Members of the Vision Prep governing body represent a well-respected cross-section of the Memphis community. Our board is largely a home-grown group – eight of the nine Governing Board members are lifelong Memphians. One member was extensively trained through the Leadership Memphis program and holds a leadership position at FedEx. Another member holds a position at FedEx as Senior State & Local Government Affairs Representative. Four members of the board are active in the Memphis educational community and maintain deep ties throughout local public, independent and charter schools. The final three members consist of: a local attorney who grew up in Whitehaven, a University of Memphis graduate who is now COO of a local asset management company, and our first parent representative who has been extremely active in Vision Prep advocacy. While our Board members each have different professions, they all share an overwhelming dedication to improving public education in the city of Memphis. Their leadership will provide exceptional accountability for academic achievement, policy making aimed at achieving the school’s stated educational goals, oversight to ensure fiscal stability and integrity. Board members will serve as the most important Vision Prep role models for the school’s core values of FIRST (Focus, Integrity, Respect, Self-determination and Teamwork). They will work to ensure the fulfillment of the school’s mission to prepare kindergarten through fifth grade students with the academic and ethical foundation necessary to excel in middle school, thrive in high school and graduate from college. The following are biographies of the members of our Vision Prep Governing Board:
Tom Benton (School Director/Founder)
Tom Benton is a Memphis native, experienced public school educator, urban independent school administrator and Building Excellent Schools Emerging Leader. He attended Sea Isle Elementary and Colonial Junior High in the Memphis City School system and eventually graduated from Laurelwood High School. Mr. Benton received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree from Union University (Germantown campus). Mr. Benton worked in the Memphis City School system for 18 years serving as a Mathematics teacher, basketball coach and Title I Facilitator. For eleven years Mr. Benton served as Principal of New Hope Christian Academy at their locations downtown and in Frayser helping to grow their enrollment from 50+ to 450+ students. He is currently guiding the work to bring Vision Prep to the young people of downtown and south Memphis. During Mr. Benton’s 18 years of teaching and Title I experience in Memphis City Schools his accomplishments include: leading seventh grade Mathematics students at Vance Junior High School (deregulated) when they moved from a MCS ranking of 39th in CAT end of year gains to a ranking of 2nd city-wide; teaching the first 7th grade Pre-Algebra and 8th grade Algebra classes at Vance in 1990; and serving as a founding member and instructor at the Math, Science, Computer Institute (MSCI) for gifted 8th grade math and science students city-wide. As Principal of New Hope Christian Academy for eleven years, Mr. Benton led teachers and kindergarten students (80% of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch) to consistently average above the 95th percentile in Reading and above the 70th percentile in Mathematics as measured by the SAT 10 norm referenced assessment. Also, from 2009 to 2010 in 3rd through 6th grade, an average of 81% of New Hope students scored at or above the 50th percentile in Reading Comprehension and 79% in Mathematics as measured by the CTP-4 norm referenced assessment.
Carrie Carpenter (Board Vice-Chair)
Carrie Carpenter is a native Memphian and has lived in the Memphis area for most of her life. After graduating high school from St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Carrie received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance and Masters of Arts and Teaching from the University of Memphis. Carrie is married to Stephen Carpenter, and they have four children. Before having children and after the last of the four went to kindergarten, Carrie has had a wide range of experiences in education. She taught social studies in Trenton, NJ at The New Grange School which caters to normal-to-high IQ students with severe learning disabilities; founded the Princeton, NJ Dupree Pre-School at Princeton Theological Seminary; taught art in Memphis, TN at New Hope Christian Academy, an urban Christian school primarily for low-income families; and for the past 12 years has taught fourth grade at St. George’s Independent School in Germantown, TN. Carrie has faith in Jesus Christ and is active in church at Fellowship Memphis – East Campus.
John Coates is originally from Helena, Ark. He attended Sewanee Military Academy at fourteen and graduated in 1974 from Sewanee Academy. Following this, he played football at Maryville College for one year and then transferred to Memphis State University where he graduated. John has mentored as a volunteer with Streets Ministries, Advance Memphis. He has also coached high school football at BTW, Kipp and the Memphis Nighthawks. Along with this, he has served as chairman of Memphis Chrysalis. He has also served Memphis Emmaus and currently the Kairos prison ministry team. Currently, he is employed at Action - Janitorial • Paper • Safety Company.
Lenita Patton (Parent Representative)
Henry Reaves, III
Henry E. Reaves III was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon graduating from high school in Ashland, Mississippi, Mr. Reaves enlisted in the United States Air Force. Mr. Reaves trained and specialized in military intelligence serving in the states as well as South Korea and the Middle East. He received the Armed forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Achievement medal and was recognized for his contributions to the Kosovo Crisis as well as Operation Enduring Freedom. Mr. Reaves received his Law degree from the Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington. He participated in moot court and received deans honor’s numerous semesters. Mr. Reaves went on to become a valuable member and later coach for the Indiana University School of Law Trial Team as well as the Black Law Student Association Trial Team. After graduating from Law School, Mr. Reaves began working for one of the largest insurance defense firms in the South. Recently, Mr. Reaves walked away from the large insurance companies in order to be the voice for the everyday man and woman. He currently operates and serves at the Reaves Law Firm. Henry is also volunteer sponsor for the Moot Trial team at Whitehaven High School.
Marvin Todd (Board Chair, Grievance Designee)
Marvin Todd was born March 19, 1979 in Memphis. Currently, he works as a Senior Strategic Project Marketing Analyst for FedEx Services. He is a graduate of University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a Bachelors of Science in Communications with a major in Public Relations and eventually received his Master’s in Business Administration from Dowling College. While at UT Knoxville he joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated and served on their regional board of directors, President, Community Service and Membership Intake Chairman. Marvin also serves as Youth Minister/Leader for Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church, which includes teaching, mentoring and event planning. He recently graduated from the Leadership Academy and plans to eventually start his own non-profit and restaurant.
Dr. Megan Salemi is currently the Director of Education at Memphis Teacher Residency and is responsible for oversight of our teacher residency and post-residency programs, including our Master of Urban Education coursework. From 2014-2020, she was a founding school leader and the Principal of Vision Prep Charter School. She has a B.A. from Rhodes College; an M.A.T. in Special Education from the University of Memphis; and, an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Union University. Prior to her leadership at Vision Prep, Dr. Salemi has served as a teacher and then Director of Instruction within high-need Memphis schools, beginning in 2002. She is married to her husband Jay and they have a son, Sam.
Kurt Voldeng (Treasurer)
Kurt Voldeng grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended public schools thru the 8th grade before attending Little Rock Catholic High School and graduating in the top five of his class. He is a double graduate from the University of Memphis earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1989 and Masters of Business Administration in 1991. While an undergraduate, Kurt was an active member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and served as the local chapter’s Treasurer and Alumni Liaison. Upon earning his undergraduate degree, Kurt was employed by Union Planters National Bank in the Corporate Finance Division. From 1990 to 2012, he worked for Consulting Services Group, LLC (CSG) as an analyst and eventual Senior Consultant and Director of Alternative Investments. He became a shareholder in the firm in 1999. In 2012, Kurt made the transition to Commerce Asset Management, LLC a CSG subsidiary, which was sold to Commerce Holdings, LLC. Kurt is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer of Commerce Asset Management, LLC and a shareholder of Commerce Holdings, LLC. Kurt remains an avid University of Memphis Tiger fan and continues to serve on the Memphis Sigma Chi Housing Group Board of Directors.
Neva was born and raised in Champaign, IL. After graduation, Neva attended California State University, San Bernardino. She received her Bachelor's of Arts in Liberal Studies (Elementary Education). Upon her graduation in 2007, she enrolled and was accepted to Indiana University where she earned a Master's of Science in Elementary Education. Neva is married to Henry Reaves, III, they have five children. After graduate school Neva and her family relocated to Memphis. Neva was a classroom teacher for 9 years. She began her teaching career in Frayser and her last school was in South Memphis. For nine years she taught 5 year olds how to read. She has a love for education as she knows from first hand experience that education is the answer to poverty. Her passion was teaching to ensure students were on grade level. For nine years she only taught Kindergarten and loved it! After moving into entrepreneurship, she admits what she misses the most are "those sweet, little beautiful faces who are so ready to learn and become our future."
A native Memphian, Mim Stokes is an education consultant and project manager whose work is focused on improving social-emotional health in Memphis elementary schools and early childhood programs through a partnership with the Momentous Institute of Dallas. She is passionate about maximizing student outcomes by working to promote culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and socially-emotionally healthy educational practices. A graduate of Princeton University and St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Mim has always cared deeply about children and education. For seven years, she was a teacher and student advisor at St. George’s Independent School in Collierville. As the lead teacher for sixth grade, Mim taught Critical Thinking, Innovation, and Communication to sixth-graders, World Literature to tenth graders, coached middle school girls’ lacrosse, and chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. For the last 11 years, she also has worked as a mentor for Helping Hands, an outreach ministry she co-founded at Holy Apostles Church. She has been honored with Outstanding Service awards for her work both at St. George’s and Holy Apostles. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. Prior to her experience in education, she worked for Morgan Stanley in London, Morgan Keegan in Memphis and New York, and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. She is married and has four children.
- Tom Benton