Our Staff

Meet our dedicated staff that
serves our students!

Dina Parisi MAOL

Head of School

Elizabeth Worrell M.Ed, BCBA

Director of School Programming

Sabrena Snow MSNPA

Director of Student & Community Affairs

Laney Gonzalez RBT

SCHOOL OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

Jes Brito

Front Office Assistant

3

Nicole Jordon

Primary teacher

4

Callie Downing RBT

ELEMENTARY 1 TEACHER

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Paige McGuire M.Ed, RBT

elementary 2 teacher

5

Jeff Chamberlin

Intermediate 1 Teacher

6

Sara Kriz

intermediate 2 Teacher

8

David "Dabbs" Mcinnis

MIDDLE SCHOOL 1 TEACHER

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Kimberly Valmyre

MIDDLE SCHOOL 2 TeaCHER

9

Amy Lentzke

life skills 1 Teacher

10

Lisa Fleming

life skills 2 Teacher

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Elizabeth Morelli

G.R.O.W. Program Teacher

13

Shermaine Alston MSW

Transition Teacher

14

Nadege Belizaire

Teacher’s Assistant

15

Frank Cacciola

Teacher’s Assistant

16

Luisa Cima

Teacher’s Assistant

17

Jonathon Davis

Teacher's Assistant

18

Olivette Gray

Teacher's Assistant

19

Elise Jennings

Teacher's Assistant

21

Stephanie Murphy

Teacher's Assistant

20

Emily Parker

Teacher's Assistant

23

Ahyanna Shephard

Teacher's Assistant

Jennifer Weaver

Teacher's assistant

Sheri Wurth

Teacher's assistant

Employment

We strive to recruit the most qualified candidates for our academic and support staff. Our employees receive competitive salaries, and full-time employees are eligible for a comprehensive benefits package that includes medical, dental, short-term disability, and discounts on Mainspring Academy tuition. All employees are also eligible for supply and professional development stipends. 

Please visit our Employment Page to view current openings and apply for a position at Mainspring Academy.

STAFF SHOUT-OUTS

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Dina Parisi

Head of School

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.

Dina holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Lewis University, as well as a graduate certificate from Jacksonville University in Executive Leadership.   In addition to her business studies, Dina has completed coursework with the Florida Institute of Technology in Applied Behavior Analysis.  Her professional interests include special education advocacy, non-profit management and collaboration, leadership and change management.  In her free time, Dina enjoys spending time with her three children and husband.  

Elizabeth Worrell M.Ed, BCBA

Director of School Programming

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 sons, as well as attending music festivals, playing video games, and traveling.

Sabrena Snow, MSNPA

Director of Student & Community Affairs

Sabrena discovered her passion for serving 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. Sabrena spent six years traveling around the country as a marketing professional and promotional product specialist, representing hundreds of brands. From fall to spring, one of her main brand partnerships was with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the North American International Auto Show circuit, where she worked as a product presenter and spokesperson. She spent her summers serving in Americorps VISTA through the Arc Jacksonville, as a mentor for young adults with IDDs. In 2018, Sabrena found the opportunity to combine her experience in marketing with her love for working with the special needs population, and now feels right at home with Mainspring Academy. While at Mainspring, she has completed her Cornerstone Foundation nonprofit certificate courses in Nonprofit Essentials, Fundraising, and Grant-Seeking; along with Content and Social Media Marking certifications from Hubspot Academy. She received her Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration and Development from Louisiana State University in July 2022. Sabrena has lived in Jacksonville since 1995. In her free time, she loves to cook, practice yoga, play her guitar and ukulele, and explore the beautiful state with her husband, son, and two dogs.

Laney Gonzalez

School operations coordinator

Laney is a Jacksonville native. She began working with the special needs population in 2013 at a special-needs summer camp and 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 the school operations coordinator and works directly with students who exhibit
severe behaviors and need additional supports to access the learning
environment. Laney is a certified RBT and currently pursuing an AA degree at
FSCJ. Laney is married to her high school sweetheart, and she enjoys spending her free time with family and friends.

Jes Brito

Front Office Assistant

Jes is originally from the Ocean State and decided to move to Jacksonville FL in June 2021 with her family. A Rhode Island resident for most of her life, she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Rhode Island College. After graduating, she dedicated 13 years to her work in the Public sector as a Compliance Officer where she collaborated with many community programs and assisted in managing data for grant reports. In her longest standing compliance role, she worked with a program called First Source, where she would help unemployed and underemployed city residents seek employment with job-ready companies. Jes is passionate about helping people and watching them grow. Outside of work, Jes likes to spend time with her two children and husband exploring their new State of Florida. She also loves interior design, so you can always find her coming up with new projects to tackle at home.

Nicole Jordon

Primary teacher

Nicole was born in Boston, Massachusetts but has lived in Florida on and off since 2000. She graduated from Florida State University with her degree in social work. She has worked as a preschool teacher, a functional support worker, as well as for multiple centers for children and adults with autism for the past nine years. She has a love for working with children and strives to continue her education by working towards her Masters in Special Education. Nicole loves reading psychological thrillers and spending time with her family and four cats.

Callie Downing

elementary 1 Teacher

Callie Downing is a Florida native, raised in Gainesville. She brings over 9 years of experience working with children of all ages and backgrounds. In her years as an educator and clinician, she has gained a passion for enhancing meaningful learning and social and emotional development.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Professional Education from University of North Florida. Post graduating, she pursued an interest in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. She is a Registered Behavior Technician and has completed additional ABA coursework and supervised fieldwork earning credentials allowing her to support other therapists with their clients and families in clinical, classroom and in-home ABA services. In her years in the ABA field, Callie had the opportunity to train RBT’s in the Maryland and Washington DC area to provide ABA services to diverse children of all ages and backgrounds. She currently is in pursuit of obtaining her Master’s in ABA. Callie is an avid Florida Gator fan and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her Rottweiler Cici, traveling, doing DIY projects and fishing!

Paige McGuire, M.Ed

elementary 2 teacher

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 has recently completed classes in communication sciences and disorders and American Sign Language. She is now currently working towards her Master’s in Special Education, with a concentration in Disability Services. Paige enjoys spending her free time doing yoga, reading, and walking on the beach with her yellow lab, Harden.

Jeff Chamberlin

Intermediate 1 Teacher

Jeff studied at the University of Central Florida where he received his degree in Special Education. He spent a few years teaching in both Orange County and Osceola County before moving to North Florida. Jeff enjoys working with students with intellectual and developmental differences and is looking forward to an outstanding year with his students at Mainspring Academy.

Sara Kriz

INTERMEDIATE 2 Teacher

Sara recently joined the Mainspring Academy team in a classroom which focuses on academics and social skills. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s in English with a minor in Professional Education. She has spent almost a decade working with ESE and low-academic students in numerous Duval County private schools through Catapult Learning and Title 1. Previouslt, Sara spent two years as an RBT, serving at a special education school in Jacksonville. She has lived in many states, including Massachusetts, New York and Michigan, and has lived in Florida for the past 22 years. Sara has been married almost 20 years, and has three children. Her oldest, aged 16, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Sara enjoys spending time playing video games with her family.

David "Dabbs" Mcinnis

Middle school 2 teacher

Dabbs has worked in education for over 30 years, beginning his career with the Bremerton school district in 1990 in Bremerton, WA. He relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in October 2010. During that time, he pursued his Master’s Degree in Special Education. While in college, he worked both as a tutor with Quantum Leap Tutoring and a substitute teacher with Tiger Academy. After a year there, he obtained a permanent teaching position at Lighthouse Christian School, from there teaching a variety of classrooms in both the private and public sectors. Missing the population and what he calls “the reason I got into teaching,” he discovered Mainspring Academy and is looking forward to watching his students grow.

Kimberly Valmyre

MIDDLE SCHOOL 1 TEACHER

Kimberly began her career in the field working for Miami Dade Public Schools as a substitute teacher in the special education department. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Jackson State University in Mississippi. Kimberly has been living in Jacksonville for 2 years and worked as an RBT at private schools in the area before coming to Mainspring Academy. She enjoys spending her free time with her 6-year-old daughter and two dogs. Kimberly’s hobbies are working out and creating new dishes in the kitchen.

Amy Lentzke

LIFE SKILLS 1 TEACHER

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 nine years. Her work has primarily focused on working with students who have profound needs in the areas of academics, 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, pets, and extended family!

Lisa Fleming

life skills 2 teacher

After a five year break to be a stay-at-home mom, Lisa is excited to be back in the classroom. Her love for the special needs community originated when she was a young child, after being introduced to a family friend with autism. Lisa volunteered at Camp I Am Special and began her teaching career in the public school system after she graduated from college. Lisa began teaching at Mainspring Academy in 2012. Her current focus as a teacher is to help her students build foundational functional skills with the goal of helping them gain a sense of independence. Lisa is currently pursuing her Registered Behavior Technician certification and plans to enter her master’s program for special education. When Lisa isn’t teaching you can find her at home with her husband and 3 boys, in her garage making dollhouses, or at the local community theatre participating on stage or behind the scenes.

Elizabeth Morelli

Vocational Teacher

Elizabeth is originally from Albany, New York and moved to Jacksonville, Florida after serving in the US Navy for five years. She is a graduate of the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology. Elizabeth has over three years of experience working with children and adults with special needs. In her free time, she enjoys being with my friends, trying new foods, and practicing martial arts. Elizabeth is also currently working towards earning her black belt in Taekwondo.

Shermaine Alston, MSW

Transition 1 Teacher

Shermaine has served in the education field for ten years after beginning her career in Connecticut as a Teacher’s Assistant. She recently graduated from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. As a child who grew up in a family of educators, Shermaine knew at a young age that teaching was her passion. She loves to incorporate mindfulness within her teaching, equipping students with tools to build self-esteem, manage stress, and skillfully approach everyday challenges. Shermaine enjoys football, DIY projects, cooking and baking, dancing, walking, shopping, and all the girly things in life. Most importantly, Shermaine is a family-oriented woman and loves making memories with her two boys.

Nadege Belizaire

Teacher’s Assistant

Nadege has served in the childcare field for 3 years and developed interest in the special needs community during her time babysitting children with intellectual and developmental delays. She has enjoyed working as an RBT since 2023. Nadege has a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Counseling from Trinity Baptist College and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. She enjoys spending time with family and enjoys reading, watching movies, singing, and attending church.

Frank Cacciola

TEACHER'S ASSISTANT

Frank grew up in upstate New York and moved to Jacksonville, Florida in December 2022. Frank worked for five years as an assistant residential manager at the Devereux Foundation, a school and residential facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. While providing direct care in the residential setting, Frank began to fill in as a teacher’s assistant in the school, where he discovered his passion for working with students in the classroom setting. When Frank is not working, he loves watching Knicks basketball, cooking, going to the gym, recording music, and playing guitar.

Luisa Cima

Teacher’s Assistant

Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Luisa loves living near Jacksonville Beach and spends a lot of time cycling and hiking. She is an army veteran that has worked with special needs students for over 10 years. She is a mother to three adults, one teenager, and a French Bulldog named Cash. Luisa is looking forward to another great school year watching her students grow at Mainspring Academy.

Jonathon Davis

Teacher’s Assistant

Jonathon is originally from Oregon and moved to Florida in 2017. He is a child of a deaf adult (CODA) and studied at Keuka College in New York where he received a degree in sign language and interpreting. During his years in college, Jonathon volunteered at various schools to interpret for deaf children. This experience grew his interest in the education of children with intellectual and developmental differences. Jonathon’s hobbies include working out, traveling, and collecting cups.

Olivette Gray

Teacher’s Assistant

Olivette found her passion for the special needs community about three years ago when she served as a nanny for a child with autism. She graduated from Orange Park High School, moved to Virginia, then earned her associate’s degree. Olivette is pursuing her degree in psychology at FSCJ. She is also working on her registered behavior technician certification. She joined Mainspring Academy in 2023 and feels she couldn’t have made a better choice to enhance her career. Outside of work, Olivette enjoys spending time with family and friends, binge-watching crime shows, traveling, and relaxing outdoors.

Elise Jennings

Teacher’s Assistant

Elise is a Teacher’s Assistant in the Elementary class at Mainspring Academy. She is a Michigan native, graduating from Hope College in May 2021 with a B.A in Psychology. Elise found her passion for working with children after working as a behavior technician at a center for autism. From there, she moved to Jacksonville to continue her career working with the special needs population. In her free time, she enjoys reading, the beach, going to Cubs games, and spending time with friends and family.

Stephanie Murphy

Teacher's Assistant

Stephanie is a teacher’s assistant in the Vocational I class at Mainspring Academy. She began working with the special needs population in 2011, where she developed experience with students with IND-P, PMH, TMH, High & Low functioning Autism, Asperger’s & EBD. Stephanie has her Associate’s degree in Education & is working towards her Bachelor’s degree and RBT certification. She has three children, one of whom has special needs, which sparked her passion for helping the special needs community. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys the beach and pool, and spending time with her family and children.

Emily Parker

Teacher’s Assistant

Emily was born in Illinois but has lived in Florida since she was five years old. She has worked with special needs children and adults throughout her life, beginning with her experiences volunteering for special needs camps and Special Olympics. She then transitioned to a professional career working with both adults and children with varying challenges. Emily is very passionate about the rights of all people and believes everyone deserves respect and the ability to live their best life. She is currently enrolled at the University of North Florida and will be graduating with her BA in psychology in minor in sociology in the spring 2024. When not at work, Emily enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and her animals. She enjoys writing, gardening, and spending time in nature.

Ahyanna Shephard

Teacher’s Assistant

Ahyanna is a New Jersey native. She received her Associate of Science in Office Administration degree from the Florida State College of Jacksonville. She is also a self-taught jewelry designer and textile artist. Ahyanna has served her community in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years and worked as a substitute teacher for Duval County Public Schools for about 9 years. Her interest and dedication to the special needs community grew when she noticed the positions in the field were understaffed. Ahyanna is eager to continue her service and learning with the diverse population of students at Mainspring Academy. She is committed to advocating for acceptance for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ahyanna is a proud parent of a teenage daughter with whom she shares creative hobbies such as visual arts, visiting museums, and attending symphonies.

Jennifer Weaver

teacher's assistant

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.

Sheri Wurth

TEACHER's ASSISTANt

Sheri is a Florida native and has a Bachelor’s degree from UNF in Anthropology. Her love of culture, people, and learning led to a career in informal education with non-profits, working as an educator for the Jacksonville Zoo and MOSH for almost 8 years. Recently, she worked as Co-Teacher and then Program Coordinator for a local non-profit school similar to Mainspring Academy, developing and implementing enrichment curriculum with a focus on hands-on, adaptive learning and skill building. She enjoys the challenge that comes with individualizing instruction and hopes to continue finding new ways to foster learning and independence within the classroom to set up her students for success. Sheri spends time with her two children and husband when not at work and also keeps busy with photography, visits to local parks, and listening to audiobooks.