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.


JACQUELINE COLANERI

Educational Director 

5th and 6th Grade Teacher

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 5/6 teacher at Gargiulo Education Center, Jacqueline is devoted to addressing student needs, maximizing learning, and fostering a positive learning community.


DOUG KNITT

Program Director

Middle/High School Teacher

Doug was born in Cheektowaga, NY.  He has a bachelors degree in mathematics and secondary education from Buffalo State College and has been teaching math  and various other subjects since 1997.  He is certified in the state of Florida to teach Math, Earth Space Science and Engineering/Technology for grades 6 – 12.

Doug was married in 1984 and has 4 children and 1 grandchild.  He moved to Winter Haven, FL in 1984 and was working in the field of hotel accounting.  Moved back to Western New York in 1990 and pursued his education at Buffalo State and in 1997 moved back to Florida to start his teaching career.  He has been a resident of South West Florida since 2002.  His hobbies include beach walking, kayaking, Lego building and spending time with family.


BRENDA A. MARTINEZ

Administrative Assistant

She was born in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, but grew up in Texas and at age 10 moved to Florida.  After graduating high school, she got married at age of 18 and started working for GEC a year later. She stopped working for over 10 years to be with her kids and resumed worker at GEC as a part time worker to spend more time with her kids. How did she hear about the school?

“By the time I moved to Gargiulo complex, I saw the little school and I asked myself when will my kids attend? Mrs. Pamela was the director when my oldest daughter started school and that’s when she started going to Little School. GEC is a big help to all migrant families including mine; It’s a total blessing to be part of this program. I can say we are beyond blessed to be able to say my kiddos attend La Escuelita (“The Little School” in Spanish). I have 3 kids and they attend little school”.

“I am going over 2 months working at little school. Ms.Mary called me one Friday afternoon to see if I could help her for couple of hours during the day with some duties to do.   I said yes thinking it was just for some days, but nope I am still working at Little School. Feels great to be part of Little School”

 


Diane Scrimenti

Middle School and High School

Diane taught in New York City for 35 years, mostly students in grades K-8, teaching all subjects. She holds a masters degree in Special Education from Northeastern University with a specialization in Reading. Diane also completed 30 credits above her Masters, focusing on analyzing student data and differentiation of instruction in conjunction with Behavior Management Strategies to foster a positive and successful learning environment.  In addition, Diane is certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Sonday, and Wilson; both Multisensory approaches to teaching and has trained educators in these specialized techniques. Among her varied teaching assignments, she served as a mentor teacher to new teachers, taught state test preparation classes, and taught physical education/nutrition for 4 years. In her free time, Diane loves to run, and has completed 17 marathons and hundreds of half-marathons. For ten years, she coached boys and girls in track and field. She has one daughter who lives in New York.  Diane brings compassion and understanding of student needs both academically and socially to the Garguilo Education Center.


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.


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

3rd and 4th 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 a substitute teacher, 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 2018.


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.


JENINE 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 Gargiulo Education Center.