Magnolia Montessori is a public charter school, and we are looking for families to partner with who share our principles and attitudes about education.
Alyssia Totten spent fourteen years with Starbucks and is currently a commercial risk consultant at Lanier Upshaw, Inc. she is passionate about bringing proven process results with performance-based insurance and risk transfer tools to her clients. She has experienced first-hand the risk management decisions business leaders must make from the vantage point of global customer service-driven retail sales organizations. Her expertise is in LEAN processes, identifying strategic risks, and implementing change management strategies for maximum profitability. Alyssia is active in the community, having served as president of Rotary Club of Lakeland South and on the boards of directors for Imperial Symphony Orchestra and Magnolia Montessori Academy. She is a proud graduate of Leadership Polk Class XIII and Leadership Lakeland Class XXX. In 2016, Alyssia was honored with a City of Lakeland proclamation of “Alyssia Totten Day” for her leadership in fundraising and building community awareness in support of the Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing. Alyssia lives in Lakeland with her husband and two children.
Margarita Macon Merriweather works in the field of Compliance and Regulatory Law as an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance Officer at Citibank. Margarita has been a Lakeland resident since 1994 and is a proud graduate of George Jenkins High School. She furthered her education by obtaining her B.S. in Political Science from Florida State University, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Central Florida and her law degree from Charleston School of Law. Margarita has a passion for community service and returned home to Lakeland to serve her community. She actively supports several charities that focus on children’s health and welfare, as well as, serves as a mentor to young ladies interested in pursuing advanced degrees. Margarita and her husband, Nicholas, are the proud parents of their 3 year old son, Ethan.
Jimmy received his bachelors of science degree from the University of South Florida in General Business Administration. He is a claims adjuster for the Government Employees Insurance Company. In 2002 and 2003, Jimmy was named Florida’s Arbitrator of the Year by Arbitration Forums Incorporated. He and his wife Barbara are the proud parents of Alexandra and Addison, who are both MMA students and have been in a Montessori classroom since pre-kindergarten. Jimmy believes that the Montessori philosophy provides the rich environment that allows all children to achieve their full potential.
Doug Warrick is a retired CPA (Indiana) who endured 11 years plus years with the large public accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, in South Bend, IN after graduating from Manchester University in Math and Accounting. He moved on to head up corporate tax departments of generally public healthcare companies in Indianapolis, Harrisburg PA, Albuquerque, and Salt lake City. Retiring from his workaholic ways to Lakeland in 2016 with his wife Karen, to be near their two daughters’ families in Lakeland and south Florida. Historically involved in church finance committees, he also enjoys gardening, landscaping, and providing tax and investment advice. Two grandchildren (soon to be three) attend Magnolia and his wife is a reading tutor volunteer.
Kristi Gregory is a certified teacher and Principal and currently works as an Education Consultant. She has lived in Lakeland for five years and prior to her move was a teacher and Principal in Kentucky. Currently, she serves many education roles as a consultant such as teaching college level education classes, supervising student teachers, consulting with administrators, and work focused around proven strategies to improve student achievement in schools. She has a BA in Elementary Education and an MA is School Administration from the University of Kentucky. She actively advocates improved education for low income students and students struggling to meet high achievement goals. Kristi and her husband Jarett live in Lakeland with their two boys. They enjoy Disney, traveling, and watching University of Kentucky basketball.
Katie Decker is a born and raised Lakelander. She graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Business Adminstration. Katie has formally been serving in the Human Resources field since 2011 but her passion for helping people is lifelong. These days she is the HR Manager at Oakley Transportation Group in Lake Wales. They are the largest food-grade transportation company in the country. Katie has previously served as a board member for Pied Pipers Community Theatre – now Lakeland Community Theatre. She is currently serving as Public Relations & Social Media Chair for the board of Mid-Florida SHRM, Lakeland HR professional association. Katie has been married to the love of her life, Eric, for 15 years and they spend all their free time chasing their young toddler around.
Katie Decker is the Magnolia Montessori Academy staff liaison to the Board of Directors.
Eric Knaak is Owner and CFO at Orange Industrial Services located in Bartow Florida. OIS is Florida’s premier industrial cleaning company with over 70 highly skilled technicians and boasts the most extensive equipment fleet housed in the state of Florida. Over his 19 year tenure he has worked in every department of the business. He currently manages and oversees the organization’s financials, employee benefits, risk management and strategies for controlled growth ensuring the company’s short and long-term success. Learning by way of direct, hands-on experience he has developed in to an effective and diversified business leader. His unique skill set lends itself to financial responsibility, conservation and loss prevention. Eric, born in New York, has lived in Central Florida since he was a small child. He currently lives in Bartow with his wife, Cypress, and two young sons whom attend Magnolia Montessori Academy. He enjoys giving back to his community through acts of service. His free time is filled with his family, traveling, riding bikes, swimming, and exploring our beautiful state.
Parent Liaison to the Board of Directors
Tiffany is a parent of two children at MMA and is the parent liaison to Magnolia Montessori Academy’s Board of Directors.