The teachers work diligently to meet the needs of every student with small group instruction. It is an honor to work in such a great establishment!
— Nancy Wardell

Meet Our Team

School Leadership

Karla Robinson


Salutations! My name is Karla Robinson and I am honored to be the Principal at Beacon Academy. I have been in education for almost thirty years. I hold a Masters Degree from Ashland University in Curriculum and Instruction.

The thing I’ve learned the most throughout my years in education, is that you’ve got to get to the heart of each student first and foremost before any other learning can take place. Students, now more than ever need us to be someone that they can rely on and count on. Our schools need to be a safe place for our students. Beacon Academy provides a place where young people can come and work to overcome the obstacles that have been held them back.

I live with my husband Rick, in Perry Township, here in Massillon, Ohio. Together we have raised five children into adulthood and we now have 5 grandchildren. I enjoy searching for old treasure and antiques and finding a new way to upcycle and enjoy them. I enjoy reading and traveling, especially trips to the beach. My husband’s passion is to bring new life back into old Corvette’s and Muscle Cars and we spend a lot of time at car shows, which I actually also enjoy.

Christina Fricker

Dean of Students 

Hello, my name is Christina Fricker, I am the Dean of Students at Beacon Academy.  I graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, (1-8).  After graduation, I taught 1st grade in Northern Indiana for 3 years until I got married and then moved to Canton, Ohio. Currently, I am in my 15th year here in the building. During my teaching experience, I have taught Title 1, 3rd and 2nd grades. Every day brings new challenges as well as successes! My free time is spent with family and best of all, my 1 year-old granddaughter!


Brooke Herbert


My name is Brooke Herbert and I am the new Kindergarten Teacher at Beacon Academy, formerly known as the 2nd grade teacher for almost 2 years. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education PreK-3 at Kent State Tuscarawas in 2015. Being the first person in my family to attend college influenced my mother and brother to follow. Growing up, I was involved in competitive dance, acting, and art classes. My rambunctious attitude, kind spirit, and sense of responsibility encouraged me to babysit children of all ages in my neighborhood. I branched out from babysitting during college to work with younger kids and socialize with families. The best way to learn is to experience it, so I worked at local daycares, dance studios, waitressing, and taught at Oak Park Preschool including their summer program. I am super excited to be teaching Kindergarten at Beacon this year and will be creating a space where students can learn through explorative of play!

Ms. Jennifer Anderson

1st Grade Teacher

My name is Ms. Anderson and I would like to welcome you the first grade. This will be a year full of learning and meeting new friends! 


This will be my 4th year at Beacon Academy and I am very excited to begin this year with my students and their families! I earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Akron in 1993. I have had the opportunity to work with students across different grade levels ranging from preschool through High School in my 26 years of teaching. I love being able to watch children explore and grow as learners as well as discover their potential!


My goal for this upcoming school year is to create a classroom where students feel safe and secure so that they can grow as learners and feel successful in their education. I will continually strive to create a learning environment that is not only enriching, but stimulating as well. I want every student to realize that learning can happen everywhere they look


Mr. Nick Higginbotham

2nd Grade Teacher 

My name is Nick Higginbotham. I am 31 years old and will be entering my 8th year of teaching. I graduated from The University of Akron with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Over the years I have taught 4th and 5th grade, 2nd grade (2 years) in North Carolina, and recently 3rd grade (4 years) at Heritage Christian in Canton. Alongside teaching, I have coached girls JV at Akron Ellet, as well as girls basketball at Heritage Christian (5th/6th grade & 7th/8th grade.)


I am the oldest of three siblings and have two dogs (Beau and Buddy.) I am an avid golfer and play as much as I possibly can. I enjoy every sport especially football. Other hobbies of mine include the outdoors and fishing in my spare time.


Ms. Kelly Brodzenski

3rd Grade Teacher

Hello!  My name is Kelly Brodzenski and this will be my 4th year at Beacon Academy.  I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kent State University and I am currently working on my 4th and 5th Grade endorsement from Walsh University!  I have been working in Early Childhood for about 14 years and still going strong! I have lived in Minerva Ohio since 2005 and before that Cleveland Ohio. I graduated from Berea High school and always had dreams of becoming a teacher.  I have been married since 2008 to my husband Dwight, and we have 3 adventurous kids Naomi, Enoch, and Lylah. I am a huge fan of nature, fishing, kayaking, and traveling! I absolutely LOVE coffee and teaching third grade! I consider myself a lifelong learner and I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching.   


Ms. Brooke Yost

4th Grade Teacher

My name is Mrs. Yost and I am going into my 4th year teaching 4th grade at Beacon Academy! I love using new ways to teach my students. I love to make learning interesting and fun. I also love for my students to find a comfy safe place in the classroom to be able to get their work done! My students come first and I make sure each one has a great experience in my class! Go Bobcats!


5th Grade:  Ms. Nancy Wardell:  Hello, my name is Nancy Wardell and I have taught at Beacon Academy for the last 3 years. I graduated from Slippery Rock University in PA with a B.S. in Elementary Education and Minors in Middle School Mathematics and Music. I have also obtained my masters in special education since graduation and have a total of 12 years of teaching experience. My hobbies include hunting, fishing, and jogging in 5K events with my husband and son.


Ms. Lori Brittian

6th Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Lori Brittain, and I am the 6th grade classroom teacher. I have been teaching for 17 years. I have also been a coach and a social worker. I am married with 2 children. I enjoy playing volleyball, reading, biking, walking, swimming and socializing. The 19/20 school year is my first year as a Beacon Bobcat. I look forward to meeting you!


7th and 8th Grade:  Ms. Wendy Bartschy:  My name is Wendy Bartschy and I teach 7th-8th grade math, science, character education, CBI and Topucu at Beacon Academy. I attended the University of Akron and hold a bachelor’s degree in middle childhood education. This is my 11th year in the education field. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, fishing on Lake Erie, hiking and being outdoors. My passion is helping youth reach their goals for a successful future. I am excited for this school year and all the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for students at Beacon Academy!


Mr. Matt Sands

7th and 8th Grade Teacher

Hello, my name is Matthew Sands and I teach English Language Arts and History at Beacon Academy.  My teaching philosophy is to make the learning experience applicable to real-life situations with a heavy emphasis on economics.  This way, the students understand WHY they need to know what is being taught. I am a husband and father of three children ( William, Lucy, and Gianna).  In my spare time, I enjoy reading and volunteering for various organizations around Stark County.  I also coach soccer, football, basketball, and lacrosse.  Thank you for choosing Beacon Academy and I look forward to meeting you soon!

Ms. Tricia Brewer

Intervention Specialist

Hello! My name is Tricia Brewer and I'm excited to say this is my second year as Intervention  Specialist at Beacon Academy.  I have my Intervention Specialist  license from Baldwin Wallace University. I also have my Reading Endorsement and Early Childhood degree from Kent State University.  I have my Master Degree from University of Phoenix. 

I have two children and a grandchild. I have four horse and love giving horse riding lessons.

I am excited for the new year to start and I look forward to meeting students and their families. 


Ms. Jean Stickler

Intervention Specialist

This is my 30th year in the classroom.  I have multiple certifications and an RN license.  I have three or six children, depending on how you count.  I have 18 or 27 grandchildren, depending on how you count.  I have attended and graduated from multiple schools as I have been a lifelong learner.    My current educational goals are to Stop!  Stop attending college and further my life education.  Every year I spend in the classroom, I add depth to my understanding of the learning process. I love having dual ownership of my students learning.  I look forward to this year of learning.


Ms. Jennifer Hake

Intervention Specialist

Hi, my name is Jennifer Hake. I have grown up around Canton and graduated from college from Walsh University in 2018 with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Intervention. I am duel licensed in General Education and Special Education for grades preK-3. This is my first year teaching special education but I have much experience in the field. After graduation I subbed for several districts and had a long term position as a Title teacher in Perry to finish out the year. I am excite for this opportunity and am looking forward to starting this new adventure with all of you!

Mr. Charles Szabo

Music Teacher

I am looking forward to being the  new music teacher this year having spent my life performing and teaching music in the greater Youngstown area. With music Ed. degrees from YSU and KSU, I am active as a church choir director, organist and vocalist on the weekends, and my educational YouTube music videos have millions of views worldwide. I am excited to share my  love of music with the students at Beacon Academy.


Ms. Cami Lewis

Behavior Specialist

Hi, my name is Cami Lewis. I am the behavior specialist for Beacon Academy. My role at Beacon Academy is to build relationships with our students and families while providing strong leadership to the school using positive behavior management strategies to best meet the needs of our students. I graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor degree in Mild to Moderate k-12 Intervention. Previous to joining the Beacon Academy family, I was Mental Health Specialist serving families in Akron, Ohio. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. My husband and I can always be found golfing, playing tennis or cheering on our favorite sports teams. Go Browns!

Ms. Temeah Ross

Office Manager and Enrollment Specialist

My name is Temeah Ross and I am the Enrollment Specialist/Office Manager at Beacon. I graduated with an Associates Degree in Business from Pittsburgh Technical College. I worked in an accounting firm for two years before getting into the field of education. I started out in this building as an Instructional Aide. I loved being able to work with students in small groups and one on one and being able to be apart of their educational growth. This will be my 12th year working in the Charter School world and I'm glad I made the switch! 


When I am not at work, I am busy enjoying raising my 3 daughters, who are 16, 11 and 3 years old. They love being apart of their dance group and together we enjoy bike riding, football games and taking road trips.