DENNIS O’REILLY – Head of Schools
Dennis O’Reilly started working with young people as a volunteer junior high basketball coach and has been in education working with young people since 1990, getting his start as a middle school math teacher. Mr. O’Reilly has been in administration since 1999 serving in a variety of capacities: Curriculum Coordinator, Assistant to the Principal, Principal, and Head of Schools at three different private schools in Tucson, Arizona; he was able to earn his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Chapman University.
Mr. O’Reilly has been married to his beautiful bride Krissy since the spring of 1999, and has two teenage kids in high school, Conner and Adeline, who both graduated from Marana Leman Academy.
Beth Williams – Principal
Beth Williams has been the Principal at Leman Virtual Academy for 3 years. She is a native of Lexington, NC. She received her undergraduate degree from UNC-Greensboro, where she double majored in English and Elementary Education. She received her first Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Winthrop University in 2011. She received her second Master's Degree from Winthrop University in 2016 in Educational Leadership. She began her career in Charlotte, NC as a second-grade teacher. She has taught grades 2 - 8 as a classroom teacher and ESOL teacher. She most recently was the ESOL/Title III Coordinator with the Lancaster County School District in Lancaster, SC.
During her career, she has presented at local, regional, national and international conferences on topics such as divergent learning, co-teaching, math strategies, and literacy. She has been honored as a Star Teacher, Teacher of the Year, Mentor Teacher of the Year, and Palmetto Social Studies Teacher of the Year in her career. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, crocheting, sewing, and hiking.
Petra McQuillin- Minutes Registrar
Petra McQuillin comes to Leman Virtual Academy with many years of experience working with school districts. She is the mom of 2 children and an avid supporter of U of A Athletics, where her children have coached and played. She is excited to get to know all the Leman Virtual Academy families! In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the country, supporting her children and their athletics.
JOELLE SMITH - Kindergarten TEACHER
Joelle Smith loves being a part of the team at Leman Academy of Excellence. She enjoys partnering with parents and building relationships with Leman families. She is passionate about teaching and provides hands-on learning experiences for her scholars. She has been in education since 2010 and has taught Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade.
She grew up in a small farming community in Southeast Idaho and received a Bachelor’s of Education Degree at Idaho State University. She completed her Master’s Degree in Literacy through Northwest Nazarene University in 2012. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys golfing, cooking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Alexis Trevino - Kindergarten TEACHER
Alexis Trevino graduated from Grove City College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's in Elementary Education. She is currently working on her Masters in Reading through Grand Canyon University. Alexis has two sons, Jordan and Payton and loves spending time outdoors with them. Her husband serves in the United States Air Force but has been lucky to be stationed only at Davis Monthan. Alexis has taught at Leman Academy Marana campus in kindergarten for three years before joining the Leman Virtual Academy team as a kindergarten teacher.
VICKIE LUCIO - 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Vickie Lucio is looking forward to meeting her new 1st grade scholars this year! She enjoyed her experience subbing last year. Vickie grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. Go Huskers! Mrs. Lucio likes that the classical education format allows for scholars to make connections. Mrs. Lucio now lives in Tucson, AZ. She enjoys spreading time traveling to her daughter's college softball games, and taking her 4 dogs on walks.
ELIZABETH BERRY - 2ND GRADE TEACHER
Elizabeth Berry has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University. She has worked with kindergarten as well as fifth grade, throughout her teaching career. This is her fourth year teaching at Leman.
Mrs. Berry and her husband are from Texas and are stationed in El Paso Texas. They have two daughters named Rosalee and Charlotte and a son on the way. Some of her hobbies and passions would include being with family, reading, running and traveling. She has been working with young scholars since she was sixteen and has loved every minute of it. She loves the impact that we as teachers make on their lives. She is looking forward to continuing to work with Leman Academy through the Virtual Academy and continue to be a part of the Leman family.
KIMBERLY DANLEY - 3RD GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Danley is a native Arizonan and graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Minor in Social Studies, in 1993. She has fifteen years of classroom experience in a variety of grade levels, with several additional years spent in administrative roles. Her experience was divided by nine years spent homeschooling her triplets; Kayla, Andrew and Connor, using the Classical Education model!
Kimberly and her husband, James, have been married for twenty-eight years, this December. A highlight for Kimberly was when the Danley family was privileged to spend one-year volunteering in a children’s home in Ukraine. She returned to the classroom in 2013. For fun, she enjoys singing, hiking, cooking and eating.
ROBIN TAPIA - 4TH GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Tapia loves to teach! She retired from one of our neighboring school districts after 30 years, but after learning about Leman Academy of Excellence’s philosophy to provide scholars a rich classical education; she was lured into joining them. She has taught fourth grade at both the Leman Marana and Oro Valley campuses over the past four years and really enjoyed it.
Robin has a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, and during her 35 years of teaching, she has developed a mastery of integrating all the subjects together in an engaging way. She also likes to include her love of art and theater into the scholar’s daily routine. When she’s not teaching, Mrs. Tapia loves spending time with her husband Clyde, two children, Logan and Spencer, and enjoys doing needlework, and sewing.
Nancy Dowdy - 5th Grade TEACHER
Nancy is very excited to begin her adventure as the 5th-grade teacher! I was born in Tucson, Arizona, but I moved to Wisconsin in the 1st grade, so I’m not sure where I’m from!
I came back to Arizona in 1999 and became a Police Officer. I spent much of my career in patrol throughout the City of Tucson and was the Detective Sergeant for the south side of Tucson. I was a member of the Animal Cruelty Task Force and Organized Retail Crime Association and was a Hostage Crisis Team Sergeant attached to the SWAT team. I have had many assignments in law enforcement with a focus on training, counseling, and conflict resolution. I was also a national law enforcement trainer and writer for the National Police Association with my focus on Conflict Resolution, Post Traumatic Stress, and Critical Incident Recovery. In mid-2019, I retired after twenty years. I am truly thankful to have served my community.
I am also fortunate to be an Army Veteran. I served as a Behavioral Science Specialist in Germany during Operation Joint Endeavor. Our unit helped soldiers and their families who were suffering from mental health issues primarily related to Post Traumatic Stress and the stress of deployment. This opportunity also allowed me to travel to places in Europe I otherwise would have never been like Italy and France!
I have my bachelor’s degree in Public Safety and Emergency Management, and I am almost done with a master’s degree in Communications, Education Focus. After that, I plan to pursue my Doctorate in Organizational Leadership with a focus on Human Behavior. It is really interesting for me to try to understand why people do and act the way they do!
I am happily married to my very patient husband, and we have one scholar in middle school at Leman and a now high school student who also attended Leman. I absolutely adore our family, our 3 crazy rescue dogs, and enjoy camping with them all!
I cannot wait to teach our scholars and learn from them! Humor is my favorite way to imprint lessons and I look forward to uncovering the amazing personalities within each of them.
TAYLOR BENNETT - MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH
Taylor Bennett has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications and a Master’s of Science in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University. She has worked as a middle school math teacher for five years and is very passionate about making math fun and exciting for scholars! She has been in the education field for eight years. This is her third year teaching with Leman Academy of Excellence and is very excited for this coming school year!
Mrs. Bennett is originally from Portland, Oregon and moved to Arizona for college, where she met her husband and they now live on the Western Slope of Colorado. They have three sons named Luke, Camden, and Owen. Some of her hobbies and passions consist of reading, spending time with family, fishing, and shopping. Mrs. Bennett has worked with scholars of all ages for many years and feels so blessed to be able to make an impact on their lives. She is happy to be a part of the Leman Academy family and is especially passionate about the Virtual Academy.
Stacy Bennon- Middle School ELA
Mrs. Bennon was born and raised here in Tucson, Arizona and truly loves the Sonoran Desert. She attended school at the University of Arizona and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development, a Master’s degree in Elementary Education, has certification for middle school science, and holds a provisional endorsement for gifted education. She has enjoyed teaching for 16 years. Her passions include traveling, reading, theater, hiking, and all things involving her family.
MELINDA CUILTY - MIDDLE SCHOOL HISTORY
Melinda Cuilty is excited to be teaching for Leman Virtual Academy of Excellence for her 5th year. Melinda grew up in Nebraska and graduated from college at Northern Arizona University. She also started her Masters of Arts in Educational Learning and Technologies with New Mexico State University. Mrs. Cuilty has a passion for teaching Middle School because of the students. She has been a presenter at a National Teaching Conference for the past 4 years. Melinda's favorite part of teaching at a classical school is the in-depth history content and the connections the scholars are able to make.
Mrs. Cuilty now lives in El Paso, Texas. Her husband and son keep her very busy with their numerous activities. Melinda enjoys all sports, especially watching her son play basketball or her husband race cars. Mrs. Cuilty is a huge Disney fan. When her family is not busy they love to play games together and travel. Some recent trips include New York City and Disney World.
Mrs. Cuilty is going into her sixth year of teaching for the Leman Academy of Excellence. She has worked at both the Marana campus and the Virtual Academy. She is super excited to continue to be in this cutting-edge classroom and working with each scholar and partnering with parents.
APRIL spoon - MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE
My name is April Spoon. I was born and raised in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I graduated from Buena High School, attended Cochise Community College, and graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Upon graduating from the University of Arizona, I taught middle and high school science for five years. During that time, I continued my education and began working on a certification in Administration of Justice. I also became ALICE trained while teaching at another local school.
I left teaching for a brief time and became an AZPOST certified Peace Officer for the Sierra Vista Police Department. During my time in law enforcement, I found that my heart was still with teaching and I decided to return to the teaching profession and join the Leman Academy family. While at the Sierra Vista campus I taught Fifth Grade and Middle School Science. In December of 2018, I moved to Appling, GA and was saddened that I had to say goodbye to my Leman family and scholars. I am very happy that I again have the amazing opportunity to join the Leman family and help bring the wonder of science to our scholars. I will continue to further my education and begin working towards a Master’s in Middle-Grade Education. I am very excited to start the new year with Leman Academy.
Jessie Dwivedi - Latin & Logic
Jessie Dwivedi (dee-VAY-dee) is a proud University of Arizona graduate (Go Wildcats!) having both a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with an ESL Endorsement and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with Honors. She also earned her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark Graduate College. This will be her 8th year as an educator, and 2nd year with LVA, but every year she learns more about pedagogical practices and enjoys incorporating new strategies to reach out to and support her scholars' growth.
It is an honor for her to be working with scholars in Latin and Logic this year! Having taken Latin for 3 years in her own education and at one point being a math educator, she is excited to give LVA scholars this option this year to apply language and reasoning skills. Latin is the language of the soul and has many practical applications. It is perfect timing for LVA to offer this much needed course! Logic is a skill set that can be used to help with supporting a perspective, class discussions, debates and in future career and educational opportunities.
Outside of teaching, her first priority is her family. Mrs. Dwivedi is happily married to the love of her life. She is blessed to have a son and daughter who light up her life and bring so much joy into daily activities. If scholars attend scholar hour or Debate club, they may even get to glimpse Rose, the family cat, who loves a good small group lesson!
It is a blessing to partner with families to achieve success for their scholars and Mrs. Dwivedi is humbled to work at LVA with such great colleagues, collaborators and curriculum.
Tashiana Holt - Art/Music K-8 and Enrichment
Greetings! I’m Ms. Holt, and I have been teaching for 12 years! I will be teaching Art/Music, K-8 with Leman Virtual Academy. I have a degree in Education with a Music emphasis. I have taught Drama, Dance, Art, Musical Theatre, and P.E. in my years of experience. I have performed in and directed many productions. I like watching performances, making art, creating music, and spending time with family, friends, and pets. I am thrilled to be starting a new journey with Leman Virtual Academy and am excited to meet all the scholars!
Cathy Calandriello - ESS Teacher
Cathy Calandriello was a special education teacher in New Hampshire before joining Leman Virtual Academy. She loves helping scholars refine their reading, writing and math skills, along with helping them to successfully navigate the school journey. When not teaching, Miss C, as her students call her, enjoys reading, gardening and teaching/practicing yoga. She is looking forward to a most successful school year.
Brent Hesprich is starting his 6th year at Leman Academy of Excellence. Brent was part of the committee that presented the Virtual Academy before the Arizona board of education in 2017. He has seen the academy grow from a concept to reality. Brent has 23 years of computer/technical experience on all platforms. His career started working for a company in their
graphic design and e-commerce department for 10 years. Brent received his Master’s Degree in Interactive Media Design at Full Sail University. He has taught graphic design, web design and interactive media for 8 years at a private career college in the midwest before moving to Tucson.
Brent has fun taking his sons to the local car show and enjoys visiting with his family and friends.
Brent looks forward to another exciting year. His focus: helping parents, scholars and teachers
navigate all the programs we use at the virtual academy and the district abroad.