RISING LEADERS ACADEMY
Mrs. Amber Perryman, Principal
Mrs. Amber Perryman is a driven educational leader with a professional background working collaboratively with business and community stakeholders. She is experienced in all levels of the educational field, including classroom teacher, department chair, school accreditation, special project teams, school safety, and leadership. Mrs. Perryman also brings extensive experience in program fundraising and grant writing.
Mrs. Perryman holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a dual emphasis in Economics & Sociology (cum laude) and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Administration (M.Ed.). She is a Florida certified Professional Educator in English (6-12), Social Science (6-12), and Educational Leadership (K-12), and has additional training in Crisis Intervention, CRISS, Ruby Payne, Kagan, Fred Jones, Charlotte Danielson Framework, Harry Wong Classroom Management, Reading Intervention, Exceptional Students Education (ESE), and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Dr. Suha A. Jaber, Executive Director
Dr. Suha Jaber founded Rising Leaders Academy in 2012. She served as the Principal until January 1, 2019, then became the Executive Director. She comes from the state of New Jersey, where she was a full-time university instructor. According to a popular rating website by students, she is ranked among the top 25 professors in the country out of one million. Business Insider named her as one of the best 25 professors in America. In addition, Princeton Review named her as one of the best 300 professors in the country. She received an Excellence in Teaching Award and was recognized for her course/curriculum coordinator accomplishments.
Dr. Jaber holds two Bachelor’s Degrees in Mathematics Education and Computer Science, a Master’s Degree in Applied Mathematics, and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction (Summa Cum Laude). She also completed Beacon courses in Gifted, Exceptional Students Education (ESE), and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She is a certified Heroic Imagination Project workshop trainer and is certified in High-Performance Collaboration: Leadership and Teamwork through Northwest University.
Dr. Jaber brings pioneering ideas to the school and provides an education model based on sound research and proven success. She created a public charter school accessible to all children of Bay County that offers an exceptional learning environment and innovative educational solutions.
Mrs. Julia Arafa, Instructional Coach
Mrs. Julia Arafa is the Instructional Coach at RLA supporting teachers and students with project-based learning expeditions. Julia Arafa, native of Ithaca, New York, has earned a B.A. in German at the University of New York, with credits earned overseas at the Universties of Oldenburg, Bonn, and Wuerzburg, Germany. Mrs. Arafa has three FL Teacher Certifications in K-6, 6-12 (English), 6-12 (Social Studies). She has completed additional classes and earned her Gifted, ESOL, and Reading Endorsements. She has over 17 years teaching experience in elementary, middle, and high school, and additional teaching experience in pre-K and early childhood (infants/toddlers). Her hobbies include photography, travel and family activities, and her educational philosophy is that learning is a lifelong learning process. Her passion lies in Civics. Mrs. Arafa was recognized as a High Impact Teacher by the State of Florida and was awarded Teacher of the Year twice. She was rated Highly Effective every single year and had 100% proficiency on every FSA test her students took in Language Arts and Civics every single year. She had among the top scores in the District and State. Mrs. Arafa’s excellence in teaching and exceptional project-based expeditions led RLA to promote her to Instructional Coach to support the teachers and ensure they are providing academic excellence and implementing rigorous and meaningful learning expeditions, where learning is applied to the real-world to make a positive impact on our community and planet.
Mrs. Shelia Murphy, Data Clerk
Mrs. Shelia works with the Executive Director, Dr. Jaber, on school data. She completed secretarial studies at Haney Vocational School and has completed various courses at Gulf Coast State College. Shelia’s previous office experience includes providing support to top-level corporate executives, managing an office of a local non-profit organization, and office work in the construction and medical fields. Shelia is has been at Rising Leaders for three years and enjoys working with our staff and students. Working at Rising Leaders has inspired Shelia to continue her educational pursuits, and she is working on obtaining her degree in History.
Mrs. Shelia completed secretarial studies at Haney Vocational School and has completed various courses at Gulf Coast State College. Shelia’s previous office experience includes providing support to top-level corporate executives, managing an office of a local non-profit organization, and office work in the construction and medical fields. Shelia is has been at Rising Leaders for two years and enjoys working with our staff and students.
Mrs. Christine Jackson, Secretary
Mrs. Jackson is very excited about being a part of the RLA family. She has over 15 years of experience as a Paraprofessional, Substitute Teacher, and Office Clerical. She also carries certification in Early Education and Cares for the State of Florida. She is looking forward to supporting the mission and goals of Rising Leaders Academy and helping each RLA student achieve their ultimate potential.
Miss Victoria Cordell, Cafeteria Manager
Miss Victoria Cordell has been delivering nutritious school meals since 1999. She worked in several counties throughout the state of Florida. She started her foodservice career with Bay District Schools and had been elected Employee of the Year. She came to Rising Leaders Academy from Monroe County, where she also received the Year Award. She is Serv Safe certified and holds several certificates from the Florida Department of Education Division of Food Nutrition and Wellness. She made her way back to Bay County after Hurricane Michael so she can support family and friends. She loves encouraging children to choose healthily.
Mrs. Lena Kharaieh
This will be Mrs. Kharaieh’s third year teaching kindergarten at RLA. She is a parent of three students who have attended RLA from kindergarten. She has five years experience of teaching STEAM based preschool at, as well as Science camp, at the Science and Discovery Center in Panama City, Florida. After preparing preschool students to enter kindergarten for many years, she is very excited to help the incoming kindergarten class succeed at RLA, as well as watch some of her past students grow into successful learners.
Mrs. Sam Martone
Mrs. Martone has been teaching, mentoring, volunteering, and serving in Bay District for 20 years. The majority of her experience was at Oakland Terrace Elementary School for the Performing Arts before it closed in 2019, after Hurricane Michael. She is also known as Ms. Sam and "Mamma Sam" to the many children that she has influenced over the years. She has been married for 30 years and has 3 grown children and a grandson. She has been a nutrition consultant for 24 years, and she and her husband co-own a local charter fishing business. She is an active member of City Church at Northside. She enjoys anytime with her family and 5 dogs, live music, and walks enjoying the beauties of creation. This is her 4th year at RLA. Last year she taught Kindergarten at RLA.
Ms. Katelyn Screws
Ms. Screws has more than 11 years experience working for Bay District Schools as a paraprofessional, substitute teacher, and full time teacher. She received a WJHG Golden Apple and Bay District Starbucks teacher of the week awards, and was a Bay Education Foundation Grant Recipient in 2017/2018. She holds a Bachelors in Elementary Education from FSU and has certificates in Elementary Education, Reading, ESOL, and ESE. Ms. Screws is a dedicated elementary teacher with a passion for education and an unwavering commitment to optimizing student success and achievement. This is Ms. Screws’s fifth year teaching at RLA.
Mrs. Carrie Murchison
Mrs. Murchison has more than 9 years experience working for Bay District Schools as a paraprofessional, substitute teacher, and full-time teacher. She has a BA in Family and Child Development and understand how important parental participation is in the development of the students and would love to incorporate this into her the classroom. She holds a Masters Degree in Education. Mrs. Murchison sees how important project-based learning, as well as STEM, is in order to improve students’ problem solving abilities, and plans to incorporate that in her future classroom. This is Mrs. Murchison’s fifth year at RLA.
Mrs. Melanie Herriges
Mrs. Melanie Herriges has four years of experience in Bay District Schools as a Paraprofessional, Substitute Teacher, and Classroom Teacher. She is committed to student learning and success both inside and outside the classroom and has a bachelor's degree in social science from Troy University. In addition, she believes that working with children to attain their educational goals sets a solid foundation for their success in life.
Mrs. Kaneisha McIntosh
Mrs. Kaneisha McIntosh will be new to RLA this year. Originally from Alabama and after working nearly 5 years in Alabama's post-secondary education, she is very excited to transition to K12 and help mode the lives of our students. Mrs. McIntosh holds both an Associate of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Troy University and is nearing the completion of her Master of Science in Management from Faulkner University. She loves spending time with her wonderfully blended family and volunteering within the community as a member of the Junior League. She believes that when you strive to be the best version of yourself, you inspire others to be the best version of themselves and look forward to instilling such into our students that they can utilize in and out of the classroom.
Mr. Mark Gregory
Mark Gregory graduated from FSU-PC, where he received his Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. He has worked as an instructor in private education since 2003. Mr. Gregory taught both math and science at RLA for the past three years. He is certified in Elementary Education K-6, Earth-Space Science 6-12, and English for Speakers of Other Languages Reading. His 8th-grade science FCAT scores had 100 percent proficiency. He enjoys writing poetry, playing the piano and guitar, and singing with his family. As a child, Mark struggled with a condition called Erb’s Palsy, resulting from a broken nerve in his left shoulder. His parents and teachers' support helped him develop a positive “can do” mental attitude toward life difficulties.
Mrs. Alison Johnson
This is Mrs. Johnson's 2nd year at RLA and 11th year teaching. She recently moved to Bay County from Cherokee County, Georgia where she was 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. This is her fifth year teaching first grade; previously, she taught third grade and sixth grade. She holds a Bachelors in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and certification for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Mrs. Johnson is married with two adult children, one who will soon graduate from Kennesaw State University with a degree in athletic coaching and another one graduated from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) with a degree in Education and will begin her first year of teaching this year. Mrs. Johnson enjoys spending time with her husband shopping, fishing, traveling, and relaxing on the beach.
Mrs. Lidia Osovschi
My name is Lidia Osovschi and I am so excited for this coming school year, and to return to RLA as a teacher. Last year, I taught first grade. I am looking forward to be working with our 4th grade students this school year and helping them develop positive character and leadership.
I love spending time outdoors with my family and gardening with my children.
I enjoyed volunteering at RLA and I was honored to receive the citizenship award in 2018.
I graduated from Chisinau “Ion Creanga” State University in the field of Education Sciences, Education and Teacher Training, speciality English Language and Literature.
I believe that as an educator, I have the opportunity to encourage and motivate all students to achieve academic success.
Furthermore, I believe in teaching from the heart, encouraging students and being a leader for them.
Mrs. Kristin Jeffrey
My name is Kristin Jeffrey. I have been married for 20 years and have 3 children. One of them will be attending Rising Leaders Academy this year. I have a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education. I am Reading Endorsed and ESOL endorsed. This is my 15th year teaching and first year at Rising Leaders Academy. I have taught grades Kdg through 3rd. I also worked 2 years at The Boys and Girls Club teaching kdg through 5th grade after school. I live on 10 acres and have a farm. We have goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, quail, a dog, a cat, bearded dragons, a turtle, bees, and fish. I am a huge animal lover. I enjoy making goat milk soaps and lotions.
Mrs. Amanda Spillane
Mrs. Spillane has been an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. She holds a K – 6 Educational certificate, ESE certificate, and ESOL certificate. She has been teaching at Rising Leaders Academy for five years and was ranked Highly Effective. The state of Florida also recognized her as a High Impact teacher. Mrs. Spillane taught in Texas, Alabama, and Florida in Grades K – 8. She also spent a year in Japan teaching English to Elementary-Adults and taught two years of high school drama. She maintains high expectations for her students and cheers them on as they meet them.
Mr. Mathew Bunnell
Mr. Bunnell will be returning for his fourth year at R.L.A. and his 7th year of teaching overall. He holds a bachelor's degree from Asbury University and is certified to teach Kindergarten through Sixth grade. He has experience educating in diverse settings utilizing Individual Education Plans and Behavioral Accommodations. Before he was a teacher, he worked as a para-professional in a classroom with multiple disabilities and as an assistant at an outdoors Waldorf Kindergarten and pre-school. Mr. Bunnell has earned the rank of highly effective and teacher of the year teacher so far in his career as an educator. He enjoys using his training in drama and comedy to keep students engaged through creative methods of instruction. His ultimate goal is to create an educational setting where students feel valued and uplifted, and like they belong to while being prepared for the future.
6th Grade Teachers
Ms. Kristen Kelly
Ms. Kelly holds her professional teaching certification in K-6 Elementary Education and has been teaching for six years. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Emory University and a Business certificate from Harvard Business School. Ms. Kelly has taught fourth grade for three years at RLA, and she is excited to share her love of social studies with students this year as the school’s upper elementary school social studies teacher. Last year, Ms. Kelly established RLA’s Student Council. She is eager to continue helping students find their voice and make a positive impact on their community this year through Student Council.
Ms. Lauren Bachuss
This will be Ms. Bachuss’s first year at RLA, but she has been with Bay District schools for 6 years. She worked one year as a para and then five years as a high school math teacher. Ms. Bachuss has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from FSU and has a Master’s degree in Mathematical Sciences from UWF. She is excited to join the RLA family and looks forward to the upcoming school year.
HIGH SCHOOL Science Teacher
Mr. Kevin Jacobs
Mr. Jacobs will be joining the RLA staff this year. He has 37 years in education at multiple schools. Mr. Jacobs retired from teaching in Georgia after 31 years before coming to Florida 7 years ago. In Florida he was an administrator at a local school for almost five years. He obtained a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry (B.S) from Piedmont University with minors in education and curriculum. Mr. Jacobs also holds a Master’s degree in Science Education (M.S) and a Specialist degree in Curriculum (EdS). He was nominated several times for STAR teacher while in Georgia. Over the years he has taught AP Chemistry, AP Physics (Calculus), Physical Science, Biology, Astronomy, Geology, and many science related subjects.
Mr. Jacobs has coached multiple sports in his degree. In 2001 his girls basketball team captured the state championship. He was named the Georgia Coach-of-the-Year for the team's accomplishments. During the same year his softball team also captured the state championship.
The veteran teacher also served in the USAF for almost five years. He is a disabled veteran. Mr. Jacobs believes his approach to teaching is to make each challenge exciting for his students. He believes that students are involved in the science classroom and in a laboratory setting.
HIGH SCHOOL English Teacher
Mrs. Tamara Brillard
Mrs. Brillard believes that each child is unique, special, and capable. She wants to help each child discover this within themselves so they become respectful, confident, and active community members. Mrs. Brillard has been working at Bay District Schools as a paraprofessional, substitute teacher, and for the last 9 years as a full-time teacher. She is an AP (Advanced Placement) certificated instructor in English and Psychology. She taught reading, writing and comprehension to students for 8 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude), focusing from Troy University. She has completed her coursework with a Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from Troy University. Mrs. Brillard received the Teacher of the Year Award at Rising Leaders Academy in the 2020 – 2021 school and was a nominee for the Bay District Teacher of the Year. She currently holds her professional certification in K-6 Elementary Education. She has completed her ESOL, ESE, and Reading Endorsements. She is very excited to create a collaborative, hands-on environment where students thrive and learn to listen and work together. This will be Mrs. Brillard’s fourth year at RLA.
MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL Mathematics TEACHER
Mr. Roland Hankins
Mr. Hankins worked at Rising Leaders for 5 years as a mathematics teacher. He was recognized by the state of Florida as a High Impact teacher for his students’ high math test scores, which were the top in the district and among the top in the state, for the FSA and EOC. Mr. Hankins is a certified teacher who has taught every grade level and around 10 years of teaching experience in Bay County. Most of his experience has been in middle school science and mathematics in Bay District Schools. He is certified in Middle School Mathematics Education, as well as K-6. He also completed training in STEM at Gulf Coast College, which include programming and robotics. In addition, Mr. Hankins completed a Beacon course in teaching Exceptional Students Education (ESE).
MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER
Mrs. Jennifer Tinsley
This is Mrs. Tinsley's 10th year teaching Social Studies in Florida. She attended Florida State University and earned a Bachelors degree in Social Science Education. She has experience teaching AP and Honors classes in the Social Studies realm. Ms. Young is married with 5 children and enjoys various hobbies, such as kayaking, painting and photography.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHERS
Mr. Timothy Minnick
Timothy Minnick, or Coach Tim, is a Southern Illinois native and fitness fanatic who recently moved to the area. Coach Tim is a 2002 graduate of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Coach Tim is a former Law Enforcement Officer with 13 years of service with the rank of Sergeant, having also served on an Illinois State Police Task Force as an Undercover Special Agent for 3 of those years. Coach Tim has over 26 years of martial arts experience. Coach Tim currently holds a 10th degree black belt (Judan) in the Japanese Combat Art of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, and has traveled to Japan for training. Coach Tim also holds rank and experience in other martial art systems including Brazilian Capoeira. Coach Tim competed on American Ninja Warrior (NBC) in 2014.
MR. ETHAN DAVIS
A native of Lynn Haven, FL, Ethan has been involved in athletics his whole life. He received a bachelors degree in Sport and Fitness Management at Troy University while also receiving All-Conference honors on the football field as a defensive back for the University. After excelling in college, Ethan spent some time in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. After the Lions, Ethan also was blessed to play professional football in the CFL, in which he played for the Montréal Allouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-cats. After his playing career he was the defensive backs football coach for Arnold High school in Panama City Beach, FL for 2 seasons. He has years of experience of teaching PE (K-12). Throughout his years of training students and student athletes, he has trained professional, college, high school, and adolescent athletes. He has a passion to teach the youth the skills and knowledge that he’s been blessed to attain throughout his playing, teaching, and coaching career.
Mrs. Fatma Elemam
Mrs. Elemam has a Bachelor of Education in Arabic Language and Masters of Education from Bloomsburg University. She has over 20 years of experience in teaching Arabic. She taught all levels from kindergarten to university level, where she taught at Bloomsburg University. She has been teaching at Rising Leaders Academy for six years. She has a Teaching Certificate covering World Language.
Mrs. Patricia Perkins
Mrs. Perkins started her career in education more than ten years ago. After two years as a para-professional for Bay District Schools, she began working as a Spanish teacher. She was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award the four years she taught at her previous school, Panama City Renaissance School. Over the years, she has taken several courses on education and has fulfilled all the requirements to obtain her Professional Education Certification. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her background as an architect has made it easy for her to visualize and plan lessons that incorporate different forms of expression. This will be Mrs. Perkins’s 9th year at Rising Leaders Academy.
Master Allan Trageser
Master Allan has a 5th-degree black belt and teaches our students Taekwando and Self-defense every week. Master Allan participates in Martial Arts Tournament. This will be his second year at RLA. We are thrilled to offer our students this extremely useful program.
Ms. Cynthia White
Ms. Cynthia White holds an Associates Degree in Theatre Arts from Gulf Coast State College. In 2005, she won the college’s, “Most Outstanding Theatre Student Award.” She continued her studies in art and theatre at Baylor University and the University of Mobile. She has directed 2 of RLA’s plays, “The Lion King,” and “Aladdin.” She looks forward to directing “Frozen” this year. She has loved working with children’s theatre and loves to bring out the shyest of students’ talents. She looks forward to teaching her 5th year at RLA.
Mrs. Yafa Nofal
Mrs. Nofal has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and have been a private piano teacher for many years. She is excited to be teaching music to RLA students as we launch our music program. She plans to teach our students about different instruments and notes. Music will help develop areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. Mrs. Nofal will help promote craftsmanship and make learning fun.
Mrs. Michelle Dupasquier
This will be Ms. Michelle Dupasquier’s second year at Rising Leaders Academy. She relocated from Madison, AL, where she worked for more than ten years in the Madison City School System. At RLA, Ms. Dupasquier will serve as a paraprofessional and technology assistant. She holds an Associate’s degree from Central Texas College.
Ms. Pam Massimiani
Mr. Jerome Davis
Mr. Davis is very excited about being a part of the RLA family. His goal is to keep a clean and safe environment conducive to learning and safety. He has experience in Custodial and Facility Maintenance. He and his family relocated to the area from Bryant, Arkansas, where he served in Maintenance full-time at the Bryant City School District. A native of Andalusia, Alabama, Jerome, a retired DOT Foreman, Highway Technician III, served in the capacity of heavy equipment operator, sign truck supervisor and highway technician. Also, Mr. Davis has an Associate of Science in Industrial Electronics, Class A CDL, and other field certificates. He has been married to Arlene for twenty-one years with four children and one grandchild.