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, recently retired from being a paramedic/firefighter, has been helping with the custodial duties of a 3 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. 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 14 grandchildren.
TEACHERS Gwen Buckles (5th - 8th grades)
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 (3), Emma (4.5).
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.
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 has been a substitute teacher the past three years and is excited by this new challenge of teaching at JOY Academy.
Sheri has 10 years experience in public schools teaching English, Math, and History in grades 6th - 9th. She also homeschooled many of her 5 children and had the pleasure of being the neighborhood violin teacher and math tutor. Her husband, Jim, has been very supportive for these past 28 years. They both enjoy being parents and grandparents.
Sheri first earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education: Social Studies, with a Math endorsement; she received the Pestalozzi Award for Outstanding Teacher Education Graduate. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a Music Minor, and then a Masters degree in Secondary Education. Sheri exemplifies what it means to be a self-directed, engaged learner!
Sheri recently returned home from a two-week intense training in the Kodaly music method... which she says was incredibly fun, and if you don't know what Kodaly music is, she says to "just think Maria Von Trapp." Sheri is very "jazzed to share [her] newly acquired skills"!
She shares that she is "excited to join the fantastic faculty at JOY Academy and to spread the JOY of learning!"
Starlynne Paxman (KINDERGARTEN) email@example.com Starlynne is excited to join the JOY Academy family this fall as not only the new Kindergarten teacher, but also a JOY Parent.
Starlynne grew up in Southern California where she was a competitive soccer player through her high school years She attended Cal State University, Long Beach before a job offer led her husband and two children to Henderson in 2000. Starlynne completed her degree in Elementary Education at UNLV where she graduated summa cum laude in 2005. She later earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2008 and earned a TESL (teaching English as a second language) endorsement from Nevada State College in 2010.
Starlynne taught in the Clark County School District for 8 years in grades 1-4. Some of her proudest accomplishments were founding an award winning student published magazine as well as being honored by her peers twice as the school’s Distinguished Educator of the Year.
After welcoming her third child in 2013, Starlynne took some time off from teaching to focus on her family. The Paxmans keep busy with their hobby farm out in Henderson where they currently have 2 horses, 2 pigs, 3 goats, a spoiled turkey as well as a number of chickens and ducks, the majority of them being rescue animals. She is thrilled to join the JOY family and teach in an environment where the focus is on student- centered, hands on-learning. “The things I cherish most in this world…my family, my animals and teaching children reflect my life’s passion…I love nurturing things and watching them grow.”
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
JOY Academy of Southern Nevada is led by a Board of Directors: a businessman, an attorney, and parents with students in elementary and secondary schools.
Board Members are all concerned with providing engaged learning for our children, grandchildren, and for the families in our community.