Our Mission, Vision & Commitment to Equity

For more than 25 years, The Accelerated Schools (TAS) have embraced a commitment to academic excellence and achievement guided by the belief that all students can excel when nurtured in a school environment that combines high expectations for students, and active involvement from parents and the community.

TAS prepares students with the foundational knowledge, tools and skills needed to be productive, engaged citizens and lifelong learners. Our goal is to instill from an early age the important academic and character strengths that will help them succeed in college, career and life.

We believe TAS enriches the lives of students and their families through a mix of academic, cultural, and community-focused programming and has been instrumental in transforming the South Los Angeles community.

students doing science experiment

Our Mission

The Accelerated Schools will graduate students who are prepared to succeed at the university and career of their choice who will enter the workplace as informed and productive employees, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and will act as responsible citizens.

Our Philosophy

The Accelerated Schools were founded on the belief that every child should be treated as gifted, with an emphasis on high expectations for student achievement, a supportive learning environment, and extensive parent involvement.

Our Commitment to Equity

At The Accelerated Schools, educational equity is continuously creating and implementing practices that are culturally responsive, and honoring voices from all educational and community partners. Through curiosity, inquiry, self and system reflection, we disrupt inequitable systems so that students graduate in four years, college, career and/or life ready.

Our History


Co-founders Johnathan Williams and Kevin Sved embark on journey to create TAS


TAS opens in a rented space with 50 students in grades K-5, making it the first charter school in South Los Angeles


TAS moves to larger, 3.9 acre facility donated by Carole Little & Leonard Rabinowitz


TIME Magazine names TAS the Elementary School of the Year, calling it one of the nation’s “most accomplished K-12 institutions”


With a generous lead gift from the Annenberg Foundation, the Wallis Annenberg High School (WAHS) opens its door to serve grades 9-12


ACES, a dual language immersion program for grades K-6, is established


Wallis Annenberg High School earns Gold Medal Award, and ranks in the top 500 high schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World Report names WAHS a Top High School in the U.S.


Grace Lee-Chang appointed CEO


Wallis Annenberg High School receives 6 Year WASC Accreditation


Wallis Annenberg High School receives distinction, named to the AP School Honor Roll by the College Board

CEO’s Message

Dear TAS Community,

It is with great honor that I assume the role of CEO at The Accelerated Schools. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented community of educators and staff. Your hard work and partnership are the cornerstones of our tradition of excellence, and I am excited to continue building on this strong foundation.

This work is deeply personal to me. My family moved here from El Salvador in 1980 and I was raised in East Hollywood by a single mother who cleaned houses to put food on the table. I am the first person in my family to graduate from high school and college. My college degree has been the largest difference maker in my life because it has provided me with access to the world, a career, and a socioeconomic ladder.

I have dedicated most of my professional life to serving youth who come from similar circumstances because we know that our students can achieve at high levels when we provide them with the right care and support. This is my life’s purpose and it is why I am excited to be part of The Accelerated Schools’ mission of graduating students who are prepared to succeed at the university and career of their choice.

Over the summer and Fall months, I will be visiting TAS classrooms and schools to get to know you, our students and our community. I want to listen to your experiences to help inform how we will move together over the next couple of years to serve our students.

TAS’ commitment to academic excellence and the well-being of our students remains our top priority. Thank you for your continued dedication and support. I look forward to the incredible work we will accomplish together.

Warm regards,

Jesse Melgares

Our Leadership Team

Jesse Melgares

Chief Executive Officer

Cynthia Foley, Ed.D.

Chief Human Resources Officer

Debbie Kukta

Chief Business Officer

Lenita Lugo

Lenita Lugo

Director of Access, Equity, and Compliance

Robert French

Director of Human Resources

Thomas Crowther, Ed.D.

Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Francis Reading

Director of Elementary Education

Lucy Hilarides

Principal, TAS TK-8th

Brian James, Ed.D.

Head of College and Career Readiness

David Tran

Head of Academics and Faculty Affairs

Our Board of Trustees

Leonard Rabinowitz
Christie’s International Real Estate
Board President

Binti P. Yost

Mario De La Cruz
TAS Parent Representative

Peter B. Morrison
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Board Vice President

Lawrence Picus, Ph.D.
Rossier School of Education, USC

Lindsay Berz, CFA
Oak Tree Capital

Brittany Brooks
ACES/TAS Parent Representative

Presidents Emeritus

Scott Bottles
Wells Fargo & Company

Eric C. Johnson
Victex Inc. / Crail Johnson Foundation

Juli P. Quinn, Ph.D.
FREEducation, LLC

Simeon P. Slovacek, Ph.D.
California State University, Los Angeles
Vice President

To view board meeting dates, click here. To view board meeting materials, click here.