ADMINISTRATION

Gina Burkett

Gina Burkett - Head of School 

Gina entered the field of education shortly after earning her MBA and has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and an administrator. She is looking forward to beginning her 9th year with Academy Prep as their Head of School.  She brings Academy Prep the diversity of school management, marketing, and expertise within the educational realm. She has been involved in schools in New Orleans, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. She has served on the Florida Commission for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International who partners with SACS in accrediting Florida private schools) and brings much experience in the area of school accreditation. Although she has years of experience in both the areas of technology and initiating programs that foster differentiated learning, she has a passion to ensure that APSP has a commitment to professional development for its teachers and staff to ensure cultural responsiveness within its curriculum and school environment.

Email : gburkett@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2141

Ken Watson - Dean of Student Life

Ken Watson has served as Dean of Student Life at Academy Prep since 2019. He is a St. Petersburg native and holds a BS in Educational Studies from St. Petersburg College.  His role focuses on overseeing behavior and discipline on campus as well as guiding the enrichment activity program. Most importantly, however, he works with all of our scholars on character development and learning the 'AP Way' so they find productive ways to work through challenging situations and build stronger relationships with their peers. Mr. Watson really enjoys working with our families to ensure our children have a wonderful experience here at Academy Prep.


Email :kwatson@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2115

Ken Watson
Terika Walters Portrait

Terika Walters - School Counselor 

Terika Walters, a native of Miami Florida, graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Florida State University. Terika has served children, youth, and families in many different capacities over the past 9 years. Prior to joining the Academy Prep family, Terika worked as a Preschool Teacher, College Reach Out Program Camp Counselor, School Counselor, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Therapist. Terika also spent a week in St. Georges Grenada where she was instrumental in creating and implementing a curriculum on character development, and healthy relationships for adolescent mothers. Terika is motivated with a great zeal for children and youth, and always strives to ensure that she can provide emotional support, resources, and education to those that she encounters. Terika is excited to be a part of the Academy Prep family, and is looking forward to providing additional assistance to the students, faculty, and families served.

Email : twalters@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2107

Lee Lockhart - Operations Manager

Lee has been with Academy Prep since 2015 where he served as the Assistant Head of School before taking on his current role of School Manager in 2018.  Lee previously worked at Northside Christian School for 17 years where he served as MS Principal, Dean of Students, and Superintendent. Originally from West Virginia, Lee received his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Marshall University and his Master's Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Lee was also a member of the United States Air Force where he retired after 26 years of service and has two grown children and one amazing grandson.

Email : llockhart@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2122

Lee Lockhart
Anita Reece

Anita Reece - Admissions and Scholarship Coordinator

Anita was born and raised in St. Petersburg.  She has over 15 years in the corporate industry with a strong background in an administrative environment.  She is the mother of two college students, and one of her children previously attended Academy Prep. She aspires to contribute to the success of Academy Prep as a whole. She also looks forward to inspiring our students to become future lifelong stars in the community. 

Email : areece@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2105

Terrika Dixon - Administrative Assistant

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Terrika was raised in Florida. She graduated from Northeast High School and continued her education at Saint Petersburg College earning an AA in Business Management, and earning licenses as both a nail technician and esthetician from the American Institute of Beauty. She plans to enroll in the Miami International University of Art & Design next year to continue her studies. Terrika is excited to be joining the Academy Prep family as the Administrative Assistant, and is looking forward to helping our scholars continue to grow and succeed, and working to best serve our families. Terrika is the mother to one teenage son, loves animals, and if she had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of her life it would be peanut butter and banana sandwiches! 

 

Email : tdixon@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2100

Terrika Dixon Portrait
Faculty and Staff Portrait

Josh Bagger - Maintenance Manager

Josh comes to Academy Prep from Laurel, Montana where he supervised the maintenance and custodial crew for a 280 apartment unit complex. Josh and his family recently moved to Kenneth City, Florida in August 2020 and he is excited to be a part of the Academy Prep family as it reminds him of the private school his daughter attended through the 8th grade. Josh is looking forward to the upcoming school year when he can learn more about Academy Prep and our students. In his free time, Josh enjoys the outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.

Email : jbagger@academyprep.org

FACULTY

Brittany Dillard - Academic Dean & Upper School Mathematics Teacher

Born in Jacksonville, Brittany is a graduate of Edward Waters College, earning her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. She also graduated as senior class valedictorian.  Brittany furthered her education at Southern New Hampshire University and earned her Master of Science in Higher Education Administration as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology with a specialization in online education.  She has over 9 years teaching experience with the youngest grade being Pre-K. Brittany love's children and evolving and shaping young minds, always reminding students that education is the most powerful tool you can have that no one can ever take from you.

Email : bdillard@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2112

Brittany Dillard
Antez Brinson Portrait
Antez Brinson - Upper School Social Studies Teacher

Antez Brinson is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Geography from Florida A&M University.  Antez has 12 years of classroom experience in public and charter schools and has also served as an instructor with the Pinellas County Job Corps program.  He has not only served as a head football coach at the high school level, but he has also been involved in a local non-profit which is designed to assist high school student athletes obtain admission into college.  Antez will be teaching Upper School Social Studies for the 2021-2022 school year, but more importantly, he is looking forward to connecting with students and parents in an effort to further maintain the "AP Way."  

Email : abrinson@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2111

Laura Manke - Upper School English & Lead Humanities Teacher

Laura, originally from Illinois, moved to Tampa to attend the University of Tampa and to escape the cold Illinois winters. Laura’s journey with Academy Prep started in 2012 when she began an internship on the Tampa campus co-facilitating a “Too Good for Drugs” enrichment course. Following the internship Laura was fortunate enough to be able to continue her work with Academy Prep in St. Petersburg facilitating the Teen Outreach Program. Laura knew that she wanted to spend more time at Academy Prep, and was ecstatic to be able to join the team as the 5th and 6th grade Social Studies teacher in 2015. After 5 years in Lower School, and obtaining her Master's of Education from USF St. Pete in 2019, Laura followed her passion for writing and reading and moved up to the 7th and 8th grade ELA position. This experience and education has prepared Laura to take on the role of Lead Humanities Teacher, beginning in 2022. 

Email : lmanke@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2119

Laura Manke Portrait
Zach Brockett

Zack Brockett - Upper School Science & Athletic Coordinator

Zack is originally from Ohio. The son of two teachers, delving into education has always been close to his heart and he loves the idea of making an impact at a small school like Academy Prep. He graduated from Eckerd College with a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science, where he also served as a College Ambassador, peer mentor, and captain of the rugby team. At AP, he teaches Upper School Science, helping students grow in confidence and teaching them about the importance of the natural world.

Email : zbrockett@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2110

Trenton Hughes - Lower School English Teacher

Trenton Hughes hails from Virginia Beach, VA where he was able to display his faith and character through education and athletics. He attended the University of Maryland, College Park on a full four year scholarship. There he was able to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in Human development and Family Sciences. Trenton eventually obtained one of his biggest goals as he reached the NFL as an undrafted Free agent defensive back with the Miami Dolphins. After his experience in the NFL, he continued his passion in impacting youth through education, coaching, and mentorship. For the past ten years, Trenton Hughes has served the youth in different capacities. He was with the Baltimore County and City Public school districts for 7 years. The last 3 years he had the privilege of being a Youth Director at Set The Captives Free Outreach Center in Baltimore, MD. As an educator he passionately believes in inspiring and improving his scholars effectiveness in reading, writing and speech. Lead by faith, Trenton Hughes is looking forward to transition with his wife and 3 sons from Maryland to Florida. He is excited to be in the classroom in Lower School English and grow with the amazing scholars, parents and staff at Academy Prep!


Email : thughes@academyprep.org

 

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2116

Trenton Hughes
Sarena Sommer

Sarena Sommer - Lower School Science, STEAM, and Lead Robotics Teacher

Sarena Sommer has nine years of experience in education, teaching all grade levels in public and private sectors. Sarena has taught a variety of subjects including Biology, Marine Science, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Consumer Math, and Civics. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance with a minor in Biology from the University of Central Florida. Her first year of teaching was completed in Beijing, China where she was an instructor of grades K-12 Math, Science, and English. She has experience working in the classroom with ESOL and students with disabilities. She’s traveled to several countries and enjoys sharing experiences with students from what she has learned abroad.  

Email : ssommer@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2118

Jabrena Millburn - Lower School Mathematics Teacher

Born and raised in Maryland, Jabrena is a graduate of Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she earned her BA in Elementary Education. Before moving to Florida and coveting its warm weather, Ms. Milburn’s three years of experience in education was teaching 4th and 5th grades in the public schools in Maryland.  Ms. Milburn enjoys reading, all kinds of sports, and is a movie enthusiast.  She is looking forward to connecting with students and parents as well as sharing her passion of math with her students.


Email : jmilburn@academyprep.org

 

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2104

Jabrena Millman Portrait
Thomas Cassano Portrait
Thomas Cassano - Art Teacher

Thomas was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. He graduated from Arizona State University cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Anthropology. While attending Arizona State, he conducted research via the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, assisted in teaching human anatomy and physiology, worked alongside the very best at the Institute of Human Origins, and volunteered with local youth through the FitPHX program. Thomas began his journey at Academy Prep as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow providing academic support to scholars. However, soon after signing on with the AP team he proudly accepted the role of Art Teacher. From a young age, Thomas has been highly passionate about art—it is rare to see him without a pencil and a sketchbook!  Mr. Cassano is believes in the importance of education and seeks to bring out the inquisitive nature in others. He is ecstatic to continue to be a part of the AP team and to encourage creativity within scholars.

Email : tcassano@academyprep.org

 

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2102

Tayelor Trotter - Physical Education and Upper School Math

 

Tayelor was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is an Academy Prep alumnus, graduating in 2007. She attended Lakewood High School and continued on to study Community Leadership and Educational Studies at Flagler College. Tayelor recently returned home after spending seven years in Miami public school and charter schools. Tayelor is excited to return to her Academy Prep family as the Physical Education and Algebra 1 teacher. Tayelor is looking forward to making a positive difference in the lives of our scholars and serving as a tangible example of what it means to be "The Greatest!" In her free time, Tayelor loves spending time with family, swimming, reading, journaling, and staying healthy through calisthenics.  Welcome back to Academy Prep Ms. Trotter! 

 

Email : ttrotter@academyprep.org

Tayelor Trotter Portrait

ACADEMIC SUPPORT

Jake Szasz Portrait

Jake Szasz - Director of Academic Support 

Jake is from St. Petersburg, having graduated from Shorecrest Prep before heading off to New Orleans, where he completed his BS in Psychology from Tulane University. While at Tulane, Jake was a committed volunteer with the Tulane Community Tutor Program, which centers on providing academic assistance to at-risk young people from the city's wards.  After spending the last two years at Academy Prep as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow, Jake is excited to be returning for his fourth year at Academy Prep, and to continue working to ensure that each student has their academic needs met.

Email : jszasz@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2101

Quinn Dolezal - Academic Support Coordinator 

 

Originally from the state of Illinois, Mr. Dolezal graduated from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where he earned a degree in English. Mr. Dolezal previously taught lower school English and is now thrilled to continue being a part of the Academy Prep family as the new  Academic Support Coordinator.  

Email : qdolezal@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2113

Shannon Wright
Dawn Sokalski Portrait
Dawn Sokalski - Academic Support Coordinator

 

 

Born and raised in Tampa, FL, Dawn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida, and a Master of Arts degree from Fairlight Dickinson University.  She spent 25 years in education, including seven years teaching math at Academy Prep Center of Tampa.  Dawn is thrilled to be back with her Academy Prep family here at the St. Petersburg campus teaching Upper School Math and working closely with our scholars in Academic Support. Dawn is looking forward to working with current 8th grade scholars to build a solid foundation in math, from which they can build a successful to success in math and science in high school.   


Email : dsokalski@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2112

GRADUATE SUPPORT

Desmond Baker Portrait
Desmond Baker - Graduate Support Director

 

Mr. Baker hails from Camden, NJ.  Growing up in his hometown was no easy feat; engulfed by drugs, crime, violence, and poverty were some early disadvantages that Mr. Baker knew that he wanted to be much greater than.  Most recently, he’s graduated from Morgan State University receiving his master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs Administration.  Mr. Baker has had a longstanding admiration for education while cultivating student’s success through strong leadership, mentorship, and engagement.  A previous role as an elementary grade-school teacher in the city of Philadelphia for over 7 years is where Mr. Baker’s passion for academic achievement stems from. 

Many of his previous professional experiences have molded him to excel within this position.  Mr. Baker lives by the philosophy “giving all that you have to open the doors for the next generation.”  This philosophy is produced in Mr. Baker’s daily habits and is a testament to his approach to build strong relationships, collaborate with staff members, and enhance the vision here at Academy Prep.

 

Email : dbaker@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 X 2137

Courtney Bynum - Graduate Support Coordinator

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Courtney attended Academy Prep during her middle school years. She went on to graduate from St. Petersburg High before attending and graduating from Johnson & Wales University where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Finance. Throughout Courtney’s high school and college education, she always looked for ways to volunteer with AP because of her strong desire to give back to the school.  She is thrilled to join the school, knowing that she’ll be part of an organization that not only impacts the lives of others, but certainly had an impact on hers.

Email : cbynum@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2103

Courtney Bynum

DEVELOPMENT

Lacey Miller

Lacey Nash Miller - Director of Development

Lacey Nash Miller is thrilled to be a member of the Academy Prep family and to promote the mission of Academy Prep through philanthropy. As a third-generation St. Petersburg native, Lacey is inspired and motivated by our hard-working students, dedicated faculty and staff, and generous and committed board. Prior to joining Academy Prep, Lacey was the Director of the Annual Fund and Alumni Programs at Shorecrest Preparatory School. She holds a B.S. in Mass Media Communications from Florida State University.

Email : lnashmiller@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2109

Sarah McDonald - Marketing and Communications Manager

Sarah comes to Academy Prep after a long career as a professional photographer, designer, and business owner. Sarah holds a BA in Journalism, with an emphasis in Advertising and Public relations from the University of Wisconsin and has also earned an AS in Photography from the International Academy of Design and Technology. Originally from Wisconsin, Sarah is the daughter of an educator, and as a former adjunct professor herself, she strongly believes that the success of our society depends on the quality of education our youngest generation receives which has drawn her to the students and the mission of Academy Prep. Sarah is thrilled to join the team where she can spread the word about Academy Prep and help to inspire and motivate positive change in the lives of our scholars as well as the community.

Email : smcdonald@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2106

Sarah McDonald
Mendy Kirsch Portrait
Mendy Kirsch - Development Coordinator

Melinda (Mendy) Kirsch is originally from Mobile, Alabama but has lived in the Sunshine State for the last 21 years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of South Alabama. She went on to work in the Social Work field in the Florida Keys, specifically working with at-risk youth. After 17 years of being a stay-at-home mom and running her own social media business, she is now enjoying being a part of the Academy Prep family. She loves camping, hiking, kayaking and just spending time outdoors with her husband and two kids. 

Email :

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2131

AMERICORPS TEACHING FELLOWS

Trevor Otis - Americorps Teaching Fellow

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Trevor graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 2014. After graduation, he traveled the United States and spent winters in Park City, Utah working at a ski resort as a lift foreman and summers teaching horseback riding at Camp Lohikan in Lake Como, PA.  He is an avid skier and horseback rider and enjoys sharing that passion with others. Trevor is currently attending St. Petersburg College working on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. He is dedicated to working with children and helping them see and reach their greatest potential. Trevor is excited to join the Academy Prep family! 

Email : totis@academyprep.org

Trevor Otis Portrait
Dianna Martinez Portrait
Dianna Martinez - Americorps Teaching Fellow

Dianna is a Saint Petersburg native, graduating from the PCCA magnet program at Gibbs HIgh School in 2017 where she majored in musical theatre. After high school, she continued her education at Eckerd College where she majored in History and minored in Anthropology, graduating in 2021. During her time at Eckerd, Dianna volunteered as a teaching assistant for UMCM Suncoast --- a nonprofit organization that seeks to help immigrants adjust to the United States and prepare them for the naturalization exam to obtain their citizenship. She is passionate about history, especially Pre-Columbian history pertaining to mesoamerican and latin american cultures. Her interests and academic merit previously led her to study in Peru, where she lived for an entire month in 2019, vastly improving her Spanish speaking skills. In addition to Spanish cultures and history, she is deeply passionate about music. Singing, playing the piano, and the guitar are all things she finds essential to living a happy life. She is incredibly excited to start her career as an educator through the AmeriCorp Teaching Fellow program, and to get to know her students at AcademyPrep.

Email : dmartinez@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2142

Kasey Burke - Americorps Teaching Fellow

Born in St. Petersburg, Kasey attended Northside Christian School and graduated in 2014.  She went on earn a Bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of South Florida in 2020.  Kasey loves the field of anthropology because it demonstrates an understanding of human nature in a way that both studies and appreciates diversity amongst people.  Kasey is a creator and she loves to draw, paint, and innovate.  She sells her artwork at local events and markets around the St. Petersburg area.  Kasey also writes creative content for local businesses. Her educational background and her creative nature equips her to understand the difference between individual student and she loves working creatively with young minds to help them succeed.  Kasey is excited to be a part of the Academy Prep family because she feels it is an opportunity to help the future generations of our nation grow and learn in a way that best serves them every  day.  

Email : kburke@academyprep.org

Kasey Burke Portrait
Madelyn Marchese Portrait
Madelyn Marchese - Americorps Teaching Fellow

Madelyn will be serving the Academy Prep 2022-2023 school year as an Americorps Teaching Fellow leading the new Computer Skills class! Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2022, Madelyn would like to pursue continuing education to become a school counselor. She moved to Tampa Bay from New Orleans in May of 2022 and is an avid Tampa Bay Rays fan. Madelyn enjoys working with children and is excited to join the Academy Prep family!  

Email : mmarchese@academyprep.org

Andrew MacDonald - Americorps Teaching Fellow

Andrew recently relocated to St. Pete from his hometown of Stirling, Scotland, and is excited to be taking the first steps toward a permanent move to the United States. He graduated from Abertay University in Dundee with a BA in Sport and Management and is currently working on an MSc in Education Studies at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. Andrew is no stranger to American culture, having worked as a cabin counselor, mentor, division head, and most recently, Assistant Athletic Director at a summer camp in New Hampshire since 2015. He's also held a number of volunteer posts, including several years as the Captain of his local Boys' Brigade Organization. His most recent teaching position was as a Sports Coordinator at a Scottish Inclusion Support School, which focuses on meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged young people. Andrew enjoys soccer, tennis, and Formula One racing and is looking forward to learning more about traditional American sports by cheering for the Tampa Bay teams.

Email : amacdonald@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2135

 

Andrew MacDonald Portrait
Raven Hill Portrait
Raven Hill - Americorps Teaching Fellow

 

Raven grew up in Orlando, Florida and graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Raven is serving as a Teaching Fellow through Americorps and will be assisting our scholars working one-on-one in our Academic Intervention Program and in the School Counselor’s office. Raven is excited about living in a new city and working with an older group of students after recently working with toddlers, and she is excited to get to know our scholars and staff in depth. Raven loves spending time outdoors at the beach, hiking nature trails, and exploring national parks. Raven remains active by exercising daily and loves cheer and dance. 

 

Email : rhill@academyprep.org

ACADEMY PREP FOUNDATION

Terri Scarcelli

Terri Scarcelli - Chief Financial Officer

Terri earned her accounting degree from the University of South Florida. Terri is also licensed by the Internal Revenue Service as an Enrolled Agent and has been the president and owner of Balanced Accounting and Tax for since 2009. Additionally, she worked 10 plus years as a staff accountant for Dwight Darby and Co. and Ennis CPA Associates, PA.  Her private industry experience has been in the non-profit area where she has held the position of CFO for both the Tampa Bay Builders Association and The Cambridge School, a pre K3 through 12th grade Christian school.  Terri and her husband Ron, who has been the IT Coordinator at Academy Prep for the past 6 years, have five children and four grandchildren. Terri is honored to help Academy Prep fulfill its vision by helping our students reach their potential. 

Email : tscarcelli@academyprep.org

Roxane Leary - Grants Specialist

Roxane graduated in 2011 from Florida State University with a B.S. in Political Science and in 2015 from the University of South Florida with a Master of Public Administration. She has spent many years working with at risk youth in Polk and Hillsborough County as a life skills coach and substance abuse prevention counselor. After earning her master’s degree, Roxane transitioned to finance as a revenue analyst at DACCO Behavioral Health, Inc. Her passion for working with at risk youth lead her to Academy Prep Centers for Education where as a member of the development team she is able to help contribute to enriching the lives of youth in the community.    

Email : rleary@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2150

Roxane Leary Portrait
Chris Brazee

Chris Brazee - Technology Coordinator

Chris originally hails from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Millersville University with a BA in Music Business and Technology. Before he started working in schools, Chris worked for Apple in New York City as a Certified Technician and Trainer for almost ten years. He has previously worked as a Technology Specialist for independent schools on the Upper East Side in NYC, and in Potomac MD, just outside of Washington D.C. Chris relocated to Tampa with his family over the summer of 2020, and he’s thrilled to be a part of the Academy Prep team.

Email : cbrazee@academyprep.org

727.322.0800 x 3133

Cameron Davis - Technology Specialist

 

Cameron originally hails from Atlanta, Georgia and is currently pursuing an AA in Music with a minor in IT. Technology and music have always been equal passions, and Cameron has been equally involved in both for over ten years; delving into side projects like PC building, USF's HOT Band, and starting a program with Hillsborough County's senior centers to teach technical proficiency to senior citizens.  He has previously worked as a Teacher's Assistant in Schools in the Metro-Atlanta area and as an IT consultant to a number of small businesses in the Tampa Bay area. Cameron relocated to Tampa permanently in the beginning of 2018, and he’s thrilled to be a part of the Academy Prep team.

Email :  cdavis@academyprep.org

Phone : 727.322.0800 x 2266

Cameron Davis Portrait