Greetings Leading Edge parents and students,
I welcome you to the Leading Edge family and community. As the High School Principal for Leading Edge Academy, I am responsible for ensuring that our students receive the best possible education. I am not only committed to helping our students earn their high school diploma, but also preparing them for college and a career.
The Leading Edge Academy staff is here to make the school years of your student(s) as successful and educationally challenging as possible. We embrace the opportunity to make a lasting impact on their lives and look forward to celebrating their successes!
We offer many different programs and activities – from STEM programs to sports to fine arts to travel clubs. There’s something for every student!
As part of the Leading Edge family, please feel free to share concerns, questions, and successes with our staff. We are here to help ensure that our students have a successful junior high and high school experience and that our families feel supported and part of the educational process.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your student’s success.
Mindi Johnson, M.Ed.
Originally from Northern California, Mrs. Mindi Johnson moved to the Gilbert area and began working for Leading Edge Academy in 2010. She has worked in various capacities at Leading Edge Academy, including teaching second grade, sixth grade and junior high. In 2016, Mrs. Johnson was appointed as principal of Leading Edge Academy’s Online High School program, developing personalized academic success plans and expanding the reach of the program throughout the Greater Phoenix area and beyond. With her appointment to Leading Edge Academy Gilbert Early College, Mrs. Johnson will oversee both high school programs, bringing her experience in the field of blended learning to the traditional classroom. Currently, Mrs. Johnson is in the final stages of earning her Doctor of Education at Grand Canyon University. Outside of her time at Leading Edge Academy, Mrs. Johnson loves to watch baseball, read and cook…and drink coffee!
Brenda has been married to her husband, Kevin for 28 years. They have 2 sons together. Brenda joined the Leading Edge Academy at GEC this past year as the administrative assistant to the principal and recently moved to the business specialist role.
Keli Palmer came to Leading Edge Academy after working for the State of Arizona for over 30 years. The majority of her time was spent working in higher education. Her background includes education administration, academic advising, and financial aid. After leaving state service, Keli was looking for a new adventure and found that at Leading Edge East Mesa! She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and house full of dogs.
Mrs. Tracie Kruszeski and her husband relocated to Arizona from the Albany, NY area in September 2015. She graduated from the College of Saint Rose in Albany in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education. Tracie taught in a 3rd-5th grade 15:1:1 classroom in Gloversville, NY at the beginning of her career. She later moved on to teach a 9th-12th grade 12:1:1 classroom in Stillwater, NY. Tracie took a break from the classroom and did in home teaching for special needs infants, toddlers and preschoolers through Head Start in Saratoga Springs, NY. She is excited to be teaching at Leading Edge Academy as well as being back in the classroom again.
Mrs. Allison Baugues graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a minor in English Literature from Arizona State University. She completed a teacher training program through Rio Salado College in 2013. Mrs. Baugues is back for her 7th year of teaching with Leading Edge – Gilbert Early College after taking a couple years to be home with her two children. When not teaching, Mrs. Baugues enjoys reading, crocheting, and traveling with her family. Her favorite part of teaching is encouraging and challenging each of her students.
Mrs. Nikki Austin Foster has taught at Leading Edge Academy since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Arizona State University. She has taught elementary, high school and has settled into teaching junior high. She enjoys reading, traveling and playing softball. She is the head coach of the Lady Spartans varsity softball team and also has coached the junior high boys basketball team. She enjoy the opportunity to teach your children and share her passion of history and the world with them!
Mrs. Tanya Owen has been a teacher at GEC since 2019 but has worked as a long-term sub and paraeducator since 2014. Tanya received her Bachelor’s degree in 2010 from Ashford University, now an extension of University of Arizona, Tucson where she was proud to be awarded Summa cum laude. After years in the behavioral health field, she decided to make the change to teaching, as it has been a passion of hers since 3rd grade. Mrs. Owen became highly qualified in the summer of 2019 and is proud to be a Spartan!
Justin Rosepapa is an alumnus of Northern Arizona University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Literature during the spring of 2019. Justin is currently enjoying his first full year as an educator at Leading Edge Academy. When he is not teaching, you may find him hiking far and wide throughout the southwest, writing and reading at local coffee shops, and jaunting through used bookstores and record shops.
Mrs. Ivy grew up in Virginia, and she moved to Arizona in 2017. She attended Virginia Wesleyan College (now Virginia Wesleyan University). She has worked in the education field (Sylvan Learning Center, substitute teaching, and teaching) for over nine years. She has been with Leading Edge Academy since the fall of 2019.
Mrs. Smith is Canadian by birth. As long as she can remember she has had a love for math and number manipulation. She completed a Bachelor of Science at Indiana Wesleyan University and a Bachelor of Education at University of New Brunswick. Since marrying and moving to the USA she has taught high school math in North Carolina and Arizona. Outside of school she likes to read, repurpose bargain finds and travel.
Mr. Cuthbert Afram was born and raised in Kumasi-Ghana. He graduated Asanteman Senior High School in the 2012, went to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he graduated in 2016 with a First Class Honors in BSc. Actuarial Science. He served as a teaching assistant in the department of Mathematics-KNUST for 2 years, where, he taught probability and statistics, analysis of survival data, functional analysis, time series analysis, precalculus, differential equations, and applied statistics. Mr. Afram graduated with a Master’s degree in Statistics from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2020. During his time at (NAU), he served as a graduate teaching assistant, where, he taught precalculus, quantitative reasoning, and applied statistics for 2 years.
Mrs. Donna Pond is a graduate of Liberty University. Her degree is in Mathematics Education. She has been in education for 26 years. She has taught in Virginia, Japan, and Arizona. Her most recent experience was at Hamilton for the last 11 years. She also enjoyed a 6 week long term substitute position in Hawaii. She is married to a wonderful man and has two sons and one daughter, one very hyper dog, and a very shy guinea pig. Her hobbies are reading and music and enjoys playing different kinds of instruments.
Mr. Geesey is originally from Florida. He received his Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Florida, his MBA from Florida Atlantic University, and is currently working towards a Master’s in Educational Leadership from GCU. In college he worked as a research assistant developing gene therapy treatments for blindness and in grad school he implemented and taught outdoor recreation & education courses for college students. He loves to travel (he’s been to over 75 countries!) and has instructed high school study abroad programs to Iceland and Ecuador. In his free time he enjoys hiking, camping, cooking, and snowboarding.
Mrs. Katie Bradley received her BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Wichita State University, majoring in English with a minor in Speech Communication. In 2011, Katie received her Master of Arts in Communication. From 2005-2009, Katie was a starter for the Div. 1, Wichita State Shockers’ Volleyball Team and went on to play for Arizona’s professional volleyball team, The Arizona Sizzle from 2013-2014. Katie coaches the Spartan’s Varsity volleyball team, winning the 2013, D2 State Championship and received the “Coach of the Year” award. With both parents as art teachers, it came natural to love and teach art to others.
Mr. Womack is a professional musician, singer-songwriter, producer,& AV technician who has devoted his talents to serving the students at GEC. Mr. Womack teaches Digital Citizenship, Ukulele, Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keys, Audio Production, Lighting, Video Production, and Stage Management. Mr. Womack’s style is to help students build life skills while making learning fun and relevant.
Ms. Laura Lindstrom has her BA in Vocal Performance and Speech Drama, from North Park University in Chicago, Ill. She holds a Provisional Career and Technical Education and Training Certificate. Ms.Lindstrom is a member of the NAfMe and the AMEA. She has been teaching for Leading Edge since 2004. In her spare time, Ms. Lindstrom enjoys spending time with her grown children and grandchildren as well as helping produce musicals at her church.
Professor Barbara Clark is from Mesa, Arizona, born and raised. She graduated from Heritage Academy and then from ASU with a BA in Secondary Education and a BA in Spanish Linguistics. She studied Spanish throughout high school and college and then lived in the Dominican Republic for about 2 years. Having learned the language in both the educational setting and through immersion, she understands the complexities of language learning and is eager to guide the students. Professor Clark is a devoted teacher and mother ready to share her passion for the Spanish language and culture.
Ms. Gillespie started teaching PE at Leading Edge Academy in 2020. She received her Bachelors of Science in Sports Science in 2015 and her Masters of Science in Kinesiology in 2019. She played college soccer at Mesa Community College and Briar Cliff University. Currently she is coaching soccer at the GEC campus. In her spare time she is often playing, coaching, or watching soccer.