B.S. in Elementary Education (Utah State University)
20+ years teaching elementary school
25+ years experience in facilitating instruction for groups of 30 - 150 children, teenagers, adults
Message from Connie: Over 10 years ago I joked that I was working on my doctorate of education so that after my husband retired, I could go with him to the wilds of Idaho and be the superintendent, principal, teacher, and custodian of a one-room schoolhouse. Here is proof that the Lord has a sense of humor. My husband, retired from being a paramedic/firefighter with the City of Las Vegas, has been helping with the custodial duties of an 8 room school in the Las Vegas area--where I am superintendent, principal, and teacher. It is not what I had thought it would be... it is something much better!
I have been greatly concerned about the direction of education in our country. I feel that the focus needs to be more on students learning and growing in a supportive environment. Being with family is more important than homework. The focus should not be on test scores and students should not be going home with hours of homework. Kids still need to be kids! Technology is a tool that can compliment their education, but it should never be used as a replacement for the teacher.
Because of these concerns, I have worked to create JOY Academy of Southern Nevada, a private, nonprofit, faith-based school to empower students to become lifelong, self-directed learners. We start the day with prayer, then we work together doing hands-on learning as much as possible. We are as likely to be using a hammer or measuring tape as a pencil! Our students have recess. At the end of the day, they go home to be with their family or do activities that they want to do: there is no homework. Students have time to read what they want to read and spend time doing family activities.
The Academy name of JOY is in honor of my parents: my mother's initials are J.O.Y. My parents raised a family of 10 children on my dad's teacher's salary, and he always referred to his wife as his greatest joy.
My husband and I have raised 6 children in Henderson, Nevada. We have 16 grandchildren.
Gwen Buckles is originally from Northern Minnesota, but grew up mainly in Henderson, NV. She graduated from Basic High School in 2003 with Honors, and after spending 2 years attending the University of North Dakota, decided that the frozen tundra was not for her, so she headed back to the sunny weather and finished her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in December of 2007. She is has been married to her husband, Randen, since September of 2009, and has 2 children - Ben and Emma.
She taught for 7.5 years in Clark County School District, mainly in Fifth Grade and Sixth Grade Science. During her time as a public school teacher, she also advised several clubs, including Student Council at Hollingsworth Elementary School in Downtown Las Vegas, and Leadership (Student Council) at Greenspun Junior High School in Henderson. In her role as Leadership Advisor at Greenspun, Gwen worked with her students and community partners at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Greenspun Media Group to create an environmental ad campaign (https://lasvegassun.com/news/2013/may/13/junior-high-students-spread-word-lake-mead-ban-two/). In May of 2015, she resigned from the school district to stay home with her two small children. After 3.5 years of being at home, her passion for education has called her back into the classroom. She loves the idea of being able to work in an environment that encourages students and families to take ownership of their education, and where the teacher is free to foster a love of learning.
Paulo Nojosa (5th - 8th grades, Math & Science)
Mr. Nojosa comes to us from Brazil. He has degrees in Math and Physics. He taught for many years in Brazil before coming to the United States with his family. His daughter was in JOY Academy's first graduation class in 2021. He loves playing soccer and the students are always happy when he can join in on a game at break time.
Brent Bartlett grew up on a farm in Maine. He joined the United States Navy in 1995 after high school and served 4 years, leaving due to injury. Brent earned an Associate Degree in Electromechanical Engineering and spent 12 years working in manufacturing as a technician specializing in electrical, mechanical, robotics, and automation control systems. He has been married to his wife, Sherah, since December of 1999, and has 2 children – Gracelyn and Annelise.
He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Western Governors University in 2010 and a Master's Degree in Education Technology in 2011. Brent taught for 9 years in Clark County School District at Coronado High School. He has taught Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, College Preparatory, Topics of Modern Mathematics, Trigonometry, and Personal Finance. Brent is looking forward to individualizing students’ learning and developing a plan for life after high school.
Lori A. Foutz (Art, PE, Classroom Aide) email@example.com Lori grew up in St. Maries, ID, and was one of 3 high school Valedictorians in her "huge class" of 93 students. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education K-12, with a minor in Health, from Brigham Young University. She received her Associates degree from Rick's Jr. College in 1985, where she met her husband, Tracy. They have been married 30 years and have 4 amazing children. Lori has been a volleyball player, a thespian, a poet and an artist. "I love to create things and I love people."
In 2006, Lori was honored to be named Nevada's Young Mother of the Year and represented the state's young mothers (moms with children under the age of 18) at the National American Mothers Inc. Convention.
She was a substitute teacher at CCSD for three years and is excited by the challenge of teaching at JOY Academy.
Sherah Bartlett (KINDERGARTEN) firstname.lastname@example.org Ms. Sherah has been part of the JOY Academy family since last year. When students come to her Kindergarten classroom, they don't want to leave!
Ms. Sherah apprenticed under Starlynne Paxman last year in the Kindergarten classroom. She definitely learned from one of the best!
She loves things in the nature, especially horses. She is the lucky teacher who gets to have Spike the turtle in her classroom this year.
Melissa Sadler (1st grade) email@example.com Mrs. Sadler received her education degree from UCSD. She taught in California for a few years, even did music, before moving to Henderson, NV. Coming from California, she is experienced with the Waldorf world of being hands on. She is married and has 3 children.
Bonny Fikri (2nd grade) firstname.lastname@example.org Ms. Bonny is newly graduated with her Bachelors in Elementary Education. She has had years of experience working in the classroom. She is excited to have a classroom of her own. Horses are one of her first loves, right there with her husband and 2 girls. She loves to do things with science and nature.
Jamie was born and raised among the beautiful rolling hills of Northern Georgia, in a little town called Cohutta. She began her educational journey to become a teacher at a small college not very far from her home in 1998. As it will, life interceded when she met her husband, Kyle, at church in Atlanta, GA a few years later. Together they moved to Cleveland, OH where he completed a law degree and she had their first darling baby, a little girl they still call Goose. After almost 15 years of being a SAHM (and two boys later), Jamie decided it was time to finish what she had started so many years before at Dalton State College. She was no longer content with just being a classroom volunteer; she was ready to be the teacher!
A few years ago, Jamie graduated with a BA in Elementary Education as a summa cum laude graduate from Nevada State College. Go Scorpions! She also secured a TESL endorsement qualifying her to work effectively with ESL students in the classroom. Much to her husband's dismay, Jamie has already started researching programs to obtain a master's degree as a reading specialist.
The Wallace family settled in Henderson, NV after a job offer brought them here from the East Coast. Jamie has 3 children and 3 dogs... yes, one for each child! She has been married to her husband for over 20 years, and is looking forward to the next chapter of her life working as a classroom teacher at JOY Academy!
Mary Jane Wallace (Music) For 5 years, taught general music K-4 and choir for grades 5-8 at Pinecrest Horizon Charter School. Facilitated an educational arts assembly program for 24 years, overseeing 17 musical groups in five school districts throughout Utah.
Amber Marshall (IEW Writing & 5th-8th grade PE) Amber has a degree in English literature and is a Fitness Coach. She is a perfect fit for what is needed at JOY Academy! She is married with 4 children.