ingles began working at Varina High School in Henrico County, teaching US History, US Government, World History I, and World History II. Her students’ scores on the state assessments were outstanding! Because of her students’ exceptional results, Erin was asked to mentor new teachers and also serve as the content leader for world history.
Today, Erin serves as a social studies teacher with ChallengeU and brings her best instructional practices to help students succeed. She is excited to be able to help young adults attain their high school diploma and prepare them for their journey to a more productive life.
Ms. James studied English at Christopher Newport University and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, LaTasha double majored in English literature and print journalism. While there, she co-founded a multicultural magazine for minority students, was nominated for the Black History in the Making Award, and received awards for her articles written about faculty and staff.
After receiving her bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in 2004, she worked as a journalist at Richmond Voice Newspaper and The Free Lance-Star newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia. During this time, she began volunteering at the neighborhood civic association, helping students with their English homework. Noticing that a number of students had some academic deficiencies in their , she felt compelled to transition from the newsroom to the classroom, by becoming a long-term substitute at Armstrong High School. Two semesters later, she was fully certified and accepted a position at Armstrong, and shortly after, began teaching in the Henrico County Public Schools system at The Academy at Virginia Randolph. While diligently serving her students, their reading and writing skills improved dramatically on the state assessments. Her compassion for her students and determination to improve students’ communication skills resulted in ChallengeU recruiting her to work in our program.
Mrs. Denise Rogers is a native of Orange County, California. Mrs. Rogers earned a bachelor of science degree in biology education from Claflin University. As an undergraduate student, she was selected to participate in internships at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota. Upon graduating from Claflin University, Mrs. Rogers taught in South Carolina for five years before relocating to Richmond, Virginia.
Mrs. Rogers earned a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in environmental science and administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master of science in pharmacy with a concentration in forensic science from the University of Florida. Mrs. Rogers has over twenty years of teaching middle school science, high school biology/ecology, and high school summer remediation science classes. She has also served as an instructional specialist for math and science for two years and taught science courses for students in grades 6-–12 in an alternative school setting.
Currently, Mrs. Rogers is at science teacher at ChallengeU and is currently enrolled in an educational specialist program. Mrs. Rogers’s love of science and children can be seen as she exposes students to new and exciting concepts and shares her travels and experiences with everyone. Her cultured upbringing, hands-on approach, and rapport with students and staff have made her the distinguished educator that she is today.