Ollin Women International can think of no better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than to share with you the recipients of this year’s International Women’s Day Honorees – Women in Education. These female educators lay the foundation for what is to come in our future by educating our youth. For this, we are truly grateful.
Kim Burt, technology wizard extraordinaire, has served as an instructor in the Information Technology Academy at Marion Technical Institute since 2012 in addition to instructing night classes at Marion Technical College since 2017. She began her career involvement in public education in 2008 serving “behind the scenes” as a desktop support technician for the Marion County School Board. Before her education career, she provided contracting services in technology for the USPS since the early 90s. With training credentials and certifications too numerous to mention, Kim has brought her passion for training and her technology expertise that is as vital in today’s world as the 3Rs, not only to the SAGE Institute at Marion Correctional but to the Toastmasters Gavel Club there as well.
Simone Campbell is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and licensed Realtor, practicing since 2004. As Simone says, She is blessed to serve others within two dynamic careers. In evaluating and treating communication, cognitive, and swallowing deficits across the lifespan of her clients she enhances their quality of life especially with children as she educates their parents in life-affirming skills and techniques. As a Florida Realtor, she assists buyers and sellers locally and statewide in navigating the complexities of leasing, buying, selling, and investing in real estate. Simone is also an international professional speaker coach and Distinguished Toastmaster …a lifelong learner, she is passionate about fostering communication skills, financial literacy, and homeownership. It is her mission to assist others with independently living their best lives.
Loukeitha Daymon has been sharing her passion for education for nearly 15 years. For 7 years she has taught 4th grade as a teacher and tutor at College Park Elementary where she was named their Teacher of the Year in 2017. She has also taught 3rd and 4th grade at Madison Street Academy (Elementary Magnet) where she was Rookie Teacher of the Year for 2 consecutive years. She firmly believes that a strong relationship between teachers and parents is the key to student success. Dedicated to her family – the “love of her life” her husband of 18 years and two amazing boys, you’ll see Loukeitha engaged in the community in outdoor activities including ZUMBA, bike riding, and 5k runs … I grow weary just reading this! It’s no wonder that her classroom theme this year is “Lights, Camera, Thinking!”
Ronda Fox has been teaching at Lake Weir HS since 2008 and during her tenure has taught World History, US History, Law & Government & Economics and is an Academic Team Coach for the International Baccalaureate students. Ms. Fox plays a key role with her IB students as they explore not only their academics but the IB Creativity-Activity-Service aspects of the IB Diploma Program. Before joining Lake Weir HS, Ronda served for 8 years at Emory Riddle Aeronautical University as a Support Specialist and later as a New Enrollment Advisor…and for 12 years served as office manager for a small sole proprietorship…she brings this diverse yet ultimately integrated experience to the benefit of each of her students at Lake Weir.
Roseann Fricks has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition, for nearly 20 years dedicated to a laser-focused commitment to the education and healthy development of Ocala/Marion County’s children in their earliest years and their families… Before her tenure with ELC, Roseann was with the United Way of Marion County where she headed the First Call for Help/211 initiative. While formally retiring this year, Roseann will still be a driving force for this effort through her consulting work and continued community engagement. As friend and colleague Laura Byrnes commented after this year’s Good Beginnings for Children breakfast… “Roseann has been an indefatigable advocate for this community in every and any capacity she has served. Someone with a mindful and dedicated spirit [whose] passion for the welfare of those who call Marion County home will not end when she officially steps down” …. With accolades and recognitions including induction into the Florida Family Childcare Association Advocate Hall of Fame, she is currently a member of Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, Healthy Start of North Central Florida, Kiwanis Club of Ocala, Altrusa International of Ocala, and Association of Early Learning Coalitions.
Dr. Fryns is the Associate Vice President, Career and Professional Programs, College of Central FL where she effectively works to connect students with the requisite hard and soft skills to compatible industries in need of those skills…no small challenge in today’s world. She has been in her current role for the past 6 years…her career with CF spans nearly 15 years – before her current role she has served as Instructional manager/Associate Dean followed by Dean of Arts and Education. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. In Philosophy from FSU (Go Noles) and is a Fulbright Scholar to Jordan…Dr. Fryns is also committed to the education/training of individuals with autism having served as an Advisory Council Member on the Outreach Autism Services Network. She is also a member of the Leadership Cabinet for the College Park Elementary Community Partnership School – the first of its kind of this new UWMC initiative.
MERCIE DEE HAGINS:
A retired educator with nearly 40 years of teaching experience, Mercie Dee Hagins was the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year in 2000 joining that distinguished group of exceptional educators in Ocala/Marion County…yet when Ocala Style Magazine did a look back at the Golden Apple Teachers in 2015 “where are they now” … Mercie advised that while retired she still sometimes substituted at Dunnellon Elementary where she taught 1st grade for over 30 years! When asked what advice she would give to parents today, she said this: It was so different when I was teaching – parents then would come and help her in the classroom…while she recognizes that times have changed, she nonetheless stated that teachers still need more parental support…wise words indeed. Mercie Dee Hagins
Lori Manresa has been an educator for over 30 years and has proudly served as principal at Hillcrest School for over 10 years…a recognized professional at every level, Lori was a district winner for the 2017 FL Principal of the Year. From her daughter, Arielle: Over the last 30+ years, my brother and I have had the distinct honor of sharing a superwoman for a mom with the thousands of students that she has had in her care and heart. She is our…unconditional mother, teacher, and leader. Every child is better for having her in their path. Congratulations, mom – we are the lucky ones! Indeed! Hillcrest School serves ESE Students – Exceptional Student Education…so Lori’s students “age out” of the public school system at age 22…recognizing this reality, the parents of Hillcrest students worked with Lori’s support and encouragement to establish Transition Life Center (TLC) to assure that their adult children continued to have a safe place to continue to grow and develop. Today, TLC is a reality and Lori continues to serve as a board member. In acknowledging her selection as an IWD Honoree, Lori advised that each year at Hillcrest, the students and staff celebrate an acronym – this year it is B.R.A.V.E – Believe Respect and Value Education…How fitting for our celebration today.
To say that Ruth Ford Reed is a retired educator in a career spanning nearly three decades while true is simply an understatement. Mrs. Reed taught primarily 4th and later 5th grade and was the 1st and an only black teacher hired at Shady Hill Elementary in the late 80s. As she describes herself, she is and always was a lifelong pioneer, championing her family, her students, and now her community. Upon her retirement from teaching in 1996, she undertook what became her 2nd career – fighting the neighborhood environmental hazard that was the Royal Oak Charcoal Plant. Established in west Ocala in 1975, the plant for over 30 years, impacted the health and well-being of the surrounding residential neighborhoods – including Mrs. Reed’s home within a block of the plant. Through her tireless efforts not only in mobilizing the community through establishing the Neighborhood Citizens of NorthWest Ocala to lobby City Council, the State Legislature, the DEP, and all who would listen to force the plant to clean up its act…ultimately after 30 years of operation, the GA based company closed the plant in 2005…and her efforts continued…with the city ultimately buying the property and seeing that not only was the plant demolished but that the company is held responsible for any environmental mitigation in the clean up of the site. For her unceasing efforts, Mrs. Reed was the recipient of the 2019 Southeast Regional Environmental Justice Community Champion Award. Today, that site is the future home of the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place…a fitting tribute for the lifelong efforts of a true educator.
For 30 plus years Julie Shealy was an educator – embarking on her career first as a science teacher, then moved through the ranks as Asst principal then principal at Belleview Elementary prior taking on the role of principal at Osceola Middle School before retiring as a curriculum administrator for the district, but, Julie always loved art – joining the Board of Fine Arts for Ocala ultimately to become Board President of FAFO. …joining the selection committee for the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year program. Upon her retirement she has pursued her art full time inspired by such mentors as iconic local artist Peggy Watts…her signature “bloomies” are the focus of Julie Shealy Fine Art seen exclusively at Gallery B …but once a teacher always a teacher…Julie is now an art educator as well teaching adult weekly classes at Gallery B and introducing a summer camp for children – Petals and Paint. Arts and education – what could be better!
Julie Sieg has been the Library Director of the Marion County Public Library System for nearly 30 years, and during that time she has shepherded the growth of the library system with its three branches in Downtown Ocala, Dunnellon, and Bellview to the current 8 branch library system anchored by the state of the art HQ library in Ocala, expanded regional facilities in Dunnellon and Belleview along with locations in the Forest, Ft. McCoy, the SR 200 corridor, Marion Oaks and Reddick and the long-awaited facility in West Ocala at the new Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place. The library’s threefold goals of READ-LEARN-CONNECT have guided Julie throughout her tenure as Director – while facing legendary budget cuts – censorship challenges – demographic shifts – and the all-encompassing digital revolution…all with that one overarching goal – bringing that love of learning to all our citizens.
EDNA G. SIMMONS:
At 90 years young, the accolades that Mrs. Simmons has received from her former students have been extraordinary…a retired educator who taught in the MCPS for over 30 years, the memories shared were from her 1st-grade students at Madison Street Elementary – the original one! They spoke glowingly of her influence on their decisions to become teachers, her beautiful smile and equally beautiful disposition – all from a photo posted of Mrs. Simmons by our dear friend and colleague Cynthia Wilson Graham on her FB page for Black History Month with the caption “tell me more” and so they did…Mrs. Simmons was one of 16 charter members who founded and organized the Eta Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in February 1962 and her charter legacy was recognized at the recent 60th-anniversary celebration…she is a Pearl Life Member Alpha Kappa Alpha with over 65 years of active service initiated at Bethune Cookman University. For a teacher to have that lasting impact on students 60 years later is indeed a lasting legacy that we are honored to celebrate today.
Judi Zanetti has been with the Marion County Public School System for over 20 years…beginning her teaching career in 1990 during which she served 7 years as a Kindergarten teacher. In 2004, Judi was elected to the school board where she served for 8 years. In not seeking re-election in 2012, she applied for and was chosen to head the Public Education Foundation as its Executive Director. During her tenure, the Foundation continued to grow and expand, receiving national recognition for its signature programs including the Golden Apple Awards Program, Take Stock in Children, Grants for Great Ideas, and the successful Tools4Teaching, created and spearheaded by Judi – funded through a donation of excess campaign funds. Upon her retirement in 2021, Judi reflected that her time with the foundation was the most fulfilling of her career…impact and making a difference – the mark of a true education champion.
These 13 women educators are truly making a difference in our community and world.