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School Board Info

HPA Board of Directors

The High Point Academy Board of Directors is a panel of nine elected or appointed officials. Board positions are staggered two-year terms with seats up for election each spring. Those who serve on the school board are either elected by parents, High Point Academy faculty and staff, or are appointed by current members. Each family of an enrolled student at High Point Academy receives one vote per the number of children enrolled.

Those who serve on the Board do so because they care about providing quality education for students. Therefore, the Board of Directors asks for your support in meeting our shared goal of educational excellence at High Point Academy. Most regularly scheduled board meetings are on the fourth Monday of the month, at 6:00 p.m., and are open to the public. All discussions are held in the open, except for executive sessions. Meetings are held in the administrative common area on the HPA campus.

Current Board Members:

Matt Nestberg - Chairman

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With a degree in Education, Matt is passionate about caring for people and nurturing relationships. A strategic thinker, he endeavors to face challenges and conflicts in a way that builds others up and creates opportunities to find healing and resolution. His desire for HPA is to create an environment for students and teachers alike to grow in their relationships and foster a sense of community. Matt has lived in the Upstate his entire life and is married to Katie. They have three children, Jake, Molly, and Andy. They love to travel, especially to the American West and the National Parks. Matt enjoys roasting coffee, reading, hunting, gardening, and also cares for honeybees. Matt is currently the Pastor of Counseling Ministries at North Hills Church in Taylors.  

Derek Hawk - Vice Chairman

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Vice Chairman
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Derek Hawk is a Senior Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors. He believes his strength is his broad knowledge from his career, volunteering, and hobbies. Each day, Derek’s focus is on helping people financially plan for the future. He brings that same passion to High Point Academy. Derek’s family is an HPA Founding Family with five children, all attending High Point Academy. He is a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International, a past secretary, and past President of North Spartanburg Rotary Club. Derek coaches soccer and basketball and enjoys playing guitar, reading, and fitness in his spare time.

Ann Marie Israel - Treasurer

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Ann Marie Israel looks to bring an analytical style of reasoning and effectiveness to the HPA Board of Directors. Her professional success has come with multiple start-up businesses. Currently, she manages the operations, human resources, and marketing campaigns for a five-store clothing chain. She believes her financial experience will allow her to look at things from an operational standpoint and understand the impact on the organization. Ann Marie is passionate about bringing the very best educators to High Point Academy and equipping them with the resources and tools they need to succeed in the classroom. She attended Wofford College and grew up in Spartanburg County. Ann Marie and her husband Brent have been married for more than 20 years and have two sons who attend HPA and a yellow lab named Charlie. On vacation, you will most likely find Ann Marie and her family in the South Carolina Low Country. Ann Marie says she is a true “boy mom” and spends many weekends at soccer games or volunteering in her local Cub Scout Troop.

Genna-Jo Parker - Secretary

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Genna-Jo brings a passion for loving others to the High Point Academy Board of Directors. She is dedicated to working as a collaborative unit to achieve whatever is needed for our school's students, staff, and families. She brings an attention to detail and a sharp sense of organization to the board. In most cases, Genna-Jo says she likes to think things through before making a decision. She also strives to see things from all perspectives. Genna-Jo is originally from Virginia but moved to the Upstate of South Carolina during her childhood. A mother of three sons, one of her favorite experiences is visiting the African safari. Genna-Jo enjoys going to concerts, volunteering, and going to Clemson football games in her spare time. She also competes in triathlons. 

Eduardo Chen

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Board Member

Eduardo Chen truly enjoys working with a team to advance an organization’s goals – especially involving young people. As a board member, he hopes to use his education and experience as an educator and coach to support HPA’s mission to promote academic excellence and STEAM education. Chen earned his B.S. in Engineering from Purdue University and holds an MBA from Strayer University, now serving as a college instructor and USSF Licensed Soccer Coach. He is the father of two children – a son in college and a daughter at HPA.
He enjoys inline skating, playing soccer, coaching, traveling, and cooking a variety of international foods. In addition, he has been a hockey enthusiast since his hometown days in the Washington, D.C. area. 
One of his most memorable experiences was being stuck on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean with people from different parts of the world. Chen says they all had the common goal to stay safe and support one another - while keeping their heads up, learning, and having some fun along the way! Though there were many languages spoken, making others smile and helping with a purpose were actions that created part of a common language.  

Amanda Ewing

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Board member

Amanda Ewing earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Honors College. She has been a pharmacy manager for 15 years. Educating students and making sure they have the resources they need is her top priority as she serves on the Board. Ewing values many different learning styles – a principle upon which High Point Academy was founded and sets it apart. She believes in teamwork and leading by example.
Ewing and her husband, Crey, have been married for 15 years and live in Boiling Springs with their two children, a son, and a daughter, who attend HPA. Her favorite thing to do is travel. She also enjoys reading, trying new foods, and watching reality tv. Ewing recently had the opportunity to ski in Colorado 13,000 feet above sea level. She says it was a fear conquering day - and an amazing experience!

Paul Gilliam

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Board member

Paul Gilliam is a retired teacher who has dedicated his life to education. He earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations/Political Science at the University of South Carolina and a master's in education at Converse University.


Gilliam began his career as a history teacher in Greenwood District 50. In 1994, he joined Spartanburg District 4, where he has remained since then. He retired from teaching in 2018 and now serves as an instructor for Woodruff High School's intervention program.


A lifelong resident of Woodruff, Gilliam enjoys serving the community. He loves to spend time with his family, and he makes a mean banana pudding.

Alex Oquendo

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Board member

Alex Oquendo was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina where he now calls Spartanburg home with his wife and two children. He loves teaching and preaching and his passion is ministry. He believes every student has a gift from God, and serving on the HPA Board of Directors allows him the opportunity to help students discover and develop those gifts. Alex also loves technology, video games, photography and creating content for social media. During the pandemic, he used skills he honed creating video game content to set up a church website. It gave his church a voice, platform, and streaming capabilities, which ensured everyone stayed connected online when they could not be together in person.

Lateka Benson

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Board member
Dr. Lateka Benson holds both a doctorate and master's degree in Theology and a second master's degree in Healthcare Administration. She grew up in Spartanburg County and now resides in Moore after living in several large cities including Richmond, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

As a software developer and guardian ad litem, Dr. Benson brings strong listening, communication, and problem-solving skills to the table. A mother of three, she is passionate about children, education, and the positive impact she can have on their futures. Her goal as a Board member is to help develop ideas, programs, and resources that empower students to succeed beyond the classroom, whether they attend college or step into a career upon graduation. Open-minded and appreciative of others' perspectives, she values the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors to ensure every voice is heard. 

Dr. Benson's favorite vacation spot is Sweden, where her daughter played in the Gothia Soccer Cup. In addition to traveling abroad, she enjoys reading and photography.