About Us


Mountain Laurel Academy

Mountain Laurel Academy is a non-profit, non-traditional learning center dedicated to serving the local community. Mountain Laurel was born from the closing of a local private school and the need for an alternative for students who do not thrive in larger environments. There is a strong focus on student accountability, motivation, and independence. Mountain Laurel believes that this approach will truly prepare students for the rigors of college study.

We believe strongly in the Christian values of caring, acceptance, and family and welcome students of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Our only requirement is that students are motivated and eager to learn and that families will support them in this unique learning environment.

In this small-school setting, we truly believe that all who attend and work here are “family”. We operate on this basis, and our expectation is that everyone treat each other with respect, compassion and understanding. In this way we hope to teach, learn, and grow in a nurturing, caring environment where all feel welcomed, safe, and among friends. 

Schedule a Visit

Our Address —
929 Cove Rd. Ste. D
Jasper, GA 30143
(770) 893-1064


Our Mission Statement

Mountain Laurel Academy’s mission is to provide our surrounding communities with an alternative to traditional educational options. We strive to offer an academically challenging curriculum to students who are educationally focused but who are not being well served in a larger-school environment and who need an option to traditional home schooling. This is achieved in a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment with an emphasis on critical thinking, independent study and accountability.

Board of Directors

Jeff Hites, Chairman & Co-Founder Hollis Lathem, Community Board Member
Danielle Barnes, Vice-Chairwoman Daniel Blackman, Community Board Member
Meg Norris, Secretary-Treasurer & Co-Founder
Geoff Chalk, Community Outreach

School Founders


Meg Norris, EdS

English, History, Spanish, Latin, Psychology, Economics & Government

Meg Norris is a doctoral candidate in education and a certified teacher in Georgia. She is co-founder of Mountain Laurel Academy and founder of Opt Out Georgia. She has delivered hundreds of speeches all over the country on standards-based education, student data mining, the effects of toxic stress in our classrooms, and child learning and development.

Meg lives in Big Canoe and is married to Ken Norris. She has two beautiful children, Marie Riley, a nurse practitioner in Athens, GA, and DK Norris an art student in NYC, and one spoiled fur baby, Simon.


Jeff Hites

Math, Science, Critical Thinking, Leadership

Jeff Hites began his life in education after retiring from a career in medical sales, medical education, and financial consulting. Following a lifetime of working with youth in church groups, Boy Scouts, Special Olympics, coaching, and the Shrine Children’s Hospital, teaching was a natural calling. A graduate of Penn State University with a degree in science, he brings to the classroom a science and math background, along with a wealth of real-world experience, and an innate curiosity about what makes things tick.

Jeff lives in Big Canoe with his wife, Barbara. He has two grown children. Katie, who is married to Air Force Captain Andrew, is an environmental engineer, law student, and mother of 2 year old grandson Wyatt. They reside in Florida. Chris is a wilderness guide in Alaska, a ski instuctor in Vail, Colorado, and part-time author.