Our Mentors

Using a developed curriculum, the Young Journalists Mentors help grow writers, and through their writing help grow readers. It emphasizes reading to support writing and writing to support reading. Reading, be it through research or absorbing other journalist’s writings, and each other’s writings, supports further writing. The Program meets 29 of the Language Arts Florida Standards (LAFS) for grade five. Below you will find all our mentors and a little bit about them!

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Cassandra Neal

Cassandra has been a mentor with The Young Journalist at Rosewood Magnet Elementary School since 2020. Cassandra studied Journalism at Indian River State College, dividing her time balancing motherhood and mentoring. She has enjoyed mentoring children for the past 12 years. She has also self- published an online children’s book.
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Nesha Stanton

As a photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, Nesha Stanton published more than 150 articles and 500 photos over the course of her career. During her active-duty service, she worked in the U.S., Eastern Africa, and Europe as a classroom instructor, editor, community relations manager, training administrator, and studio photography operations supervisor. Nesha holds her of Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and has volunteered with several children’s programs over the past decade. She is excited to share her love for storytelling and hopes to ignite the students’ interests through their writing. Outside of the classroom, Nesha enjoys reading, playing softball, and traveling with her family.
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Cindy Schwarz

Cindy started researching and compiling the ‘Look Back in Time’ column for Press-Journal in 2007. The adventure of writing a weekly, local history column led to a degree in English and Journalism – Florida Atlantic University, Cum Laude, Sigma Tau Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, Poynter Institute – which led to freelance feature writing. Many of Cindy’s stories tell the hands-on efforts local people do to advance community.
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Arianna Schuck

Arianna is in her last year of her undergraduate degree at Florida Institute of Technology. She is majoring in Multiplatform Journalism with a minor in Biology and is the Editor-in-Chief of the university’s student newspaper, The Crimson, with full responsibility for the paper. She has a strong interest in scientific and investigative journalism.
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Ashlee Kerr

Ashlee is currently a second-grade teacher at Fellsmere Elementary. Previously she was a third-grade teacher at South Elementary School in Okeechobee, FL. Ashlee has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana (GPA: 3.6), where she was on the Dean’s List, a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. Her leadership/volunteer experience includes being an Anti-Bias School Committee Member focused on creating an anti-biased environment for all.
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Thomas Hardy

B. S. Government, Nasson College. Publisher, Vero Communiqué. Software systems owner (now retired). Founder, The Young Journalist. Memberships: National Press Club, Columbia Journalism Review, Society of Professional Journalists, LIONS (Local Independent News Society) and Pulitzer Center K – 12. Children’s book author, “The Exclusive Life of Reba K. Williams, a Parakeet.”
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Sydney Rivera Leroux

Sydney was a 2020 Commonwealth Honors graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (GPA: 3.906) with a degree in Resource Economics: Environmental and Natural Resources. Sydney spent a semester studying at Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica learning sustainable development and Spanish. Bilingual, Sydney’s recent background includes a position as English Language and Cultural Assistant at the Community of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
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Sean Lowery

Sean Lowery joined The Young Journalist as a mentor for the 2022-2023 academic year. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he is currently a bilingual teacher with Elevate K-12. Elevate K-12 expands access to live education across the country, making sure that access to a certified teacher can be a reality for every student, no matter where they live or what their circumstance. Previously, for four years Sean taught ESL to children in China. ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers specialize in helping non-native speakers of all ages and levels learn the formal grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of spoken and written English, while giving them confidence in the common usage of the language in order to communicate clearly and comfortably with native English speakers.
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Julie Paez

Julie Paez joined The Young Journalist from Shorewood, Illinois, after relocating to Indian River County, where for four years she was Director of Trinity Christian Preschool. There she served as an educational leader, responsible for curriculum development. Julie began her teaching career in August 2010 as a PK4 teacher, at Trinity Christian Preschool, where she developed lesson plans, created activities, and established a fun, loving and structured learning environment. A graduate of Trinity Christian College, Julie has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, with a major in history and Minors in English and Communication Arts.