New LEAPS Staff

New LEAPS Logo 544x544 Our School is lucky to have a talented staff that specialize in special education. The school employs skilled teachers, aides and an office assistant. We strive to maintain small classroom ratios to enhance learning.

Our goal is to create a warm, open environment where students feel safe enough to ask questions, explore and seek answers. We challenge every student to surpass his or her own personal best and help them over the hills and through the valleys of these growing years. New L.E.A.P.S. is particularly proud of its diversity and takes every opportunity to celebrate those characteristics that make us different. We welcome all who come through our door. We specialize in K-12th grades and we are currently enrolling K-7th.


Harmony Pini – Office Assistant

Harmony Pini – Office Assistant
Harmony Pini – Office AssistantHarmony works in the office at New Leaps Academy on Fundraising activities, correspondence to parents and staff as well as putting together our monthly newsletter. She brings a positive attitude with a smile to everyone. She is new to Florida and relocated from New Hampshire in the last six months and has been married for 21 years and enjoying her new life in Florida. Her background in the Dental field for the last 20 years is a bit different but she is quickly learning the private education field.

Terie Alonso – Office Assistant

Terie Alonso – Office Assistant
Terie Alonso – Office AssistantHaving over twenty-five years of experience in residential and commercial construction administration, Terie finds such a joy to come to work and greet the children and parents each morning! She feels so blessed to be able to watch these children grow and learn and expand their abilities! When not at work, Teire enjoys spending time with my family; loves to read, watching movies, and traveling – especially with her grandchildren!

Our Teachers

Francis Christensen – New L.E.A.P.S Teacher

Francis Christensen - New L.E.A.P.S Teacher Mr. Frank is in his 4th year at NLA. He is from Tampa, FL and studied at USF. He received a scholarship to Taiwan Normal University to learn Chinese. Mr. Frank lived in Taiwan and taught English as a second language, and he taught art at Taipei American School, for sixteen years. He then continued his studies in Chinese at Kun Ming University in China for two years. Mr. Frank is passionate about his teaching position at New Leaps Academy and brings so much knowledge to his class. The children love him and learn a great deal from him. He is a joy to have on our staff.

Josh Richard – New L.E.A.P.S Teacher

Josh is originally from Maine and has recently moved to Florida. He received his bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services at the University of Maine at Farmington and completed his internship at Becket Family Services, a residential and private school for behavioral and ESE populations. After his internship concluded, he stayed on to work for over 18 years in various roles including teaching History and Social Studies. Josh holds his ESE certification in both Maine and Florida and looks forward to continuing his education career at New Leaps Academy.

Samantha Levy – New L.E.A.P.S Teacher

Ms. Sam studied history at the University of Central Florida, and is currently working towards her masters at UCF in public history. Ms. Sam’s research focuses on museum studies, and how to best implement sensory learning into an exhibit.

Her biggest passion is education and the ability to help foster individual growth.

Fun facts:

– She has 3 cats (Ghost, Hades, and Tempura).

– In her free time, she likes to watch anime and learn Japanese.

– She married October 21, 2022.

– Her favorite food is grilled cheese.

Mr. Tom – New L.E.A.P.S Teacher

Mr Tom Mr. Tom has been an ESE teacher for five years now and in his 3rd year at NLA and has found his calling with this profession. He received his Bachelors’ degree in History and Political Science and completed a Teacher training program when he first moved to Florida from New York. Tom is a veteran of the US Navy. He looks forward to making a difference in our students lives every day. He brings a wealth of knowledge and has shown his compassion for our population.

Our Paraprofessionals

Andrea Graham – Paraprofessional

Andrea Graham – ParaprofessionalMs. Andrea has been with NLA since last school year and has fit in nicely. She loves working with the children and helping them where needed. Her patience and understanding is a true statement of the person she is. She is soft spoken and always does what is asked of her and is a team player.

Jamie Calise – Paraprofessional

After staying home for 17 years with three amazing kids, she decided to go back to work to help young kids. She enjoys boating, going to my boys games watching them play football and soccer. She also enjoys being involved with her daughter in her competition travel dance team.

Karla Arroyave – Paraprofessional

Karla is married and has two beautiful kids Leylanie and Roman  and a dog named Rocky🤗. She loves working with kids it is very rewarding for her. It is Karla’s first year at New Leaps academy and is so excited getting to know everyone. We are thrilled to have her with us. She wishes everyone a wonderful year.

Lena Kiser – Paraprofessional

Ms. Lena is currently studying elementary education and special education at western governors university. Outside of school, Ms. Lena really enjoys getting creative, especially with music and my guitar. The arts have her heart so she loves incorporating them into anything she can, especially teaching! Ms. Lena is excited for the new school year!


Ms. Rikki – Yoga Instructor

Rikki’s Bio Yoga Instructor Rikki is a Wife, and Mother of 2 who knows firsthand how important it is to take of yourself; mind, body, and spirit. This Yogi started practicing Yoga in 2009, and as a former cheerleader she went into her first Yoga class primarily focused on the poses, and the workout itself, not knowing any better. However, after her first Savasana, she was hooked for life. Rikki is a former Special Educational Paraprofessional, turned Yoga Instructor that loves the effect Yoga has on the body and mind, leaving one feeling relaxed, focused, and centered. Rikki wants to spread that feeling of tranquility to others as a Yoga Practitioner. Rikki has her 200-hour RYT Certification and is working on her 500-hour RYT, focusing on Hatha Yoga. Practicing Yoga has taught Rikki mind over matter, the art of self-expression, and how to truly love her body. She wants to share that with others who take her Yoga Class. Rikki’s intention is inner peace, she wants to make a difference in the lives of others while spreading joy, peace, and tranquility.

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