CONTACT: 239-427-1776

Meet the Staff

Who Teaches Is Just As Important As What They Teach

Chief Executive Officer

Christoper Marker

Mr. Chris Marker brings over 30 years of experience in student success to The Freedom Institute. Notably, he is also a proud parent, having successfully homeschooled his son from K-12, who is now a thriving engineer in our local community.

His journey from farm country to becoming a respected figure in education is a testament to his strong work ethic and determination. Starting with a Bachelor’s degree at Miami University, he embarked on a career in social service and education. His diverse roles, from behavior therapist to principal, have enriched his understanding of student needs. His educational achievements, including a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Doctoral work in Educational Administration, further validate his expertise. His certifications are as a Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) and National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) certified, as well as as a Florida-certified school principal and school leader.

Mr. Marker empowers students, helping them achieve their educational goals, build a fulfilling career, and achieve economic freedom through learning.


Dr. Nathan Poteet

Dr. Nathan Poteet brings over 12 years of experience as a teacher and administrator with K-12 students in Collier County. As an administrator, he has helped two schools increase student achievement. As a result, both schools went from a school grade of a “C” to an “A” (Highlands Elementary and Lake Trafford Elementary).

Dr. Poteet earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. He is also certified in Educational Leadership K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, Elementary Education K-6, and Physical Education K-12.

Dr. Poteet’s educational philosophy is rooted in the belief that every student deserves a tailored education that aligns with their unique needs and interests. He firmly advocates for this approach, seeing it as a crucial step towards equipping students with the tools they need for lifelong success and financial independence.

Senior Success Coach

Christy Vaill

Mrs. Christy Vaill has worked in Education for the last 15 years in various roles, including classroom teacher, resource teacher, media specialist, math & science instructional coach, and administrator.

Mrs. Vaill has a master’s in Education from the University of Florida, focusing on Interdisciplinary Studies. After teaching for ten years, she obtained a second master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University. Mrs. Vaill is certified in Educational Leadership K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, Educational Media Specialist PK-12, and Elementary Education K-6, and holds endorsements for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Reading.

She prides herself on being a lifelong learner and hopes to instill that in her students as well. She believes that building authentic, positive relationships with students, families, colleagues, community members, and educational stakeholders is the foundation for a child’s success.

Success Coach

Michelle Garafola

Ms. Michelle Garafola is a Collier native and has worked for Collier County public schools for the last 11 years in various roles, including classroom teacher, resource teacher, math coach, and administrator. Ms. Garafola is committed to building relationships with staff and students to grow their capacity. Through these relationships, she supported the movement of failing schools to an ‘A’ grade from the state.

Ms. Garafola has her master’s in Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is certified in Educational Leadership K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, and Elementary Education K-6 and holds her ESOL endorsement.

Ms. Garafola’s passion is igniting students’ potential. She’s eager to build strong family connections at Freedom and foster a community where everyone thrives.

Marketing Director

Lauren Grady

Lauren Grady, a versatile artist, mentor, and mom, stands out in various roles. Lauren’s ability to weave historical narratives into her photography is paralleled by her skill in storytelling for The Freedom Institute’s brand, making complex ideas accessible and engaging.

Her dedication to mentorship has dramatically impacted the lives of many students, inspiring them to harness their inner creativity. Lauren’s ability to connect with people is well-recognized, enhancing her role as a Marketing Director. She is a proud mom to a gifted 13-year-old. Lauren’s passion for her roles, from art to mentorship, resonates with people from all walks of life.

Success Coach

Nancy Garousi

Mrs. Garousi has been an educator for over 35 years. Her experience includes teaching students with various exceptionalities in multiple grade levels within all content areas. Throughout this time, Mrs. Garousi has written numerous grants to support projects she has created that integrate real-life skills with classroom subject matter. These projects include running an organic garden and farmers market, competing in the Cupcake Wars, and participating in a fitness and nutrition program.


Mrs. Garousi holds a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master in Educational Leadership, and a Principal and Supervisor certificate. In addition, Mrs. Garousi is endorsed in K-12 Reading, Gifted Education, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. She is Cambridge-trained and National Board certified. In March of 2016, Mrs. Garousi received Collier County’s Golden Apple Award.


Mrs. Garousi believes a meaningful educational experience is built upon integrating

subject matter and real-life skills. She strives to make learning engaging and relevant by including various modalities that foster critical thinking. Her teaching philosophy embodies the idea that progress is made when one factors in academic ability and each student’s social and emotional well-being.

Success Coach

Sandra Rosabella-Santos

Mrs. Sandra Rosabella-Santos brings over 12 years of experience in education, serving in diverse roles such as classroom teacher, resource teacher, and math coach for Collier County Public Schools. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Florida Gulf Coast University and is certified in Secondary Math Education 6-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, and Elementary Education K-6. Additionally, she holds an endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).


Mrs. Rosabella-Santos firmly believes in the potential of every student and sets high

expectations for their learning. She is enthusiastic about guiding each student to achieve their maximum potential and is dedicated to assisting them in crafting and pursuing their future goal.

Office Manager

Kim Furar

Mrs. Kim Furar brings over ten years of experience in education, holding different positions in Pittsburgh. Pa and here in Collier County.  She also has several years of experience in office administration, having lived in Pittsburgh, PA.


Kim and her family relocated from Pittsburgh, PA, in 2019 to fulfill their lifelong dream of living in Florida. She is enjoying her role as Office Manager at The Freedom Institute. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach and spending time with family and friends.

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