Jay Heap
Director of Virtual Learning

Jay Heap currently serves as the Director of Virtual Learning for the State of Georgia. He has been involved with online  learning including teaching, content development, and administration since 2005. Prior to serving the online educational community, Jay taught business education in a Georgia school district for 13 years. He holds a B.S. Degree in Business Education, and a Master's degree in Adult Learning/Distance Education and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership and is also a certified project manager.


Sharon Synan
Associate Director of Strategic Planning 
Georgia Virtual Learning


Dr. Sharon Synan serves as Associate Director of Strategic Planning for Georgia Virtual Learning

Dr. Synan works with the Assistant Superintendent of Virtual Schools and the Director of Georgia Virtual School to establish and maintain Georgia Virtual Learning’s strategic vision, while providing future school improvement planning and services for Georgia Virtual School, Georgia Credit Recovery, and Georgia Virtual Learning.

Dr. Synan earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in middle grades education from Piedmont College.  In 2010 she earned a specialist degree in instructional technology and completed her doctorate at the University of West Georgia in 2014 specializing in school improvement.  Her research interests include utilizing data systems and teacher effectiveness evaluation models.


Lynne Whitley
Associate Director of Instructional Technology
Georgia Virtual Learning

Lynne Whitley serves as the Associate Director of Instructional Technology for Georgia Virtual Learning.

In her role, she works with the leadership team at Georgia Virtual Learning and the Georgia Department of Education Technology Services team to plan and implement the technology for the Georgia Virtual School, Georgia Virtual Learning’s shared resources and eSource content, Credit Recovery Program and professional development offerings.

Lynne graduated from Murray State University with a Bachelor’s in Printing Management. She earned a master’s degree in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and has done coursework toward a PhD in Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia.



Amanda Williamson
Supervisor of Instruction
Georgia Virtual School


Amanda Williamson serves as the Supervisor of Instruction for Georgia Virtual School. In her role as Supervisor of Instruction, Amanda is responsible for implementing and analyzing school goals to make informed decisions regarding policies and procedures that help increase student achievement and increase the safety of the school.  She works in conjunction with other program areas to manage the day to day operations of the school. 

 Amanda graduated from Georgia Southern University where she earned a both a Bachelor of Business Administration in Public Accounting degree and a Master of Education in Mathematics Education degree.  She completed the requirements to obtain her teaching certification from Brewton Parker College. Amanda earned her educational leadership certification from the University of North Georgia.



Margaret Thomas
Supervisor for Student Support
Georgia Virtual School


Margaret Thomas serves as the Supervisor for Student Support with Georgia Virtual School. In her role as Supervisor of Student Support, Margaret is responsible for working with local schools, parents and students to ensure they are well-informed of the opportunities and options Georgia Virtual School offers.

Margaret graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She graduated from Georgia Southern University with master’s degrees in both middle grades education and instructional technology as well as earning reading specialist and media specialist certification. Margaret earned educational leadership certification from the University of North Georgia.



Sarah Newman 
Supervisor of District Support 
Georgia Virtual Learning


Sarah Newman serves as Supervisor of District Support for Georgia Virtual Learning. In this role, she works to support Georgia schools and districts to effectively utilize Georgia Virtual Learning resources including The Georgia Credit Recovery Program and Shared and eSource content. Sarah also oversees the areas of special education and 504 for Georgia Virtual School. Sarah's work through GaVL fuses her passions for online learning and fostering success for at-risk and special needs students.

Sarah graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in music and she earned her master's degree in music from The University of Miami. In 2013 Sarah earned her specialist's degree in educational leadership from Kennesaw State University.


Rich Copeland
Supervisor of Teacher Quality
Georgia Virtual School

Rich Copeland currently serves as the Supervisor of Teacher Quality of the Georgia Virtual School.

Rich and the Teacher Quality team is responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating and retaining instructors. In addition, Teacher Quality organizes professional development, monitors teacher certification and collaborates in student teaching with higher education programs.  The Teacher Quality teams consists of Teacher Training Specialists, Mentors, Quality Assurance Specialists and Innovative Teaching Specialists. 

Rich graduated from the University of Virginia as an Echol's Scholar and has a Master's degree from Armstrong State University in history. He has been an educator for 18 years and an online instructor and professor since 2007.


Tami Echard
Supervisor of Instructional Development
Georgia Virtual Learning

Tami Echard is the Supervisor of Instructional Development at the Georgia Virtual Learning.

Ms. Echard has been with Georgia Virtual Learning since 2006 and as the Supervisor of Instructional Development she supervises five content Development Specialists and numerous subject matter experts for the school's development projects.  The content developed by Georgia Virtual School (GaVS) is created using open educational resources or resources created by GaVS.  These courses are then shared out to the world on the Georgia Virtual Learning Resources website. 

Ms. Echard has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics Education from Brigham Young University and a Master's Degree from the University of Georgia in Learning, Design and Development.  She also has a Leadership Certificate from the University of North Georgia.