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Meet our Team! Our Teachers Make the Difference!

Miss Esther Gill -

Humanities and Spanish Teacher

Miss Gill’s passion for education has spanned 52 years, with most of them at Lake Placid High School.  She also taught at Lake Placid Christian and Lakeview Christian School. Her courses include Spanish and Social Studies.  She also is an adjunct instructor at South Florida State College, teaching Humanities online.

She graciously shared the following: “I received my BA in Spanish and Secondary Education in 1969,(Florida Southern College ), and my Masters/Art in History in 1971, (University of Arkansas).”

Travel has been a big part of Miss Gill’s life and she spent 1 year at the University of Madrid, (Spain) as well as explored Europe many times, sometimes serving as a tour chaperone.

Miss Gill looks forward to using her public school retirement years to help further student’s education in Highlands county as the Co-founder and teacher at Lake Placid E– Learning Lab.


Ms. Joanie Tucker - Principal/Elementary Academy Teacher

Ms. Tucker is the LPELL Co-founder and has incorporated many professional and life skills in her philosophy of education.  She has been a preschool teacher, and an elementary, and middle school educator for over 19 years. She believes in developing “Life-long Learners” in her students.

With a BA in Elementary Education from Madonna University, Ms. Tucker has been certified in All Subjects K-8; English, Early Childhood, Social Studies, and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. She completed her work toward her Master’s  degree through Liberty University in Pastoral Counseling and Christian Education.

Personally, Ms. Tucker is passionate about her three adult children and her granddaughter who loving calls her, “Gammy.”  She also finds lots of love with her “rescue family” that includes 4 dogs, 5 cats, and 7 horses.  She enjoys researching, learning, and traveling to new places so “glamping” in a Class “C” motorhome was a natural way to tie everything together. Finally, Ms. Tucker, “dabbles in writing books, arts, crafts, gardening, and is passionate about helping others.” 

Ms. Jean Jackson - Paraeducator/Music Education Teacher

Ms Jean Jackson, II, is a native of Highlands County. She attended and graduated from Sebring High School

Ms. Jean studied Music Performance and Education at The Bethune-Cookman University where she received a full vocal scholarship to study classical music. She was a member of the illustrious Bethune-Cookman Concert Chorale under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Walker-Steele.

Ms. Jean has over 20 years of teaching music to ages ranging from 5 years old to 90 years old.  She is also an accomplished pianist and is a currently the pianist and soloist at Allen Temple A.M.E. Church, Lake Wales.

She loves going to the beach , sporting events, gardening, shopping and creating memories with her  two-year-old son, Prince Theo-Sadat.  She says she, “Truly loves  working with young people while helping them navigate through life.”


Mrs. Sandra Staple -

Mathematics Teacher


"I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania.  I went to high school at Canon McMillan then West Virginia University earning a BA and MS in Economics. I was a teaching assistant at WVU lecturing introductory courses in Money and Banking before moving to Lake Placid.  I taught at Lake Placid High School in the mathematics department for 34 years before retirement.  Now I  am pleased to volunteer at LPELL. 

(Mrs. Staples was given “Teacher of the Year 2020-2021” and we appreciate her support!)


Mrs. Melanie Beverly - Elementary Academy Teacher

"My name is Melanie Beverly and I am excited to co-teach the elementary students at Lake Placid E-Learning Lab and Academy this year!  My education includes an Associates in Early Childhood, Bachelors in Elementary Education, and a Master’s in Education Learning and Technology.

Real world learning is part of my philosophy in education.  It includes lessons that are relevant using various teaching methods and based on each student’s learning style. I believe that when curriculum relates to students’ lives, it motivates them to do their best, encouraging them to seek answers to enhance their knowledge both in the classroom as well as in life.

I am a wife, mother to two beautiful daughters, and mommy to four fur babies."

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Mrs. Ashley Stanton - Mathematics and Middle School Facilitator

Mrs. Stanton is a mom of twins and KNOWS the mathematics behind “Kid-Thought!”  She shared, “I love both helping others and solving problems.  This led me at attain both a Bachelors in Supervision and Management as well as an Associates in Accounting through South Florida State    College.  I am also a Den Leader for the Avon Park Cub Scouts. I feel  (Scouts) is another great way to nurture a love of learning and responsibility in our leaders of the future.

In my free time, I enjoy long walks with my family and playing with my four cats.  I also enjoy reading a good book or working on a craft project.

I am looking forward to this upcoming year and hope to bring my love of learning  along with some creativity to an already incredible team!”

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Mrs. Jillie Pinkley - 

Office Manager/Middle School Support Facilitator

Hello, my name is Jillie Pinkley. I am so excited for the upcoming school and am pleased to be filling the role as office manager. This will be my first position as office manager in a school setting and am ready for the challenge. I have previously managed gyms and had the pleasure of running my family business back home. I was able to maintain a Verizon Store, RadioShack and a mailbox station. I was saddened when I had to relinquish the reins to someone else but my husband was transferred to Florida.

I love cornhole, riding motorcycles with my boys and pending time with my husband as we discover this new state. I am looking forward to this year and I know we are going to accomplish great things.

Ms. Leah Kittner-Springman - Physical Education Coach

“My name is Leah Kittner-Springman, I was born in West Palm Beach, and I moved to Lake Placid with my husband 13 years ago.

My daughter, Haley, has attended LPELL since 2020 and is starting her third year here. I’m excited to be involved more and share the vision of the school while helping our children learn healthy life skills.

I grew up playing soccer for multiple traveling teams as well as several coed teams, then had the pleasure of coaching and refereeing soccer for 10 years. I am a certified Yoga instructor and have been teaching Yoga for the past two years. I have my own Yoga studio here in Lake Placid as well as offering classes at Fitness 4 You and other classes in Sebring.

It is my intention to help our children set personal fitness goals and then achieve and excel at those goals. It’s also through play and games to build communication and team building skills. I would also like to instill some good healthy habits such as drinking water, eating light and mindful snacks, and a healthy diet. It is important to move and be active but staying hydrated and eating right are important practices that are fun and easy habits to form. “

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