Nicole Assisi, Ed. D.
CEO, Thrive Public Schools
Dr. Assisi is an accomplished school developer and leader in 21st century learning. In 2014, she launched Thrive Public Schools, a new breakthrough model for innovative learning in K-12 schools. Thrive is the result of years of research, experience and collaboration with some of the nation’s finest educators. In less than 2 years Thrive was named one of the top 100 Schools Worth Visiting and is a National Model School for Next Generation Learning for its innovative use of Project Based, Blended and Social Emotional Learning.
Prior to leading at Thrive, Dr. Assisi was part of the founding teams for both Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and the Da Vinci Schools in Los Angeles. She also worked in the San Diego Unified School District and High Tech High. Early in her career, Dr. Assisi was profiled as “Education Addict” by Marymount College whose insight proclaimed that, “Twenty, 30 years from now, she’ll still be shaping young minds. It’s her calling. It’s in her blood.” They couldn’t have been more correct. In 2014, Dr. Assis was named “Voice of the Year” by the Voice of San Diego. She is seen as an advocate for students’ and parents’ rights. In 2016, Dr. Assisi was recognized in the 4th Annual Salute to Women Leaders hosted by Assembly Member Shirley Weber and named one of the “40 Under 40” by the San Diego Metro Magazine.
In addition to her work in K-12, she also supports adult learning as a professor for UCLA, Cal State Dominguez Hills and the University of San Diego and has served on several boards in the education field.
To read more articles written by and about Dr. Assisi, visit our Media Page.
Chief Operating Officer
Running a school may not be rocket science, but it is hard work and infinitely more important. Joining Thrive is another career dream come true for Lee, with the first coming early in his career when he worked at NASA during the Space Shuttle era. He is thrilled to be at Thrive after a successful career in the U.S. Air Force, NASA, IBM, and many high-tech startups where he could exercise his entrepreneurial spirit. Lee served in increasingly senior management and executive positions during his career and developed a wide set of operational and leadership skills. While the charter school world is new to Lee, his heart has been in education for many years after volunteering to help life-plan and coach prison inmates. That experience convinced him of the imperative to intervene early to support the development of our young people and help them realize their full potential. Given the positive impact on his development by some outstanding teachers, he believes education is the best way to achieve that goal. At Thrive, he has found a way to both apply his professional experience and follow this passion in a highly creative and entrepreneurial organization.
Chief Academic Officer
Sherre Vernon brings almost two decades experience as a teacher and school leader to her work at Thrive. She holds an array of credentials in subjects including mathematics, English, history, school administration and yoga. Prior to her work with Thrive, Sherre served as a Dean of Student Culture at Ánimo Western Middle School and as a Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. In addition to her background in the socio-emotional development of teens, Sherre adds to our team experience in leadership coaching, Project Based Learning, strategic planning, and competency based grading.
Director of Business and Operations
David Yeager is a native San Diegan, who attended schools in San Diego Unified School District for his entire K-12 education. After graduating from Crawford High School, he worked as a teacher's assistant at a local private school while attending college full-time as a business major eventually earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. David spent 12 years in Operations Management and Process Improvement with a Fortune 500 technology company. In addition to his business experience, David, has been active in the education community in San Diego both through his son's schools and independently with other schools. Currently he serves as a member of the Charter Board at Helix High School. He has also held roles on the CPMA (Creative, Performing, and Media Arts) School Site Council and was Chairperson of the Board at Darnall Charter School, both schools his son attended. David has also worked on the development of several charter schools in San Diego. His contribution to education is a focus on providing operational knowledge, support, and expertise so educators can focus on educating students. He lives in the College Area with his fiancé and son and is active in his son's extracurricular activities. David is excited to be a part of the team that will grow Thrive Public Schools to serve students throughout San Diego.
Director of Partnerships & Communications
Sarah brings an array of experience and skills to her work at Thrive, with the last seven years of her career spent in both K-12 schools and nonprofit organizations.
She began her career through Teach For America, as a 2nd grade teacher in San Antonio, Texas, where she was nominated for the “SAISD Rising Star Award” for exceptional teaching and classroom innovation. When she moved to San Diego, she worked for the Mission Valley YMCA and piloted a group of after-school literacy intervention programs at three public schools in the Linda Vista community, along with the Bayside Community Center. She later helped open and operate e3 Civic High School in its founding year. Most recently, Sarah served as the Regional Director of Expanded Learning Programs for the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA & East Region 3, overseeing contracts, partnerships and operations with fourteen different schools across Logan Heights, Downtown, Southeast, and East San Diego.
Sarah believes deeply in the power that an excellent and relevant education can have on the well-being of a child and their community, and she brings that passion to her work every day.