We are privileged to introduce Anika Robinson, a distinguished leader at the helm of ASA Now, Jacob's Mission Community Center, and Shade Tree Academy. Anika's remarkable journey through the realms of education and child advocacy serves as an unwavering source of inspiration.
In 2001, Anika graduated from Mesa Community College with an Associate Degree in Elementary Education, marking the inception of her quest for excellence. Her commitment to achieving the highest standards led her to Ottawa University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Degree in 2005. Her professional path then encompassed roles at Poston Junior High and later in the corporate sphere as an assistant to the vice president of a multi-billion dollar company.
Anika's dedication to children and families transcended the boundaries of education, as she became a licensed foster parent in Arizona over 16 years ago. With four biological adult children and four adopted children, her home earned accreditation as a therapeutic and medically fragile sanctuary. She provided compassionate care to children facing diverse challenges, including DDD, ALTCS, Reactive Attachment Disorder, acute behavioral issues, and various other diagnoses.
In 2016, her dedication culminated in the authorship, lobbying, and successful passage of 24 laws know as Jacob's Law that streamlined access to behavioral health care for Arizona's foster children and families, fostering a more robust support system for those in need. Her unwavering commitment to serving the most vulnerable members of our society continued to evolve, leading her to a significant role as the former Foster Care Community Liaison for AHCCCS, Arizona's Medicaid program.
As a distinguished advocate, Anika's influence reverberated powerfully. Anika's leadership extends across pivotal committees, including the Citizens Review Panel, the Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Care Oversight Workgroup through Mercy Care, and the Quality Caregiving Initiative Workgroup at AHCCCS. In 2018, she played a crucial role in the sponsorship, support, and passage of SB 1380, a groundbreaking bill advocating for vital records to be furnished to youth in foster care prior to their transition to independence.
In 2023, Anika's advocacy prowess was further showcased as she identified a sponsor, took the lead in authoring, and successfully saw through the passage of HB2651. This landmark legislation introduced mandates for DCS and law enforcement agencies to collaboratively locate missing children in foster care, reinforcing the commitment to their safety and well-being.
Anika's indomitable dedication to the community and its inhabitants is palpable in every facet of her work. Fueled by collaborations with equally passionate and resolute individuals, Anika remains steadfast in her commitment to transforming lives and effecting miracles through her tireless endeavors.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Estefana Johnson has dedicated her career to making a positive impact in the behavioral health field. Her journey began in 2001, working with at-risk youth in residential treatment facilities as a Behavioral Health Technician. Since then, Estefana's passion for helping others has driven her to excel in various roles, including providing therapy for juveniles with sexual behavior problems and teaching in Japan for two years.
With expertise in handling a wide range of mental health issues, including PTSD, sexual trauma, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, addictions, and life transitions, Estefana's dedication to her clients' well-being shines through in every interaction.
Estefana is not only a Certified Master Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) clinician, a Co-Developer of Critical Memory Integration (CMI) at ARISE Alliance, but she also provides consultation and training for mental health professionals, foster/adoptive parents, and behavioral health organizations. Her passion for foster and adoptive children goes beyond her professional life; she has served as lead volunteer, Board Member, and Clinical Director for ASA Now since 2016.
With a steadfast commitment to transforming the lives of children and families, Susan Mulhearn brings over 12 years of profound expertise in the fields of mental health and community engagement. Her journey is marked by remarkable accomplishments and an unwavering dedication that positions her as an exceptional asset to our school's administrative team.
Susan earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Phoenix in 2010 and an Associate Degree in Business from Western International University in 2007. Currently, she is diligently pursuing her "Manage by Leading" certification from Yavapai College. Notably, Susan is one of the visionary foster moms instrumental in the passage of "Jacob's Law," named after her adopted son Jacob, who battled the lasting effects of trauma. This landmark legislation addressed the pressing need for timely behavioral health services in Arizona, benefiting countless children and youth.
A co-founder and senior vice president of ASA Now and Jacob's Mission Community Center, Susan's contributions span program development, project management, fundraising, outreach, and impactful public speaking engagements.
Her wealth of knowledge and expertise significantly enrich our school community. Susan's passion for creating positive impacts in children's lives shines through her extensive work with children with special needs and at-risk teens. Her professional background encompasses four years in high-needs case management and clinical care coordination, two years as an elementary school teacher, four years as a DDD respite and Habilitation provider, four years as Direct Care Staff at a Residential Treatment Facility, and a year as an assistant manager of a group home for children with developmental disabilities.
As a former foster parent and an adoptive parent of five biological siblings, Susan possesses an intimate understanding of family dynamics. With three biological children and five stepchildren, eleven of whom are now adults living independently, she brings a profound comprehension of familial and educational challenges.
Susan's unique blend of professional acumen and personal insight equips her with a profound understanding of the diverse challenges students may face. This understanding empowers her to foster a nurturing and supportive environment for each child. In her role as our school director, Susan is resolute in her commitment to cultivating an atmosphere where students can excel academically, emotionally, and socially.
Guided by unwavering dedication and a compassionate approach, Susan stands as an exemplary leader within our school community. Her presence promises to inspire growth and excellence in every facet of our students' lives.
Leah Martineau brings a wealth of experience and passion to her role as Assistant Director at Shade Tree Academy. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Education from Arizona State University, Leah's dedication to empowering young minds shines through in every endeavor.
With a solid background in education, Leah has spent the past seven years making a difference as both an elementary and high school teacher. Her commitment to fostering a supportive and enriching learning environment has left a lasting impact on countless students.
Not only a skilled educator, Leah has also taken on leadership positions throughout her life. Currently, she serves in the esteemed Queen Creek Town Council, where she continues to contribute to the growth and betterment of her community. As she embarks on her second academic school year with Shade Tree Academy, Leah's expertise and passion will undoubtedly elevate our school's commitment to excellence.
We are thrilled to have Lucy Ringler as a valued academic teacher at Shade Tree Academy. Graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from Arizona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Education, Lucy's commitment to academic excellence and her passion for teaching are truly remarkable.
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Lucy's bilingual skills enrich the learning experience for her students, fostering a diverse and inclusive classroom environment. With nine years of experience working with students from K to 9th grade, Lucy's expertise and dedication have made a significant impact on countless young minds.
As she embarks on her second academic school year at Shade Tree Academy, Lucy's enthusiasm and love for teaching continue to shine bright. We are privileged to have her as part of our school community, guiding our students towards a bright and successful future.
We are delighted to welcome Pam Royster to our team as a Trauma Therapist. Pam is an outstanding MSW, LMSW Therapist at LUCA Counseling & Wellness Center, bringing over 18 years of remarkable experience in the field of social work. Throughout her illustrious career, Pam has worked passionately with children, adolescents, adults, and families, providing her expertise and guidance. For the past 5 years, she has focused her talents on trauma therapy for children and teens, making a profound impact on their healing journey. Pam's dedication to her craft shines through in her extensive training and expertise in various therapeutic modalities, including TF-CBT, CBT, DBT, EMDR, and parenting programs like Triple P. Her commitment to staying abreast of the latest techniques ensures that she delivers the most effective and compassionate care to her clients. At Shade Tree Academy, Pam's presence as our Trauma Therapist strengthens our commitment to creating a nurturing and supportive environment for all students.
With over 20 years of dedicated experience in social service and behavioral health, Crystal brings a wealth of expertise to Shade Tree Academy. Her career has been marked by supporting teenagers, adults, and families, making a positive impact on their well-being and empowerment. Crystal's diverse background as a special education teacher and vocational counselor has equipped her with a deep understanding of individuals with various physical and mental health disabilities and diagnoses. Having personally experienced childhood and adolescent trauma, she possesses a unique perspective on its impact on emotional regulation, relationships, attachment, and overall well-being. Crystal is driven by a firm belief in the power of tailored treatment approaches and the attainability of healing. As a counselor, Crystal is dedicated to providing empathetic support and meaningful conversations to address behaviors and emotions that may hinder daily functioning and social interactions.
In addition to our dedicated team, Shade Tree Academy also values partnerships with prestigious universities that offer Master of Social Work programs. These collaborations enable us to provide valuable field placements and internships to students aspiring to serve children and equip them with the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in school and life. As we embark on the new academic school year, we warmly welcome Clint Probst back to Shade Tree Academy. Clint, a talented and passionate social work student, is completing his field placement requirement as part of the Master of Social Work program at Grand Canyon University. His commitment to making a positive impact on our students' lives aligns perfectly with our school's mission.
We are excited to see Clint's growth and dedication as he completes his program and graduates in September 2023. Together with our exceptional team and aspiring social work students, we continue to build a nurturing and empowering environment for our students to succeed and thrive at Shade Tree Academy.
We are delighted to welcome Shawn Rodrigues for her second year at Shade Tree Academy. As our esteemed Equine Assisted Therapist, Shawn brings a wealth of expertise and passion to our school community.
With a Master of Counseling degree and being a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor, Shawn's credentials speak volumes about her dedication to providing high-quality therapeutic care.
Shawn's specialization in Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, empowerment, self-esteem, mindfulness, and self-awareness further enhances her ability to connect with our students.
Each week during fall and spring, our students experience the joy of equine assisted psychotherapy as Shawn brings the healing presence of horses to our equine center. This unique assisted therapy approach fosters emotional growth and self-awareness, as students forge meaningful connections with these majestic animals.
At Shade Tree Academy, we believe in embracing holistic approaches to empower our students. Shawn's expertise in equine assisted therapy creates a safe and nurturing environment for our students to explore their emotions and build essential life skills.
We are thrilled to have Danica Milan, our licensed associate counselor, leading our Equine Assisted Psychotherapy program for her second year at Shade Tree Academy. Horses are truly remarkable healing animals, offering an extraordinary level of emotional support that can bring about positive transformation in individuals with ease.
In this unique therapy approach, students engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, and leading a horse, all under the careful supervision of Danica. These interactions with the gentle and intuitive horses create a safe and nurturing space for our students to explore their emotions and embark on a journey of personal growth.
The goals of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy at Shade Tree Academy are focused on helping our students develop essential life skills, including emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility. As they form meaningful connections with these magnificent animals, students experience a profound sense of empowerment and self-discovery.
Join us in embracing the healing power of equine-assisted therapy at Shade Tree Academy. Together with Danica Milan, we are committed to fostering emotional well-being and personal development in our students, providing them with valuable tools for a brighter and more fulfilling future.