Catalyst Academy Leaders

At Catalyst Academy, every scholar, family, teacher, and staff member will be embraced, respected, and supported. Everyone belongs here. We are a community and we love this community. 

Further, every member of our Catalyst Academy staff is committed to growth and equity inclusion. We are focused on opening doors of opportunity and preparing our scholars for college, career and life. This is also who we are as a community. We love our community

Here’s a glimpse at two of our founding staffers: 

Brian Smith

Founder & CEO

Brian Smith is the Founder & CEO of Catalyst Academy. Brian started Catalyst Academy based on his deeply-held belief that all children, and especially historically disadvantaged children, should have access to a great education, one that can be a catalyst for changing the lives of their family and community. Brian was formerly the Executive Director of Strategic Priorities at the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), where he led the district’s strategic planning process, and the development of K-2 literacy, and STEAM initiatives. Prior to his work at PPS, Brian’s career included a variety of roles in technology, corporate strategy, and online media. A native of Pittsburgh, Brian has a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed a two-year urban education leadership program through The Broad Center. Brian is the proud father of two wonderful children.

Darren Gray

Founding Principal

Darren Gray is the Founding Principal of Catalyst Academy. Darren is an experienced educator who started his career as a Teach for America Corps member serving at Simmons Junior-Senior High School in the Mississippi Delta. As a corps member Content Leader, Darren led professional development for teachers across the region. Darren later moved to Nashville, TN to serve as an 8th Grade Literacy Teacher at Liberty Collegiate Academy. After working as a teacher, he transitioned to the role of Assistant Principal. In this role, Darren led the coaching and development of teachers across several content areas. His leadership resulted in Liberty Collegiate having the highest increase in student growth across the seven school Republic Charter School network. Liberty Collegiate was also recently recognized as having student growth in the top 5% of schools in Nashville. A native of Alabama, Darren is a graduate of Samford University.

We’re thrilled to be  accepting applications for Kindergarten and 1st Grade for the 2020-21 school year. Become a member of the Founding Family at Catalyst Academy!

Catalyst Academy Charter School’s mission is to prepare all students for college, career, and life. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s core values of Belong. Grow. Achieve. reflect the school’s deep commitment to cultivating an inclusive supportive school community where everyone – children and adults – is focused on learning every day, in order for all students to define and achieve their dreams. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s education model is designed to close both the achievement and opportunity gap.  The approach couples rigorous core academics with a broad offering in the arts and sciences. Students will experience STEM learning daily and arts programming four days per week. Enroll your Kinder or first grader today!