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Will Kesler, Head of School

Will Kesler, Head of School

B.A. in Literature, The University of Virginia
M.A. in Literature, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Will Kesler has been involved in independent school education for more than 30 years, first as a student and then as a teacher, coach, and administrator. A product of the Baylor School, Will and his wife, Julie, returned to Chattanooga after attending UVA, and Will began coaching at The McCallie School and teaching and coaching at Girls Preparatory School. During his 14 years at GPS, he served as the head soccer coach, the director of summer academics, the head of the Honor Council, and the English department chair. 

In 2010, Will accepted a position as the Middle / Upper School Director at Deerfield-Windsor School in Albany, GA. In addition to administrative duties, he continued to teach English and coach soccer and was a member of Leadership Albany. After serving DWS for four years, he accepted the position as Head of School at Battle Ground Academy. 

The 2023-24 academic year marks Will's ninth year at BGA. During his tenure, the school has experienced record growth in enrollment and fundraising. In addition to his role at BGA, Will serves as a member of the ISA Strategy Collaborative, the SAIS DEI Task Force, and SAIS Accreditation Teams. When not directly involved in school activities, you will probably find Will avidly reading, writing, listening to music, enjoying great films, or perfecting a BBQ recipe.

Will and Julie have been married for 26 years and have three kids — Bennett (’19), Ellen (’20), and Walker (’24). Their family is involved in the community through their church, civic, and social organizations, and Julie is an assistant teacher at Mustard Seed preschool. In their free time, the Keslers enjoy time with friends and family, especially time spent cooking and entertaining. 


Rhonda Bennett, Head of Lower School

Rhonda Bennett, Ed.D.
Head of Lower School

B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Middle Tennessee State University
M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Middle Tennessee State University
Ed. S. in Instructional Technology from State University of West Georgia
Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Union University

With over 25 years experience in elementary and higher education, Rhonda joined BGA in 2008. Her Wildcat experience began at the heart of the Lower School as a classroom teacher. She moved into academic leadership roles before being named Head of Lower School at BGA in 2014. 

Rhonda is the proud parent of two BGA alums. 

Shannon Dishman
Head of Middle School

B.S. in Middle School Math and Science, University of Georgia
M. Ed. in Independent School Leadership, Vanderbilt University

Shannon joined BGA in 2023 after serving as Head of School at Atlanta Academy, an independent preschool through eighth grade school in Roswell, Georgia. Before being named Head of School at Atlanta Academy, she held several positions there, including Associate Head of School, Head of Middle School, Technology Integration Specialist, and Middle School Science Teacher.

Josh Montgomery, Head of Upper School

Josh Montgomery
Head of Upper School

B.A. in History, Kenyon College 
M.A. in Educational Leadership, Montclair State University

With more than 18 years of experience in independent schools, Montgomery joined BGA from Bayside Academy in Daphne, AL, where he was Head of Upper School since 2017. Prior to his 13 years at Bayside, he spent five years as a teacher and coach at Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Madison, MS.

He and his wife, Meredith, have two sons, Mays and Thatch. 


BGA Administrative Team

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Board of Trustees

Battle Ground Academy benefits from our Board of Trustees’ thoughtful, supportive guidance and unwavering dedication to the school, its mission, and its long-term success.


Matthew (Matt) C. Ligon ‘87, Chair
Colleen Hoke '87, Vice Chair
Ward H. Brown, Treasurer
Anna-Gene Chalfant O'Neal '84, Secretary


Adam J. Ballash
J. Hamilton Bowman V '93
J. Preston Brown VII '87
Cedric T. Coco
Elizabeth Pope Goodwin '06
D. Mike Hammontree
Greg M. Herman '84
James W. Jewell, Jr. '86
John B. Jewell IV '86
Christina (Tina) C. Jones
Kunu Kaushal '02
Lucibeth Mayberry
Sondra Morris
Charles E. Morton IV '89
Eric Schultenover '92
Camille S. Small '91
Stu Warren
Dr. Leonard G. Webster

Ex-Officio Members

William (Will) F. Kesler, Head of School
Andrew Phelps, Chief Business Officer
Jesse Underwood, Assistant Head of School for Advancement
Robin Goertz, Director of Enrollment Management
Jacqueline LaFont '07, Alumni Board President
Mary Looney, Parent Association President

Life Trustees

L. H. (Bill) Armistead, III '69
Tom F. Cone
John B. Jewell, III '62
Reese L. Smith, III '66