The Whetstone Academy Team


John L. Singleton, Jr., Ed.D.


Dr. John Singleton has 30 years of experience working in education and 15 years of experience in therapeutic school leadership. John’s extensive education experience is steeped in life-changing results and award-winning programs.

In early 2000, John’s strong belief in multisensory learning and an individualized approach to education guided him from public school administration into the Program Director role at Stone Mountain School, a therapeutic wilderness boarding school in Black Mountain, NC. A few years later, he used his knowledge and management experience to help establish New Leaf Academy of North Carolina, an all girls’ therapeutic boarding school. By 2006, he became the Executive Director of Cedars Academy in Delaware, a program for Autism Spectrum Disorder students; a role he continued for four years before serving as President and Head of School at Brandon Hall in Atlanta. During his five years at Brandon Hall, he was instrumental in overseeing the school’s 700% growth in student enrollment, facility development and creation of a 21st Century technology enriched learning model. Finally, for the past year and a half, he has been the Director of Business Development at Trails Carolina, a therapeutic wilderness program in Western North Carolina.

John has presented nationally and is published on the subject of Educational Leadership and learning differences. His most recent presentations include: CASE-NAIS National Conference Pre-Conference Advancement Master Class, January 2013, Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), Philadelphia, PA, May 2011 and Texas A&M University - Southwest Teaching and Learning Conference in 2010.

He has attended Harvard Graduate School of Education - Independent Schools Institute. He has also furthered his studies at Yale Child Study Center in 2008; Minds and Hearts Clinic, Tony Attwood, Ph.D. in 2007; and The Medical University of South Carolina, Russell Barkley, Ph.D. in 2006.

John received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education from Gardner-Webb University and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2010 from the University of Phoenix. His research was focused on the topic of Educational Leadership and working with students on the Autism Spectrum.

In his spare time, John enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with his family and dogs.


Kevin B. Decker, Jr.

Director of Admissions & Marketing 

 Kevin began working in the mental health field at the early age of 12 as a volunteer for the state of North Carolina. During his 2 ½ years of volunteer service, he was awarded the North Carolina Volunteer of the Year by The Honorable James B Hunt, Jr., Governor of North Carolina in 1994. After high school, Kevin began working at the state mental health facility in Morganton, North Carolina as a residential supervisor.

After 11 years of service to the state, he began working at Stone Mountain School, a therapeutic boarding school in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Kevin then focused his career in the education field as the Director of Student Services, Associate Dean of Students, and Director Consultant Relations at an independent boarding school in Atlanta, GA. He then worked as Director of Admissions/Marketing for the east coast for Sedona Sky Academy and Ashcreek Ranch Academy. Most recently, Kevin was a Group Home Director for RHA in Asheville, NC.

Kevin has his degree in Business from American Intercontinental University. When Kevin is not working, he with his family and their 3 dogs, Otis, Moo & Shelby.



Talina Dehler, HS-BCP

Director of Program Services

Talina is a native of the Oconee area. She brings to Whetstone twelve years experience working with adolescents in a therapeutic environment. Her experience has included positions as a Primary Counselor, Admissions Coordinator, and most recently the Director of Student Services. She has an Associate’s Degree and Bachelor's Degree in Human Services as well as certificates in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Talina also holds a certification as a Human Service-Board Certified Practitioner. In addition, Talina has six years experience working with victims of sexual assault. Her compassion and commitment for others can be seen through her interactions with the boys and their families.  Talina enjoys working with families because in her words “There is nothing more rewarding then getting to see a family’s success.” 

James Holcomb

Director of Operations and Human Resources

Teacher: Science and Social Studies Teacher

James graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education in 2005.  He taught middle school science for 3 years in the public school system in South Carolina before moving to the therapeutic boarding school setting.  James has accumulated over 8 years of experience working with boys in this setting.  He has served various roles including:  counselor, direct care staff, soccer coach, day and weekend manager, and teacher in therapeutic boarding schools.  James is a vital team member at Whetstone Academy that is avid about the continual improvement of the program.  He loves to literally get dirty in the school garden and on the field playing flag football.  He also understands setting firm boundaries while adhering to the idea of unconditional positive regard for all our boys at Whetstone Academy.


Daniel Capps

Director of Academics

Daniel is a native of South Carolina.  He graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education.  Upon completion of coursework at Clemson, Daniel worked in numerous classroom settings, most often supporting students with disabilities.  Once at Whetstone, Daniel received his Upper Elementary Montessori certification through North American Montessori Center (NAMC), which he implements day to day in guiding his students through academic concepts. Daniel believes that students become most pliable when a healthy rapport is kindled between the student and adult.  Doing his best to offer a positive, engaging learning experience, Daniel guides and directs his students in finding their strengths and weaknesses in order to recognize and utilize their full potential throughout their academic journey.

Butch Clay

Director of Erdkinder

Butch Clay brings ten years experience as a teacher in a therapeutic school setting, five of those years at Whetstone, where he was a founding staff member.  Butch has directed both the academic and Erdkinder programs, although his current focus is the Erdkinder program. 
Butch earned a B.A. in English at Georgia College in 1977, and an M.A., English, at Clemson in 1990. He is NAMC Montessori certified and is also a certified SC Master Naturalist.
He studied theology at Emory University for a year before traveling extensively all over the world and holding down a wide variety of jobs from offshore oilfield roughneck, to river guide, whitewater photographer as well as executive director for a grassroots conservation organization and regional director for a national wilderness conservation organization.

Buthch published a book, The Chattooga Sourcebook:  A Guide to the Human and Natural History, in 1990.
Butch is an inveterate wilderness walker, an avid photographer, a devoted gardener and enthusiastic student of the woods and fields of the Whetstone campus and surrounding wildlands. He swims a lot, often with the boys, once the lake warms up enough. Butch believes that children are at once our greatest gifts as well as our gravest responsibility. According to Butch, “Working afoot day to day in the matchless Whetstone Erdkinder environment keeps me close to the wild soul of Mother Earth, and teaching these young men how to farm and sustain themselves as woodsmen keeps me close to the beating heart of life itself. I love it."



Dr. April Richardson


Dr. Richardson is an Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatrist. Dr. Richardson provides treatment to a wide range of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatric illnesses including: depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, and substance use.

She is also available for consultation and forensic evaluations in both criminal and civil matters. This can include: Competency to Stand Trial and/or Criminal Responsibility evaluations, Psychiatric Disability evaluations, Independent Psychiatric evaluations, Workers Compensation, and Personal Injury/Psychiatric Harm evaluations. Dr. Richardson is also trained in both ChildFirst and Advanced ChildFirst, which is a nationally established training program for child abuse evaluations.

Dr. Richardson received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and attended medical school at Michigan State University. Dr. Richardson then completed her training in Adult Psychiatry at the University of South Carolina/Palmetto Health Alliance. She completed additional training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry at the University of South Carolina/Palmetto Health Alliance. Dr. Richardson is board certified in Adult Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Forensic Psychiatry. 

Research Participation 

  • “Attitudes Towards the Mentally Ill in the Department of Juvenile Justice Correctional Officers – A Survey” April Carpenter, M.D., Jennifer Pender, M.D., Jamae Campbell, M.D., and Richard Frierson, M.D., This research is in process with Dr. Pender and Dr. Frierson in which we are looking at the attitudes correctional officers in the DJJ system have toward the juveniles with mental illness, 2010-2012.
  • “Meeting Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder in a Teenager without Conduct Disorder, A Case Report” April Carpenter, M.D and Craig Stuck, M.D., 2010-2011.
  • “Referral Bias in the Inpatient Adolescent Chemical Dependence Unit” April Carpenter, M.D., Jennifer Pender, M.D., Megan Howard, M.D., Christian Neal, M.D. This research is in process with Dr. Pender, in which we are looking at referral bias in the adolescent chemical dependence units, 2010-2011.

National Presentations 

  • “Treating Adolescent Depression: Thinking Beyond the Black Box” April Richardson, M.D. Annual Meeting for the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatrists/International Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, New York, NY, 2015.
  • “Ecstasy on the Big and Small Screens: How Movies and TV Have Portrayed MDMA Over the Past Decade” Jesse Rayle, M.D., and April Carpenter Richardson, M.D. Annual Meeting for the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatrist, New York, NY, 2012.
  • “Therapy Bites: Promoting Competence in Psychotherapy Through an Exploration of Vampire Fiction” Ashley Jones, M.D., Leslie Frinks, M.D., Nioaka Campbell, M.D., Linda Hazlett, PhD, Rudolph Parish, PhD, April Carpenter, M.D., New Research in the Young Investigators Poster Session of the APA Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2010.
  • “The Prevalence of Substance Abuse and Compliance to Treatment in Patients with Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome: A Retrospective Database Analysis” Kimberly B. Rudd, M.D., Rachel A. Houchins, M.D., David Henderson, M.D., April Carpenter, M.D., Ruskana Mirza, M.D., Meera Narasimhan, M.D., and Divya Ahuja, M.D. New Research in the Young Investigators Poster Session of the APA Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., 2008.

Regional Presentations 

  • Depression in Adolescent Girls, April Richardson, M.D., Riverside High School, January 2015.
  • Suicide Education at the Warehouse Theater, April Richardson, M.D., Forum Before the Show – Romeo and Juliet, March 2013.
  • Education about Mental Health in the Workplace, April Richardson, M.D., Upstate Corporate Healthcare Seminar, March 2013.
  • “An Overview of Changes in the Criminal Personality in the DSM: A Case Report of Diagnostic Confusion in the Adolescent Offender” April Carpenter, M.D, Young Investigators Poster Session of the SCPA Annual Meeting, Charleston, SC, 2011.

Honors and Awards 

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Resident of the Year, June 1, 2010-June 30, 2011
    • Awarded for Outstanding Work Clinical Work with Children and Families
  • USC School of Medicine Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program Training Director’s Medical Examiner Student Educator Award, July 1, 2010- June 20, 2011
    • For the Year’s Most Exemplary Resident Service as a Medical Student Educator
  • REAP Award, Resident Excellence Action Program, General Psychiatry Residency, 2007
    • Departmental Award Given to Residents to Recognize Outstanding Achievement
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, 2006-Present
  • Golden Key National Honor Society, 2001-Present

Professional Society Memberships 

  • American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry
    • Secretary
  • South Carolina Psychiatric Association

Lectures and Didactics 

  • “Stop… Don’t Shoot: School Violence and the Role of Mental Health Practitioners in Violence Risk Assessments” April Carpenter Richardson, M.D., Palmetto Health/USC School of Medicine, June 2012
  • “Introduction to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy” April Carpenter Richardson, M.D., Palmetto Health/USC School of Medicine, May 2012.
  • “Neurobiology of Depression” April Carpenter, M.D., Pharmacology and Physiology Graduate School at USC, August 2011.
  • “Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Jeopardy” April Carpenter, M.D., Palmetto Health/USC School of Medicine, July 2010-June2011.
  • “Child and Adolescent PRITE Review” April Carpenter, M.D., Palmetto Health, 2010.
  • “Child and Adolescent PRITE Review” April Carpenter, M.D., Palmetto Health, 2010.
  • “Childhood and Adolescent Disorders as a Predicator of Young Adult Disorders” Child and Adolescent Journal Club, University of South Carolina Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010.
  • “Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents” April Carpenter, M.D., 2011.
  • “Teens and Texting: The Good the Bad and the Downright Dangerous” April Carpenter, M.D., and Nioaka Campbell, M.D., Grand Rounds, Medical University of Georgia Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2010.
  • “The ABC’s of Behavior Management” April Carpenter, M.D., Palmetto Health, 2010.
  • “Oxytocin Increases Retention of Social Cognition in Autism” Child and Adolescent Journal Club. University of South Carolina Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010.
  • “A Case of Bipolar Disorder in a Multiple Sclerosis Patient” April Carpenter, M.D., and Ashley Jones, M.D., Chairman’s Rounds, University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2009.
  • “Evidenced Based Medicine of Treatment Advances in Bipolar Disorder” Brian Dundas, M.D., April Carpenter, M.D., Shaw Wendi Woods, M.D., Laurie Harden, M.D., Juliet Glover, M.D., Kara Sieverdes, M.D., University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2009.
  • “A Case of Capgras Syndrome” Rukhsans Mirza, M.D., and April Carpenter, M.D., Chairman’s Rounds, University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2008.
  • “The Frequency of Cognitive Impairment in Patients with Anxiety, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder: An Unaccounted Source of variance in Clinical Trials” April Carpenter, M.D., and Christian Neal, M.D., Journal Club, University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2008.
  • “Practical Based Learning: Does a Reminder Phone Call Increase Attendance in the Outpatient Clinic?” April Carpenter, M.D., Gariane Gunter, M.D., Ashley Jones, M.D., April Morcigilio, M.D., Christian Neal, M.D., Wendi Woods, M.D., University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2008.
  • “Evidence Based Medicine of Body Dysmorphic Disorder” David Henderson, M.D., Brian Dundas, M.D., Rukhsana, Mirza, M.D., April Carpenter, M.D., Ashley Jones., M.D., Christian Neal, M.D., University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2007.
  • “A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Panic Disorder” April Carpenter, M.D., and Nicole Paier-Mullan, M.D., Journal Club, University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2006.
  • “Booze, Drugs, and Crime: The Missing Link in Substance Abuse Treatment” April Carpenter, M.D., Richland Springs Hospital Faculty and Staff, November, 2006.