Our Mission, Vision & Commitment to Equity

For more than 25 years, The Accelerated Schools (TAS) have embraced a commitment to academic excellence and achievement guided by the belief that all students can excel when nurtured in a school environment that combines high expectations for students, and active involvement from parents and the community.

TAS prepares students with the foundational knowledge, tools and skills needed to be productive, engaged citizens and lifelong learners. Our goal is to instill from an early age the important academic and character strengths that will help them succeed in college, career and life.

We believe TAS enriches the lives of students and their families through a mix of academic, cultural, and community-focused programming and has been instrumental in transforming the South Los Angeles community.

students doing science experiment

Our Mission

The Accelerated Schools will graduate students who are prepared to succeed at the university and career of their choice who will enter the workplace as informed and productive employees, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and will act as responsible citizens.

Our Commitment to Equity

At The Accelerated Schools, educational equity is continuously creating and implementing practices that are culturally responsive, and honoring voices from all educational and community partners. Through curiosity, inquiry, self and system reflection, we disrupt inequitable systems so that students graduate in four years, college, career and/or life ready.

Our History


Co-founders Johnathan Williams and Kevin Sved embark on journey to create TAS


TAS opens in a rented space with 50 students in grades K-5, making it the first charter school in South Los Angeles


TAS moves to larger, 3.9 acre facility donated by Carole Little & Leonard Rabinowitz


TIME Magazine names TAS the Elementary School of the Year, calling it one of the nation’s “most accomplished K-12 institutions”


With a generous lead gift from the Annenberg Foundation, the Wallis Annenberg High School (WAHS) opens its door to serve grades 9-12


ACES, a dual language immersion program for grades K-6, is established


Wallis Annenberg High School earns Gold Medal Award, and ranks in the top 500 high schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World Report names WAHS a Top High School in the U.S.


Grace Lee-Chang appointed CEO


Wallis Annenberg High School receives 6 Year WASC Accreditation


Wallis Annenberg High School receives distinction, named to the AP School Honor Roll by the College Board

CEO’s Message

Dear TAS community,

During these extraordinary times, I’m honored and humbled to lead a community of exceptional faculty and staff who care deeply for the South LA community and always go above and beyond the call of duty. They are both the heart and backbone of The Accelerated Schools.

Since our founding, The Accelerated Schools have embraced a commitment to academic excellence and a guiding belief that all students can excel in a school environment that sets high expectations coupled with high support. We promise to “accelerate” learning beyond a typical trajectory and instill from an early age the important academic and character strengths that will help students succeed in college, career, and life.

Above all, we believe that as educators, we each have the power to make a positive impact on the lives of our students, families, and our community at large. It is up to us to use this influence to remove barriers, encourage students to aim high, and cultivate habits that will prepare them to pursue their passion and purpose in the global 21st century economy. Now more than ever, as we face unpredictable changes in our global community, we must ensure our students have all the tools they need to succeed.

I am proud to continue working alongside our entire school community to achieve what we collectively want for students – success beyond their years here at TAS.

Grace Lee-Chang

Our Leadership Team

Grace Lee-Chang

Chief Executive Officer

Karin Figueroa

Karin Figueroa

Principal, ACES (TK-6)

Kim Clerx

Principal, TAS (TK-8)

David Tran

Head of Academics and Faculty Affairs

Brian James, Ed.D.

Head of College and Career Readiness

Thomas Crowther, Ed.D.

Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Cynthia Foley, Ed.D.

Chief Human Resources Officer

Robert French

Director of Human Resources

Francis Reading

Director of Elementary Education

Lenita Lugo

Lenita Lugo

Director of Access, Equity, and Compliance

Kimberly Sheehan, Ed.D.

Director of Operations

Stephen Dickinson

Chief Business Officer

Debbie Kukta

Director of Fiscal Services

Tom Nizetich

Tom Nizetich

Facilities Director

Carlos Garcia

Technology Director

Our Board of Trustees

Leonard Rabinowitz
Hilton & Hyland
Board President

Binti P. Yost

Mario De La Cruz
TAS Parent Representative

Peter B. Morrison
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Board Vice President

Lawrence Picus, Ph.D.
Rossier School of Education, USC

Lindsay Berz, CFA
Oak Tree Capital

Brittany Brooks
ACES/TAS Parent Representative

Presidents Emeritus

Scott Bottles
Wells Fargo & Company

Eric C. Johnson
Victex Inc. / Crail Johnson Foundation

Juli P. Quinn, Ph.D.
FREEducation, LLC

Simeon P. Slovacek, Ph.D.
California State University, Los Angeles
Vice President

To view board meeting dates, click here. To view board meeting materials, click here.