Our Faculty and Staff

The staff members at Invictus Academy Tampa Bay are the key to every aspect of daily operations. All staff are trained to support each student’s sensory and motor differences in addition to supporting reliable communication to access the curriculum.

  • DANA JOHNSON
    Founder/ President of Board of Directors
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  • MADELINE ISHMAEL
    Director
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  • JENNIFER MULRY
    Business Manager
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  • MELISSA ELLIOTT
    Communications Advisor & Faculty Mentor
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  • JOEY OTERO
    Curriculum Advisor and Faculty Mentor
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  • JASMINE FORBES
    Occupational Therapist and Faculty Mentor
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  • ALEXIS ARUCA
    Elementary School Teacher
  • CHRISTINE BADAL
    High School Teacher
  • JODEE BRENZO
    High School Teacher
  • MILTON BROWN
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • JONICA CHITTUM
    Communication Specialist
  • UNIQUA CRENSHAW
    Elementary Teacher Assistant
  • SEAN DEGRAW
    High School Teacher
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  • IVY DUBATOWKA
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • BRIANNA GRASSI
    Middle School Teacher
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  • HEATHER HAWES
    Middle School Teacher Assistant
  • ZANQIA HOLMES
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • NATAEZA JONES
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • SARAH PASSARELLA
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • MELANIE SOTO
    Foreign Language Teacher
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  • TANYAH THOMAS
    Middle School Teacher
  • JESSICA WRIGHT
    Middle School Teacher Assistant
  • MEGAN WYLIE
    Administrative Assistant
  • DANA JOHNSON
    Founder/ President of Board of Directors

    Dana Johnson is an Occupational Therapist and the founder of Invictus Academy Tampa Bay. She has a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Development. She is an ACTS (Accessing Communication Through Spelling) practitioner and trainer for Spelling to Communicate. Dana is also on the executive leadership cadre of I-ASC (International Association for Spelling as Communication) to support the non-speaking community through education, advocacy, research and training. Dana has been working with the non-speaking community for almost 18 years, but had a paradigm shift 7 years ago which changed her perspective and the way she practices.

    “Presuming competence and providing reliable communication opens up a whole new world for families and their children. Communication is a right for all and it is now my mission to ensure that all non-speakers are respected, have autonomy, and a way to communicate reliably.”

    Dr. Johnson owns her own practice in Trinity, Florida. Please visit her website for more information. https://interplaytherapycenter.com/

  • MADELINE ISHMAEL
    Director

    Madeline Ishmael is the Director at Invictus Academy. She began her tenure at Invictus as a teacher assistant then transitioned to teaching high school. Madeline earned her Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus on Health Promotion & Policy; which emphasizes improving the environments and educational settings in which we live, work and play through effective policy and advocacy. She has previous teaching experience, as well as, involvement in research/internship working with individuals with autism. She is currently enrolled in the I-ASC cohort to become a S2C practitioner. Madeline is also a Communication and Regulation Partner for students in high school and 7th grade. She is passionate about this powerful and groundbreaking form of communication and is constantly working to hone her skills to support the students. 

  • JENNIFER MULRY
    Business Manager

    Jennifer Mulry is the Business Manager at Invictus Academy Tampa Bay. Jennifer has a rich background in the field of advocacy and services for children with autism and their families. She has worked extensively with Tampa Bay Surfers for Autism, The Autism Community in Action and in 2012, opened up the L.I.F.E Academy. Jennifer initially found Invictus in the search for a school for her son, who also has autism. Jennifer is most passionate about S2C, serving her community, and helping those with autism find their voice.

  • MELISSA ELLIOTT
    Communications Advisor & Faculty Mentor

    Melissa Elliott is the Communications Advisor & Faculty Mentor at Invictus Academy. She has a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida, is TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certified and has a reading endorsement. She is also a graduate of the ACTS training course for the use and training of the letter board process. While Melissa has been working with the nonspeaking community for a relatively short amount of time, she knows this is the population she will be working with for the rest of her career. The first time she saw fluent communication using Spelling to Communicate she knew this was what she was meant to dedicate her life to. Melissa plans on building upon her current skills as well as becoming a better advocate.

  • JOEY OTERO
    Curriculum Advisor and Faculty Mentor

    Joey Otero is the Curriculum Advisor and Faculty Mentor at Invictus. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Social Sciences. Joey began his teaching career as an English teacher in Thailand. He is also a graduate of the ACTS training course for the use and training of the letter board process. Joey enjoys incorporating his musical and artistic interests into his lessons and he has even conducted a school wide art project for one of our fundraisers. 

  • JASMINE FORBES
    Occupational Therapist and Faculty Mentor

    Jasmine Forbes is the Occupational Therapist at Invictus Academy. Jasmine earned her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree from the University of Toronto in Canada. In 2018 she moved to Southern California where she worked at a pediatric occupational therapy clinic. Here she gained experience in a variety of settings including clinic, home, and schools. Jasmine has always been passionate about working with the pediatric population and is excited to be able to help students reach their goals and increase their independence in the school environment.

  • ALEXIS ARUCA
    Elementary School Teacher
  • CHRISTINE BADAL
    High School Teacher
  • JODEE BRENZO
    High School Teacher
  • MILTON BROWN
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • JONICA CHITTUM
    Communication Specialist
  • UNIQUA CRENSHAW
    Elementary Teacher Assistant
  • SEAN DEGRAW
    High School Teacher

    Sean DeGraw is a high school Language Arts teacher as well as the Media Specialist at Invictus Academy Tampa Bay. Sean has a BFA in Digital Filmmaking & Video Production from The Art Institute of Tampa. He is a former 4th grade teacher who taught in Thailand and loves planning hands-on science and music activities to support our students’ purposeful motor skills in class. Sean has been a Communication and Regulation Partner utilizing Spelling to Communicate since early 2019.

  • IVY DUBATOWKA
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • BRIANNA GRASSI
    Middle School Teacher

    Brianna is a middle school teacher at Invictus Academy. She began working at Invictus as a teacher assistant in the kinder-first classroom, transitioning up as an elementary teacher, and now to middle school. She has attained multiple certifications in relation to child care and furthered her education at Florida Gulf Coast University. Her passion for working with children stems from her own brother’s autism diagnosis; growing up and observing the obstacles he faced throughout his life, and his unrelenting perseverance through it all, fueled her desire to assist others throughout their journey. She is eager to continue her education within this field and plans on completing the cohort training program later on this year to become an S2C practitioner.

  • HEATHER HAWES
    Middle School Teacher Assistant
  • ZANQIA HOLMES
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • NATAEZA JONES
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • SARAH PASSARELLA
    High School Teacher Assistant
  • MELANIE SOTO
    Foreign Language Teacher

    Native from Jayuya, Puerto Rico, Melanie majored in health sciences at Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico in Ponce before moving to the United States and discovering her passion for education. Ms. Soto’s mission is to help her students grow and succeed.

  • TANYAH THOMAS
    Middle School Teacher
  • JESSICA WRIGHT
    Middle School Teacher Assistant
  • MEGAN WYLIE
    Administrative Assistant

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