MARY ASTA

Executive Director

Mary has served on the board of the Gargiulo Education Center since 2017 and was named its Executive Director in January, 2018.  She has an extensive history in philanthropy.  As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation at Rockefeller University in New York City, she developed the foundation’s structure from the ground up, raising millions of research dollars as well as pro bono media dollars.  She has sat on the board of and/or advised several foundations, including The Intrepid Museum, Fisher House Foundation, Michael Stern Parkinson’s Foundation, Fallen Heroes Funds, and Hanover Charities.  Mary currently serves on the board of the Montessori Academy of Naples.  As a successful entrepreneur, she owns a patent-holding company, Master Poe Innovations, and has an extensive history in the entertainment and fashion worlds.  In her spare time, she works with Alzheimer’s patients.


LESLIE PROSSER

Site Coordinator

Leslie joined the Gargiulo Education Center in April of 2018. As Site Coordinator, she will oversee the implementation of new programs, assist with fundraising, be responsible for the day to day operations of the school, and assist students and families in all ways possible. She previously worked for the Collier County Education Association for 16 years as their Accounts and Office Manager and has a wealth of experience and knowledge working with Boards, operating budgets, and maintaining all state filings and requirements. She has most recently worked for an after-school program for at-risk students in Lee County. While this quickly became her passion, she did miss the operational side of things and hoped to someday marry both worlds. She happened upon a posting for the Gargiulo Education Center in mid-April 2018 and it sounded too good to be true; to spend the mornings doing the things that she missed (budgets, finances, etc), and spend the afternoons working with the students?! Needless to say, she applied, and the rest is history.

Leslie was born and raised in Southwest Florida, and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, and traveling.


KATHY KESSLER

Upper-School Teacher

Kathy has been teaching students from kindergarten through high school for over 30 years.  She works primarily with the high-school students at the Gargiulo Education Center.  After graduating from the University of Iowa, she obtained her master’s degree in special education at the University of Nebraska.  She taught in Iowa for 17 years and has been teaching in Florida for the past 20, including 16 years at Barron Collier High School in the Collier County School District.

She is currently teaching English/reading but is also certified in Exceptional Student Education and social sciences, with endorsements in gifted education and English Language Learning.

Kathy has raised five wonderful children that are all in various stages of their chosen careers.


MARLENE DIMAS

Upper-School Teacher

Marlene was born and raised in Southwest Florida. She is married and has two daughters and one son. Her family enjoys spending time together – whether it is playing board games, video games, or watching family movies. She enjoys any holiday that allows her family to get together, but her kids especially love Christmas.  She has been a teacher for Collier County Public schools for 16 years and has taught grades kindergarten to 12th grade. She is currently working with the migrant program in Collier County and is able to work in the different Collier County Schools. This year will be her 4th year at Gargiulo and she has enjoyed seeing the students mature and grow academically.  She is looking forward to another year at Gargiulo!


Beth E Barrus

Middle School Teacher

Beth has been a high school science teacher at Collier County Public Schools for six years.  Prior to moving to Florida, she lived in South New Jersey where she helped run a successful family business.  She came into education later in life, but finds that it is a natural fit for her.  Beth enjoys making meaningful relationships with her students.   She has always wanted to serve her community in meaningful ways and education allows her to do this.  Beth began working at the Gargiulo Education Center in 2018.  She was initially impressed by the program’s mission to improve the outcomes of migrant children in Collier County.  She soon came to realize that GEC is much more than just an Education Center, it is truly a community school.  GEC provides an opportunity for migrant children and their families to belong to a supportive community and it is a welcoming place where parents are an integral part of their child’s success.  Beth is proud to be a part of the program.


JACQUELINE COLANERI

4th and 5th Grade Teacher

Jacqueline is an Educational Services Consultant with CORE. Jacqueline is a highly experienced math and reading specialist. She holds a Master’s degree in Education and a Curriculum and Supervisor certification from Seton Hall University, and is certified in Brain Based Learning. Ms. Colaneri has extensive experience as a classroom teacher, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, and is a national presenter. She was employed as a classroom teacher and curriculum supervisor in New Jersey schools for 34 years. For the last ten years Jacqueline has worked nationally as a consultant collaborating with district administrators and teachers to identify instructional needs, and to develop and deliver professional development to address areas of concern, including providing extensive classroom coaching. She assisted with the design, review, and delivery of workshops via train-the-trainer formats and district-level presentations in five states. As a Math and ELA content specialist, Ms. Colaneri has conducted professional development sessions to build administrator and teacher capacity in all areas of K-8 instruction and assessment. Her experience includes analysis of student data to assist in guiding classroom instruction, modeling lessons, facilitating curriculum writing committees, and supporting implementation of RTI. As a grades 4/5 teacher at Gargiulo Education Center, Jacqueline is devoted to addressing student needs, maximizing learning, and fostering a positive learning community.


SUSAN SHELLY

2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher

Susan came to GEC in 2014 after retirement from a teaching career of over forty years.  As a teacher of second and third graders at the Center she continues to delight in the challenge of each new afternoon with the students.  Seeing them grow and change from kindergarten through high school has been a fulfilling experience.  In her leisure time Mrs. Shelly enjoys walking, swimming, cooking, gardening, church activities, and time with her family.


SHELLEY KIRBY

1st and 2nd Grade Teacher

Shelley studied and received her Bachelor of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from the University of Delaware. She pursued a Master’s in Cardiac Rehab at San Diego State University until relocation and starting a family cut her endeavors short. Shelley has three children Jordan, Caroline and Jack. She was very involved in their schools as substitute, room parent and parent reading programs. Shelley participated in years of Vacation Bible Study, Community Bible Study for Homeschool children, taught junior high youth and confirmation classes and attended a mission trip to Zambia for Family Legacy where she sponsors several children. She volunteered every week for 5 years at Stonebridge Food Pantry in The Woodlands, TX. The pantry, an outreach of Shelley’s church, served the underprivileged in the community by providing food, clothing, school supplies, and Christmas gifts. Shelley has a heart for kids and a passion and enthusiasm for making learning fun. She began at Gargiulo as a volunteer in April.


WAYNE SHEPPARD

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Teacher

Wayne is a seasoned former high school art, photo and TV production teacher who has worked over the years with students K-12. In addition to working with students here at the Gargiulo Education Center, Wayne has written a novel, a short play, and a full-length screenplay. He loves working with the children and considers it a stimulating challenge and privilege.


KIM GONGOLA

Floating Teacher

A new resident of Naples, Kim has been teaching both elementary and secondary education for the past 34 years in her home state of West Virginia.  A cum laude graduate of WVU with a BS in Vocational Home Economics 7-12 and a MA+45 in Specific Learning Disabilities K-12 with additional endorsements in Behavior Disorders and Mild/Mod Mental Impairment, Kim has received Highly Qualified Status in the areas of English, Science, Social Studies and Mathematics and has taught in the Resource setting as well as Inclusion in the regular classroom environment.  Selected as Community Teacher of the Year, she has served as a Mentor Teacher for new hires, State Dept. Teacher/Trainer of Special Education Initiatives, and recognized as a WV State Education Best Practices recipient for the “Algebra for All” program developed along with the Math Dept. Chair and duplicated across the state.  She has taught Teacher Academy courses in summer programs, After School Tutoring in her local community, and served as Scholarship Chairman for the WCEA.  She is the mother of two daughters and is extremely happy to have the opportunity to now live near her first grandchild here in Naples, FL.


CHRIS LIEBHART

Math Teacher

Chris has a bachelor’s of arts in business administration from Dordt College. For 5 years, Chris has taught high school mathematics in Collier County. He works with the middle-school and high-school students at the Gargiulo Education Center, specializing in helping them with math. He was born and raised in Southern California before relocating to Southwest Florida.


JENNINE FUENTES

Music Teacher

Jennine Fuentes has been teaching music and performing throughout South Florida throughout the past 15 years. She earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Florida International University in 2007 and her Master’s Degree shortly after from the American College of Education. She taught in general music and has been the choral director in schools throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties ranging from pre-school to high school. While she has been a cantor at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church and Saint Agnes Catholic Church for the last 8 years, she now holds the position of Artistic Director at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, FL. With Saint Johns, she has performed in Italy and Ireland. Jennine is thrilled to be teaching music once a week to the youth at the Garguilo Education Center.


ALAINAH HACKER

Technology Teacher

Alainah is from Naples, Florida and went to Florida Gulf Coast University for a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. She has over 350 hours of math and science tutoring experience ranging from elementary school to high school, and has over 100 hours of volunteering for STEM education. Alainah is currently an entrepreneur starting up a medical device business and she has real world experience in technology, engineering, and science. She enjoys spending her time teaching the students at Gargiulo Education Center about real life technology skills that will help them become successful in the future.