The Leadership Team
Kenita Ricks, Ed.S
Director of Education
I am a native Virginian, as I am a graduate of Windsor High School and Norfolk State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. I relocated to the Northern Virginia area after working as a Preschool Teacher and Residential Counselor. The majority of my teaching and leadership experience was largely concentrated in our Nation’s Capital. It was there that I received a Master’s Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. With these degrees, came lots of opportunities to serve my community. I served as a Teacher and Case Manager for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. I also served as Dean of Students, Director of Programming, and most recently, Manager of Response to Intervention within D.C. Public Schools. Throughout each of my positions, I have always remained focused on my lifelong dream of giving a voice to the voiceless. I believe that it is our responsibility as educators to ensure all children, regardless of race, gender, or disability, are given every opportunity to be successful.
There is plenty of work to be done with our students here at Oyster Point Academy (OPA). I am so very excited to be given the opportunity to incorporate my education, leadership, and passion for children and their families here at OPA. I am looking forward to great things coming from Oyster Point, as we continue to implement our school wide goals, the three I's of increasing the quality of student enrollment at OPA, intensifying the community and parental involvement, and improving the school culture, climate, and behavior management systems at OPA.
Sarah Spyker, M.S. Ed
Special Education & Admissions Coordinator
I was born and raised in Hampton Roads. I graduated Old Dominion University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science; Psychology and Counseling. I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education K-12, a Special Education Teaching License, and a certification in Autism. As the Special Education, Intake & Admissions Coordinator for Oyster Point Academy (OPA); I provide IEP support and communication to our many school districts, families, and other agencies within the community who assist our students in their educational journey. I have served in several different capacities at OPA, including Mental Health Intern, Behavior Specialist, One-to-One Interventionist, Site Testing Coordinator, Special Education Teacher, and Special Education Coordinator.
Working in various areas allowed me to gain knowledge of our multiple facets including education, behavior management, counseling, and daily operations. Along with my Oyster Point Academy Family and First Home Care Team, I strive to provide the best services to students with special educational and behavioral needs. It has been in my experience that when a student’s needs are met and they are engaged in the learning process, the lessons learned are comprehended and retained. I am interested in learning and developing new educational strategies to employ within the school that will not only meet the diversified needs of our students, but also help our team grow. I am happy to be a part of the OPA family and am very excited to see what wonderful things are in store!
Derrick Riddick, B.A.
Behavior Management Coordinator
My affinity to help the youth was probably destined. Coming from a long lineage of educators, as far back as my great-grandfather, my path was laid out for me. After receiving my Bachelor’s in English from Norfolk State University, I began working at a residential treatment center. From there, I followed in my mother’s footsteps and began working as a Special Education teacher for almost ten years. I continued to influence and motivate students in need through an array of different professional avenues. My career has included working as a family advocate, children’s education advocate, Day Treatment services, GED instructor and program manager, and a juvenile detention worker. The one position that I am most proud of is that of a youth baseball coach for my sons.
I began working at Oyster Point Academy as a Classroom Intervention Specialist. After demonstrating the knowledge and ability to be successful in this position and taking a leadership role within in the school, I was promoted to the position of Behavior Management Coordinator. I am currently pursuing the completion of a Master’s Degree in Special Education in which I will gain further knowledge that can be used to guide and motivate our students here at Oyster Point Academy.
Kate Horn, MS ATR LMHP-R Resident in Counseling
Day Treatment Supervisor
I am the Day Treatment supervisor here at Oyster Point Academy. I attended Mercyhurst University, earning a Bachelor of Art in Art Therapy, with a minor in Psychology and Writing. I obtained a Master’s of Science in Art Therapy and Counseling from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. I am also a Registered Art Therapist and a current resident in counseling with the Virginia Board of Counseling. I have provided Day Treatment services since 2006, utilizing a variety of modalities to fit the needs of the individual within the program. This includes art therapy, play therapy, and cognitive behavioral interventions within individual, group, and family therapy and counseling. I have worked with children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of needs including domestic violence, medical needs, at-risk youth, community violence, special education, oppositional behaviors, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, (ADHD), autism, and other mental health needs. I also plan and implement the day treatment summer program, which is offered to children throughout the Tidewater area.
I have worked as an administrative professional for more than 25 years in several different industries. I have completed a number of American Management Association courses and have plans to pursue a degree in Administrative Support Technology with a Specialization in Communication Management.
I am the proud parent of two young men; one gifted, while the other required special education services. Having that experience made me truly understand and appreciate that not all children learn the same way and may need additional supports within an alternative setting. Once I started working at Oyster Point Academy, I realized working with children is my passion. I feel a special connection to our students and receive daily satisfaction supporting the teaching team at Oyster Point Academy, as they educate our students.
The Academic Team
Social Skills: Ms. Shanell & Ms. Ciara
There is no question that children with appropriate social skills have a significant advantage in life. They not only experience the rewards of positive relationships, but they also do better in school. Ms. Shanell and Ms. Ciara have years of experience working with students with disabilities, and although it may be challenging, the rewards of watching a student succeed is priceless.
In our Social Skills class our goal to increase understanding of social activities, social skills, and teach the benefits of social interaction. We identify personal strength, increase assertiveness and listening skills – all to learn how to compromise in order to get along with others. We currently have a “No Bullying” initiative that we use to teach students how to respect and treat each other with dignity.
Ms. Shanell and Ms. Ciara use a team approach in the classroom to help students with disabilities who demonstrate the need to learn appropriate social behaviors. With this methodology, students are likely to experience an increase in positive peer and teacher relationships, and academic participation and achievement.
History: Ms. Deanna & Mr. Ra’Shaad
Welcome to History!
I am the history teacher, Ms. Deanna, and I work closely with Mr. Ra'Shaad, the Classroom Intervention Specialist, to provide students with a fun and exciting exploration through history! We work as a team and encourage students to complete group projects, presentations and provide individual one to one support with their academic work. Our goal is to keep students focused and on task with fun and interactive lessons.
We like to present new material through guided group discussion and review the material on a daily basis to provide additional reinforcement. We believe that every student has something positive to contribute to the lesson and encourage students to express their knowledge and ideas. We enjoy learning through “play” by having the students practice and reenact those performances for the entire school. Students learn geography skills, their own Virginia history, United States history, and government.
Math: Ms. Lisa & Mr. Sean
Hi, I’m Ms. Lisa, the Mathematics teacher at OPA, and I’m Mr. Sean, the Classroom Intervention Specialist. Together we have more than 30 years of experience in teaching and providing support for youth with emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges, as well as several degrees in special education, education, counseling, and social work.
Our combined knowledge and expertise enables us to plan and implement high-quality instructional strategies that foster motivation, participation, and success. We truly enjoy working with our students and love helping them achieve to their highest potential, both academically and socially. In our classroom, our mission is to provide effective, enjoyable, and engaging instruction while maintaining structure to promote a safe, productive learning environment. We constantly adjust our strategies and approaches to meet the learning needs of individual students, and one-to-one and small-group assistance are always available. In addition, we include art and other creative activities to help students have fun and express themselves while learning. We believe all students are winners and strive daily to help them believe it too!
English: Ms. Melissa & Ms. Kim
Welcome future OPA Dolphins! We are excited to meet you! Once you enter the school we will gladly invite you into a world of wonder and education. Don’t hesitate to come to us for assistance, as we will ensure that your experience in English class will inspire your creativity and elevate your thinking. As it states above the door in our classroom, “Exit not the same way you entered. Leave enlightened.”
When you enter English/Language Arts, you will explore a variety of non-fiction and fiction selections including biographies, short stories, novels, drama and poetry. You will broaden your vocabulary and will enhance your understanding of literary terms. Opportunities will be provided for you to practice in order to increase your ability to analyze and interpret information from a variety of reading, listening and viewing selections. You will write essays based on SOL prompts and other selections and be introduced to the research process, as well.
As a team, we use the demonstrator style of teaching. This style retains the formal authority role while allowing teachers to demonstrate their expertise by showing students what they need to know. I incorporate a variety of formats including lectures, multimedia presentations, class activities and discussions into each lesson.
The Classroom Intervention Specialist (CIS) uses a facilitator-style to promote self-learning, to help students develop critical thinking skills and to retain knowledge that leads to self-actualization. When students have difficulty, we are available to move among the students, assist with answering questions and clarifying topics. This style helps and trains students to ask questions and help develop skills to find answers and solutions through exploration. It also provides more opportunities to receive assistance when needed.
Science: Ms. Ashley & Mr. Jeff
I’m Ms. Ashley and welcome to the wonderful world of Science! I am the Classroom Intervention Specialist that works alongside with Mr. Jeff. I received my Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Old Dominion University and my MPA from National University. I have worked with at risk youth for several years. I enjoy working with young people and empowering students to be the best they can be in all facets of their lives. Our Science class uses evidence based practices such as project based learning, KWL charts, and anchoring routines to teach our students. We cover a variety of topics ranging from the smallest atom to the largest animals that ever walked the earth and swam in the ocean. Electricity, light and sound waves, are student favorites, as we incorporate music. From biology to chemistry and oceanography, it is never a dull day in science.
Every Thursday is experiment day. It is a fun and interactive day that allows students to explore and apply what they have learned with hands-on activities. Students conduct research by completing current events and sharing them with the class on Fridays! We encourage our students to see the science all around them and in everything that they do.
Physical Education: Mr. Jimmie
My name is Mr. Jimmie and I am the Health and Physical Education teacher at Oyster Point Academy. I graduated from Concordia University Nebraska with my Bachelors in Education. Over my 28 year of experience working with at risk youths I furthered my education earning certifications as a Physical Education teacher, Pre- Employment Counselor, Gang Prevention Investigator, and a Mentor with the city of Hampton and Newport News Community Service Board (CSB). I value the importance of the mental and physical wellness of all students and incorporate “play” into every lesson. Oyster Point Academy’s Physical Education program is based upon the acquisition of knowledge and skills that are the foundation for engaging in physical activity. Our mission is to empower all students to sustain regular, lifelong physical activity as a foundation for a healthy, proactive and fulfilling life.
Oyster Point Academy’s Physical Education curriculum is a sequential educational program. It is based on physical activities undertaken in an active, caring, supportive and non threatening atmosphere in which every student is challenged and successful. We aim to provide every student with a wide variety of physical activities and challenges that will contribute to the development and maintenance of their physical, cognitive and effective well being. Ultimately students will be provided with the foundation for making informed decisions that will empower them to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Student Support Aids
I’m Ms. Angela! I am a Student Support Aid here at Oyster Point and I love working with children, as this is my passion! I am returning to school to pursue a degree in Mental Health field and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences. I have numerous years of experience within other UHS Facilities, but I am so very happy to now be working here at Oyster Point Academy!
Jacqueline D. McLaurin
I’m Ms. Jackie! I am the Medical Technician and Student Support Aid here at Oyster Point Academy! I have been working here for the last 12 years and I sincerely enjoy working here with our students. I find it very rewarding to give a little of myself to the students each day and see how they grow and mature throughout their time here with us.
Hi my name is Mr. Al! I enjoy working in the Mental Health field, as working with kids has always been an inspiration to me. I served in the military and after retiring I have found that I had a gift of working with children and adolescents. Working with youth provides me an opportunity to share my experiences and offer encouragement and guidance. I believe in order to grow mentally, one must be fed daily. This is a quote that I live by and I hope that, as I recite this to our students they can continue to be inspired, as they inspire me.