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Meet our wonderful team at The Sands Academy!

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Mrs. Lauren Sands, M.Ed.

Founder of The Sands Academy

Lauren graduated magna cum laude at Ashford University, receiving her Bachelor’s of Arts in English with a minor in Political Science and Government. She continued to study at Ashford, receiving her Master’s Degree in Education, specializing in reading literacy and instruction.

Lauren has over 10 years’ experience teaching different populations, including children with neurological differences, autism spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, developmental delays, and ESOL learners. She also has experience teaching in behavioral health settings and foster settings. She is dedicated to making life-long learners by cultivating a love of learning with her students.

Her goal is to create an inclusive environment where all kids are welcome to learn!



Mrs. Sara Maitland

After-School Tutor

Sara attended Daytona State College where she received her Associate of Arts degree, making the Dean’s List, and then moved on to The University of South Florida where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American and British Literature. 


She has over 10 years’ experience teaching high school English and Advanced Placement classes in Volusia County. She works with students of all learning levels and populations, including low income students, students on the autism spectrum, students with ADD/ADHD, students with behavioral issues and/or developmental delays, gifted students, and ESOL students. She is passionate about teaching students at their level to increase their literacy and writing skills and instilling a lifelong love for reading and learning.

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Mrs. Iris Lancaster

Homeschool Tutor

Iris graduated from The Crown College with a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education. She also earned a certificate in Phonetic Reading Instruction. Her education experience began as an elementary and secondary music teacher in South Florida. She went on to homeschool her own children for six years. During that time, Iris taught music, physical education, history, and literature in a homeschool co-op setting. After living in other states over the last decade, Iris has recently moved back to Florida and is eager to serve our community with The Sands Academy. 


Mr. Jonathan Meeson

Online Campus/ Minecraft Educator

Jonathan graduated in 2000 from Hull University in the U.K. in Business management. He has 15 years, and counting, of experience teaching. He has taught all over the world, including recently working with refugee children from Ukraine. Jonathan has also provided in-home education services on top of his online and B&M setting. 


He offers classes in Social-Emotional Regulation, Social Skills, English, ESOL, Math, and SAT/ACT prep courses. He is certified and experienced to connect with students who are neurodivergent, including but not inclusive to ADHD/ADD, autism, anxiety, and dyslexia. 


Mr. Jonathan looks forward to seeing you in his relaxed and welcoming classroom! 


Mrs. Teresa Flanagan, M.Ed.

K-2 Teacher

Teresa attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, earning her Bachelor's of Social Work degree with a minor in Political Science. Upon moving to Ormond Beach, Teresa taught Multi-Exceptional Education and PreK for over 21 years, all in Volusia County. In 2006, she received her Master's of Education in Exceptional Student Education, summa cum laude, from the University of Central Florida.

Teresa was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2008 at Tomoka Elementary and Teacher of the Year in 2000 at Boston Avenue School. She was also awarded the Volusia County’s Council for Exceptional Children ESE Teacher of the Year reward in 2010. 


Teresa's love of teaching and love of learning has included young children with developmental delays, autism spectrum disorder, speech and language delays, social/emotional delays and behavioral disorders. 

She is dedicated to teaching young children through experiential learning, sensory engagement and discovery with a focus on doing. Mrs. Flanagan is ready to meet you in her inclusive classroom here at The Sands Academy! 

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Ms. Khyla Rivera

Teacher's Aide

Khyla graduated from Deltona High School, summa cum laude, with her Child Development Associates (CDA) Credential, and her Cambridge Diploma. She is currently attending Daytona State College, finishing her AA and is planning to transfer to Stetson University. 


Khyla graduated from the Early Childhood Education Program, working hand-in-hand with Wolf Pup Preschool, during her four years of high school. She worked at Ladybird Academy for over a year and additionally works as a substitute teacher for Volusia County Schools. 

Khyla has a passion for helping children learn and is very excited to meet all the students at The Sands Academy! 


Dr. Tiffany Phelps, Ph.D.

Lead Science Teacher

Dr. Phelps is our Mad Scientist here at The Sands Academy. She loves all things science and magic! In her class, you will find kiddos exploring to find answers and relationships between our world and scientific principles. 


Dr. Phelps has a Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a minor in Chemistry, 2014, and Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology, 2015, both from the University of Florida. She has volunteered with Florida Fish and Wildlife moving nuisance and injured alligators, bears, bobcats, and more; volunteered with Big Cat Rescue feeding, medicating, and rehabbing big cats; and volunteered at many county and local animal shelters and rehabs cleaning, feeding, medicating, and training all sorts of animals.


She is excited to explore topics of science with her class, as they dig deeper into discovery and exploration.


Señora Sarah Sanchez-Leal

Lead Spanish Teacher

Señora Sarah Sanchez-Leal is our Lead Spanish Teacher here at The Sands Academy! She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Linguistics from Ashford University and is certified in: Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading (EC-6), Special Education (EC-12), Bilingual Education - Spanish (EC-12), and English as a Second Language (EC-12). 

We are excited to work with Señora Sarah and to see her inclusive virtual classroom grow bilingual students! Students can expect to have access to multisensory techniques and exciting media presentations, paired with the best teaching practices for all learners. 

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