The Academy Staff
Ms. Peggy Brookins, NBCT is the director of EMIT and brings thirty-one years of teaching experience in high school mathematics to our Academy. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adult and Young Adolescent Mathematics. She also serves on the NBPTS Board of Directors and is the Chairman of the Audit Committee. She has taught every math course at Forest High School, ranging from Pre-Algebra through AP Statistics, served as a co-writer of the grant proposal for EMIT, and taught in the pre-academy pilot program during 1994-95. Mrs. Brookins won the Florida Education Association Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007. She is also a former FHS Teacher of the Year and has served on numerous committees and advisory councils at the local, county and state level. Peggy has served both as a presenter at the National High Schools That Work Conference and as a member of an external evaluation team for High Schools That Work. She contributes expertise in curriculum integration and classroom management skills, and has traveled with the EMIT team to Clay County conducting faculty in-service on academy concepts. Mrs. Brookins is a member of the Science and Mathematics Articulation Resource Team, and has earned certification in the ABACUS curriculum development tool and is also a National Thinking Math Trainer for the American Federation of Teachers’ Educational Research and Development (ER&D) Program. Mrs. Brookins is an instructor of Thinking Mathematics I, II & III and Foundations of Effective Teaching in Marion County’s Professional Development University, and she also coaches the Varsity Girl’s golf team. Mrs. Brookins piloted a Thinking Mathematics course for Middle School Teachers in Los Angeles, CA in November of 2006, which she co-authored. Mrs. Brookins also presented this course at the 2007 QuEST conference in July in Washington, DC. Peggy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, has twenty-one hours of graduate work, and is working toward a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Cambridge College in Boston.
Mrs. Bessie Harmon is a veteran teacher of Language Arts, with extensive training in brain-based learning, holistic scoring techniques, and writing instruction. She brings twenty-nine years of experience at the middle school and high school level. A member of the Forest High School staff for eighteen years, Mrs. Harmon has been with the Academy since its inception, teaching English Honors I - IV. Extracurricular activities included coaching the academic team and producing the FHS publication Uncaged. Her background includes training in the Florida Writing Project, publishing a kids’ newspaper, participating in numerous courses and workshops on Macintosh computer systems, and establishing a reading lab program. She has been a presenter at the National High Schools That Work Conference, and has traveled with the EMIT team to Clay County for two summers conducting faculty in-service on academy concepts. Mrs. Harmon holds a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
Mr. Michael Murray taught technology education for the past 25 years at the college, high school, and middle school levels. Various subjects taught drafting engineering, architectural, electronics, power mechanics, and computer repair. Served as the Technology Coordinator, TSA advisor, and girls softball coach. Mr. Murray received Teacher of the Month and teachers appreciation award. Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of West Florida. Mr. Murray is currently the Engineering Drafting Instructor for the Engineering & Manufacturing of Instructor of Technology at Forest High School.
Ms Ruth May is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Secondary Education with a major in secondary school mathematics. Post graduate and graduate work was done at Cleveland State University and Kent State University. She began her teaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State University teaching freshman math in the college of Arts and Sciences. She has had a varied teaching career teaching in Ohio, Texas, Illinois and Florida. Ms May has also had the opportunity to work in education for three years in the orient on the island of Okinawa and two year in Germany. Since relocating to Florida, She has taught high school in Vero Beach; moved to Ocala and taught at Lake Weir High School.
Mrs. Marcia Stofel is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Mrs. Stofel began her teaching career in Palm Beach County. For six of the thirteen years in South Florida she was the Varsity Debate coach of a nationally ranked team and earned the Diamond Coach award from the National Forensic League. In addition to her teaching and coaching responsibilities, she was also very involved in the school community by Co-Chairing the School Advisory Committee and being the chairperson for the English Department. Her hard work and dedication earned her the Teacher of the Year Award in 2000. After moving to Cincinnati, Mrs. Stofel continued her involvement with educational excellence as she was once again English Department Chairperson while earning her Lead Teacher Credentials from the Cincinnati Public School District. While part of the educational community in Cincinnati, Mrs. Stofel was invited to join The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International (a professional honor society of women educators). Her last four and half years of teaching have been at Forest High School where she has been involved with Marion County Public Schools Power Standards Pilot Program and most recently joining the EMIT program as one of their English teachers. In addition to working in the classroom, Mrs. Stofel is responsible for the program’s newsletter and website. Outside of the school day, she helps with the Forest Girls’ Golf team as an assistant coach.
Mr. Jim Touchton graduated from The University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. After working for several technology, computer and communications companies such as Southern Bell, IBM, Agilent Technologies, Jabil Circuits, and Cingular Wireless Mr. Touchton became a certified teacher being certified in Drafting, Math, and Physics. His experiences as a field service engineer, manufacturing engineer, test engineer, systems engineer, staff engineer, and manager are a great addition to the EMIT program. His experience in sales support and customer service will also bring real life application to the EMIT classroom experience. Mr. Touchton also brings several accomplishments and activities with him to EMIT. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu academic honor societies, an active member of MEA, and has been invited to join Phi Delta Kappa, a professional education association. Mr. Touchton has published several technical articles for companies he has worked for, and authored U.S. Patent #5530887. Along with his academic and professional activities, Mr. Touchton spends time in the community as a tutor and pianist.