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Introducing seven new faces at Tommie Barfield Elementary school on Marco Island. Common to all of them, according to their profiles, is eagerness and motivation to keep unlocking the potential in what one of them calls “lifelong learners.”

Nisha Johnson

Nisha Johnson says she is proud to be part of the TBE community as a first grade educator. She has a B.S. in elementary education from Oakland University in Rochester, MI, and M.A. in early childhood education from the University of Michigan.

Johnson was born and raised outside the Motor City. She taught nine years in Utica Public Schools in Michigan before getting married and moving to Dallas, TX, then Naples, FL. “I am honored and eager to work with the Marco Island community to help create lifelong learners,” she says.

Mary Hopkins

Hopkins moved from the Boston area to Marco Island 22 years ago, and lives with her husband Tom, her 15-year old daughter, Maddie, and her two soft-coated Wheaton Terriers - Maggie and Bailey.

She has taught art at every level, from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, for 30 years.

“I am very excited to be teaching at Tommie Barfield as this is my own community school … and have dreamed of teaching here on the island only as far back as the first I landed here from Boston,” she says.

Her art philosophy is that everyone can bring creativity to all endeavors.

She says creative thinking students can “open our eyes to new ways of doing and seeing the things around them - whether students choose to be an artist one day, a writer, a lawyer, or a scientist.” Her focus, she says, is to bring out the artist in all her students.

Kate Marsteller

Kate Marsteller says she looks forward to a great school year at TBE as one of the new kindergarten teachers.

She is originally from Greensburg, Pennsylvania — a city about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. There, she received her education from Seton Hill University; this is where she attained two degrees — her teaching credentials and a masters in special education.

After six years of teaching in Pennsylvania, Kate moved to Marco Island in 2013, and immediately began working in the Collier County School District.

“While I have many hobbies, like cycling and boating, my passion is teaching,” she says. Excited to be a part of the TBE family, Marsteller vows to “teach her little learners” to love learning and become life-long learners, just as she is.

Missy Herrington

Herrington comes to Tommie Barfield after teaching fourth grade and middle school math and science at The Village School of Naples for three years. She previously taught fourth grade in her hometown of Nashville, TN, before moving to Florida with her husband and two children.

Herrington has a BFA in Graphic Design, a BFA in Photography, and a master’s degree in elementary education.

She and her family, including their Rhodesian ridgeback, love being outdoors biking, kayaking, and boating, and she also loves singing loudly in her car.

“I am thrilled to be a part of Tommie Barfield Elementary, and look forward to an exciting year,” she says.

Andrea Strom

Strom, too, says she is thrilled to be part of the Tommie Barfield educational community as a fourth grade teacher. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and her masters of technology degree in education from Lesley University. She taught many years in Wisconsin before taking off 10 years to stay home with her four children.

“This is my 11th year of teaching and I am absolutely thrilled to be back in the classroom,” she says.

Heather Leedy

Born and raised in Naples and going through Collier County Public Schools, Leedy attended Florida Southern College and majored in early childhood/elementary education. She has a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida.

She taught kindergarten for 12 years previously with Collier County Public Schools and is “very excited to be teaching kindergarten again” at Tommie Barfield Elementary School. Leedy has been married for 20 years and has a son who is a junior at Barron Collier High School.

Michelle Alexander

Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Michelle Alexander is also excited to be a new part of the Tommie Barfield “family.” Her family moved to Naples when she was young, and she graduated from Barron Collier High School in 1991.

After high school, Michelle went into the United States Navy. Thereafter, she returned to Naples to continue putting herself through college. This is where she met her current husband. They have been “having adventures together since 1999,” as she puts it.

Alexander is the mother of two boys, ages 10 and 12. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education. She has prior experience as a third and fourth grade teacher in Broward County Public Schools.

She says she is excited to be back in Collier County to stay, and looks forward to working in the Marco Island community, “affecting the lives of children in a positive way.”

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