Karen CarstensPrincipalEmail
Nile YatesAssistant PrincipalEmail
Angela EllisSupport Services AdministratorEmail
Sarah GardnerInstructional Support SpecialistEmail

Our Stories

Principal Karen CarstensKaren Carstens was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and remembers back to the time when Universal Studios was just a giant cow pasture on the way to Disney.  She had interesting summer jobs at both Sea World and Epcot before heading off to Florida State University.  In Tallahassee, she became a life-long Seminoles sports fan, met her husband, and performed with the Florida State Flying High Circus.  Her favorite acts were double trapeze, hand-balancing, sky pole, and flying trapeze.  

After graduation, she taught English in a high school in rural Japan as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.  Not only did she climb Mount Fuji twice, but she discovered her love for teaching and connecting with students and families.  Upon returning to Orlando, she completed a second Bachelor's degree at the University of Central Florida in Elementary Education.  She has also completed School Leadership degrees at the Master’s level at Kennesaw State University and the Specialist’s level at Berry College.

Professionally, Mrs. Carstens won the Disney Teacherrific Award for Elementary Programs twice and was recognized as a Teacher of the Year in Orange County, Florida. Hearing of the strength of Cobb County Schools, her family moved from Orlando to East Cobb in 2005. She began as a teacher at Shallowford Falls Elementary and also served as an Assistant Principal at both Sope Creek and Powers Ferry. She has given presentations at the national level while teaching in Japan and was a frequent speaker at educational trainings in both Florida and Georgia. She is passionate about creating an instructional program that provides students with every opportunity for their future success. This not only involves rigorous application of learning standards, but also opportunities to engage in problem-based learning inside STEAM curriculum.

Away from school, you will usually find her enjoying the outside in some way.  She loves to kayak, mountain bike, and hike in the North Georgia Mountains. She also loves to travel and spend time immersed in different cultures.  She has taken an elephant safari in Nepal, survived a terrifying taxi ride in Bangkok, sipped Viennese coffee inside the Gloriette at Schonbrun Palace, and even went skiing above the Arctic Circle in Finland.  She is so proud that both her children (Taylor - Accounting & Erik - Civil Engineering) graduated college are now working within their field of study.  She met her husband, Scott, while they both performed in the Florida State University's Flying High Circus and celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary in January.

 Assistant Principal Nile YatesNile Yates began her career in education over 20 years ago when she was a 3rd grade teacher and served as Dean of Instruction of an elementary school in Texas. In 2005, her family relocated to Georgia, and she taught 7th grade at Hightower Trail Middle School. After 2 years she was promoted to Assistant Principal at King Springs Elementary, followed by serving as Assistant Principal of Big Shanty Intermediate for 7 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from East Texas State University and a Master’s degree in Education with a Leadership Certification from Texas A&M – Commerce.

She has been married to her college sweetheart, Cory, is blessed to have two wonderful children. Her true passion is doing the right thing for children daily and asking herself, “Did I make a difference in a child’s life today?” She has an open door policy and welcomes you at any time.

kemp.jpgAngela Ellis, Support Services Administrator

Angela Ellis is a 20+ year veteran in Special Education. She graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a B.A. in Education, both at the Elementary level and in Special Education. Having received an offer from Vanderbilt University, she moved to Nashville where she worked as a research assistant and worked at the Susan Gray School in The Kennedy Center, where she served as the interventionist in several studies. After earning her M.Ed. in Special Education with a focus in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Angela taught grades 5-7 in a severe behavior intervention model at Murrell School in Nashville for four years. Angela also worked at The Learning Lab of Brentwood, where she was a Wilson Reading Tutor and lead a social skills group for young people with Autism.

Angela moved to Georgia in 2007 and came directly to Cobb County. She served as the small group special education teacher at Birney Elementary, where she focused on reading intervention grades K-5 for students with a variety of disabilities. She is a familiar face in our East Cobb schools as she served as an Educational Program Specialist for the Pope cluster of schools, as well as the Support and Services Administrator (SSA) for Hightower Trail Middle School. She joined the leadership team of H.A.V.E.N. Academy in 2016, where she also served as SSA, and earned her Educational Leadership Certification from the University of West Georgia.  She has served the Cobb County School District on several committees including being part of the team that built the standards-based report card for grades K-3, an FBA trainer for the state of Georgia through the Center for Leadership in Disability and was tapped to be an instructor for CCSD’s New Teacher Academy, a role in which she served for 7 years.

Angela and her husband, Park (also an educator), are the proud parents of a 13-year-old daughter, who happens to be a Tritt Elementary graduate! Angela is a classically trained soprano and has sung choruses in multiple operas, though these days is more likely to be found singing with choirs. When not in the schools, you can find her in the audience of one of her daughter’s plays, at her church, exploring local bookstores, at an art gallery, or in her kitchen trying a new recipe.

Angela is honored to join “Team Tiger” and serve a school community that has given so much to her own family. She is passionate about creating a supportive environment where ALL students thrive and are nurtured and respected. She is grateful for the opportunity to partner with staff and with families to support their children’s academic and social growth.

TOTY%20Headshot.jpgSarah Gardner, Instructional Support Specialist

Ms. Gardner is entering her 13th year in education. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education, both from the University of Florida. She moved to Georgia after graduation, when she was hired at Tritt as a long-term sub in 3rd grade. Since then, Ms. Gardner has taught 2nd Grade, 5th Grade, and Special Education. She was awarded Tritt’s Teacher of the Year for the 2022-2023 school year.

Outside of school, Ms. Gardner enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with family, and getting to the beach as often as possible.