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Board Member's Profile

Board Member’s Profile

Dr. Gifty Chung Director, Forest Trail Academy

Dr. Chung is originally from Ghana, West Africa. She comes from a family background of educators. Her family truly believes in the proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. Dr. Chung’s family has had a tremendous educational impact in her village back home. Struggling in the American education system herself, she vowed to continue her passion of educating all students no matter their environmental situations.

She believes that appropriate education is one thing in which everyone should have equal access.

Alternative education such as online schools has become the solution for numerous people in various situations. Being the director and a board member of Forest Trail Academy has been a dream come true. Dr. Chung received her BA in Sociology and a minor in general education from the University of Florida (Go Gators). She received a Masters in Secondary Education with licensure in Spanish, and Principalship certification from the University of Akron. She later earned her doctorate degree in Education/Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Dr. Chung’s Philosophy of Education

Ms. Heather Hillesheim

Teacher & Curriculum Lead, Forest Trail Academy

Heather Hillesheim received a Bachelor’s of Science in Textile Chemistry from North Carolina State University in 2003. In 2005 she began teaching high school science in Douglasville, GA, after pursuing her teaching certificate via alternative methods. Heather originally chose to teach because of her love for chemistry, but quickly realized she had a passion for educating high school students.

For five years she taught at the same school, teaching a variety of sciences including chemistry, physical science, forensics, and AP Physics. During that time she also began to work with the high school youth group at her local church.

The birth of her daughter and a move to Tennessee in 2010 led Heather to step back from full time teaching. In 2010-2011 Heather wrote and had published two supplemental textbooks from the Physics in Action series; Sound and Light, and Electricity and Magnetism. Also in 2011 Heather began teaching for Forest Trail Academy (FTA). Here at FTA Heather teaches several high school science courses, leads curriculum development for science courses, and runs the National Honor Society. FTA allows Heather to continue to have an impact on the lives of students, while still allowing her to rear her daughter through these early years. She continues to be fascinated by her students’ academic success as they work rigorously at FTA to pursue their future endeavors.

Dr. Vanessa Lee

Executive Director, JC Christian Counseling

Dr. Vanessa Lee is the executive director of JC Christian Counseling, a privately owned counseling company located in Lancaster Pennsylvania who provides online counseling and in-office counseling services. Dr. Lee holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Christian Counseling from Newburgh Theological Seminary. She attained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Akron.

Dr. Vanessa Lee has a plethora of experience in various components of counseling with individuals, adolescents, couples, and families from various types of cultures, racial ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds for over 10 years. She has worked in a variety of settings from homes, schools, nursing homes and hospitals, assisting individuals from all walks of life and circumstances.She is also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and the Pennsylvania Counseling Association.

Rachael Johnson

Teacher, Forest Trail Academy

Rachael Johnson joined Forest Trail Academy in April 2008 as a secondary math teacher. In addition to teaching, Rachael has written secondary math courses for Forest Trail Academy and acts as Curriculum Developer for mathematics and foreign language courses. She also serves as Chair of the Technology Committee and is a member of the Curriculum and Accreditation Committees.

Rachael completed her undergraduate degree at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. There she majored in Mathematics – Secondary Education Emphasis and minored in Psychology. Rachael chose to complete her student teaching at Gunnison Valley School, the school district’s alternative high school. This experience sparked her interest in alternative education and her passion for working in a “nontraditional” classroom. Rachael went on to teach Algebra 1 and Geometry at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, Colorado. Here, she was able to share her experiences in alternative education as a member of the school’s Alternative Planning Committee, responsible for designing and implementing the district’s alternative education program.

After completing her Master of Education in Information Science & Learning Technologies, Educational Technology Emphasis online via the University of Missouri, Rachael developed an interest in online education. This lead her to her current position with Forest Trail Academy.

Ms. LaLisa Anthony

Director, Student Athlete Support Services

Building Lives Through Sport Network Managing Consultant

NFL HSPD National 7 on 7 Regional Director

LaLisa Anthony is a native of Canton, Ohio and in her sixth year as a Regional Director with the NFL’s High School/Junior Player Development Program managing program sites in seven NFL markets – Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, and Tennessee Titans.

Her passion is to empower people, especially young people, to maintain control of their lives and to determine their destinies. One of her favorite teaching points is, “If you breathe this life, you should choose to live it.”

LaLisa’s current career began at the completion of her Bachelor’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. There she majored in Communication Sciences and minored in psychology and chemistry. She has worked in the non-profit sector with United Way as a Campaign Associate and the YMCA as a youth Program Director designing and implementing programs for middle school-age youth. She also served as the first and only woman president of the Canton Midget Football League, Inc. for five years. In May 2007, LaLisa graduated with her Master’s of Science in Social Administration with a concentration in Management/Community Development from the Mandel School of Applied Social Science, also at Case.In 2007, LaLisa completed seven years of service to the National Football Foundation’s positive youth development through sport program, Play It Smart. She is the only individual associated with program that has been in the role of parent, Academic Coach/Counselor, and Regional Coordinator supervising and developing Academic Coaches/Counselors in the Midwest, United States. During her four years as an Academic Coach/Counselor, she graduated 100 student-athletes with 88 continuing on to college and 65 of those played football. The list of student athletes under her tutelage includes: Donte Whitner (Buffalo Bills), Ted Ginn, Jr. (Miami Dolphins, traded to San Francisco 49ers) and Antonio Pittman (formerly, New Orleans Saints, traded to St. Louis Rams). She also mentored Troy Smith (Baltimore Ravens, traded to San Francisco 49ers) and Chris “Beanie” Wells (Arizona Cardinals).

LaLisa is also the Managing Consultant for the Building Lives Through Sport Network which offers initiatives and resources to developing nations to implement organized, competitive youth tackle and flag football programs. Current member nations in the Network are the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Building Lives Through Sport Network also consults with domestic based organizations in providing consultation toward enhancing and supporting their initiatives and program extensions to service K-12 grade student-athletes.

Forest Trail Academy Accreditation and Memberships
What Student say
Forest Trail Academy is the BEST school ever, the staff is amazing!! I recently graduated from Forest Trail Academy after going there for 2 years. I went to public school…
Demi Arthur
FTA was a great alternative option for me so far as high school went. i transferred out during my junior year after having a rough time in public high school…
Sarah Kosar
Katie Bowcutt wins title ex-aequo, PKRA Jr World Champion, 2013Freestyle Kiteboarding.Thanks for your support, Forest Trail Academy…
Katie Bowcutt
Thank you Forest Trail Academy for helping my student excel! Placing my high school freshman in your program was the best choice! He works through the program at his pace…
Allison H.
FTA has been a blessing to me!! I didn’t fit in at my old school, i had trouble learning in such a disruptive classroom which meant my grades falling, coming…
Yasmen Wass
Hello my name is Brittany Wooten. I graduated from forest trail academy in 2009. I decided to choose fta because I wanted to accelerate my high school education. Fta was …
Brittany Wooten
FTA gave me HOPE. I don’t have the pressures of exams and trying to keep up with the rest of the class. I get to go over the work as…
Joshua Lawrence
Forest Trail Academy has been a blessing to me. I compete in the sport of rodeo across many states, and it takes time and dedication to train and condition both …
Audrey Barnett
The last two years of high school couldn’t be described in one word. Forest Trail Academy is definitely a school that looks for excellence in their students, and endorses rigorous …
Ben Lively
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