Kirk Cameron, Executive Director
Kirk Cameron has a degree in Healthcare Administration from Georgia State University. He is retired from a 28 year career with the McKesson Corporation and has lived in Cherry Log since 2015. Kirk is passionate towards helping and serving others in each of the communities he has lived. He remains active in local non-profit organizations. Kirk is an Elder and active member of Cherry Log Christian Church.
Anne Williamson, Office Manager
Anne joined The Craddock Center as our new office manager in September 2019. After leaving the corporate world and the transient lifestyle it brings, Anne moved to Blue Ridge where she’s made it her home for the last 20 years. Anne was the part owner of Blue Ridge Adventure Wear, founder and past president of the Humane Society of Blue Ridge and enjoyed several years as a real estate agent.
Anne is “mom” to four rescue dogs, Dudley, Lester, Zena, and AJ. She brings a fun and lighthearted spirit to her work at The Craddock Center. Please stop by and visit her at the Center.
Natalie Jones, Arts Specialist
The Craddock Center’s own storyteller extraordinaire has delighted audiences as a professional storyteller across the Southeast for over 20 years. A former park ranger, teacher, and librarian, Natalie hails from Eastern Kentucky, a great growing ground for stories. Her interactive style engages listeners of all ages. Natalie has performed at the National Storytelling Conference in Gatlinburg, TN, the Jimmy Carter Library and at schools and libraries all over the state of Georgia. In 2016, she was crowned Georgia’s Biggest Fibber and was the People’s Choice Bold Faced Liar at the Festival of Carolina, both of which are actually compliments. She has joined forces with The Craddock Center and is thrilled to be spreading joy through stories and music to the children of the mountain region.
Claudia Bradford, Arts Specialist
Claudia Bradford holds a master’s degree in education: teacher leadership, a certification in special education: adaptive curriculum, a bachelor’s degree in music education, and is a certified Pre-K-12 classroom music educator. Ms. Bradford has over 20 years of teaching experience. Her experience also includes directorship in choral, instrumental, and musical theater. She recently retired her part-time position as the Adapted Music Specialist in the Dalton Public School system serving Pre-K-12 special needs students. She has received multiple Georgia Governor’s awards for outstanding student performances at the Governor’s mansion in Atlanta, Georgia. Her dedication to the fine arts has resulted in her students’ participation in the Georgia Statewide Elementary Honors Chorus, Clayton County Honors Musical, The Atlanta Festival Ballet, Gilmer Arts Playhouse children’s theater and The Blue Ridge Community Theater’s Sunny D Children’s Theater. She has also written several musicals including a children’s musical “The Runaway Reindeer” that was performed at the Blue Ridge Community Theater, and because storytelling is a major part of her creative process, she continues to enjoy being an Arts Specialist with The Craddock Center.
Sheila Clayton, Arts Specialist
“Ms. Sheila, you’re still going to school, you must really love it”, my little preschoolers would say as I gave my introduction on their first day of school. I did like going to school. As a little girl my dream was to be a teacher. Instead of going that route, I was encouraged by my counselor in high school to go into Engineering in college but after several years I did go back and went into teaching. I taught for twenty -three years in Christian schools, seventeen of those years were where my heart loved, four and five-year olds. I have been married to my husband, Brian, for forty-two years. He is a Baptist minister and works for a chemical company. We love living in the north Georgia mountains, serving our church, and helping in the community. I was a Girl Scout leader for fifteen years, a facilitator for abused children for two years. One of my favorite things to do in the summer when school is out is help in Vacation Bible Schools in our area. My hobby is genealogy, the perseverance of our ancestors and the love they had for their neighbors inspires me. I have no accolades to share except I have had many little arms reach around me in love and bigger ones as these same little ones grew into adults. I am so thankful to be working for an organization such as The Craddock Cener that has such a love and dedication for these little kiddos.
Jane Cunningham, Arts Specialist
With a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Berry College, Jane set out to her “seek her fortune” as a teacher. She taught preschool, kindergarten and first grade, but she was also a Delta stewardess, co- creator of The Children’s Play House (story-art workshops for children) and a Professional Storyteller. For over twenty-five years Jane’s energetic, loving, and captivating personality has enchanted storytelling audiences throughout the southeast at schools, churches and festivals. She has performed at the Alliance Theater, the Carter Center and the National Storytelling Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Jane accepted the “Craddock Challenge” of creating programs on zoom in 2022. She was pleased to discover that she loves “the Challenge” of finding stories and songs appropriate to engage children in a zoom classroom.
Liese Connell, Arts Specialist
Liese Connell started teaching Elementary Education in 1995 and taught Elementary Music from 2004 through 2021. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood. Liese’s passion for music education was enhanced by the Orff Schulwerk approach to teaching children through music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are similar to a child‘s world of play. She is the past Treasurer, President, and Course Director of the South Florida Orff Chapter. Liese was the Conductor for the Honors Orff Ensemble for Spotlight on Young Musicians at the Kravis Center in Palm Beach. Her students have performed at local green markets, malls, and nursing/assisted living facilities, in addition to a winter and spring concert every year. She is delighted to come out of retirement to work with the Craddock Center to share her love of music with children. In her spare time she enjoys walking, gardening, and playing a variety of music instruments, including piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, and zheng, to name a few.
Kathy Thompson, Arts Specialist
Over a period of thirty-seven years Kathy Thompson taught art to high school, middle school, and elementary students in Fannin, Union, Pickens, and Gilmer counties. She shared that, “I am really having fun interacting with our preschool children. They are so open and attentive. And you never can tell what they will say.” She especially loves combining puppetry, storytelling, and movement activities. Having lived in the area for 51 years and been involved in community ministries, she possesses an understanding of the needs and situations of local children. Dr. Thompson did her graduate work at the University of Georgia in the area of creative thinking. Her connection to the Appalachian community is reflected in her writing. She has written five non-fiction books about this area. For more information go to kathythompsonbooks.com.