Emma Dubisky is a kindergarten teacher at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School. She grew up in Jacksonville and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida. This is her sixth year teaching kindergarten at MOE. Ms. Dubisky’s passion is Early Childhood Literacy, and planning reading lessons for her kindergarteners makes her very excited! She enjoys taking leadership opportunities at school, such as the Literacy Lead for kindergarten. She also serves as the grade level chairperson on the Shared Decision Making Team. Ms. Dubisky’s favorite thing about kindergarten students is the joy and excitement they bring into the classroom every day. It is her main goal to encourage and grow this excitement into a lifelong, committed love of learning. In her classroom, you will frequently see her singing and laughing with her students, as well as challenging them to do learning activities that expand their minds and teach new ways of thinking. When she’s not at school, Ms. Dubisky’s favorite thing to do is travel. Her favorite trips so far have been Israel, Ireland, England, France, and Belize. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, going to local coffee shops, watching classic films, relaxing at the beach, and playing and listening to music.
Abby Heiar is the kindergarten teacher for the Gifted and Talented Education Program. She attended the University of Florida, where she obtained her Bachelors and Masters in Elementary Education. Ms. Heiar is ESOL Endorsed, Reading Endorsed K-12, and is working towards her Gifted Endorsement. In 2016, she applied for, and was awarded, the Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant that gave Mandarin Oaks its first outdoor learning environment and butterfly garden. Ms. Heiar was recognized as the Mandarin Oaks Teacher of the Year for the 2017-2018 school year.
Mrs. Kennedy has proudly worked at Mandarin Oaks for 19 years, with 3 years in third grade and 16 years in kindergarten. As a kindergarten teacher, she has had great success as an inclusion teacher while developing students to have the proper tools to exceed through their disabilities and move onto a successful school career. Prior to teaching at Mandarin Oaks, Mrs. Kennedy taught in South Florida as a 2nd grade teacher and, while there, she was selected to be trained at Nova University for their Behavior Modification Learning Center program, located in Davie, Florida. She has also had the opportunity to teach as the gifted teacher for a private school in Coral Spring, Florida and a delightful experience teaching as an ESE Resource teacher in the Columbus, Ohio area. All of these teaching experiences have lead Mrs. Kennedy down a road of compassion for young children and animals, and into the person she is today. She has proudly been a vegetarian for 26 years and an active member of PETA. If not spending time off with her family, (husband, son, daughter) or 10 animal rescues, she finds herself with her next love, gardening. Mrs. Kennedy finds peace within the beauty of her gardens throughout her yard.
Joanne Marsh is presently teaching kindergarten and has previously taught 3rd and 5th grade at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. She has also taught in various other elementary schools and middle schools. She was grade level chair for a number of years and elected as one of ten top teachers in middle school! She was awarded a grant to provide science materials for all the science teachers at her school. Ms. Marsh graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola and from the University of North Florida with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. She is also certified in educational leadership. She is in her 36th year of teaching. She has traveled worldwide and enjoys spending time with her family.
Gina Parson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but grew up in South Florida. She moved back to Jacksonville and attended the University of North Florida. When she graduated in 1993 with her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, she took time off to raise her two daughters after she and her husband were stationed in Hawaii. Once she and her family returned to Jacksonville in 2006, she began working as a long term substitute at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. In 2012, Mrs. Parson began teaching Kindergarten and loves equipping her students with the essential foundational skills they require to be successful. In her spare time, she enjoys attending FSU football games, riding bikes at the beach, playing with her mini dachshunds, and spending time with family.
Christina Swindell has been at Mandarin Oaks for 14 years (and counting). Although she was born in Michigan, she moved to Jacksonville at a young age and has never left. After attending The Bolles School for grades K-12, she went on to the University of North Florida and graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree. Shortly after, she joined the MOE family, and spent her first 11 years teaching First Grade before moving to Kindergarten. She is a model for small group instruction and her students enjoy the variety of her lessons. Whether she is singing, dancing, or working with her students individually, everyone is actively engaged in a positive, creative, and fun learning environment. Ms. Swindell is ESOL endorsed, a Professional Development Facilitator, and a mentor for University of North Florida student interns. When not at work, she spends time with her adorable and lively 5 year old daughter, spending time at the beach, and travelling.
Crystal Wallace is a dedicated Kindergarten teacher, who grew up in Jacksonville and was a student at Mandarin Oaks when it first opened it’s doors in the late 80’s. Mrs. Wallace has always had a passion and a heart for working with children, which guided her to the field of education. She graduated with honors from the University of North Florida, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education K-6 with an endorsement in ESOL. Mrs. Wallace’s teaching experiences include Kindergarten and Second grades. In her spare time, she loves reading and spending time with her husband and her son, who also attends Mandarin Oaks. Her dedication and love for her own family allows her the insight to young children in a personal way.
Kala Wyatt is a kindergarten teacher at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. This is her 7th year here as she has worked in different capacities. She has taught kindergarten and first grades for the past two years, and prior to that, she spent 5 years in the Extended Day Program as a counselor. Ms. Wyatt was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.She received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education at the University of North Florida and graduated with high honors, in addition to an ESOL endorsement. During college, she studied abroad in England to broaden her knowledge of cultural differences in education. In her spare time, she loves to travel and cook. This past summer she went to Ireland, England, and France. Ms. Wyatt loves to incorporate music and interactive technology to engage students.