Starfish Academy Staff
Director of Early Childhood EducationAlexis LeRouxAlexis earned her bachelor's degree in art education from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. in 2007. She received her education licensure in both Massachusetts and Florida and is certified to teach English worldwide. In 2021, she obtained her Childcare Director Credential from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Director of Early Childhood Education
Alexis has been an educator for the last 20 years. With a specialization in fine arts, she has spread her love of artistry to children all over the U.S. and abroad by working with several organizations including the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 2001, she traveled to India to educate children in a Himalayan village, many of whom had never before used a crayon or seen a piece of paper. Most recently, she focused on the craftsmanship of language, teaching English to elementary children in Spain. As Site Director of Starfish Academy, Alexis' love of creativity inspires students to explore their artistic abilities as a means of expression. She is constantly amazed by the positive benefits the art process has on youth, even at an early age. Alexis hopes to engage students in several projects throughout her tenure including murals, immersive classrooms, and emotion-evoking individual art.
Stephanie Essex, LMHC
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation SupervisorStephanie 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.
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Supervisor
Mariana Mackinnon, RCSWI
Social Emotional Consultant (Easterseals)Mariana Mackinnon, RCSWIMariana earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in 2019, from Florida Gulf Coast University, with a focus on social work. She went on to pursue her advanced standing master's degree in 2020 with a focus on clinical social work. Mariana achieved her diversity and inclusion certification from FGCU as well as a certificate in youth mental health first aid. Mariana's previous relevant experience includes working with both Collier County Public Schools as well as the Sarasota County Schools. Her tasks ranged from drafting social-emotional learning external communications, providing financial assistance, counseling students, and partnering with local agencies to bridge the gaps in social service. Mariana enjoys being outdoors in her free time. Whether this is exercising, going for a walk, or swimming, she finds that it allows her to feel more connected to herself and helps her recharge to be fully present for her clients.
Social Emotional Consultant (Easterseals)
Linda Tobiassen, RMHI
Social Emotional ConsultantLinda Tobiassen, RMHILinda earned her master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from National Louis University in 2021. Linda focuses on developing the whole child by working with parents, caregivers, and teachers. In the past year, she has worked with groups of young children to develop social-emotional learning skills. Linda strives to be present and genuine with her clients in order to give them a safe space to explore. She enjoys golf, going to the beach, and spending time with her family. She finds that running improves her mental health which helps her to live a balanced lifestyle.
Social Emotional Consultant