Meet the Teachers

Jay Russnak, Director & Lead Math Instructor



Jay Russnak has worked in the special needs field in some capacity for over 17 years. He has an Associate's Degree in Business Administration, a Bachelor's Degree from the University of South Florida in History with a minor in German, certification as a Highly Qualified teacher in the state of Arizona, and a Master's Degree in Special Education K-12 cross categorical.

Mr. Russnak has been teaching in the East Valley since receiving his Master’s in Education seven years ago. In Mr. Russnak’s classes, the programs students have been taught have resulted in a student growth percentage on state standardized assessments with scores well above the state's average. During this time, Mr. Russnak and Mrs. Sciutto, Associate Director of KLA, have had a vision of providing specialized instruction programs to families in the Phoenix area.

Mr. Russnak is a resident of Gilbert and enjoys spending quality time with his family and supporting them in their never-ending activities. He also enjoys participating in local recreational sports and hanging out with the family’s two dogs. 

Cheryl Sciutto, Associate Director & Lead Reading Instructor



Cheryl Sciutto has a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education from Arizona State University, and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. During this time, she has not only taught in the public and  private school settings, but was a leader in the homeschool community as well.  

After graduating from ASU in 1996, Cheryl accepted her first teaching position with Gilbert Public Schools in Arizona. She has taught in the public school setting for thirteen years as a highly qualified specialist ( K-12 cross categorical). Cheryl also had the rare opportunity to homeschool her three daughters, run homeschool co-ops, and even run her own one room school house.    

As a kinesthetic learner herself, Cheryl has researched and created a kinesthetic learning environment in her classrooms. Now she is bringing her experiences and successes to the private sector. It is Cheryl’s desire to use her enthusiasm and love for kinesthetic learning to impact children profoundly by helping them gain the skills necessary to have amazing success in school.

Martha Huggans, Instructor & Movement Specialist



Martha Huggans is a longtime public school teacher, with experience teaching both regular and special education classes. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Northern Arizona University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and Exceptional Needs Specialist (ages Early Childhood through Young Adult).

In addition to 17 years in the  classroom, she is also the mother of 10 children. Martha comes from a long line of teachers, but her passion for special education began shortly after her first birthday when her sister with Down Syndrome was born. After many childhood years of playing “school” with her sister, Martha continues to seek out creative new ways to make learning simple, engaging, and meaningful for all children.

Kaylie Peterson, Instructor & Spanish Specialist


Kaylie Peterson has a Bachelor's degree in Spanish Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University and a Master's degree in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University. Kaylie has six years experience in the public school system working with secondary grade level students of all knowledge and skill levels. Kaylie's enthusiasm for teaching and learning are evident in her lessons and interactions with students.

Shawnda Love, Homework Support


Shawnda Love, a Gilbert resident, received her bachelor's degree in Social Work in 1996. After having her own children attend schools in the Gilbert District, she entered the educational field as a paraprofessional assisting teachers with students in their classrooms. In her free time, Ms. Love enjoys spending time with her children, family, and friends. 

Kristen Alexander, Lead Writing Instructor



Kristen Alexander may still be early on in her professional career; however, she has already accomplished a significant amount. After receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education in English from Arizona State University, she was among one of the few out of 51,000 applicants accepted to Teach for  America. Her professional career thus far has led her to teaching English to students from extremely diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and Kristen has continued her legacy as a Sun Devil by proudly earning a Master's Degree in Gifted Education. Additionally, she will be traveling to Ghana in the summer of 2018 to help run a teacher training program for educators with limited resources.

Ms. Alexander's passion for teaching extends beyond the classroom. She participates in a number of extra-curricular events and activities, including coaching both girls' and boys’ volleyball. Her free time is spent frequently visiting the dog park with her two fur babies, Khal and Daisy, and being a terrific aunt to her nephew James and her niece Madeline.  


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Kinesthetic Learning Academy

538 South Gilbert Road, Gilbert, Arizona 85296, United States