K12 Private Academy School Leaders
Your Student’s Dedicated Support Team
Get to know the academic leadership team at K12 Private Academy. Collectively, their impressive experience lays the foundation for a strong educational environment that accommodates various lifestyle and learning capabilities, and also supports each individual student in their personal growth.
A Welcome Letter from K12 Private Academy’s Head of School, Leslie A. Smith
I’m delighted to introduce you to K12 Private Academy—a fully accredited, U.S. diploma-granting, private online school for grades K–12. All around the world, we help students learn in the ways that are right for them, nurturing a joy for learning and a passion to pursue their interests.
The key is our tailored approach, which frees children to reach their personal potential. Our students are liberated from rigid schedules, classes that move too fast or too slow, bullying, overcrowded classrooms, teaching to the test, and many other factors that can stand in the way of success.
It all starts with a strong curriculum from Stride K12, an online education leader for over 20 years. The curriculum was developed by cognitive scientists and leading educators based on decades of research into how children learn. Every lesson comes alive with interactive content and hands-on materials that keep kids engaged.
We also surround you and your child with an amazing support team, including online private school teachers who have a true gift for inspiring young learners. Working with our academic leadership, guidance counselors, and other education specialists, they’ll be with your family every step of the way.
And you’ll reap the benefits of our energetic school community—an international network of friends who assist, encourage, and learn from each other through online student clubs, parent roundtables, and much more.
If you’re looking for a school that can adapt to your child’s needs and rekindle their joy of learning, I invite you to learn more about K12 Private Academy. Join us full time or even for a single course, and the rewards will be worth it—from the newfound flexibility and focus to those “a-HA!” moments that you get to see firsthand.
Academic Leadership Team
Leslie A. Smith | Head of School
Master of Science in Elementary Education (Sam Houston State University), MEd in School Administration and Supervision (University of Phoenix Online)
Leslie Smith has been an educator for more than 25 years, with experience both in the classroom and as a principal. She has extensive experience in special education, gifted education, and teacher training. She believes wholeheartedly in providing alternative means for students to achieve success.
Susan Hollingsworth | Deputy Head of School
Bachelor of Science in Education (University of Alaska), Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (Lesley University), Education Specialist Degree in Administration (Liberty University), Doctor of Education in Administration (Liberty University)
Dr. Susan Hollingsworth has over 20 years of experience in the education field. She began teaching K–6 in a traditional classroom, joining Stride K12 in 2006 as an elementary teacher and lead teacher for Idaho Virtual Academy. In 2009, Dr. Hollingsworth joined K12 Private Academy as an elementary teacher. She quickly became the elementary school department chair in 2012 and then the manager of family and student support in 2016. Currently, Dr. Hollingsworth works with our amazing team to build the career readiness program as our deputy head of school. It’s her passion to provide students with an alternative path to education to find their personal success.
Carrie Freeman | Student Support Manager
Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (California State University, Fresno), K–8 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (National University, San Diego), Certification in Language Acquisition and Development (National University, San Diego)
Carrie Freeman has been with Stride K12 for over 13 years. After nine years of teaching elementary school with San Diego public and private schools, Freeman joined Idaho Virtual Academy team as a K–8 teacher focusing on middle school reading and writing. She made the leap to K12 Private Academy (then K12 International Academy) in 2007 and found her home. She began as a K–5 teacher supporting our second graders. She later moved into an academic liaison role managing our K–8 international and domestic partner school students. From there, Freeman’s work moved her to K12’s Private Operations team, where she supervised the student experience coordinators team. Currently, she supports our academic success coaches as the student support manager. She is passionate about the option virtual education provides students and is proud to be a part of such a wonderful school as K12 Private Academy
Tiffany Gleason | K–5 Department Chair
Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education (University of Florida), Master of Education in Elementary Education (University of Florida)
Tiffany Gleason is a certified K–6 and ESOL endorsed teacher with over 18 years of experience in education. She began her teaching career in 2003 in Tampa, Florida, and taught in Hillsborough County Schools for 11 years. She also spent six years as a district trainer, primarily working with new teachers to build best teaching practices. She was recognized as the Hillsborough County Social Studies Teacher of the Year in 2013. Gleason joined K12 Private Academy (then K12 International Academy) in 2013 as a lower school teacher and then lead teacher. In 2019, she became our elementary school department chair. She enjoys working with families from all over the world and helping to meet the needs of our diverse learners.
Kathy Houlihan | Mathematics and Science Department Chair
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (Clarkson University), Master of Business Administration (University of Scranton), Master of Education in Educational Leadership (Kaplan University)
Kathy Houlihan has more than 12 years of experience in mathematics education. This includes 11 years in online learning, where she taught everything from seventh grade math to high school AP® calculus, acting as both an instructor and department chair. During her academic career, Houlihan has also helped start up new online schools and managed the operations of multiple online schools. Prior to her academic career, she worked as an engineer and operations manager for a multinational consumer goods company. She also owned her own tutoring business, where she tutored students in math, chemistry, and SAT/ACT preparation.
Jessica Sullivan | English and History Department Chair
Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies and Secondary Education (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction (Western Governors University)
Jessica Sullivan has been an educator for 13 years, 10 of those in a virtual setting. She joined K12 Private Academy in 2012 as a history teacher and has since become involved in other roles including history content lead, community engagement coordinator, and advanced placement coordinator. She was also involved in developing K12 Private Academy’s mentor program to benefit veteran and new teachers within the school. She is passionate about teacher mentoring and providing individualized educational opportunities to students around the world.
Jennifer Lambert | World Languages and Electives Department Chair
Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Spanish (Clark University), Master of Arts in Education (Piedmont College), Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE, Spain)
Jennifer Lambert is a certified elementary and high school Spanish teacher with K12 Private Academy who joined our school in 2012. She has lived and studied in Spain, where she earned the DELE, which is the official accreditation of the degree of fluency of the Spanish language, issued and recognized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain. Lambert has over 16 years of education experience, 10 of which have been in virtual education. Her vast online education experience includes teaching, teacher training, curriculum development, and school operations.
If you’re ready to learn more about K12 Private Academy and how we’re transforming the way students learn, explore how academics work at our school. We also welcome your phone call or email if you have any questions about our curriculum or enrollment information..