FOCUS LEARNING ACADEMY STAFF
Abdirizak Farah, Superintendent
Cindy Mercer, Treasurer
Travis Budd, Principal
Travis Budd began his educational career in the Columbus City School district in 2005 as a high school Science teacher and wrestling coach. In 2009 Travis became part of the Focus team as the only middle school teacher, after 3 years of teaching he accepted the position as a principal at Focus Learning Academy. This marks his sixth year as a principal at Focus.
His educational experiences have afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of people to meet the common goal of increasing student achievement and well-being.. By leading and coaching the staff, and the support of the community, Travis is committed to maximize everyone's potential at Focus Learning Academy of Northern Columbus.
Mr. Budd holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Otterbein College, a Bachelor's degree in Education from Bowling Green State University, and a Masters degree in Administration from Ashland University.
Teaching Philosophy: My educational philosophy is based on the uncompromising belief that all students can succeed through the combination of scientific, data based differentiated instruction, and hard work.
Jesse McKown, Dean of Students
As the Dean of Students Jesse McKown, or better known by the Students as Mr. M, functions as our Behavior Specialist and Safety Officer. He has been with Focus Learning Academy since the Spring of 2016 following his Graduation from Ohio University where he earned his Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Military Science. He is a Veteran and a Commissioned United States Army Officer where he actively drills on the weekends when not correcting behavior here at our school. His hobbies include spending time with his friends and family and exploring the world, to include the people within it. He has a deep love for learning and helping others.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in the power of investment. If you expect a child to invest in you, you must first invest in them. Children are in many ways no different than adults, they will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Jenna Moden, Curriculum Coordinator
Jenna Moden is the Curriculum Coach at Focus Learning Academy and has been with our school for two years. She collaborates with program coordinators (RAZ /Zearn) to help align state standards. Before she became the curriculum coach she was a second-grade teacher at FLANC. Mrs. Moden taught early childhood education for six years, four of those years took place in Dallas, Texas. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Middle School Education from the University of Cincinnati and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership. Her hobbies include shopping, eating out, traveling, watching sports and spending time with family and friends. She loves living life with her husband, son and dog, Mocha.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that every classroom presents a unique community of learners that varies in learning styles and abilities. My role as a curriculum coach is to provide students with the tools to accomplish their learning goals. I believe each and every child has the potential to bring something amazing into this world.
Khuloud Alissa, Math Coordinator
Khuloud Alissa has been with Focus learning Academy since the Fall of 2016. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science in 2003, and she worked as Information Technology teacher in Amman, Jordan for four years. She came to the United States in 2007 and worked as Pre-K teacher for five years in Columbus, Ohio. In 2017, she earned her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with concentration in Educational Technology. When she is not at school, she enjoys hiking, doing yoga, trying International Cuisine with her friends, reading books and watching shows about the world history.
Teaching Philosophy: As a program coordinator, my goal is to strengthen the foundations of 21st- century teaching and learning at our school and transform the math pedagogy by integrating the personalized digital learning with the math curriculum in order to adapt to our students’ different learning needs and increase their academic growth.
Monica Reed, ELL Coordinator
Monica Reed is the ELL Coordinator at FLANC and has been with our school for 4 years. In addition to providing support for our ELL students, she also helps lead our RAZ Kids Reading Program.
Mrs. Reed has been teaching English as a second language for ten years and has taught in Thailand, South Korea, and Turkey. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Law & Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Arts in TESOL from Ohio Dominican University. Her hobbies include traveling and trying new foods. She loves experiencing new adventures and cultures with her husband and daughter and spending time at home with their Turkish Tabby cat.
Teaching Philosophy: As an ELL educator, I believe it is essential to create a supportive environment where cultural differences and bilingualism are valued. It is important that all ELL students feel welcome in the classroom and know that their language and culture are valued by the teacher.
Jacqueline Melvin, Testing Coordinator
Jacqueline Melvin is the Testing Coordinator at FLANC and is starting her 6th year with the school. She schedules, implements and organizes all academic assessments here at FLANC.
Mrs. Melvin has been an educator for eleven years. She obtained a Bachelor of Education from Ohio University and a Masters in Education with a focus on reading and her Reading Endorsement from Ashland University. She's loves to read, craft, garden and most of all she loves spending time with her husband and two daughters.
Teaching Philosophy: As an educator I believe that each child should have the opportunity to obtain an education that will prepare them for the future.
Tara Kress, Reading Intervention
Focus Learning Academy welcomes Tara Kress this school year for reading intervention. She previously taught with a school district for several years, where she helped groups of students with their reading skills. Her love for learning and excitement about reading is going to enhance the learning experience for our students. She enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, watching movies and tv, and doing crafts.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe each student is unique and can achieve learning success when using their own learning style in a safe and positive learning environment. Students learn and understand concepts in different ways and feel encouraged to do their best when they know their teacher believes they can reach their learning goals in an environment that allows for positive learning experiences.
Brandi Nocera, Special Education Coordinator
Brandi Nocera has been working at FLANC for 6 years. She has worked as a middle school English teacher, Reading Specialist, and is currently an Intervention Specialist where she designs curriculum for special education students. She works directly with students and staff as well as working with parents and outside agencies. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Council of Teachers of English. She has many hobbies including crocheting, knitting, reading (horror stories especially!), and working with animals. She lives with her four cats, Cleo, Anniebelle, Popeye, and Little - not to forget her hedgehog Basil Buddy.
Teaching Philosophy: I strongly believe in the holistic education of all students with a focus on creating active and productive members of the community. I strive to provide growth in academics, social-emotional, technological, artistic, and physical aspects of my students' lives. I also believe that teaching life-skills is an important aspect of education. I strive to make learning fun for all of her students, creating lifelong learners, and engaging the spark of education for the rest of their lives.
Mohamed Abdulle, Technology Coordinator
Mohamed Abdulle, also known as Mr. Mo, works to ensure the technology in the school is functioning correctly and used properly. He also helps with other activities in the school whenever possible. He has been with Focus learning Academy since 2014 after finishing his study from Ohio state university in Biology and has also studied public administration at Franklin University. Some of his hobbies include watching movies with friends, reading, writing, and messing with electronics to see how they work.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that with positive reinforcement all students can learn and overcome the obstacles in their way. Negativity only breeds doubt that just adds to existing problems.
Susan Kelly, Front Office Staff/Substitute Teacher
As a member of the front office staff, Susan Kelly, or better known as “Mr. Kelly’s mom” assists in the office as well as filling in for teachers that are absent or helps in the classroom when needed. She has been with Focus Learning Academy since January of 2017. Mrs. Kelly retired from The Ohio State University with 33 years of service in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences where she worked as the Department’s fiscal officer. She found that she missed the interaction with the students and instructors so even though there is quite an age difference in the ages of college students vs the students here at Focus Learning Academy, the energy that comes from students eager to learn is still there.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe children have to know you care about them. If they feel that you do care about them, their feelings, and their ideas they will respond positively. One of my favorite quotes is “They may not always remember what you said or what you did but they will always remember how it made them feel”. I try to always make them feel good and proud of themselves.
Peter Min, S.T.E.A.M. Teacher
Mr. Min teaches Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Combined, these fields are known as S.T.E.A.M. This is his second year at F.L.A.N.C. and his 8th year teaching. He has taught science, math, and engineering in the past. Mr. Min earned degrees in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University and The Ohio State University. He also has an education degree from Otterbein University. While working as an engineer, Mr. Min worked on low friction metal coatings used in the Space Shuttle, and manufactured and performed R&D on body armor for our troops during the second Gulf War. He also helped manufacture and performed R&D on microlenses used in the telecommunications industry and in aircraft cockpit displays. In 2000, Mr. Min was a member of the Rockwell Science Center’s team of the year, “Micro-optics Commercialization”. In his spare time, Mr. Min enjoys playing disc golf, landscaping/gardening, kayaking, biking, and spending time outdoors.
Teaching Philosophy: I understand that students have varying backgrounds and experiences, and that they learn differently. I strive to get all students working at or towards their full potential. I look for and expect full effort and improvement. To help meet the individual needs of all students, I use a variety of teaching methods. I also enjoy getting my students interested in and thinking about potential science related careers.
Fred Paddock, TESOL Specialist
Mr. Paddock, son of an Ohio State University Botany professor grew up in the 50s and 60s on the north side of Columbus, Ohio. He traveled extensively with his family and later on his own, in the U.S. and Europe. He earned Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1981, built a sign company in the 80s and decided to teach in 1990. He taught art and drama for 16 years and has now been teaching English as a Second Language for 10 years. Mr. Paddock lives with his wife Vicki in Pickerington, Ohio, not that far from their three children, 11 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Outside of Family and teaching, Mr. Paddock enjoys playing guitar, art, writing and the outdoors.
Teaching Philosophy: As a teacher of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), I am uniquely positioned to support the transition of refugees and immigrants into their new surroundings while helping main-stream America to understand the newcomers. I believe the elements of effective education are: 1. Positive personal relationship with students, parents, peers and community 2. Continued learning in one's field of expertise and in general knowledge 3. Excitement and engagement in the subject and methods of what is taught 4. An environment that is intentionally organized to enhance and preserve learning through a person's innate curiosity and imagination
Leah Thompson, K-3 Art Teacher
As the K-3 art teacher, Mrs. Thompson collaborates with teachers about their curriculum, and transfers similar lessons into artwork during the student’s art class, which allows the students to have a creative outlet while still hitting necessary learning standards. This is her first year with Focus Learning Academy North. She graduated from The University of Akron in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Education, with a specific focus in language arts secondary education. Outside of FLANC, she is the head cheerleading coach for Genoa Middle School for the third year in a row. In her spare time, she runs a local craft business, and spends time with friends and family.
Teaching philosophy: I believe my role as a teacher is to connect what we learn in the classroom to the outside world and allow students to transfer who they aspire to be after school into projects in the classroom. This way, students will feel prepared to become who they want to be even after their education career ends.
Nan Rzasa, Kindergarten Teacher
Nan Rzasa has been teaching Kindergarten at Focus since 2009. She has been teaching Somali students since 2006. Nan graduated from Stephens College with a degree in elementary and early childhood education. She has attended Masters classes at Iowa State University and Ashland University. Nan is a proud Lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She was recognized for her service to the Delaware Raritan Council. Mrs. Rzasa spends her spare time tutoring and looking for projects that will help her teach kindergarten. She lives in Gahanna with her dog Bubbie and has extended family in Reynoldsburg and Ewing, New Jersey.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that every individual has the ability and desire to learn and that I can help the individual unlock those abilities for them to learn and better themselves.
Samantha Trick, Kindergarten teacher
Samantha Trick is a new kindergarten teacher at Focus Academy of Northern Columbus. Ms. Trick received her bachelor’s of science in early childhood education from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is currently entering her second year of teaching after spending her first year of teaching as a lead teacher in a Head Start program in Columbus, Ohio. In her spare time outside of school she enjoys outdoors hiking and canoeing. She also loves to read and write in her free time.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that all students deserve a high quality education that supports their growth both developmentally and academically regardless of external factors. I believe that education should focus efforts on building resiliency within students. This ensures that students approach all challenges inside and outside of the classroom with confidence and determination. In addition, I also strongly believe that it’s equally important in education to teach positive character traits. This includes those such as responsibility, compassion and kindness.
Erin Kelley, Kindergarten Teacher
Erin Kelley is one of our kindergarten teachers. She graduated in the spring of 2018 from Miami University where she earned a bachelors degree studying early childhood education. She has lived in Columbus, Ohio her entire life but loves to explore new places alongside of her friends and family. She likes country music, being outside, and warm weather. She is so excited to be a part of the FLANC family!
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in the power of strong relationships. Students need to feel safe and loved in their classroom and school. The connection I build with my students is what leads to the success of my entire classroom. Students will not reach their fullest potential learning from teachers they have no connection with. Show kids they are loved and cared for!
Summer Huston, First Foundations Teacher
Mrs. Huston is one of our First Foundations teachers. She graduated from Urbana University in 2003 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and has been a teacher at Focus Academy since 2013. Mrs. Huston continues to seek out professional development and partners with Ashland University, The Ohio State University and Resident Educator mentor programs for teachers. She has been named Teacher of the Quarter, Kindergarten Team of the Quarter and Teacher of the Year. Aside from being a teacher, Mrs. Huston is a wife and mother of three children. She enjoys spending time with her family, crafting and relaxing with a good book.
Teaching philosophy: I believe in the need and importance of teaching the whole child – academically, social/emotionally and behaviorally. I feel privileged to have one of the first impacts on a child’s education and foster their love of learning.
Sydney Steinke, First Grade Foundations Teacher
Miss Steinke, known as Miss S by her students, is excited for another year at Focus Learning Academy. She began her teaching journey last year as a kindergarten teacher, and had the opportunity to transition into a First Grade Foundation teacher this year. Miss S graduated from Bluffton University where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education with her 4th and 5th Grade Endorsements. Miss S was awarded as the"Rising Star" as a first year teacher. She worked very closely with her students and their families to help them strive academically to their fullest potential. When Miss S is not in school she enjoys reading a great book, watching movies, and being outdoors. She loves doing all of these activities with her fiance, dad, and brother.
Teaching Philosophy: No two children are the same. Which, to me, means there needs to be more than one way to teach a concept. I believe in tapping into the uniqueness of each student and working in ways that are suitable for each of their individual needs.
Si Chen, First Grade Foundation Teacher
Mrs. Chen is a 1st Grade foundation teacher. This will be her first year at Focus Learning Academy. She attended The Ohio State University for her undergraduate in Psychology and Ashland University for her teaching certification in Early Childhood Education. Her hobbies include traveling around the world, trying out new food in Columbus and spending time with friends and family.
Teaching philosophy: I believe that building positive relationships with the students on mutual respect and trust help sets the tone for a classroom community.
JoLyn Grover, K1 teacher
This will be JoLyn Grover’s first year at FLANC. She will be a First Grade Foundations Teacher and has been a teacher for a total of three years in the Columbus area. She received her B. A. in Early Childhood Education at Hiram college in Hiram, Ohio. Along with teaching, she has been a high school lacrosse coach since spring of 2015. Her hobbies include backpacking or hiking, lacrosse, hula hooping, and playing with her pup. She lives in the Dublin area with her fiancé Aaron and dog Nitro.
Teaching philosophy: I believe that a classroom should be a safe, caring community where children can be free to speak their mind and blossom and grow.
Kayla Huddleston, First Grade Teacher
Kayla Huddleston is starting her teaching career here at FLANC as a first grade teacher. She graduated in May of 2017 from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. After completing her education, she stayed in Athens, Ohio to substitute in the district that she completed her internship. This allowed her to strengthen the relationships that she began building during her last year of college. When not pursuing her passion of teaching young children Miss Huddleston can be found spending time with her 3 brothers and 1 sister. She also enjoys playing with her two cats and is busy planning a wedding for October 2019.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that it is very important to create relationships with each and every student that walks into my classroom. My goal is to accommodate my teaching towards every child so that they are learning in a way that is best for them. Every child is unique, and they deserve to be treated as such.
Anne Thompson, First Grade Teacher
This is Mrs. Thompson's third year teaching first grade at Focus Learning Academy. Previously, she taught kindergarten for six years in Indiana. Mrs. Thompson graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education. Currently, she is working toward her Master's in Literacy and Second Language Studies. She lives with her husband and seven-year-old son in Columbus and enjoys reading, writing, and riding her bike.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe the purpose of education is to promote maximum growth of the whole child, to prepare students to be productive members of a global society, and to emphasize lifelong learning.
Julia Fiffick, First Grade Teacher
This is Ms. Fiffick’s 1st year teaching at FLANC and she is so excited to be teaching 1st grade. She grew up in Seminole, Florida but has lived in Columbus, Ohio for the last 9 years. Ms. Fiffick loves teaching because no two days in school are ever the same. She enjoys watching her students grow and flourish and become passionate about their learning. When she’s not at school she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and going out to eat.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in a learning environment in which students feel comfortable, where expectations and rules are consistent and clear. It is important to me that students feel safe and comfortable enough to ask questions and be themselves. I also believe that all children can and will learn. I know that children learn through many different learning styles, and it is very important that I teach using many different methods to reach all children.
Aaron Beeler, 1st Grade Math Specialist
As a teacher at Focus Learning Academy Mr. Beeler has worn many hats, most recently he is helping as the first-grade math specialist. He has been with Focus Learning Academy since 2013 after spending time teaching on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. He received his Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Ohio State University and his Master's Degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that all students are unique and must be provided with an interactive and stimulating environment where they can feel safe to grow educationally, emotionally and socially.
Krystell Hernandez, 2nd grade teacher
Krystell Hernandez will be a 3rd year teacher in the Columbus area. She began her teaching career on the west side of Columbus near the Hilltop area. Previous to her teaching career, she earned a Masters degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee within a year. She is passionate about inspiring students to maximize their potential. She has worked In Focus for 2 years now. Krystell is from Miami, Florida and moved to Ohio two years ago. She is Hispanic which gives her the opportunity of being fluent in both English and Spanish. On her spare time, she likes to play with her two dogs. She loves to play the piano and violin and watch Netflix.
Teaching Philosophy: I am a teacher educator because I want to change the world. While I realize what I hope to accomplish is limited, I know education is where I can have the greatest impact. I want my students to understand that the professional world they will inhabit, the school, is not immutable. As future teachers they can make a difference and their classrooms can be healthy, supportive environments in which their own students can grow and learn.
Andrea Throckmorton, 2nd Grade Teacher
This will be Andrea Throckmorton’s first year teaching at Focus Learning Academy. She is super excited to start her teaching career here and can’t wait to get to know her students. She has an Early Childhood teaching degree for grades Pre-K through 5th. She attended Cedarville University and is originally from Ohio. Her hobbies include anything outdoors, volleyball, and loves adult coloring books while also spending time with family and friends.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that students learn best in a welcoming, collaborative, and supportive environment which I plan my classroom to be. In addition, students. parents, and teachers need to work together with mutual respect to better the student’s education experience.
Demita Sayre, 2nd Grade Teacher
Demita Sayre was born and raised in Grove City, Ohio. After high school, she attended Otterbein University where she obtained her BA and teaching certification. She taught in a private school before deciding to stay home and parent her 4 children. With three kids in college, she returned to the classroom and joined the teaching staff at Focus Learning Academy in 2016. Demita Sayre has a passion for learning and believes that every child can be taught. She sees each student as an individual and believes that the journey to success differs for each child; the key is to not expect them to all learn in the same way or at the same pace.
Teaching Philosophy: “We teach children; not subjects - not tests - not standards. We must study and know the child in order to teach them well."
Monika Miller, 3rd Grade Teacher
Monika Miller is one of the 3rd grade teachers at Focus Learning Academy. She is responsible for teaching the students all subjects throughout the year. She has been with Focus since August of 2014. Her first four years she taught 2nd grade. This will be her first year in 3rd. Mrs. Miller earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University and her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Antioch University Midwest. Her hobbies include reading, traveling to new places, and spending time with friends and family. She lives in Columbus and has been married to her husband for six years.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that all children are different and unique, which therefore requires specific attention and affection for them to succeed. I will strive to be that for each of my students; a teacher who loves each child that walks in her door and gives each of them not only an education, but a passion to learn.
Elysia McLaughlin, 3rd Grade Teacher
Ms. McLaughlin graduated from Ashland University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching for the last nine years in Florida, Arizona, and Washington. She is excited to be teaching in Ohio where she is close to her family and friends. When Ms. McLaughlin is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, cooking, running, and hiking. She is excited to be a part of the FLANC community and she looks forward to a great year!
Teaching Philosophy: Ms. McLaughlin believes that education is a community effort. It is important that her classroom is a community and that everyone, from the school staff, to the students, to the parents, must contribute in order to maintain a positive atmosphere. She does her best to create strong partnerships with families because she believes that it makes a huge difference in a child’s performance.
Patricia Goldrick, 3rd Grade Teacher
Ms. Goldrick, also known as Ms. G, is entering her third year of teaching 3rd grade at Focus Learning Academy of Northern Columbus. She has been teaching elementary students since 2011, after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor's of Arts in Elementary Education. Prior to earning her Bachelor's Degree, Ms. Goldrick taught preschool for over 7 years. During her time at FLANC, she has helped the students make tremendous academic and individual growth. She devotes many hours outside of the classroom to create an engaging and positive learning environment, individualized learning experiences and helping students reach their maximum potential. When she is not focused on her students' education, Ms. Goldrick enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her son, who is a freshman at Otterbein University. She also enjoys hiking and doing almost anything she can outdoors, especially in warm weather.
Teaching philosophy: I believe in the value of education. I believe in high expectations; it is important to challenge each student to do his/her best every day. In my classroom, we celebrate each other's strengths and encourage each other when things are difficult. "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on the ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein
Katie Hogan, 4th Grade Teacher
Katie Hogan is the 4th grade math and social studies teacher. This school year will be her third year at Focus Learning Academy. She obtained her Bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University in 2014 and her Master’s degree from the Mount Vernon Nazarene University in 2016. Last year, Katie won our “Student Growth” award for achieving high student growth measures in mathematics. She enjoys hiking and being outdoors, especially when she can do these things with her boyfriend and dogs.
Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy really begins with relationships. Building relationships with my students is my favorite part of the job and something I truly believe is crucial to a good learning environment. Another large part of my teaching philosophy is based on engagement. Whether that be choosing activities that interest the students, challenging the students, setting class goals, using technology, planning instructional time wisely, or planning activities where the students can be active. A well-planned and engaging lesson is the best way to prevent misbehavior, get the most out of instructional time, and hopefully pave the road for a genuine love of learning.
Anthony Wisehart, 4th Grade Teacher
Mr. Wisehart is one of two 4th grade educators at Focus Learning Academy. This is Mr. Wiseharts sixth year teaching at FLANC. Mr. Wisehart is a Westerville native and after attending Columbus State Community College he went on to study at Otterbein University. His hobbies include traveling, drawing, and enjoying good food. Mr. Wisehart has a strong passion for teaching and believes in the power of education.
Teaching Philosophy I believe that knowledge is a gateway to a better life. Education is vital to molding productive members of society. If a person is educated anything is possible.
Bethany Howard, 5th Grade Teacher
Mrs. Howard serves as one of our teams’ fifth grade teachers with a focus in Language Arts and Social Studies. She has been with Focus Learning Academy since the 2017-2018 school year. She also spent 4 years teaching these same subjects overseas where she was awarded the Teacher of the Year certificate for the city in which she worked. Mrs. Howard has a total of six years of full-time classroom experience as well as two years of substitute teaching experience. She attended The Ohio State University where she received her bachelors and masters degrees in Middle Childhood Education. She loves music and cooking and has shared these passions with students in the past through extra-curricular programs after school. She lives in the Columbus area with her husband and newborn daughter.
I strive to challenge my students to create attainable educational goals and then push them to reach those goals. I also desire to instill a love for learning and searching by creating a diverse curriculum that meets the needs of all of the students I come in contact with.
Kevin Polk, 5th Grade Teacher
Kevin Polk started teaching 5th grade Math and Science at FLANC in 2018. He has worked in space exploration, software, tiny house construction, and market gardening, and holds astronomy degrees from Princeton University and the University of Washington. He commutes year-round by bicycle and loves to cook.
Teaching philosophy: I don't expect anyone to always be right; all I ask of my students is to be brave and try.
Brandon Thompson, 5th Grade Science Intervention
Our 5th grade Science Intervention teacher’s name is Brandon Thompson. The students know him as Mr. T. This is Mr. Thompson’s first year at Focus Learning Academy, who holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from The University of Akron. In addition to his teaching role at FLANC, he is the Boys Soccer Assistant Varsity Coach at Hilliard Davidson High School. Additionally, Mr. Thompson has played collegiate soccer at Urbana University in 2011. He is looking forward to giving back to this community.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe every kid has the potential to achieve anything by putting in maximum effort. Students will be taught a Latin phrase, “nil satis nisi optimum,” which translates to, nothing but the best is expected. They will be held to this standard when working in my classroom.
Brent Momany, Middle School Mathematics Teacher
Mr. Brent Momany is our middle school mathematics teacher. He has been an integral part of FLANC for the past decade. During his first five years with FLANC, before transitioning to his teaching position, he worked with all grade levels as a Program Manager. During this time, he collaborated with the principal, staff, community, and business partners, assured compliance with all assigned grant requirements, oversaw the safe operation of the after-school program, and created essential parent and community involvement initiatives. In addition to his teaching position, Mr. Momany is the Teacher Based Team (TBT) Coordinator for the middle school team and works as a tutor with the after-school program.
Before his employment with FLANC, he worked with non-profit organizations where he developed and implemented educational and character building programs for youth of all ages. Additionally, Mr. Momany attended The Ohio State University where he studied mathematics, and earned degrees in education and psychology.
Mr. Momany was honored to receive the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year award. This award is given to the educator who supports students of all abilities to achieve academic success and become lifelong learners, collaborates well with colleagues, students and their families, as well as, demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom.
Some of Mr. Momany’s favorite hobbies include working out, over-eating, and anything related to football. He makes his best effort to be active at least 60 minutes every day, go to a buffet once a month, and attend as many Ohio State football games (home and away) as possible. He resides in Lewis Center, OH where he lives with his wife, Rebecca, and dog, Kohlbie.
Teaching Philosophy: Every student has the ability to learn when given an environment conducive to learning. I believe that mathematics is not meant to make things difficult, but instead to simplify difficult things.
Sid Casino, Middle School English Language Arts Teacher
Sid Casino is the middle school English language arts instructor this year at FLANC. This is his fifth year of teaching English and his second year at Focus. Mr. Casino graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2011, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing. After that, he received a Masters of Education in 2014 from Ohio University and is specialized in teaching integrated language arts for adolescent to young adult students. He is an inducted member of the Sigma Tau Delta English honors society and the National Council of the Teachers of English.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in turning students into not just excellent readers and writers, but exemplary members of society as well. This means placing emphasis on the development of character skills, strong work habits, and a desire to constantly improve. I love to teach reading and writing in a way that captures the interest of my students, thus fostering a love of literature that persists long after the year is over.
Kelly Rotte, Middle School Social Studies Teacher
Mrs. Rotte is the middle school social studies teacher at FLANC. This will be her 4th year teaching. She graduated from Northland High School in 2003 and graduated from Otterbein University in 2012. She has a bachelor's degree in middle school education specializing in language arts and social studies. She will be completing her TESOL endorsement within the next few months to help her better serve the ESL students at our school. In her spare time, Mrs. Rotte likes to spend time with her family be creative. She bakes, crochets and sews. She also loves going to concerts and live music with her husband. She and her husband have a cat, Katniss. They are also expecting a daughter in October of 2018.
Teaching Philosophy: I strive every day to challenge students to push themselves and become independent lifelong learners. I hope to be a resource for students and help guide them on a path to reaching their potential and finding their passion in life.
Magdeline Fields, Middle School ELA
Madgeline Fields is a fifth year teacher at Focus Academy. The first two years of her career she taught second grade students and is now in her third year of teaching Language Arts at the middle school. Madgeline began teaching at Focus Academy in December of 2012. Having earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cross Disciplinary Studies with a focus in Education (2007) from the
Ohio Dominican University.
Madgeline deeply cares about the students and their continued education. She strives to display in the classroom an atmosphere of learning, caring, and professionalism. Madgeline uses the information that she’s learned in her college classes, school administration, and peers to improve and expand her contribution in the learning experience with her students.
Teaching Philosophy: “Education is the Most Powerful weapon for changing the World.”
Kelly Homes, Middle School Science/Social Studies Hybrid Curriculum
Miss Kelly Holmes recently graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in grades 4-9 English Language Arts and Science education. This is her first year teaching and her first year at FLANC. She is the science teacher for grades 6, 7, and 8, teaching alongside Mrs. Rotte. Miss Holmes is incredibly passionate about the growth of students both academically and personally. She finds the most joy in teaching when students discover that they have improved their skills, knowledge, or ability in any area. Her goal is to always support students in their journey as learners. In her free-time she is usually playing video games and board games at home. Miss Holmes also enjoys hiking and running. She has recently moved to Columbus with her boyfriend who is currently studying in a PhD program at Ohio State University. Miss Holmes believes all young people deserve a student-centered education.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe students have the opportunity to learn most effectively during hands-on activities. I also believe it is important to support students in becoming independent, lifelong learners.
Tiffiny Miller, Middle School Small Group Math Instructor
Ms. Miller is the Small Group Math Instructor within the middle school team. She is excited to be able to help students find and master the concepts they may be having trouble with, that prevent them from understanding their grade level common core standards. Although this is Ms. Miller’s first year at Focus Learning Academy North she is a seasoned teacher having taught middle school mathematics as the lead teacher for 12 years. Born and raised in Ohio, she graduated from Appalachian state University, taught in NC for eight years, and returned to Ohio in 2013 to be back home with family. She enjoys exploring new places, fancy cupcakes, and family activities.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe all students can learn and be successful if they put their minds to it and believe in themselves. I aim to create a positive, team oriented learning environment where students can achieve a growth mindset. I want students to feel comfortable making and sharing their mistakes so they can learn from them. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” We are all in this together!
Amal Krourou, Arabic Teacher
Amal Krourou is an Arabic teacher for Focus Learning Academy. She has been working with the Focus community since 2014. She attended law school in Morocco. Mrs. Amal has been teaching the Arabic language for over ten years in various schools and places. She is experienced with connecting with children through a supportive and educational approach. Her hobbies include cooking, spending time with her family and friends, traveling, herbal medicine, and reading.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in individuality. I believe that every student is unique in their own way and I believe in discovering each and every student’s strengths and nurturing that. I want my students to be able to speak the Arabic language comfortably and with confidence.
Hafsa Abshir, Instructional Aid
Mrs. Abshir’s duties are to assist the teachers in the classroom. She is currently in school finishing her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary education in preschool - 3rd with an endorsement for 4th and 5th grade. She is a mother of 2 kids, a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. Her hobbies include cooking, spending time with her kids and traveling.
Teaching philosophy- I believe it is very important for an educator to always encourage their students and instill the belief that his/her students can achieve their goals. We as educators should always direct our students to the right way with the right intentions.
Lisa Wright, Intervention Support Teacher
Lisa Wright has been at Focus Learning Academy since the fall of 2017, first as a Kindergarten teacher and now filling the role of Intervention Support Teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as a veterinary technician, a pharmacy technician, on a farm, in research, in food service, owned a preschool/daycare for 7 years and worked as a Tutor in Germany and the Czech Republic. Her hobbies include reading, travel, and hiking. She lives in Delaware Ohio with her two teenage daughters, a 3 year old son, 2 cats and 2 dogs and 1 or 2 foster children when they need a home.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in active age appropriate instruction where the students are interested in learning more and make connections either to their current life situation or future goals. I believe reading and questioning are the foundations to lifelong learners.
Kelsey Flinn, Reading/Math Technology Intervention Teacher
As the Reading and Math Technology Intervention Teacher, Mrs. Flinn functions as an intervention teacher using technology to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of each student in foundational reading and math skills. This is her first year with Focus Learning Academy, where she came from teaching in the great state of Texas! In Texas she taught Kindergarten and First Grade for 2 years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Her hobbies include traveling, visiting coffee shops, going on hikes, and enjoying the outdoors.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that each child can be reached and has the potential to change the world! Every child has a story, and deserves to be loved. As teachers, we hold the power to pour kindness and love into each and every child that walks through our classroom doors.
Fatma Haji, Support Staff
Mrs. Haji has been with FLANC for two years. She is a support staff member in charge of making sure that students have support in all subject as needed. She is currently enrolled at Franklin University and in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree. Some of the key accomplishments that Fatma obtained are tutoring students in Math and Reading, resulting in a 3 letter-grade jump on average for each pupil, and increased standardized test score for students in Math and reading by implementing creative support into the coursework. Some hobbies for Fatma Haji are reading books, cooking, outdoor activities, shopping, and spending time with my
Teaching Philosophy: My philosophy is aiming to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations in the classroom each day.
Jean G. Manuel, School Bus Driver/Maintenance Technician
As a School Bus Driver and Maintenance Technician, Jean Manuel, or better known by the Students as Mr. Jean, he has been with Focus Learning Academy since the Fall of 2014 from Columbus city school district Graduate from Technical Career Institute where he earned his Associates Degree in Electronics. He is currently attending Ohio Christian University where he is studying Business Administration. His hobbies include being a Handyman, spending time with his friends and family and exploring the world, to include the people within it. He has a deep love for learning and helping others.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in the power helping others to grow, as a leader to my community I strive to make a difference daily. As for me I have great respect for people who taking the time out to invest in Children because they are in many ways the adults of tomorrow. They will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Sekou Thiello, Maintenance Director
As the School Custodian Sekou Thiello, or better known by the Students as Mr. Sekou, functions as a Handyman and Custodian. He has been with Focus Learning Academy since 2013.His hobbies include spending time with his friends and family and exploring the game of soccer, He has a deep love for learning and helping others.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe in the power of investing in people. I looked forward every morning to spend time with these kids they are my motivation. If you expect a child to invest in you, you must first invest in them. Children are in many ways no different then adults, they will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.