About our Bloggers
Amy LaGrasta, School Counseling Manager, helps students make informed decisions about courses, career and college options, and the study habits needed for online success. Prior to joining FLVS, she served as the guidance director at Estero High School in Lee County, FL where she was honored with the Teacher of Distinction award.
Andrea Bracco, 8th Grade Language Arts Instructor, began teaching seven years ago specializing in ESOL education. She joined FLVS in 2012 and has been loving it ever since! Mrs. Bracco enjoys the connections she's able to make with students while teaching 21st Century skills. She's happily married to Mr. Bracco, FLVS Middle School Science Instructor.
Amanda Schaffer, FLVS Professional Learning Specialist, came to Florida Virtual School in 2013. She has been in education for 12 years and worked as a teacher, cheerleading coach, and district resource coach. She came to FLVS from Orange County Public Schools where she earned her school's title of Teacher of the Year in 2010. Currently she leads training for teachers and new hires at FLVS. Mrs. Schaffer is passionate about the research of Carol Dweck and helping students and teachers develop a Growth Mindset!
Caroline Jacobson, Florida Virtual School 2016 Teacher of the Year, has been with FLVS since 2011 as both a Spanish instructor and curriculum writer. She has dual Master’s degrees in Spanish and Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction. A passionate believer in life-long learning, she has been instrumental in creating and designing Spanish courses at FLVS. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring historical sites and kayaking with her husband and daughters.
Darcey Addo is a National Board Certified teacher who has been teaching at FLVS since 2009. She has a Master’s degree in Teacher Leadership and Urban Education and is currently pursuing a PhD in Leadership, Policy and Change in Education. Darcey is an Examiner for the Florida Sterling Council and has a keen interest in process and performance improvement. In her local community, she serves as an adult member of the Youth Advisory Board to the Mayor, helping students get involved in local government and community activism.
Elise Harris, Florida Virtual School 2015 Teacher of the Year, has been teaching in Florida for ten years and joined FLVS in 2008. As a middle school Social Studies teacher, she enjoys creating innovative and unconventional opportunities for student success and believes firmly that every student deserves the right to learn in their own way.
Holly Sagues, Executive Director of Policy and Accountability, developed the FLVS Strategic Plan 2008-2013 and has implemented performance management strategies to foster greater innovation and future growth at FLVS. She works closely with legislative leaders to formulate digital learning policies.
Jeanne Giardino-Zanegood, FLVS Parenting Skills instructor, has a true passion for all things literacy. She enjoys the collaborative process in promoting reading in all aspects of virtual education. Having held a variety of positions with FLVS during her 8-year tenure, she brings a global perspective to her current position. After 20 years in the field of education, she maintains a wealth of literacy knowledge and enthusiasm for student success.
Dr. Jodi Marshall, Executive Vice President of Business and School Solutions, has nearly 20 years in the education field. Her career began at FLVS as an adjunct teacher and moved into course development and ultimately into her current position today.
Jackie Stinson has been a Media Specialist at Florida Virtual School since January 2013. She helps create the outstanding courses offered at FLVS and has worked in education for nearly 15 years. Prior to joining FLVS, Jackie worked for the University of Central Florida and for the Maryvale School District in Western New York.
Jennifer Whiting, Senior Manager of Product Development, joined FLVS in 1997. Her chemistry course was the first offered by FLVS. Over the years, she has assumed many roles including instructional design specialist, project manager of large instructional technology projects, director of information systems, and Chief Academic Officer. She is committed to keeping FLVS on the cutting edge of technology and effective pedagogy.
Linda Childs is an Earth/Space and Physical Science teacher with FLVS. She is a lover of the 3 S’s - Science, Space and Sports! Ms. Childs has taught science for 18 years in grades 6-12. Her favorite thing about teaching is watching students’ light bulbs go off when they understand a concept. Challenging them to make connections with science so they understand it better is her biggest goal. On weekends and evenings, she can be found in basketball gyms either watching her two kids play on teams or at the Amway Arena cheering for the Orlando Magic.
Lori Wurtzel has been teaching Criminal Justice Operations and Law Studies since 2014. Before making the jump into education, Lori had a six-year career as a criminal defense attorney. Lori is passionate about advocacy and education...and blogging!
Mary Mitchell, Director for Professional Learning for FLVS, oversees the professional learning for the FLVS staff. A National Board Certified Teacher, she has received numerous recognitions including Teacher of the Year for FLVS, the United States Distance Learning Association, and Discovery Middle School in Orange County, FL. She has written articles on topics ranging from computer image processing to teacher training for the online classroom.
Melodie Robelo joined the FLVS team in 2015 as an English 1 instructor, after 9 years in the traditional classroom. She has had a well-rounded career, having taught exceptional student education, language arts, and mathematics to students in grades 4-8. Her passion is helping students of all ages learn to express themselves and share their stories through writing. Above all, Melodie values relationships and is proud to work for an organization where students come first.
Melissa Wurzel, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, believes that marketing is about continuously listening and responding to customer needs. This fuels her passion to serve Florida Virtual School students. At FLVS, ongoing student feedback drives course development, product offerings & services, and continued outreach efforts.
After several years of educational training, teaching, and coaching, Nancy Jo Mannix joined FLVS as a first grade teacher in the elementary program. As an early childhood teacher, she won Disney’s Innovative Teaching Award (for Kindergarten) and has published numerous articles and books. She enjoys spending time with her family, which includes three grandchildren.
Rose Rodriguez is a passionate educator with over 15 years of hands-on experience in the classroom, both traditional and virtual. Rose truly believes that education can be transformed one student at a time and strives to bring the FLVS vision to life through innovation and the reinvention of education every day of the school year.
Suzan Kurdak, Internal Communications Specialist, joined FLVS in 2011. Her many hats include journalism, copywriting, public relations, and single-parenting specialist. Having worked in public education and at the university level, she is aware of the ever-increasing demands on students, educators, and parents. Coupling her creativity and quick wit, she is passionate about boosting others, particularly women, to live life to their fullest potential.