Our Staff

Undoubtedly, Lionheart’s greatest asset is its staff.  The school’s concentration and caliber of teachers and licensed therapy professionals is unmatched by any other Special Education program in the Southeast.

Suzanne Baker, M.A.

Suzanne graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and went on to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from GSU. She joins Lionheart as our Gardens Manager after working for over eight years in urban agriculture in the inner city of Atlanta to improve food security for impoverished residents. Using all organic methods, she is responsible for farm planning and maintenance, teaching gardening lessons, and serving as community liaison to introduce community members, organizations, and corporations to Lionheart Gardens. Suzanne feels truly blessed to be a part of the Lionheart team.

Kyle Bush

Kyle was born and raised in Georgia. He grew up playing baseball and loves sports. He volunteers at Annandale Village with young adult residents and has helped coach floor hockey there for three years. During the past two summers he was a counselor for Camp Happy Hearts. This is his second year on staff at Lionheart. Kyle enjoys being a teacher assistant and assisting with the After School programs.

Cherise Kelly, B.S., CCC-SLP

Cherise graduated from State University of New York – College at Geneseo with a Bachelors of Science in Communicative Disorders and Sciences and a Masters of Arts in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. She also maintains a Georgia State Licensure in Speech Language Pathology. Cherise began her career working in Buffalo, NY as a speech therapist teaming with occupational therapists, physical therapists, teachers and parents to provide individual instruction for developmentally disabled children. Since she has been in GA she has worked in the schools and services students independently through her private practice Speech Language Partners of GA. Cherise is excited to join the collaborative team of Lionheart.

Hannah King, B.S.

Hannah was a student athlete at the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family Science. She volunteered for 3 years at Extra Special People in Athens as well as UGA Miracle and other non-profit organizations. Following graduation, Hannah pursued a career as a Child Life Specialist helping children and families cope with hospitalization. She is excited to be back in Atlanta and to join The Lionheart School team as a teacher assistant in our high school classroom.

Abigail Mapes, B. Ed.

Abigail graduated from Lee University summa cum laude with a degree in Special Education: Mild to Moderate Disabilities, K to 12th grade. She holds her teacher licensure in Georgia and has had experience in multiple special education settings (K to 12th grade) in both Georgia and Tennessee. Abigail joined Lionheart in 2012 and is the lead teacher for Lionheart’s middle and high school students as well as assisting the Lionheart WORKS team as prevocational coordinator. She absolutely loves working with these young people and being a part of the Lionheart team!

Amanda Mazzei, B.S.

Amanda graduated from the University of North Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. In college, Amanda founded an organization in the Dahlonega, Ga area supporting children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. This is Amanda’s first year on staff as a Teacher Assistant at Lionheart. However, she started volunteering at Lionheart at an early age, which influenced her to be a peer facilitator in the MOID classes in high school, as well as coaching a cheerleading team for those with disabilities. She is very excited and thankful for the opportunity to be on staff this up coming year.

Tori Mauldin, M.Ed.

Tori graduated from the University of West Georgia with a degree in Early Childhood Education and is certified to teach Pre-K through 5th grade. Tori earned her Master’s degree from Piedmont College. Recently, Tori completed 30 hours of Orton Gillingham training, and absolutely loves incorporating the hands on and movement based techniques with the students she teaches. Prior to teaching at Lionheart, Tori taught Kindergarten in both public and private school in Cherokee county since 2002. Tori and her family moved to Fulton County 4 years ago and she is extremely excited to join the Lionheart team. She is looking forward to joining such a wonderful and caring staff and is eager to learn and grow lots alongside the staff and students at Lionheart. Tori will be a lead teacher in one of our elementary school classrooms.

Amanda Mecum, M.A.

Amanda has a Bachelor of Science degree in both Special and Elementary Education from Winona State University and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum & Instruction from St. Catherine’s University. For the past 18 years, she has been a special education teacher for K-12th grade students with a variety of special needs in the Dover-Eyota Public Schools in Eyota, Minnesota. After leading teams in developing an individualized education program for each student, she provided specialized instruction individually and in small groups using various instructional and research-based strategies. Amanda will be a lead teacher in one of our middle school classrooms.

Michelle O’Riordan, B.S.

Michelle graduated Loyola University in Chicago with a degree in special education and is a certified special education teacher. She taught in Chicago for 8 years.  Her experiences in Chicago include therapeutic settings, inclusion settings and a residential setting for adults with developmental delays. Prior to joining the Lionheart Team, Michelle spent the past three years as the lead teacher for class at a local preschool. On Sundays she enjoys mentoring students with special needs during Religious Education classes. Michelle is excited to be a part of the Lionheart team and looks forward to continuing to learn from the school’s dedicated staff.

Heather Pompilio, B.S.

Heather graduated from Valdosta State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has also received her gifted endorsement. Heather has participated in Orton Gillingham workshops and has extensive training in Early Literacy. She taught Pre-K, Kindergarten and 5th grades over the past 15 years.  Heather feels strongly that each child is unique and must be taught at their developmental level and that they are provided a safe, nurturing environment which promotes a broad spectrum of growth.  Heather is excited to be a part of the Lionheart team and looks forward to getting to know each child and staff member.

Victoria Potts, M.Ed.

Victoria joined Lionheart as our art teacher in 2013.  Victoria is certified to teach pre-K through 8th grade and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years.  She received her Masters of Educational Leadership from the University of Cincinnati.  She also holds a degree from Appalachian State University in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Clothing and Textiles.  In addition to her work at Lionheart, Victoria is a ceramic artist and a teen ceramics instructor at the Johns Creek Arts Center.

Shelly Solomonson, B.S.

Shelly possesses a passion for teaching and has worked in the field of special education for 21 years. She has focused her career on students with emotional, social and academic challenges. Shelly received her degree from UGA and is a certified Special Education Teacher. She has been affiliated with the Lionheart School for the past 15 years in different capacities, including lead teacher, substitute teacher, and job coach for the Lionheart Works program. Prior to working at Lionheart, Shelly taught elementary school students with behavioral challenges for the Atlanta Public School system. Shelly finds great joy in empowering students to be the best versions of themselves, supporting them in building meaningful relationships, and inspiring them to learn. Shelly is beyond excited to return to Lionheart full time as a Lead Teacher in one of our middle school classrooms.

Katya Spafford, M.S., OTR/L

Katya provides occupational therapy at Lionheart, runs our hippotherapy program as well as our Summer Farm Camp. She has a Bachelor’s in Animal Sciences with a focus on Equine Science from Auburn University.  She completed her Master of Health Science in Occupational Therapy (MHSOT) degree from the College of Allied Health Sciences at the Georgia Regents University in Augusta.  Katya has received her level II certification in Hippotherapy & is part of the American Hippotherapy Association. Her lifelong experience with autism gives Katya a deep understanding of what children need & how to help them be successful.

Jackie Tucci, B.S.

Jackie received her degree in physical therapy from California State University, Long Beach, and has been at Lionheart for several years as a classroom assistant in the younger classes.  Jackie has a passion for Floortime™, and has received a Basic DIR®/Floortime™ certificate of mastery for Stanley Greenspan’s model.  She also recently completed the regional year long intensive Floortime™ course.  Jackie has a daughter in our Lionheart WORKS program and has been immersed in the DIR® philosophy since 1997.  Prior to Lionheart, Jackie worked as a physical therapist for 20 years.  She is currently an assistant in one of our elementary classrooms.

Amber Turman, B.S.

Amber graduated from the University of West Georgia with a degree in Early Childhood Education and is certified to teach PreK-6th grade.  After graduating, Amber has taught for over 10 years in Fulton County Schools as a Kindergarten and Second grade teacher. She has a strong background in teaching early literacy, reading and math. Amber joined The Lionheart School in 2014 and is the lead teacher in Lionheart’s youngest classroom. She is passionate about her students;  meeting them wherever they may be.  Her focus in the classroom is to nurture the whole child, helping each student reach their full potential.