Ocala Preparatory Academy

2020-2021 Staff

OPA Staff Biographies (more coming soon!):


Samantha Owens

Principal & Teacher

Samantha started college in 2013, with plans to become a physician's assistant. While interning with our parent company in 2013 (OaSN Inc.), she developed a love of working with children with different learning needs.  She realized that her unique talents and creativity allowed her to meet the individual needs of children, causing them to blossom into their own talents and gifts. She interned for OaSN Inc. for two summers before coming to work at the Active Minds Summer Camp and then for OPA in 2016.

Samantha received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Florida in 2016 and received her Masters in Exceptional Student Education at the University of West Florida in 2018. She is excited to continue using hands-on experiments, projects, and games to teach the Dialectic class, as well as, serving as Interim Principal at Ocala Preparatory Academy.


Lavern Williams

Assistant Principal & Teacher

Lavern is an enthusiastic advocate of personalized and wholistic education who began teaching at OPA in 2017. She has fifteen years of experience teaching in various locations including the island of Jamaica, New York City, and at Shores Christian Academy in Ocala, where she also served as the Guidance Counselor. She has taught elementary and middle school grades as well as various high-school classes such as biology, anatomy, physiology, physical science, and health.

A graduate of the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Sciences she also has previous work experience in health care research and aquaculture.

lori silloway

Lori Silloway


Ms. Lori is the "Wonder Woman" of our academic programs and our parent company, OASN. She was born in New York but spent her childhood in Rhode Island.  In 1974, she graduated from Sawyer Academy as an executive secretary. She worked as an executive assistant for a few years before moving to Florida in 1979. After spending some time in other professions, Lori found her niche building her own business in auto sales for 11 years. She later ran a multi-corporate business in the auto industry, successfully managing a salvage yard, used car lot and other related businesses.

After raising a family, Lori decided to go back to school and graduated with honors from Rasmussan College in Ocala with an Associate of Science degree in Health Information Technology. Soon after, Lori was appointed to the board, as the secretary of our parent company, OaSN Inc. As the organization grew, Lori became the first employee of OaSN Inc. and later, OPA. She now wears many hats while serving as our Administrator at OPA.


John Davis

Director of IT, Safety and Security

John's avid interest and curiosity in technology began at the age of 7 when he built his first computer from finding parts at various locations. His passion working with children, especially those with unique behavioral needs, started in high school at a summer camp. John's interest in security began in high school when he joined the Police Explorers which led to his first loss prevention job after high school.  This diversity of skill sets grew into dual careers: 1)  Technology (over 30 years) and 2)  Safety and Security (over 20 years). As a result of John's extensive experiences, his background includes myriad professional certifications, training, and serving as a resource for corporate solutions.

John is skilled in security, security integration, IT, programming and web development. John is experienced in working with .Net, C#, VB, XML and JSON. Furthermore, John has extensive experience with developing cross-browser and cross-platform web applications. Moreover, his deep understanding of HTML, PHP, CSS, MySQL, Swift and JavaScript complements the innovative learning experiences he creates for his students.

John's passion for children brought him into the teaching environment in 2013 through his own company. He began teaching at Ocala Preparatory Academy in 2016 and he became the Director of IT & Safety and Security in 2018. John's strong belief in helping students to be successful is evident in his work at OPA such as having technology students design and maintain websites (including this one) and his creating and maintaining the School Safety Patrol.


AnnMarie Sossong

Education Specialist

AnnMarie has been teaching in the state of Florida for over 30 years. In that time, she has worked in public and private schools as well as for online schools. Furthermore, she has participated in the local home school community as a teacher, evaluator and as a parent.

She has operated several businesses in the Ocala area including music instruction and tutoring services. AnnMarie has had a passion for the struggling learners since the beginning of her career and has continually worked, to the best of her ability, to support students who need a helping hand to access age-appropriate instruction.


Jocelyn Figueroa


Joselyn was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Ocala in 2017, the same year she came to OPA. She has a BA in Early Childhood and Primary Education as she loves working with children. Additionally, she holds an MBA in Business Administration. Before moving to Ocala, she worked as an Executive Assistant.

frances Lopez Teacher

Frances Lopez


Frances was born and raised in Puerto Rico but has called Ocala home for the past seven years. She interned at OPA for the 2017-2018 school year and was on staff as a paraprofessional for the 2018-2019 school year, while waiting for her teacher's certificate.  Frances discovered OPA after searching for a school for her son, who had difficulties in public school. She fell in love with OPA and its way of teaching students wholistically. She is thrilled to have found a place for her and her son to grow and thrive.

Frances graduated from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico with a B.A. in Education and is really excited to transition to working as a teacher with OPA for the 2019-2020 school year!


Sheila Ramos


Sheila Ramos, owner of the Artist Hub of Ocala since 2004, has worked in several private schools in Marion County. Sheila has a BA from St. Leo University and was the Coordinator of Art & Cultural Programs at CF Institute for ten years. Sheila was an instructor for Early Childhood classes for the CDA credential and instructed renewal classes for childcare owners for their National Credential from Washington DC.

Sheila began teaching at OPA in 2016 and she believes that art is a language without boundaries; it crosses barriers of socio-economics, race, religion, geography and time.


Xiomara Diaz


Xiomara was born in Brooklyn, New York and she lived in Puerto Rico until 15 years of age. Upon moving to Springfield, Massachusetts, she graduated from high school (with extra college credits in both science and technology).  Xiomara returned to Puerto Rico in 2007 where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing and a certificate in Allied Health for Phlebotomy.

In 2016, Xiomara moved to Ocala, where she became certified as a social worker. Xiomara was employed for two years at The Children’s Home Society and Healthy Families. She worked and studied simultaneously, resulting in her earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and Family Counseling.


Ashley Hempstead


Ashley is originally from Connecticut. She has previously worked as an elementary school paraprofessional and in a preschool before starting at OPA. Ashley enjoys her position at OPA and loves to dress up as our school mascot.


nicole r

Nicole Rivera


Nicole is originally from Chicago, Illinois and relocated to Ocala in 2004. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Needs. Prior to coming to OPA in 2017, Nicole's experience included teaching children from birth to high school in Marion County Public Schools and through her church ministry. She loves working with children of all ages.


Michael Skidmore


Michael grew up and lived in northern New Jersey before moving to Florida in 2018. He attended Southern Vermont College where he received his Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts.  Michael started working as a substitute teacher while still in college and then went on to work as an ABA instructor and home therapist.  Michael has a passion for helping students learn and thrive in their own creative way in a comfortable learning environment.  He speaks fluent Spanish and uses that ability in the community as well as in the classroom.

Ocala Preparatory Academy is an academic program located inside 


7634 SW 60th Avenue
Ocala, Florida 34476

Any questions?

Call us: 352-509-4085