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.


Dianne Caudill-ESE Assistant Academy Director

Dianne Caudill-ESE Assistant Academy Director Dianne Caudill-ESE Assistant Academy Director
Dianne comes to us as our ESE Assistant Academy Director with a B.S. in ESE and has taught exceptional students for over two decades in public and private settings. Helping children to grow in their learning goals brings her joy and fulfillment. She has a lot to give and has great passion for our population.

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.

Arianne Feliu – Office Assistant

Arianne Feliu – Office AssistantArianne Feliu – Office Assistant
Arianne has been with us since May 2019 and has been the happy face in the window at the reception desk. She is always willing to help when asked and always has the best interest of the parents, staff and children. Arianne handles the day to day accounts payables and the school correspondence to the families. She is Ms. Deb and Ms. Dianne’s right hand at our Lutz location. She has over 10 years’ experience in an office assistant position and is very professional in the manner she handles her job.

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.

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.

Joshua Barton – Teacher

Joshua Barton – Teacher Mr. Josh began his professional teaching career more than fifteen years ago at a large, public high school in Springfield, MA. He is currently a doctoral (Ph.D.) candidate in special education curriculum and instruction at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree from the University of Massachusetts. In addition to his work with students in K-12 schools, Mr. Josh has taught many higher education courses at USF, including undergraduate and graduate-level courses in special education and a graduate-level course in educational leadership. He is also a published author, who has co-authored several book chapters on the history of special education personnel preparation. He has also written a book on the college and career readiness standards, in which he describes and provides “worked examples” of effective instructional strategies for practitioners in the field.

Ms. Zeraris Arroyo-Teacher

Ms. Zeraris Arroyo-Teacher Mrs. Z was born in Puerto Rico and graduated as a teacher at the Interamerican University of Fajardo. She has more than 15 years of experience. She is fantastic with our younger children. Her patience and smile shines throughout the day.

Our Paraprofessionals

Ms. Cindy – New L.E.A.P.S Paraprofessional

Cindy Santiago Paraprofessional Hi, my name is Cindy Santiago. I was born in Germany, but have lived in the United States for many years. For the past 25 years I have called Land O’ Lakes home and have worked for the Pasco County School Board as a Substitute Teacher for many of those years. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be with our students here at New Leaps Academy.

Samantha DeJesus Ruggles – Paraprofessional

Samantha DeJesus Ruggles My name is Samantha DeJesus Ruggles. I am a mother of sweet boy and a wife to a wonderful husband. I was born and raised in Methuen, Massachusetts but have called Florida my home for 18 years. I am compassionate, patient and organized. I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I am currently attending Pasco Hernando State College for a (A.S.) Degree with an anticipated graduation date. I am CPR certified and have had the opportunity to work with children for the more than 4 years. I enjoy cooking, painting, volunteering, reading and spending time with my family. I am excited and delighted to be part of such a wonderful team at New Leaps Academy.

Marisela Martinez – Paraprofessional

Marisela Martinez – Paraprofessional Marisela is a Paraprofessional/Substitute Teacher/Spanish, Sign language and Zumba Instructor for New L.E.A.P.S Academy. She has been with NLA since August 2019 and loves all the wonderful unique kids in the school. She has two sons, her first son was born Deaf and the reason she learned Sign language and studied ASL for one semester at Vanderbilt University in Nashville TN. This gives her total understanding of how difficult it can be for some of our parents. Her son went to school at TSD (Tennessee School for the Deaf) in Knoxville, went to college at Gallaudet University in Washington DC., and is working as a manager for the same company since 2003 he is doing okay.
Her experience of over 10 years for the Metro Nashville Public Schools, in Nashville Tennessee and in Fargo North Dakota where she was a Substitute Teacher and teaching night classes for Adults in Spanish, English, cooking and Dance. She has four years of college at MTSU in Murfreesboro TN, with a major in Mass Communication (Photography) a minor in Dance and in Spanish. She also has her Cosmetology license, a Musician and a Certified Zumba Instructor.
She has a passion for teaching and loves to help the kids in anything they need and she gives all the knowledge she has for them to learn

Leann Smith – Paraprofessional

Leann Smith – Paraprofessional Ms. Leeann is a Florida native born in St. Petersburg but has lived in Pasco County for the last 31 years. She is a mother to 4 children and a grandmother of 2 grandsons. Ms. Leann has been a Paraprofessional at New L.E.A.P.S Academy since January 2019 and enjoys working with the children every day and loves to see them grow. She also holds a medical assistant degree and has went through T.A.C.T. training. Ms. Leeann did respite care for 3 years with children and adults on the spectrum. She has the patience and spends most of her day working with the children 1:1 and assisting in their behaviors. She has a passion for our student’s and it shows in her ability to keep them moving along and learning.

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.

Nicole Eoute – Paraprofessional

Nicole Eoute – ParaprofessionalNicole Eoute (pronounced you-it) is a paraprofessional at New Leaps and works mostly with Mr. Josh’s class. Her dad was in the army, so they moved a LOT! She’s been all over the states and even to Germany. Nicole currently has a Bachelors in Psychology, and is working toward her Master’s. She loves working with the kids and helping them reach their educational goals. When not working with the kids, she is crocheting or playing with her pets, which include two dogs and a fox! She has been a great asset to our Academy.


Ms. Lindsay – Speech Language Pathologist

Ms. Lindsay Speech Hello, I am a recent alumnus of the University of South Florida. I have a bachelors of arts degree in communication sciences and disorders. I also have a minor in applied behavior analysis.  I have many years of experience with children ranging from pre-school aged to middle school-aged children. When not planning therapy sessions I enjoy spending time with my friends and my dog. I am very excited to be joining the New L.E.A.P.S academy team!  

Email: Coming Soon

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.

Email: Coming Soon

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