Starfish Academy Staff
Director of Early Childhood EducationSusan Carney
Director of Early Childhood Education
Site Director/Principal of Starfish Academy North PortAlexis LaRouxAlexis earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art Education from Tufts University in 2007. Alexis has worked with children all around the world. In 2001, she went to India to participate in a summer program in a rural village. For the last 22 months, she was living in the Balearic Islands working in public schools. Alexis practices art and yoga in her spare time. She finds that regular creativity and relaxation are her best medicine.
Site Director/Principal of Starfish Academy North Port
Michele Duss, LCSW
Social-Emotional Consultant at Starfish AcademyMichele Duss, LCSWMichele earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in child and family development from Georgia Southern University in 2005. She went on to complete her master's in social work at the University of South Florida in 2013. She received her license as a clinical social worker in 2020. Michele has been working in the social services field for over fifteen years and has served a variety of populations from VPK students to seniors in hospice care. Michele also has leadership experience developing social worker trainings. At home Michele practices moments of gratitude with her two young daughters, as well as mindfulness and meditation. She also includes yoga and other forms of exercise in her daily routine. These practices help her and her family balance life and maintain a positive outlook.
Social-Emotional Consultant at Starfish Academy
Stephanie Essex, LMHC
Social-Emotional ConsultantStephanie Essex, LMHCStephanie earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology from the University of South Florida in 2012. She went on to achieve her master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from Argosy University in 2018. Stephanie is currently a certified parent educator for the Circle of Security parenting program and has been working with children for over four years. Previously, she worked for Kids and Families Matter where she provided supervised visitation services to children and families in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Stephanie enjoys being active and exploring nature. She finds that frequent bike rides, hikes, and nature walks improve her state of mind and help her feel more relaxed at work and home.