Who's Who in Admission

Meet the Office


Admission Team
From left to right: Mike Payne, Coco Parham, Palmer Straughn, and James Garland

 

CONTACT US

 
TOLL-FREE
1-800-422-3212
ADMISSION OFFICE FAX
828-209-0003
Palmer Straughn
Director of Admission and Financial Aid
828-684-6232 ext. 118
pstraughn@christschool.org
Mike Payne
Associate Director of Admission
828-684-6232 ext. 117
mpayne@christschool.org
Coco Parham
Admission Office Manager
828-684-6232 ext. 106
cparham@christschool.org
James Garland '10
Assistant Director of Admission
828-684-6232 ext. 162
jgarland@christschool.org
 

 

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Admission Staff

Prospective families will find that James Garland ’10 speaks from experience when he talks glowingly about Christ School.

Ten years after his own graduation, Mr. Garland has returned as newly-named Assistant Director of Admission. He will be a dorm parent in Gardner House for the 2020-21 school year and an assistant JV basketball coach. 

Mr. Garland is a former Headmaster's Cup winner who attended Christ School for four years. During that time, he was active in the Theater Department and played basketball. 

Mr. Garland had been involved in corporate sales since graduating with a B.S. in Business Economics from Wofford College in 2014. His hobbies include basketball (Mr. Garland is a diehard UNC-Chapel Hill fan) and caring for his 2-year-old dog, Josie, a Great Pyrenees who he adopted in April 2020. 

 

Coco Parham has been an Office Manager at Christ School for 16 years now, the past three in Admissions. 

Mrs. Parham previously worked for 13 years in the College Guidance Office as an administrative assistant and testing coordinator.

Mrs. Parham graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a B.A. in 1987. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, and watching a great movie. She prides herself on being an animal advocate, and has volunteered in the past with the Asheville Humane Society.

Mrs. Parham is married to Christ School Associate Athletic Director and Strength Training Coach Duncan Parham. They have two children, Ellsworth ’13 and Emma.

After coming here every summer for the past 12 years to work at Camp Ridgecrest in Black Mountain, Associate Director of Admission Mike Payne was delighted to finally be a first-time resident of the Asheville area in 2018.

Mr. Payne was born and raised in Warrenton, Va., with a family tradition of boarding school; one of his grandfathers is a graduate of Virginia Episcopal and a great grandfather was a headmaster at Northfield Mount Hermon School. Mr. Payne himself graduated from Virginia’s Christchurch School, where he served as a prefect, played baseball and soccer, and was a head tour guide. He graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in English from the University of Mary Washington.

After college, Mr. Payne lived in Charleston, S.C., and Chatham, Va., where he served as an admission counselor, presidential ambassador coordinator, and varsity baseball coach at Hargrave Military Academy.

Mr. Payne’s hobbies include playing guitar, watching sports, being active in the gym, and traveling.

Enrollment and overall interest in Christ School have remained at peak levels in the four years that Palmer Straughn has been Director of Admission. 

Mr. Straughn worked in college admissions for 13 years before coming to Christ School in 2017. 

A seasoned fly fisherman and backpacker, Mr. Straughn could not have picked a better school to continue his work in admissions and fuel two of his greatest passions. Christ School’s location offers world-class fly fishing and some of the Southeast’s best hiking. After heading the Outdoor Program at Wofford College, Mr. Straughn graduated with a B.A. in History in 2004 and began as an Admission Counselor at Lees-McRae College. Mr. Straughn would go on to advance to Associate Director of Admission and Senior Associate Director of Admission at Wofford. 

Mr. Straughn co-presented “Navigating the NCAA and Admission” at the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC) Drive-in Workshop (2015), and followed that effort the next year by co-presenting “Application Case Studies.” At the SACAC’s annual conference in 2014, Mr. Straughn co-presented “Not Just a Small School: The Benefits of a Liberal Arts College.”

Mr. Straughn and his wife Sara live on campus in Peachtree House.