Welcome to Ocean Studies Charter School! My name is Trisha Woods and I am the Principal of this amazing school. This is my second year here and I am thrilled to be part of this unique program located in the Florida Keys. This is my fourteenth year as an educator. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Tampa, my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University, and my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida. I began my career teaching fourth and fifth grade in Hillsborough County before moving into a Reading Resource Teacher position and becoming part of the school based leadership team. The love of fishing, snorkeling, and being on the water brought my sons and I down here a little over a year ago. During my first year as principal, I learned so much from the children about protecting the environment, about the habitats on our islands, and about how I can influence others to make a difference, too! Every day, I am inspired and awed by our students who solve real life environmental problems and who speak confidently with scientists, park rangers, and other students about how to protect our unique Florida Keys environment. I am looking forward to this school year and all the adventures it has to offer!
School and Community Programs Coordinator
Hello! I am Jessica Martinez and am the School and Community Programs Coordinator. That means I get to do a little of everything on campus! This is my sixth amazing year at Ocean Studies and it has been wonderful to see the school and the children grow and flourish! I have my Bachelor of Science degree in Tourism Development and Marketing from Arizona State University. After college, I loved the idea of an island life and moved myself to the Florida Keys! After years of working in the tourism industry (and even moving to Costa Rica for a year!) I decided to make the move to education and began teaching at Ocean Studies Charter School as the Dolphins teacher. It’s been a great ride since! It is a blessing to be able to wake each day and go into “work” and have so much fun! Kids make everything better – they bring energy, positive vibes and infectious smiles every.single.day. They have hope for the future and I love being a part of helping them problem solve ways to make this earth a better place for all! When I’m not at school, I love spending time with my husband, John, and my son, Zane – who recently graduated from Ocean Studies! Cooking up crazy creations, doing yoga outside and hanging with friends and family are where I find my peace :)
School Adminsitrative Manager
My position as School Administrative Manager at Ocean Studies Charter School is the most rewarding job ever! I feel so fortunate to see the wonderful smiling faces of our students and their families each and every day. I graduated from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY with a BA in Journalism/Communications in 1999. My husband and I moved from upstate New York to the Keys in November of 2013, with our two youngest children, Gabrielle and Aidan, and a big labradoodle named Berkeley. Alexandra and Brooke, my older daughters and two wonderful granddaughters still live in New York. I enjoy reading, music, kayaking and spending time with my family. Ocean Studies Charter School and all the wonderful staff spend their days (and many nights) doing everything possible to further the knowledge and understanding of our environment and beyond in the minds of children in the most unique and innovative ways. I am very lucky to be a part of this team since 2017!
Ms. Martha Loizeaux
I teach marine science and have been teaching and coordinating field labs at Ocean Studies since the school was first started in 2011. I originally come from New Hampshire and I studied Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University. A study abroad experience in the Turks & Caicos brought me into the world of marine science. I have a B.A. in Zoology, a Florida Master Naturalist certification, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification, Merchant Mariner Credential, and Florida Elementary Education Teaching Certification. I have taught SCUBA and marine science in summer programs for students, worked in aquariums and on boats, and worked as the assistant director at MarineLab in Key Largo before starting my journey at Ocean Studies. My favorite teaching moments are when I am able to stand back and let the learning happen. I love bearing witness when students have reached the point of making connections and discoveries independently. Our vision at Ocean Studies is particularly important to me as I know that the continued health and restoration of our fragile marine environment lies in the hands of our future leaders, our children! I love to enjoy the ocean with my two beautiful sons, Manolo and Luca, and especially love to share my passion with the students of OSCS.
Ms. Jen Lavoie
Sea Star Classroom (K-1st)
Ms. Emelia Legarza
Sea Star Classroom (K-1st)
My name is Emelia Legarza and I am in my first year of teaching the Sea Stars class with Ocean Studies Charter School. Originally from the high deserts of Nevada, I moved to Oregon during my undergrad in 2013 to obtain my Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Southern Oregon University. During my time in Oregon, I put my degree to good use. If I wasn’t instructing scuba diving courses at the University, you could find me in the mountains rock climbing through the summer and snowboarding as a coach with Special Olympics in the winter. The adventures didn’t stop with the outdoors either as I also worked part time providing child care as a nanny. During this time, I discovered my love for teaching and working with children. After moving to Key Largo in 2017, I decided to transition from scuba diving and pursue my love for teaching. Currently, I am planning to graduate from Western Governors University with a Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education in the Spring of 2020. With that said, I am so excited to continue my journey with Ocean Studies Charter School where I can share my love for the outdoors and instill environmental values in students while they grow and learn with me in the classroom.
Ms. Sarah Naylor
Dolphin Classroom (1st - 2nd)
I am originally from Delaware, but I graduated from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania with a bachelors degree in Environmental Sustainability. I have always loved the natural world and thrive in its beauty! After I had my first child, I began working at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Delaware and fell in love with teaching children about the awe and wonder of the natural world. After my second child, I wanted to learn more about how to help children’s minds expand and develop, so I began working at a Montessori School in Delaware. Later I became certified by the North American Montessori Center. But, since the natural world calls me the way it does, I wanted to be outside more, not just 6 months out of the year. My husband and I took a vacation to the Florida Keys and just simply loved it! We moved our family here in 2016. I found Ocean Studies Charter School to be a perfect mix of everything I love— teaching children and teaching them the inherent bond we all have with our planet, and I am so proud to be apart of this amazing school!
Ms. Susannah O'Neil
Dolphin Classroom (1st - 2nd)
I’m Susannah O’Neil, a recent recruit to island life but married into a fabulously rooted Keys family of educators. I’ve studied Early Childhood Education in Georgia, Liberal Arts and Sciences in Maryland, and Cognitive Neuroscience in DC, Connecticut. Most recently Massachusetts where I worked with some amazing researchers at the child cognition lab in Boston. While I love to study and have administrative experience, my passion is in the classroom where you can see how meaningful your efforts are when a child’s face lights up in understanding. My mother in law taught 2nd grade for decades and she had been trying to convince me that teaching reading is where I belong, her constant support and encouragement makes me stronger every day. I love water, sunshine, an interesting read and all chocolate.
Ms. Carole Hoeltje
Manta Ray Classroom (3rd - 4th)
Hello! My name is Carole Hoeltje and I am a teacher in the Manta Rays classroom. I obtained by Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, and I am dual certified in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I have been working with children for the past 23 years, in both classroom and administrative roles. My family and I relocated to the Florida Keys four years ago, and I have been here at Ocean Studies ever since. Being a teacher means responsibility as a role model for future generations, and I take that critical position, with unwavering gratitude. I am dedicated, consistent, and enthusiastic about teaching and learning. I am constantly striving to increase my own knowledge, learn everything I can, and continue to grow my skills. I hope to instill this drive in my students, as well. When I am not in the classroom, I can be found with my nose in a good book, spending time with my husband, PJ, and son, Jesse, on the water, or cooking up a storm in my kitchen.
Ms. Sabrah Witkamp
Manta Ray Classroom (3rd - 4th)
My name is Sabrah Witkamp and I have a Masters in Public Health Education from Western Kentucky University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. (What can I say, I am a lifelong learner!) I have my teaching certificate from the State of Florida and am embarking on my my third year teaching at OSCS. After working at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind for many years, I love all students. With that passion to teach all students, I also carry a huge responsibility to create a safe space for both the mistakes and growth. I love anything outdoors, especially if I am with my family. We only have one planet Earth and my intention is for everyone become good stewards of our planet by teaching and modeling best practices.
Ms. Chandler Day
Shark Classroom (4th - 5th)
Hey hey, it’s Ms. Chandler Day!
I graduated from USF in the US of A!
With an Bachelors of Arts and Sciences and Education Degree,
I’ve been teaching for 3 years plus 3!
I LOVE what I do and I do it for the kids.
Learning is my passion and not just through vids.
All types of learning styles is what I like,
our school provides it all, so no need to strike!
On my free time, I exercise and play kickball,
there will probably be some sort of sporting club this fall!
So grab your kids and come sign up,
For Ocean Studies Charter School..... YUP!
Ms. Karen Lugo-Dean
Shark Classroom (4th - 5th)
After proudly serving our country for 22 years and retiring as a US Army Lieutenant Colonel back in 2017, I wanted to make a difference and continue my service to our country as an educator. I obtained my teacher’s certification and waited for my husband to retire from the military and for the right opportunity to teach. Once done with our military careers, we decided to move to the beautiful Florida Keys. Looking for a good school for our daughter Delani, we came across Ocean Studies Charter School. I fell in love! I was given the opportunity to become a teacher for the Sharks class and my first year was amazing. I loved the whole experience of teaching children, but what I loved the most was being able to model and instill values, such as respect, confidence, integrity, responsibility, loyalty, kindness and courage. As a teacher, I have high expectations for my students. I am firm, but at the same time, I am approachable, passionate and always trying to make the lessons fun to keep students engaged. I encourage the students to be kind, work as a team and never quit.
Ms. Tammy Hoak
My name is Tamela (Tammy) Hoak. I have two children. My daughter is 24, and she is employed as a science teacher in Virginia. My son is 21, and he is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps. I have lived and worked in the Keys for the past three years. My family and I are certified scuba divers, which brought us to the Keys. In regards to my teaching career, I worked as a public education teacher at the secondary level for fifteen years. I was certified in Virginia in the areas of Secondary English, Special Education K-12, and Art Education K-12. I taught there for 13 years. I currently hold the same certifications in Florida. I passed the certification assessments for elementary education in August of 2019. I have a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction: Adolescent Literacy. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher under the category of exceptional needs. I am currently taking courses to add the gifted and ESOL endorsements to my teaching certificate.