Evan Markowitz

Mr. Markowitz is a native Floridian and was born and raised in Winter Haven, Florida. As a student, Mr. Markowitz was active in the performing arts, including being selected for the Florida All-State Ensemble on saxophone at both the high school and collegiate level. He attended Florida Southern College for a BA in Music Education and Nova Southeastern University for a Masters in Educational Leadership. Mr. Markowitz has been part of the Athenian family since 2012.

Mr. Markowitz believes in the spirit of adventure. It is his goal that the team will always guide each student through the incredible adventure ahead. Mr. Markowitz has a passion for working with children and truly enjoys working with the school's performing arts program to put on fantastic musical productions each year. He strives to help each student achieve his or her dreams and challenges teachers with the following thought, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."

Danielle Dudley
Assistant Principal

Mrs. Dudley grew up in a military family, moving around the country and attending multiple schools across the country between kindergarten and 12th grade. In high school, she was involved in student council and cheerleading. Mrs. Dudley graduated from St. Leo University with a degree in Elementary Education and Nova Southeastern University with her Masters in Educational Leadership. She has also completed additional training in Reading, ESOL, ESE and Clinical Education.

Mrs. Dudley has four children who she calls her circus. Mrs. Dudley has been at Athenian Academy for her entire career, moving from a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher into administration as the school's Assistant Principal. Mrs. Dudley believes in a hands-on learning experience, where students can explore their love for education and build a lifelong love for learning.

"Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard for it."


Office Staff

Traci White
Office Manager

Mrs. White is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. She is a graduate of Saint Vincent College and earned a B.S. Degree in Business Management. Mrs. White relocated and became a resident of Florida in May 2001.

Having spent many years in the business world as a Manager combined with a vested interest in education, it was a seamless transition when she elected to establish herself professionally in the school systems in Florida. Mrs. White joined the Athenian Academy Family in 2014.

Jeanne Albuquerque
Office Assistant

Ms. Jeanne is a native of New England, born and raised in Rhode Island before relocating here to Florida in 2007. She has been involved here for many years with our Athenian Family. Ms. Jeanne was previously a Manager with Verizon Communications in New England, where she also studied Business Management.

Ms. Jeanne has a daughter Alexis, who is now in high school. She also has two adult children and several grandchildren up North whom she adores immensely.

Heidi Abatiello
Office Assistant

Ms. Heidi was born and raised in Rhode Island, where she went to Providence College. She survived 2 life threatening illnesses and then retired from the Cranston School District, moving to Florida in 2004.

Ms. Heidi a son, daughter, 3 grandchildren, and yes, Ms. Jeanne really is her sister. Ms. Heidi loves being part of the Athenian family. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, ceramics, crochet, and making people smile.

Kellee Iannucci
Data Entry Operator

Mrs. Iannucci is a native of Buffalo, NY. She is a graduate of Buffalo State College where she earned a BA in Psychology. Mrs. Iannucci relocated to sunny Florida in 1998. She previously worked in a private school setting.

Mrs. Iannucci enjoys spending time with her husband, Troy, and her two children, Natalia and Alex. She is very excited to be a part of the Athenian Academy Family.



Tiffany Schaefer
Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Schaefer is originally from New Jersey where she graduated from Monsignor Donovan High School. In High School she participated in gymnastics, cheerleading, and track and field. Mrs. Schaefer is a graduate of William Paterson University. She started teaching at Athenian Academy in 2009 and loves teaching math. She also loves the NY Giants, going to the beach, and spending time with her family.

Kathleen Tsakonas
Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Tsakonas grew up in the sunshine state and graduated from Pinellas Park High School. She is married and has four kids, including three Athenian Academy alumni. After teaching preschool for 15 years, she graduated from St. Petersburg College with her AA in Education and is continuing to work on her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She is excited to come to work every day as she loves being a part of the Athenian family, helping children build relationships and grow in their skills while developing a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Ashley Lekhram
Kindergarten Teacher

Ms. Lekhram was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. She now lives in Palm Harbor with her family and dog, Milo. After high school, Ms. Lekhram attended St. Petersburg College to study music. From there, she transferred to the University of South Florida - St. Petersburg to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. She graduated with honors and received her teaching certificate in K-6 Elementary Education, and K-12 Exceptional Student Education. She also has endorsements in ESOL and Reading. This is Ms. Lekhram's first year at Athenian Academy and she is very excited to be a part of the team!


First Grade

Nicole Paul
First Grade Teacher

Mrs. Paul was born and raised in Florida. She attended Palm Beach Atlantic University where she played collegiate soccer and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communication. Mrs. Paul moved to the Tampa Bay area three years ago to pursue her master’s degree in Early Education from the University of Florida. After teaching at the preschool level for two years, Mrs. Paul joined the amazing team of educators at Athenian Academy, where she is excited to teach first grade.

Mrs. Paul loves to be active and outside in the Florida sun! When she is not in the classroom, she loves to do pretty much anything that involves spending time with her family and friends. She is also very involved at her church, where she and her wonderful husband, David lead the children’s ministry. Mrs. Paul’s goal for her students is to instill in each of them a love for learning, and she is excited for the adventure this school year will be!

Mason Reeder
First Grade Teacher

Ms. Reeder grew up in Tampa fl and graduated from Alonso High School, where she participated in cheerleading. She attended University of South Florida, getting her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

Ms. Reeder enjoys reading, exercising, and spending time with family. She is excited for her second year with the Athenian family and hopes to inspire her students to build love for learning.

Elizabeth Sedlak
First Grade Teacher

Mrs. Sedlak was born and raised in the Tampa Bay Area. Mrs. Sedlak taught preschool for six years before graduating from Western Governors University with a degree in Elementary Education. This is Mrs. Sedlak's second year at Athenian Academy.

In her classroom, Mrs. Sedlak prioritizes individualizing instruction as much as possible for her students. When she’s not at school, Mrs. Sedlak enjoys spending time with her family and watching football.


Second Grade

Carissa Farrell
Second Grade Teacher

Ms. Farrell is very happy to be a part of our Athenian Academy family. She has a very cheerful personality and is very passionate when it comes to educating young minds. Ms. Farrell has her Bachelors of Science Degree in Prekindergarten-Primary Education with Reading and ESOL endorsements from St. Petersburg College. She remained on the Dean’s List all throughout her program and enjoyed every moment she spent in various classrooms.

Being a resident of sunny Florida, Ms. Farrell loves spending her free time at the beach. She enjoys keeping up with the latest fashions, trying out new recipes, traveling, spending time with her friends and family and building relationships with people in her community. She also enjoys concerts, sporting events, and a good movie.

Gabriela Agostino
Second Grade Teacher

Ms. Agostino is a 2nd grade teacher who grew up in Tampa, FL. Ms. Agostino graduated from St. Petersburg College with a degree in Elementary Education K-6. She has also completed additional endorsements in Reading, ESOL, and ESE.

Since she was young, Ms. Agostino pursued teaching. She started with being a tutor, camp counselor, substitute teacher, and classroom teacher. Ms. Agostino has taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grade. This is Ms. Agostino's third year at Athenian Academy. When she isn’t spending time with her students, she loves going on trips with her family and relaxing at home. Ms. Agostino believes that every student has a creative side to them and thrives with cooperative learning!

Mary Sidhom
Second Grade Teacher

Ms. Sidhom grew up in Egypt and moved to New York in 2011. Ms. Sidhom graduated from the Collage of Saint Rose with Master’s of Science in Childhood Education. She also holds a TESOL certificate.

Ms. Sidhom has three kids. Her family decided to make the move to Florida in 2021 so they could enjoy the endless summer! Ms. Sidhom is excited to join the Athenian Academy family this year and teach 2nd grade.


Third Grade

Susanna Birdwell
Third Grade Teacher and K - 3 Team Leader

Mrs. Birdwell grew up in New England as the oldest of 5 kids. She has always loved learning and wanted to be a teacher since she was in elementary school. Mrs. Birdwell moved to Florida for college and graduated from Warner University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education with her ESOL and Reading endorsements. Mrs. Birdwell has been at Athenian since 2016 and cannot imagine teaching anywhere else.

Mrs. Birdwell and her husband welcomed their daughter, Dahlia, in October 2019. Dahlia is the light of their lives. They enjoy going to the beach together, visiting family, concerts, and trying new local restaurants.

Jannette Rivera
Third Grade Teacher and Lead Coach

Mrs. Rivera is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She moved to Puerto Rico with her family at the age of 12. Mrs. Rivera received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Puerto Rico and has been teaching since 2004. Mrs. Rivera has been a part of our Athenian Family since 2016.

Mrs. Rivera has been married since 2003 and has a 15-year-old daughter. In her free time, Mrs. Rivera enjoys listening to music and spending time with her



Mary Vaughn
Fourth Grade Teacher & 4 - 8 Team Leader

Mrs. Vaughn grew up in Safety Harbor Florida and graduated from Countryside High School. After high school she moved from Florida to Indianapolis, IN. and lived there for 10 years. She returned to Florida with her son, Brendon and her husband Brian in 2004.

Mrs. Vaughn graduated from St. Petersburg College with a degree in Elementary Education K-6. She has additional training in Reading, ESOL, and Clinical Education. She has taught at Athenian Academy since 2015. She feels that she is very lucky to be a part of such a wonderful school with amazing staff, families, and students. She enjoys watching her students challenge each other and grow as individuals.

Ana Leiva
Fourth Grade Teacher

Ms. Leiva was born in Staten Island, New York. When she was three, she and her family moved to Land O Lakes, Florida, where she grew up and graduated from Sunlake High School. She is a trained ballet/modern dancer and danced professionally after high school. When she was 21 years old, she moved to New York City and danced with a Latin Ballroom company called Ballroom Base for three years. After returning to Florida, she joined the Tampa City Ballet company, began working as a ballet teacher, and received her Associate of Arts degree from Pasco-Hernando State College. She discovered her love and passion for working with children during this time. She then began working as a VPK Teacher Assistant before joining the Athenian Academy family.

Ms. Leiva is currently working on obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Education with reading and ESOL endorsements at the University of South Florida. This will be her first year teaching at Athenian Academy and she feels very lucky to be working amongst such amazing staff, families, and students at such an incredible school. She is excited to join such a loving environment where she will reap the rewards of educating and guiding children.

Patricia Rossi
Fifth Grade Teacher

Ms. Rossi grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Beverly High School. After high school she moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, where she raised her 2 sons, and lived there for 16 years. She returned to Massachusetts for 18 years then moved to Florida last year to be closer to her parents.

Ms. Rossi graduated from Rivier University with an Associate’s degree in Business, a Bachelor's degree in Human Development, and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education K-6/Special Education K-12. She also has her ESOL endorsement. She taught 5th grade in the Falmouth Public School district from 2004-2016, 7th and 8th grade in the Sandwich STEM Academy from 2016-2021, and 2nd and 3rd grade in the Pasco county school district from 2021-2022. She is looking forward to teaching in an environment that fosters cooperative learning, student growth, and student creativity. She enjoys providing her students with quality learning opportunities while watching them learn in a positive classroom environment.

Maria Baclohan
Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Baclohan was born and raised in the Philippines. She has a 6 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. She enjoys spending time with her kids and traveling to different places. She just moved to Florida in December 2021 to teach at Pasco County Schools.

Mrs. Baclohan is a graduate of Bachelor in Elementary Education in 2009. She’s also a graduate of Master of Arts in Education in 2013 and finished Doctor in Development Education in 2019. She has been teaching for 13 years and has taught all grade levels from 1st through 8th grade except for 4th grade. She feels very excited and happy to be part of Athenian Academy and be able to help and inspire students to become successful in life. She loves kids and wants them to have fun and enjoy learning at school.



Middle School

Sharon Long
Science Teacher and After Care Director

Ms. Long was born in Chicago, IL. She moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama when she was three. Ms. Long attended Hillcrest High School where her high school chemistry teacher solidified her love for science.

Ms. Long moved to Florida in 2005 to attended Barry University where she received a Master’s in Biomedical Science. She moved to Tampa in 2007. She has been teaching middle school science at Athenian Academy since 2010. When not working, Ms. Long enjoys reading, playing video games and watching movies.

Steven Burney
Math Teacher

Mr. Burney is a native Floridian, hailing from Bartow, Florida in Polk County. Mr. Burney received his Bachelors of Music Education Degree from Florida State University. While at Florida State, he performed with the World Renowned Florida State Marching Chiefs, the FSU Symphonic Band, the FSU Summer Band, and the University Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Burney loves to share his enthusiasm and passion for math and music with all the students here at Athenian Academy. Mr. Burney decided to obtain his math certification so he could help students build confidence and a love for math.


Nicole Swidarski
ELA Teacher

Ms. Swidarski was born and raised in Miami, Florida and moved to Deerfield Beach for high school, where she was a cheerleader and a member of the best buddies club. She ultimately made the move to Tampa to attend USF, where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Secondary English Education. While at USF, she joined the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority during her first fall semester and is now an alumna of the great organization.

Ms. Swidarski realized she wanted to be an ELA teacher when she was young and her music teacher entered one of her poems into a national writing contest, which she ended up winning an award for. Ms. Swidarski's music teacher helped her recognize the potential of her writing. Ms. Swidarski now hopes to help her students recognize their own greatness and potential in their writing and help them fall in love with reading, as she has. As such, she loves reading, as well as attending concerts and music festivals, exploring the outdoors, spending time with her large and spread out family, and seeing as much of the world as she can. Her hope is to provide her students with the necessary skills and tools they need to succeed as individuals and as members of society in this great, big world!

Benjamin Hitzig
History Teacher

Mr. Hitzig is a graduate of University of South Florida. He currently holds a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Social Sciences. Since he was younger, his passion for history and his desire to educate the next generation has propelled him forward in his career. Mr. Hitzig joined the team at Athenian Academy of Technology and the Arts in January of 2020.


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Patrick Rosanio
Physical Education Teacher

Mr. Rosanio grew up in Syracuse, New York. In High School, he captained his football team to a state championship, and continued his athletic career at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating with a degree in Physical Education, Mr. Rosanio moved to Bradenton, where he spent one year as a Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coach within the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He followed this up with six years of experience in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, spending time in both the Strength and Physical Rehabilitation departments.

Mr. Rosanio believes in encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and promoting wellness at all ages. He believes that physical activity should not be viewed as a chore or a punishment, but rather as a tool to build overall health. His goal is to bring out the full potential of each student, and to help them find a healthy hobby that they can practice inside and outside of school.

Lena Sharman
Music Teacher

Ms. Sharman grew up in Maryland and moved to Florida halfway in high school. She graduated high school at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School Of The Arts, and went on to purse her Bachelors in K-12 Music Education from Florida Atlantic University. At a young age, she gravitated towards singing, dancing, and playing whatever instruments she could put her hands on. As she got older, her love for music got more serious as the years went by. She has been playing instruments for over 10 years, and teaching music for over 3 years outside of college classes and during Summer Music Camps.

After graduating with her Bachelors degree, Ms. Sharman finally gets to pursue her lifelong dream and career of being a Music Educator and playing a pivotal role in teaching her kids to love music each and every day. This will be Ms. Sharman’s 1.5 years with the Athenian Family, and she looks forward to helping her kiddos grow and nurture a love for music.

Reuben Rim
Art Teacher

Mr. Rim was born in Ithaca, New York, living most of his life in Brooklyn, then Queens, which also includes graduating from New York's top high school, Stuyvesant. He has spent the last 24 years living in 6 states, spanning as far west as Arizona, that started in Texas after graduating with a BFA in Toy Design and designing STEM-related toys for an international company.

After leaving the toy industry, Mr. Rim pursued his ultimate passion of teaching, with a specific specialty in STEAM. He has taught as an Art Teacher and PE Coach at a school for dyslexic students in Austin, Robotics Teacher for an Arts & Science school in Santa Fe, Technology Teacher at a Math & Science charter school in Tucson, and recently, as a Teacher of both Art & Computers at a Port Richey Middle School. While the list goes on, the one thing that has remained consistent is his commitment to bringing innovation, engagement, and 'fun' while being a positive role model to all his students.


Support Staff

Teresa Godfrey
ESE Teacher

Mrs. Godfrey is going into her 7th year at Athenian Academy. She is one of our ESE teachers, guiding students to achieve success! Mrs. Godfrey earned her teaching degree from the University of South Florida and has been teaching since 2008. Besides teaching at Athenian, she manages the morning show and yearbook.

Mrs. Godfrey has lived in Florida most of her life and is currently living in Spring Hill with her husband and mom. Mrs. Godfrey has two sons who she loves and adores. Outside of school, Mrs. Godfrey loves to read, craft and spend time with family (especially attending South Florida football games!)

Mrs. Godfrey believes every child has the ability to succeed when given a positive, enriching and nurturing environment and teamwork is essential to building character development.

Tessa Darcy
ESE Teacher

Ms. Darcy grew up in Rhode Island and came down to the sunshine state to attend Stetson University and has not looked back! During school, she enjoyed being a special needs aide, health coach, and playing field hockey. After working abroad as a teaching assistant and graduating with her B.S. in Health Sciences & Psychology in 2020, she realized her passion for working with children. This led her to get her FL ESE teaching certification.

Ms. Darcy is a triplet and is so lucky that her sisters moved down to FL with her. She enjoys doing yoga, cooking, and paddle boarding in her free time. Ms. Darcy is so excited to be in her 2nd year with the Athenian team, where she can help foster an inclusive and positive learning environment for all students.


Emiko Takahara
ESE Teacher

Mrs. Takahara was born and raised in Japan. She has been living in the U.S. for 25 years. Mrs. Takahara received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Trading and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology/State University of New York and worked in the apparel industry. In 2017, she completed graduate school and earned a Master Degree of Arts in Teaching for Special Education from North Carolina State University. She also worked with children providing ABA (Apply Behavior Analysis) Therapy in private school settings.

Mrs. Takahara lives with her husband, their two beautiful sons, a cat, and two guinea pigs. Her sons play baseball and tennis. Mrs. Takahara and her husband are very involved in their practices and love to watch their games, as they are a sports oriented family! On the weekend, they enjoy fishing and the great outdoors.

Mrs. Takahara believes in the philosophy of “Every child can learn.” She recognizes that each child is unique and has different abilities and strengths. She will ensure to provide support that caters to a child’s needs to promote the importance of lifelong learning.

Sandy Colado
Support Teacher

Mrs. Colado graduated from the University of South Florida where she received her B.A. in elementary education and her Masters in Varying Exceptionalities. She has been teaching in Pasco County for many years. Mrs. Colado feels fortunate to have been a part of the faculty who opened Deer Park Elementary School and Longleaf Elementary School. Since retiring from the county school system, Mrs. Colado has been happily teaching at Athenian Academy. Mrs. Colado loves her family, golden retrievers, horses, and gardening.


Jill Burton
Cafeteria Assistant

Nina Charles
Cafeteria and Aftercare Assistant

Ms. Nina was born and raised in Tarpon Springs Florida. She has always loved our planet and everything on it and is currently pursuing an Environmental science degree at a local state college.

Shariza Rentas
Bus Driver

Mrs. Rentas was born in New Haven, C.T. She was raised in Connecticut and Puerto Rico, where she studied and graduated in the medical field focusing on the elderly and children with disabilities. Mrs. Rentas became a school bus driver, which gave her the opportunity to drive her own children to school and continue to work with children.

Mrs. Rentas has been a driver since 2010, loving every hug and smile that the kiddos give her. Mrs. Rentas moved to Florida in 2016, where she now enjoys Florida's warm weather and walking in the beautiful weather.


Rob Albuquerque
Plant Manager

Mr. Albuquerque (Mr. Rob) was born and raised in Rhode Island before moving to Florida in 2007. Before joining the Athenian Family, he worked as a Correctional Officer for several years. Mr. Albuquerque adores his daughter Alexis who is a student at Athenian Academy.

Mark Paris
School Officer

Mr. Paris was born and raised in Harrisburg, PA. After High School he received an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. He immediately pursued his life long dream of becoming a PA State Trooper and honorably retired with 25 years of service in July, 2017.

Mark and his wife Kym followed their hearts to sunny Florida. Mr. Paris proudly joined the Athenian family as our School’s Security Officer. His desire is to serve our school, faculty, and children with the same care and professionalism as he did throughout his 25 years as a law enforcement officer.