Meet the Faculty


Faculty List

Note: Please click on the names to view the description.

Amalia Hughes - Spanish

Amalia was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and moved to the U.S. as a young child. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (Cum Laude) in Spanish from the University of South Florida. An accomplished guitarist, Amalia uses songs to teach vocabulary and structure. She takes the communicative approach to the teaching of Spanish, particularly in the early stages. Her students are used to hearing her speak Spanish throughout the lessons and they enjoy using the language themselves. The culture of the countries where Spanish is spoken is also an important part of the students’ education and Amalia is able to draw on her personal experiences, as well as an extensive collection of items to make language acquisition lively and effective.

Anne Scott Vela - Lower School Science, Social Studies & Music

Anne was educated at St. John’s College Maryland and at Columbia University. She majored in the History of Science and Mathematics and Philosophy with minors in Literature, Classics and a concentration in Music Studies. She is a very enthusiastic, hands-on teacher who loves working with her students on a variety of topics and activities. She encourages students to question and research and to be active during experiments, projects and class discussions. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and our students love working with her, whether it is inside the classroom or outside in our organic garden.

Benjamin Sperduto - Social Studies, Upper School History & Economics

Ben has a BA in Political Science and a Masters in History from the University of South Florida. In addition to teaching various history and social studies courses at high and middle school level, he spent six years as an editorial assistant for The Historian, a widely circulated historical journal. Ben is also a published author, with short stories and a novel to his credit. He believes history is as much the story of our present as our past and works to help students discover and understand the connections between the two. Ben’s classes place a strong emphasis on analyzing historical sources and developing writing skills.

Caroline Babis - Early Childhood

Caroline earned a Bachelor of Arts from Florida State University and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado. Caroline also completed the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation’s “Trainer of Teachers” program. As an accomplished artist, she has provided art and music instruction to young children for over 15 years. Caroline enjoys traveling and participating in sidewalk chalk art festivals around the country. She is excited to build a hands-on active learning classroom community with the Early Childhood students again in the fall. Artwork from her students receives high acclaim.

Christine Yerrakudu - Art & Music

Christine holds a BA in Art History and Criticism from SUNY Stony Brook, and an MA in Art History from CUNY Queens College. She is currently pursuing her
second MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Expressive Art Therapies. Her focus is childhood behavioral, emotional and intellectual development using the fine arts. Christine enjoys working with all age groups of students and encourages them to express themselves in variety of media. She involves art history in her lessons, but believes very much in helping students to develop their own style of art. Christine also teaches music, is a talented pianist/singer and has encouraged our students to perform on a number of occasions.

David Deitz - Upper School Coordinator and Foreign Languages

David holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) Degree in languages and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from the University of Leeds in England. He taught high school in France, Germany and England for many years and has been an integral part of Lee’s Faculty since 2000. In addition to being Upper School Coordinator, David directs our Latin, French and German programs. He takes the active participation approach to foreign language learning, encouraging students to converse in the target language as much as possible. David also works with our Upper School students on career and college planning. He liaises closely with USF (Honors College) and Hillsborough Community College with regard to our Upper School Dual Enrollment program.

Jeff Floyd - Lower School Math, Physical Education, Asst. Lower School Coordinator

Jeff received his Bachelor’s degree from Manchester College in Indiana. He has strong experience individualizing curriculum and preparing education plans. Jeff’s teaching style is very hands-on and visual, encouraging students to be active during field trips, projects and class discussions. In his physical education classes, Jeff emphasizes teamwork and fair play. As Assistant Lower School Coordinator, Jeff helps Lou Ann with Lower School responsibilities, including working with students and parents.

Jennifer - Deitz Director

Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in German and French, a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, a Postgraduate Diploma in the Law of Educational Management and a Master’s degree in Education Management, specializing in Curriculum Design and Assessment. Jennifer takes on a great number of responsibilities at Lee. As school administrator, she is the focal point for communication from parents, faculty, prospective visitors and the world outside Lee. Along with the Upper and Lower School Coordinators, Jen is also responsible for curricula and class schedules.

John Hendrix - English Literature and Theater

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Jacksonville Sate University, with majors in English and Music. He has extensive experience in the private school sector, much of it working with high ability students. During his teaching tenure, John has been chairman of English, Humanities and Drama departments at private schools in Georgia and Florida. He also created and educational consulting business, helping school districts develop curriculum and preparation courses for SAT and other tests. John is an energetic and motivating teacher. He is constantly augmenting the curriculum in ways that enhance educational skills, while keeping classes interesting and relevant. He also produced this year’s stellar play, Twelve Angry Jurors.

Linda Lacey - Founder

A graduate of Slippery Rock University, with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education, Linda founded Lee Academy in 1983. She has made numerous presentations on gifted education at national and international conferences. Linda is a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, the National Consortium of Gifted Schools, the Florida Association for the Gifted, the National Association for Gifted Children and a committee member in the NAGC networks on Early Childhood, Counseling/Guidance, Special Needs and Professional Development.

Lisa Ortiz - Health & Life Skills

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the USF and is a licensed registered nurse. She has Master’s level training in physical assessment, child development and epidemiology. The focus of Lisa’s nursing practice has been public and student health. She has taught parenting classes to the community as well as a variety of classes on communicable disease, hand washing, life skills, health and hygiene. Lisa has a heart for her students, and her classes reflect this through developmentally-appropriate, discussion-based and student-driven design.

Lou Ann Willis-Fraser - Lower School Coordinator, Guidance Counselor, Language Arts & Group Dynamics Teacher

Lou Ann has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Guidance, all from the University of South Florida. She also obtained a gifted endorsement from the State of Florida Department of Education. As Lower School Coordinator, Lou Ann helps students, parents and teachers work together effectively and successfully. She also teaches primary language arts and has compiled a curriculum that strongly addresses the needs of gifted learners. The group dynamics classes that Lou Ann designed teach many critical skills in the affective domain. Some of her goals for the guidance program are to support students in conflict resolutions, relationship-building and generating respect for themselves as well as others.

Mike Moore - College Guidance

Mike has been part of the Lee Academy “family” for many years, graduating two children, both National Merit Scholars. He earned his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Tampa and works with Upper School students in their search for the best college match.

Nicole Agresta - Middle and Upper School Math

Originally from New Jersey, Nicole moved to Florida in 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education (Grades 6-12) from St Petersburg College. One of Nicole’s professors there was Lee Academy’s own Jimmy Chang (class of 93), now Dean of Mathematics. Her varied teaching experience has given her a good perspective of how different students learn and how to accommodate each child’s individual needs. Nicole started teaching Lee’s Middle and Upper School Math classes last fall and has transitioned smoothly into the program. She is working on her Master’s degree in Mathematics and Gifted Education at USF.

Sharon Mejia - Upper School Science

Sharon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Ohio State and a Master’s degree in Secondary Science from the University of South Florida. She has significant experience on the “applied side” of science, having worked in several distinguished programs, including SEACamp, the Birch Aquarium (San Diego), the Naturalist Outdoor School and the Center of Science and Industry (Columbus, Ohio). Sharon also designed science curriculum units for gifted students and taught them in the Johns Hopkins talent identification program. She is truly excited by the wonders of science and sharing her knowledge with others. Her hands-on approach has engaged Lee students from the very start, with numerous field trips and on-campus environmentally-sound projects, including the creation and expansion of a student-run campus garden. The garden has become a teaching laboratory for a number of classes, from Early Childhood through Upper School.

Sherry Jones - Computer & Yearbook

Sherry was raised in Colorado and studied physics and chemistry at Colorado State University. After serving a short time in the Army, she worked part time as a teacher for the Hillsborough County Public school system, while raising two boys. Sherry also found time to complete several college-level computer design classes covering numerous Adobe and Microsoft based programs, including Photoshop, Lightroom and Design. After her two sons joined Lee Academy as students, Sherry began working as a photographer and is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.