Our People - Lakeland

Kristen Kirby-Assistant site Director anD Middle grades Teacher

Kristen graduated from Southeastern University with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education (K-6) and K-12 endorsements in ESOL and Reading. She taught for 3 years in the public school system, but realized there must be a better way to "do" education. In her search, she taught art to children and adults at a local studio. Kristen was excited to learn about R School, a place where she could encourage students to be creative and independent! She loves that kids can be kids while learning what they need and want to learn. Kristen emphasizes a growth mindset to help children become continuous learners. 


Susan graduated from the University of South Florida in 1992 with a BS in Elementary Education (K-6). She is also a graduate of the Suncoast Area Teacher Training Honors Program. She has more than 20 years of experience in working with young children in the Lakeland area and has five children of her own with her husband Erich. Susan loves planning developmentally appropriate learning experiences grounded in Sociocultural Theory

KEvin Peoples-Upper Primary Teacher

Kevin graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education. He taught in the public school system for 13 years before deciding that he would rather teach children in creative and interesting ways. Kevin enjoys teaching through games and encouraging children to read and write for enjoyment. 

Sandy Stieren-Intermediate primary Teacher

Sandy graduated from Post University with a Bachelor's of Science in Child Studies and an emphasis in Exceptional Student Education. Over the past decade, she has taught children aged PreK through 5th grade both in public and private settings. Sandy likes designing engaging and interactive learning activities because it is best practice and she believes children should have fun while learning. 

Carolína VillavicenciO-aCADEMIC aSSISTANT

Carolína graduated from George Jenkins High School and has worked with young children for the past decade in several different capacities. She is knowledgeable of developmentally appropriate practices and enjoys guiding our youngest students through both structured and play-based activities to acquire reading and math skills. She is a native Spanish speaker and teaches our Spanish language classes using music, Spanish literature, games, and art activities.

Sara Jones-Art Instructor

Sara is a local artist who was home educated through middle school and graduated from Lakeland High School. She and her work have been featured in several publications and she has been an invited artist at many events, including Lakeland's very own Art Crawl. Sara enjoys helping students tap into their artistic talent and introducing them to various media and techniques to broaden their knowledge. 

"Farmer Alex" Ruesing-Garden Instructor

Farmer Alex is the proprietor of Lifegarden Farm and you may have seen him selling his hot peppers and other organic produce at Lakeland's Downtown Farmer's Market. Alex loves teaching others about organic and sustainable gardening practices. He has four lovely children who attend R School part-time. 

Brandon Snipe-Vocal and Guitar

Brandon is a highly trained musician and excels in guiding children through the beginning stages of their musical journey. He has been teaching voice and guitar to children for several years.

Nicki Whitworth-Academic Assistant and Spanish Instructor

Nicki is a mother of three children, all of whom she is homeschooling, with her oldest son now entering high school, and her two younger children on campus with us part-time. She has seven years of Spanish coursework under her belt and is excited to bring her experience in Flip Flop Spanish to our students. Nicki is also well-versed in Math-U-See and will be assisting in math small groups at the elementary level.