Governing Board



Responsibility for the overall well-being of the Tybee Island Maritime Academy and attainment of the goals outlined in our Charter resides with the Governing Board of Directors. Our non-profit Governing Board comprises of volunteer community members and parents of TIMA students.

These responsibilities include: ensuring that our focus remains on the children, that our educational goals are clear, and that there are appropriate means for measuring our progress; ensuring the financial stability of the school and its adherence to legal mandates; and ensuring the safety and appropriateness of our learning facility.

The Board meets on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm in the school gym. All Board meetings are open to the public for observation, and comply with the Georgia state statutes on open and public meetings.

Governing Board

Tammy Smith (teacher representative), a native of Georgia, has been a professional educator in elementary education for the past 22 years. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University in 1995. She is currently teaching fifth grade at the Tybee Island Maritime Academy. During her career, Tammy has taught in grades Pre-K, first, fourth and fifth. She has received several additional teaching endorsements including gifted, reading and math and has presented at various teaching workshops throughout the south. In 2004 and 2016, Tammy was named Teacher of the Year at her school. For the last 16 years, she has been the volunteer coordinator for the Tybee and Little Tybee Sea Turtle Projects. Tammy has been a volunteer First Responder with the Tybee Island Fire Department for the past eight years. She currently lives on Tybee with her husband, Todd.

Jason Ball is a Licensed Professional Engineer with specialty disciplines in Port and Navigation Engineering. At Ball Maritime Group, LLC, he currently serves as President of the Service Connected Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business located in Savannah, Georgia. Jason provides clients such as Contractors, Site Developers, Municipalities, and Terminal Operators with valuable professional services including terminal/facility planning, strategic economic forecasting, multi-disciplinary engineering, equipment acquisition support, construction management, and general consulting.
While working as an engineer based in Savannah, Georgia, Jason served ten years as a combat engineer officer in the Georgia Army National Guard with combat deployments; first to Bosnia Herzegovina as an Executive Company Officer and most recently to Iraq as a Company Commander. Jason was born in Savannah, raised on Tybee Island, and currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Julia. After two years in the sea year co-op program, he graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment. He subsequently earned a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Jason is registered in five states including Georgia and is a Diplomate in Port and Navigation Engineering through the American Society of Civil Engineers. His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Award), Army Commendation Medal with valor device (3rd Award), Army Achievement Award (4th Award), NATO Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Georgia Commendation Medal, Reserve Medal with mobilization device (2nd Award), American Council of Engineering Companies Honor Award, and Eagle Scout.

Carolyn Jurick (chairman) is a retired educator. She began her teaching career in Cobb County, GA. She was an elementary principal from 1980-2004. Carolyn was principal of Addison Elementary School (1988-2004) the first charter school (1995) in Georgia. Carolyn has presented at numerous national conferences (National Charter School's Conference, National Staff Development and Training Association, Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Reading Association, etc.) Since her retirement Carolyn has served as an interim principal at three schools. She was an evaluator in the Cobb County Leadership Academy (2004-2009). Carolyn served as a consultant in the research department at the University of Georgia (2004-2009) and she was a new principal mentor (2006-2009) in Cobb County. Carolyn moved to Tybee Island as a full time resident in 2007. She began working with the Mayor and citizens of Tybee Island in 2010 to establish a charter school on Tybee Island.

Kay K Fortner (treasurer) is a Savannah native where she started her career working in accounting. She returned to her home and retired on Tybee Island in 2009 after work related moves brought her to Atlanta, GA, Kansas City, MO, Morristown, NJ, and Jacksonville, FL. She spent over 40 years in the tax industry working as a District Manager in Atlanta and then a Senior Executive with H & R Block in their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. She was instrumental in automating over 9,000 tax offices and worked with Canada to implement Canadian electronic filing of tax returns. She then worked with the IRS to introduce electronic filing in 1984. She was a co-owner of Jackson Hewitt Franchise tax services operating 58 offices with 400 seasonal employees and 20 full time employees in the Jacksonville, Florida area. She had financial responsibility for the organizations she worked for including strategic implementation, budgeting, P & L responsibilities, cash flows, office leasing, project management, and personnel development/management. She has served as Treasurer on numerous boards including the TIMA founding board.

Heather Harvey joined the Governing Board in August 2016. She currently works in the Marketing and Communications Department at Armstrong State University. A dedicated visual communicator, she owned Harvey Graphic Design for 12 years where she created targeted messages for schools, nonprofits and small businesses. She has an additional seven years of nonprofit marketing experience from her time at the Association for Career and Technical Education and the Data Interchange Standards Association.
A native of Philadelphia, Heather earned a B.S.E in Art Education from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. She volunteers with Backpack Buddies and is the 2017 co-chair of the Tybee Tour of Homes. When she isn't exploring the South in search of the best BBQ with her husband, Jeremy, and two sons, who attend Tybee Island Maritime Academy, she likes to volunteer, travel and drink comically large mugs of tea.

Jason E. Buelterman (ex-officio) is the Mayor of Tybee Island. When the Catholic School on Tybee closed (the only school on Tybee), Jason began conversations to enlist help with getting a school on Tybee. He has served on the founding and governing board from the beginning. Jason is the coordinator of the international baccalaureate program at Johnson High School where he also teaches history. He received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati and a graduate degree in Secondary Education from Xavier University. Buelterman and his wife, Jody, have three children. They reside on Tybee Island.

Sara Mitchell is a native of Chicago. Sara and her husband Rick relocated to Savannah in 2005 after visiting here several times and falling in love with Tybee and the surrounding areas. She spent most of her career in Chicago working for the steamship line industry. Due to her love of volunteering and children she and her husband started to foster children a year after moving to the Savannah area. With an extensive background in the transportation industry, working for freight forwarders, custom house brokers and trucking companies, it became apparent after several months of fostering children, working part time would be the only viable option. Throughout the years she served as a board member in various capacities for the Chatham County Foster Parent Association. For 4 of the 6 years Sara was involved in fundraising for the Association. Sara and Rick fostered 36 children in that relatively short period of a little over 6 years and still keep in touch with several of them.

She continues to be involved in her community, is a board member of her Homeowners association, volunteers at Union Mission and the (People Helping People) PHP Ministry in Savannah, while currently a governing board member at TIMA.

Perb Fortner (CFO) attended Appalachian State and received his degree in Management Resources from Troy University. Prior to retiring to Tybee Island in 2009 he has held several leadership and executive positions. He was with H&R Block for 32 years and was responsible for worldwide franchises and their financial and operational performance. He then became Executive Vice President at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services where he was responsible for all operations – technology, leadership development, financial, franchises, multimedia and national programs in 2000. He became a consultant to Jackson Hewitt Tax Services and franchises from 2005 until he retired in 2009. Once moving to Tybee Island full time he became chair of Leadership Tybee 2010-2013. He has served as Volunteer CFO to Tybee Island Maritime Academy from 2011 to present.


Brigitte VanBaelen is a consultant in the fields of public relations, communications, marketing, digital media and operations. She currently works with TWC Prose, a creative communications agency that services global needs to achieve business objectives, as the Vice President of Europe and head of Global Production & Events. She also holds the position as the Chief Operations Officer for Mutasia, a children’s entertainment company, of which she is a shareholder. Brigitte has worked throughout 100 countries managing global, regional and local coordination for BellSouth Europe and A.C. Nielsen. She was a Corporate Secretary and Chief Community Relations Officer at E*TRADE. A native of Belgium, she lives in Savannah with her husband. Together, they have a son who attends Tybee Island Maritime Academy.



Christy Edwards is a native of Atlanta, GA who relocated to Savannah 13 years ago. A graduate of the Women's College at Brenau University, she holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Education from Armstrong State University. Her career thus far has been focused on non-profit management including work at United Way and Hands On Network/Points of Light Foundation, as Director of Development for a small private school serving students with learning differences, and seven years as the Executive Director of Horizons Savannah, a youth development organization serving over 200 at-risk students in Savannah. She is the recipient of the Horizons National Leadership Award and Generation Next- Rising Stars of Business in Savannah.

Duffield Smith is member of the State Bar of Georgia and a certified Project Management Professional.  Before relocating to Savannah three years ago with his family, Duff served as Deputy Director of the Civil Rights Division for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.  He is also a former educator with a Master of Arts in Teaching and the proud father of a rising third grader at TIMA.  He enjoys his current consulting work and spending time with his family.

Charlene Grissom is a native of Atlanta. Her professional career was computer programming and project management. She retired to Tybee Island in 1992. She has been involved in many volunteer efforts on Tybee. She has been a very active volunteer in her church and the Tybee Post Theater.

Summer Roberson is a native of South Carolina, Summer has a great appreciation for the coastal empire. She spent summers visiting Savannah and Tybee Island with her family and friends and decided she never wanted to leave. Now a full-time resident on Tybee Island with her husband and three year old son. Summer was the first in her family to complete a four year collage degree and continued on to complete a Master's Degree from St. Mary University of Minnesota in Philanthropy and Development. She has spent the last seven years in both the non-profit sector and real estate market. Summer believes education is of the upmost importance and thinks we should put our children and teachers at the forefront of society. With a name like, Summer, she enjoys outdoor activities such as boating, bike riding, and basically anything in the sun.

Colonel George Bowen (ex-officio) work as a consultant in the fields of education and facilities management around the world. Prior to entering the consulting business, he was the interim Superintendent of Schools for the Savannah Chatham County Public School System.  He was also the Deputy Superintendent for Support for four years.   He served as the Director of Management Information Systems for the Rochester City School system prior to coming to Savannah. George retired from the United States Air Force after 34 years of service in 1999.














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