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Dina originally joined Mainspring as a founding board member and consultant during the school’s formation. She accepted the position of Director of School Operations in 2015, during Mainspring’s inaugural year, where her primary focus was school finance, vendor contracts, and human resource management. Through her experience as a parent and administrator, Dina has become an expert in McKay and Gardiner scholarship compliance and management, helping many families and several other private schools become better educated in properly utilizing scholarship funds. In 2018, due to her proven track record and continued passion for Mainspring, Dina was asked to take over as Head of School. Since this time, she has run two successful end-of-year campaigns and a successful capital campaign that allowed Mainspring to move into a customized space better suited for the needs of our students.
Dina, a Florida native, has always been interested in working in the non-profit sector. Dina attended Louisiana State University where she was a student ambassador for the EJ Ourso School of Business’s inaugural technology campaign, for which she was the campaign’s top fundraiser. After graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and minor in business administration, Dina worked in several fields, including the airline industry and healthcare industry. In 2005, Dina had her first child, Luke, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. It was through her experience as a parent of a child with special needs that Dina’s passion for the non-profit sector was reinvigorated. In 2010, after spending five years as a stay-at-home mom, Dina volunteered to start a non-profit parent group for her son’s private special education school. She led committees that put on several successful fundraising events for this organization, allowing it to purchase a playground, sensory equipment, and put on many fun events for the students and families. During this same time, Dina completed coursework at the Florida Institute of Technology in applied behavior analysis.
In addition to this coursework, Dina has completed a graduate certificate program in executive leadership with Jacksonville University. She is currently attending Lewis University to obtain Master’s degree in organizational leadership with a concentration on non-profit management. Her professional interests include special education advocacy, non-profit management, and leadership. In her free time, Dina enjoys spending time with her three children and husband.
Liz began working with the special needs population in 2003 when she joined the Best Buddies club as a high school student. While in college, she worked as a teacher’s assistant at a school for autism, and as a caregiver for a young girl with cerebral palsy and autism. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2011 with a degree in health sciences, Liz obtained a teaching position in Osceola county in a self-contained autism classroom. She moved to Jacksonville in 2013, where she continued to teach children with varying disabilities. Liz was accepted into UCF’s Project ASD program and graduated with a Masters of Education in exceptional student education, with a focus in severe profound disabilities. She decided to continue her education at the Florida Institute of Technology in the ABA program and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2019.
At Mainspring, Liz supervises the instructional staff and provides them with training and in-class support. She chooses and implements the school’s curricula and is also the school’s liaison with Duval county for various title programs. Liz is is a certified Crisis Prevention trainer and provides staff training and oversight in crisis prevention and reduction. In her free time, Liz enjoys spending time with her husband and baby boy, as well as attending music festivals, playing video games, and traveling.
Sabrena fell in love with the special needs population in 2011, when she spent the summer working as a mentor for the Arc Jacksonville’s Living Independently and Finding Enrichment (LIFE) program at the University of North Florida. She majored in communications at UNF, with a focus on public relations and a minor in business administration, and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in 2012. She spent six years traveling around the country as an independently contracted marketing and promotional product specialist, representing hundreds of brands and companies and carrying out their PR campaigns. She spent the majority of her peak campaign seasons representing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the North American International Auto Show circuit, as a spokesperson for the Fiat brand. At the same time, she obtained her Mental Health First Aid certification and alternative teaching certification in special education, spending her summers working for the Arc and Americorps as a mentor for young adults with special needs. In 2018, she found the opportunity to combine her experience in marketing with her passion of working with the special needs population, and now feels right at home with Mainspring Academy. Sabrena has lived in Jacksonville since 1995. In her free time, she loves to practice yoga, play her guitar and ukulele, and explore our beautiful state with her husband and two dogs.
Amy is a native of Mobile, Alabama. She attended the University of South Alabama and graduated with a dual degree in special and elementary education. Amy has been teaching at Mainspring Academy for seven years. Her work has primarily focused on working with students who have profound needs in the areas of communication and independent functioning. She is committed to providing students with a loving and developmentally sound foundation for a lifetime of learning. Amy strives to create and maintain an environment where her students can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them. Outside of the classroom, Amy enjoys spending time with her husband and extended family.
Kari comes to Mainspring Academy with 15 years of experience working in both the education and social work sectors. Her first experiences in the educational sector began right here on the First Coast where she assumed several long-term substitute positions with Duval county public schools in various alternative education programs between 2005 and 2010. After completing her undergraduate degree from the University of North Florida, and obtaining Florida Teacher Certification in the field of special education, Kari began teaching at Campbell Middle School in Daytona Beach. Prior to Mainspring, Kari spent the last three years working as a behavioral health case manager with Daniel Kids and is now working on completing a graduate degree in Human Services at Northeastern University.
Kari has an 18-year-old son on the Autism Spectrum who is in the 11th grade and an accomplished artist. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, writing poetry, reading, and camping.
Casey joined Mainspring this year as a teacher’s assistant. Casey grew up with two younger brothers on the autism spectrum and at age 14, he knew he wanted to make a difference and work with kids with disabilities. While his position at Mainspring is his first position in the special education field, his life experiences as a caregiver prepared him for his role. After just a short time at Mainspring, he realized he had found the perfect field, and he decided he wanted to work toward his RBT and continue to work with children with disabilities for years to come. Casey is currently completing his RBT coursework with Florida Institute of Technology and is excited to start his career working in ABA and special education.
Daniel, a native New Yorker, began working with the special needs population in 1999 as a 1:1 aide for a young man diagnosed with Fragile X and autism. After this position, he obtained a teaching position at a residential treatment facility and farm therapy program servicing at-risk and inner-city gang youth. After four years at that facility, he spent 10 years as a crisis behavior intervention specialist and therapeutic crisis intervention trainer for Astor Services for Children and Families in upstate New York. The target population at this facility focused on students diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, emotional disturbances, and imminent explosive disorder. Seeking warmer weather, Dan moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2014 and worked at a pediatric clinic as a Registered Behavior Technician for the next 5 years. In 2019, Dan found an opportunity to teach again at Mainspring Academy, and he is now the secondary 1 teacher, where his classroom focus is not just academic, but preparing his students behaviorally and vocationally for life beyond Mainspring. In his free time, Dan is a musician who plays shows locally and enjoys his weekends “nerding out” as an avid comic book and action figure collector!
Evelyn first started working with individuals with exceptional needs when she began tutoring ESE students in high school. While attending the University of North Florida, she participated in conducting grant-funded psychological research, which focused on refining developmental measures. She was also an active member of the International Honor Society in Psychology (PSI CHI). In addition, she completed various internships, including working with the Head Start program and the Therapeutic Learning Center. These experiences resulted in Evelyn changing her collegiate focus from conducting psychological research, to working directly with children.
Evelyn has worked as an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS) for Florida’s Early Steps program. During this time, she provided one-on-one developmental therapy to children ages 0-3 across Northeast Florida. She then worked as a behavioral therapist (RBT) in the home, classroom, and clinical settings, before making the transition to teaching. She remains an active member of PSI CHI and the nationally recognized group NAEYCY (The National Association for the Education of Young Children).
Jennifer Donald is a native Floridian and paraprofessional in the vocational classroom. She received her Bachelor’s in Science for business management, with the ultimate focus in the special needs community and bridging the gap of employment. She has worked in the field of ABA and recently received her certification as a Registered Behavior Technician. Her interest in the field came from raising a son on the spectrum and learning to guide him into adulthood. She has previous experience as a sensory motor coach and has worked with a variety of exceptional individuals. Her hobbies include swimming, gardening, and boogie boarding at Vilano Beach.
Jennifer joined Mainspring this year as a teacher’s assistant and was quickly promoted to classroom teacher. Jennifer realized that she wanted to work in special education after her twin sons were diagnosed eight years ago. After having worked in the financial industry for 14 years as a Six Sigma Black Belt, she pursued her goal and decided to make a career change into something near and dear to her heart. In 2019, she taught students with varying disabilities for a small private school. Jennifer joined Mainspring this school year after being a Mainspring parent for 3 school years. Her goal is to make a difference in the kids’ lives and give their families the support they need. Along with her twins, Jennifer is a mom to two adult sons, one of whom is a teacher’s assistant at Mainspring.
Khyla was first exposed to children with developmental disabilities when her younger cousin was diagnosed with autism. Her experiences as a supportive family member led to her realization that working with individuals with different abilities gave her great purpose. She began working with the special needs population in 2017 as a substitute paraprofessional. She then obtained a position as a behavior therapist for a pediatric clinic, providing ABA services under the supervision of a BCBA. Khyla received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bethune-Cookman University. She is currently working toward her Master’s in special education with a concentration in applied behavior analysis at the University of North Florida. Upon completion of this program, Khyla hopes to become a board-certified behavior analyst. Khyla loves the rewarding field she is in and is committed to learning and growing professionally.
Kimber started working with the special needs population in 2010 while stationed in Hawaii, where she was a nanny for a 5-year-old girl with autism for four years. She attended Rasmussen College for Early Childhood Education, specializing in ESE. In 2015, she became a Certified Nursing Assistant and Med Administrator, and moved into the mental/behavioral health field at Western State Hospital for 2 1/2 years while living in Kentucky. After moving to Florida in 2018, she began working at a BASCA group home as a house parent, helping to maintain daily living habits and working with behavioral and social coping skills. In her spare time, she still works at the group home and as a special needs caregiver. She enjoys the outdoors, reading, taking care of her fur baby and house plants.
Laney is a Jacksonville native. She began working with the special needs population in 2013 at a special-needs summer camp. She then went on to become a teacher’s assistant at a private pre-school for a class that included children with special needs. In 2018, Laney became a classroom paraprofessional at Mainspring Academy. She is currently a floating paraprofessional and works directly with students who exhibit severe behaviors and need additional supports to access the learning environment. Laney is currently pursuing an AA degree at FSCJ as well as her RBT Certification. Laney recently married her high school sweetheart, and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Lina, a native of Connecticut, received her A.S. degree in liberal arts and graphic design and later graduated from Springfield College with a Bachelor of Science in humans services and community youth and development. During her years teaching in California, Ms. Lina began working with students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavioral disorders. In addition to teaching art, she is working towards her Registered Behavior Technician credentials. As the art teacher at Mainspring Academy, Ms. Lina takes great pleasure in sharing her knowledge about art history and the process of making art. She believes that students who have a difficult time with verbal and social communication can use creativity to serve as a vehicle for communication and fun! In her free time, Lina enjoys volunteering in the community, traveling, camping, riding her motorcycle, spending time with her grandson, family, friends, and cooking authentic Italian food.
Lindsay is a teacher’s assistant in the Primary class and is currently attending UNF to receive her Bachelor’s degree in psychology. From 2012 to 2016 she was a nanny for a little boy with Down syndrome, an experience that completely changed her life and her career goals. Lindsay has completed the required coursework for her RBT training and is currently working on her competencies. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys traveling, yoga, and spending time with her husband.
Maya Crosby is the vocational teacher and summer camp coordinator at Mainspring Academy. She has a dual Bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University in psychology and sociology. Maya began her career with Mainspring in 2016. The following year, she became a resource teacher, utilizing her skills in behavior intervention and classroom management to assist teachers with behavior incidents, as well as maintain consistency in the classroom during teacher absences by substitute teaching. In 2019, Maya became a classroom teacher for students in our pre-vocational program. In her position, Maya works with Mainspring’s students who are preparing for adulthood, providing them with both school- and community-based instruction.
Michelle knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher. She graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with ESOL and ESE endorsements. She worked as a substitute teacher until being offered a position providing ESE services to students in private schools. After working with special needs children, she knew that she wanted to further develop in the field. Michelle began working at Mainspring Academy in January 2016. Michelle’s interest in behavior management within the school setting influenced her decision to continue her education at the Florida Institute of Technology, where she obtained her RBT certification in 2019. At Mainspring, Michelle teaches a combination of academics, life skills, and social skills for our transition students. Michelle is also trained in Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing program for Cognitive Development, Comprehension, and Thinking. In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family as well as learning new things, gardening, crafts and traveling.
Paige graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2019 with a B.A. in public health. She spent her time there as a sports medicine intern for various USC athletic teams, as well as tutoring refugee children in an after-school program. Paige moved to Jacksonville to work as a therapy technician at Brooks Rehabilitation. She assisted PTs, OTs, and STs with patients of all ages and abilities, and also volunteered at Surfers for Autism in September 2019. She’s currently taking classes in communication sciences and disorders and learning American Sign Language while applying for a Master’s in speech-language pathology. Paige enjoys spending her free time doing yoga, reading, and walking on the beach with her yellow lab, Harden.
Pattie found her passion for the special needs population during her undergraduate studies at the University of North Florida where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Science in child psychology and a focus in behavior modification. During her time at UNF, she interned at Head Start, where she was able to practice the implementation of IEPs, behavior modification protocols, emotional regulation skills, and more in a kindergarten class. In 2017, Pattie moved to West Palm Beach to attend graduate school at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she received her Master’s of Science in counseling studies. While attending graduate school, Pattie worked as a Registered Behavior Technician for a pediatric behavioral clinic for three years while specializing in providing ABA services to children between the ages two and nine. In August, Pattie will begin her ABA coursework while accruing her supervision hours needed to sit for the board exam in efforts of becoming a Behavior Analyst. At Mainspring, Pattie is the primary teacher, where she is able to combine her knowledge, experience, and passion in order to create a fun, welcoming, and effective learning environment for our youngest students. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Rocky, as well as fishing, hiking, and traveling the world.
Peyton began working with children from all backgrounds when she was 15 while managing a waterpark. She was in charge of monitoring all camps, daycares, and the safety of the children and patrons. Peyton worked at Cobblestones Waterpark for seven years until she graduated from Longwood University with a degree in criminal justice in 2018. She worked with the forensics unit in Richmond, Virginia during her college years and was exposed to many different eye-opening situations involving children. Peyton wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and the community, and after graduation went on to accept a position with social services working as a case assigner. In this position, Peyton was in charge of reviewing applications for services, such as SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and disability. Peyton moved to Jacksonville, Florida in the summer of 2019, where she found a position at Mainspring Academy as the front office receptionist. She loves working directly with the parents, assisting with the children, and assisting school administration. As a new rescue dog mom, Peyton spends her free time playing with her dog Nollie and taking her on adventures around the city!
Lexus Alexander is a paraprofessional at Mainspring Academy. She works with all teachers and staff to help out where necessary and ensure all students are being taken care of. Lexus has worked at Mainspring for close to two years, but has worked in the special education field for six years as a paraprofessional within the public school system. Lexus is currently attending UNF, where she is pursuing a degree in applied behavior analysis.