FOCUS LEARNING ACADEMY STAFF
Abdirizak Farah, Superintendent
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 three 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.
Elysia McLaughlin, Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. McLaughlin graduated from Ashland University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She taught 1st-4th grade for ten years in Florida, Arizona, Washington, and Ohio. She stepped into a new role as the curriculum coach this year, and she is enjoying her new job. When Ms. McLaughlin is not working, she enjoys traveling, cooking, running, and hiking. She enjoys being 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. She believes that children learn best when they feel like they are part of a community. Ms. McLaughlin thinks that building a classroom community helps foster a sense of belonging and promotes positive social skills and academic achievement. She does her best to create strong partnerships with families.
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.
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.
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.
Sarah Beatty, Art Teacher
Ms. Beatty is the Art teacher at FLANC for kindergarten through third grade. In art, Ms. Beatty encourages creativity and independence while working with the students on various art projects. Ms. Beatty grew up in Pickerington and went to college at Ohio University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2017. Before coming to Focus Learning Academy, Ms. Beatty taught preschool and first grade. She now lives in Columbus with her puppy, Nova, and cat, Fozzie. This is her first year at FLANC and her first year teaching art. She is excited to grow and learn alongside the students and staff here at Focus. When she is not teaching, Ms. Beatty enjoys going to the beach, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy beings with a learning community that is positive, safe, and caring. I believe that students learn best when they feel comfortable and welcomed by those around them. As an educator, I feel it is my job to help students feel motivated, respected, and loved. This creates an environment in which the students can work freely to reach their full potential.
Briana Albert, RAZ Teacher
Ms. Albert is the RAZ teacher at FLANC. RAZ is an online guided reading program with interactive books and reading quizzes that is used to improve independent reading and writing skills. She is from Brook Park, Ohio and moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University, where she majored in Early & Middle Childhood Studies and graduated in 2016. She obtained her PK-3rd grade teaching license through Indiana Wesleyan University in 2018 and recently obtained a K-12 Reading Endorsement through Muskingum University. In the past six years, she has worked as a babysitter, a toddler teacher, a preschool teacher, a teacher’s assistant, a tutor, a summer camp teacher, a substitute teacher, and an early childhood intervention specialist.
She is thankful to be given the opportunity to work with many kinds of children who teach her new things every day. When she is not teaching, she enjoys reading, baking, playing video games, taking walks, and spending time with her pet dog and rabbit.
Teaching Philosophy: My goal as an educator is to share the joy of learning. A child-centered classroom rich with opportunities to discover and collaborate will encourage students to be active participants in their learning. My desire to teach the whole child will ensure that each student is given the opportunity to thrive and will support the development of skills that promote success in the classroom and beyond.
Katherine Ford, RAZ Teacher
As a member of the RAZ team at Focus Learning Academy North Columbus, Miss Ford works with students to improve independent reading and writing skills, using guided online programs, interactive books, and reading quizzes. Miss Ford was born and raised in Los Angeles, California--Ford’s hometown of Pasadena, California is known for the annual Rose Parade. Miss Ford moved to Ohio to attend Oberlin College and completed a Masters degree at The Ohio State University with a focus on multicultural education and literature. Miss Ford has six years of experience as an educator of students of all ages. While not in the classroom, Miss Ford works with a nonprofit college access program and after-school tutoring. Miss Ford enjoys reading, playing basketball, and Disney movies. Fun Fact: Miss Ford has seen every Disney animated musical released since 1989!
Teaching Philosophy: Children’s innate tendency to question the status quo, as well as their ability to imagine an ideal world without limits is crucial to the creation of a learning environment that will enrich all who enter.
Sherry Benson, STEM Teacher
Ms. Benson has been employed with FLANC since July of this year as a STEM teacher. She is a native of Mississippi and moved to Ohio in 1991. She is the fourth oldest of ten children, mother of three and grandmother of four. Her resume includes an Associate’s degree in Secretarial Science, a Bachelor’s in Ministry and Leadership and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning. Her career entails over 26 years of secretarial background for state government, private sector and thus far, about seven years in the educational arena.
Her educational philosophy is “show them that you care and they will show you that they can learn.”
Summer Huston, Kindergarten Teacher
Mrs. Huston is one of our Kindergarten 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.
Megan Powell, Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Powell started at Focus Learning Academy at the End of September 2019. She started as a building substitute teacher but is now enjoying her time as a Kindergarten Teacher. Before working at Focus, she worked with preschool students and the Head Start Program. She graduated from Urbana University in 2005 with her Bachelor of Science in early childhood education. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her 2 beautiful children. She also enjoys nature and being outside; playing sports or going for walks.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe that every child can learn at their own pace and levels. I believe that if given a chance to feel comfortable and safe they will soar and achieve any goals that are set. I also believe that if the child knows the teacher genuinely cares for them, they can build on that trust to become an even better student. I feel it is very important to really get to know and understand each student so that as an educator I can reach each individual learning style.
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
Ms. Trick received her bachelor’s of science in early childhood education from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is currently entering her third year of teaching after spending her first year of teaching as a lead teacher in a Head Start program in Columbus, Ohio and her second year at FLANC. 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.
Si Chen, First Grade Foundations 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, First Grade Foundations 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.
Sydney Johnson, First Grade Foundations Teacher
Mrs. Johnson 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. Mrs. Johnson graduated from Bluffton University where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education with her 4th and 5th Grade Endorsements. Mrs. Johnson 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 Mrs. Johnson is not in school she enjoys reading a great book, watching movies, and being outdoors. She loves doing all of these activities with her husband, 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.
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.
Kayla Sedwick, First Grade Teacher
Kayla Sedwick 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 Sedwick 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 2nd 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.
Hafsa Abshir, 2nd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Abshir is a graduate of Western Governors University with a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary studies (K-3 and a 4th and 5th endorsement). She is a mother of three young children. Her hobbies include cooking, spending time with her kids and traveling.
Kelsey Flinn, 2nd Grade 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.
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."
Ann-Sofia Threlkeld, 2nd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Threlkeld is one of the second grade teachers at FLANC. She started working at FLANC July 2019. She has taught many different grade levels and loves teaching. Mrs. Threlkeld earned her degree in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University in Dec. 2016. She has always lived in Ohio for most of her life. She has a passion for travel and experiencing different cultures. Mrs. Threlkeld is married and has a dog named Trixie.
Teaching Philosophy : My teaching philosophy is that the classroom is a community and each child contributes to that community. We learn together. “All students can learn and succeed, but not on the same day in the same way.” – Unknown.
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.
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
Breanna Whitmire, 3rd Grade Educational Aide
Ms. Whitmire or better known by the students as Ms. Breanna, is currently a student at Ohio State University pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education. She is a former FEEP student who loved FLANC so much that she decided to stay. She wants to be an Elementary School teacher and will receive her Bachelor’s Degree in 2022. She is from South Carolina and now lives in Hilliard, Ohio. She enjoys spending time with her daughter and watching Frozen on repeat. Ms. Whitmire is excited for this new opportunity here at FLANC.
Teaching philosophy: I believe that every child is a capable learner and should be treated as such.
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. Katie won our “2018 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 the two 4th grade educators at Focus Learning Academy. This is Mr. Wisehart's seventh 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.
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.
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.
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 Holmes, 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 second year teaching and her first year at FLANC. She is the science teacher for grades 4 and 5. 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!
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.
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.
Amanda Boyle, Substitute Teacher
Ms. Boyle started at Focus Learning Academy in the fall of 2019 for her first year of teaching. Ms. Boyle steps in for our teachers at Focus when they are out of the classroom. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelors in Health and Human Kinetics in 2017. After graduation she pursued a Masters of Education while coaching collegiate softball at Bethany College, WV. On her own time she enjoys exercise and coaching youth sports.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe when students are able to be themselves in a safe environment they will be successful. In turn I try to provide this safe environment where students can be themselves and feel safe doing so.
Susan Kelly, Substitute Teacher/Front Office Staff
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.
Karina Sanchez, Building Substitute/Classroom Aide
Ms. Sanchez started with FLANC at the beginning of December as a building substitute and classroom aide. She holds a BA in International Studies and Anthropology from California University of Pennsylvania, and an MS from the University of Edinburgh in Mediterranean Archaeology. She has experience working as an archaeologist in Pennsylvania, Ohio,West Virginia, Maryland, and New York, as well as in teaching English as a Second Language in Spain and in virtual classrooms, leading SAT preparation classes, and tutoring in history, English, math, Spanish, and more.
Teaching Policy: I believe education and a passion for learning new things are among the most valuable qualities for success. Every student has the potential to love learning, but it is necessary to find new ways to spark this within students and to meet their individual needs. Unfortunately, it is not always the case that students are able to receive one-on-one time with their teachers and mentors, so as an aid and educator I always try my best to meet these needs and keep students engaged and encouraged.
Bria Taylor, Educational Aide
Ms. Bria is looking forward to receiving her Bachelor’s degree in 2020. She has been working in the Early Childhood Education field for 4 years. She plans to continue to work hard to make a difference at FLANC. Ms. Bria’s goal is to one day become an educator for challenged students. She has always been passionate about working with children, so this is a career she plans to retire from. In her spare time, she enjoys going on family outings with her children and shopping.
Teaching Philosophy: As an educator, I learned that teachers can learn a lot from children. Children have a way of humbling us and teaching us patience. Being caring and consistent with children can change the world.
Monika Taylor, Substitute Teacher
As a Substitute Teacher, Ms.Taylor, instructs our Classrooms when the actual Teacher is away. Ms.Taylor has been working with children of many ages for over 15 years. She has been a Camp Counselor, Afterschool Teacher, Preschool Administrator and K-8 Teacher. She graduated from Central State University, receiving her Bachelors of Art in 2009. This is her first year at Focus Learning Academy with the hopes to make a positive impact on not only students lives but any life she comes in to contact with. Her hobbies include spending time with her son, family and friends. She loves to workout and travel.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe every student has their own way of learning and it’s up to the educators to build a relationship with the students and identifying their style of learning. I believe in creating a safe, fun, respectable environment.
Sekou Thiello, Maintenance Director
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.
David Zitko, Maintenance
Mr. Zitko is the maintenance man at FLANC and he is known around the school as Mr. Dave, Mr. Z and “The Fixer”. David recently retired early from the corporate world. He is a graduate from Wright State University with a degree in Philosophy and a minor in Communications and has worked for several companies in both the USA and Canada, including BMW Financial Services, BMW Motorcycles of North America, Discover Card, Time Warner Cable and Spectrum. An avid Do It Yourselfer at home who also enjoys working on his cars, golfing and working in the yard.
Teaching Philosophy: Although I am not an educator, I recognize that I am an influencer in the eyes of the children and it is very important to lead by example at all times. My goal is to provide a safe and clean learning environment for the students, teachers and staff.
Eddie Bigazo, Custodian
Mr Eddie is the primary custodian at Focus Learning Academy of Northern Columbus. He is married and has two daughters who graduated from Otterbein University. Mr Eddie is a resident of Columbus, Ohio and does a lot of volunteer work in the community. He is fluent in Spanish, as he was born in Peru. Mr Eddie grew up in New York City, New York. On the weekends (and sometimes during the week!), Mr Eddie often watches sports. His favorite team is Michigan in college football.
Teaching Philosophy: Although not a classroom teacher, Mr Eddie believes in children. He works hard so that the students have a clean and neat school in which to attend and excel. He believes that everyone can learn; it’s all in how much effort you put in.
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.