Our teachers and staff are committed followers and lovers of Christ who are united in serving the Lord through the field of education. We believe, above all else, that we are to "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.'" (Luke 10:27a)
Mrs. Erin Ciulla
Head of School
Mrs. Ciulla, together with her husband, Mr. James Ciulla, founded Odessa Christian School in 2008 out of obedience to the Lord’s calling. Mrs. Ciulla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Tampa. Prior to founding Odessa Christian School, she worked at a group home for young people with developmental disabilities for 15 years, including 10 as co-director. During that time, Mrs. Ciulla developed with her mother-in-law (and co-director at the group home), Mrs. Diane Ciulla, an equine therapy program for individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities, focused on the therapeutic and learning benefits of being active in nature, and adventured with Mr. Ciulla and their two boys.
From Mrs. Ciulla:
I love Jesus, I love to learn, and I love adventure! As Head of School at OCS, my heart is to combine all three of these in a challenging, inspirational, and joyful educational experience for each and every one of our students. The thrill of seeing students grow and discover they are learning not only content, but also how to learn, how to create, and how to live – for Jesus, others, and self – is such a joy! I rejoice at being a part of teachers and students connecting over a math hurdle, writing challenge, or spiritual breakthrough, and count it an honor to be called to this position.
I pray every parent recognizes and embraces the ideals of an education from a biblical worldview and growth mindset focus, and that instills perseverance and personal responsibility in their children – not only at school, but also for life. From learning to read to traipsing around Spanish Colonial ruins, from multiplication facts to writing, producing, and acting in a full length play, learning is what one makes of their opportunities. Learning is about so much more than textbooks and standardized tests. OCS shines the light on opportunities – students learn how to embrace them!
My favorite activities include reading (I may have a book problem) - preferably with some hot tea and our two dogs on either side of me on the couch, and adventuring with my family and friends, especially if it involves the outdoors, water, mystery, and/or history. While I love to read, I am hard pressed to name just one favorite book, though, if I had to choose, Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) would probably be way up there, along with pretty much anything by Alcott, Rosenberg, and Grisham. Braveheart, Sound of Music, Downton Abbey, and Seinfeld are all on my screen time list. I hold unwaveringly to God’s word, and I am pretty sure I am divergent. J
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Mrs. Amanda Mummau
Curriculum and Instructional Specialist
Upper Grades Teacher
Mrs. Mummau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education with a minor in Bible from Clearwater Christian College. She married her best friend, Abe, in 2002, taught in public school for 4 years before taking time off to raise her girls, and has been teaching for 9 years at OCS. Mrs. Mummau and her family have been a part of OCS since the very beginning, and, in May 2021, her oldest daughter will have gone from Kindergarten to graduation at OCS!
Mrs. Mummau is famous for answering questions with a question to help students not only discover the answer, but to learn HOW to discover the answer. Mrs. Mummau tirelessly seeks out ways to help all her students grow, and helps them learn to always embrace the challenge, to never quit, and that the reward is worth the effort!
From Mrs. Mummau:
I love being there for students’ “aha!” moments, and seeing students go from shy and unsure to confident and willing to help others understand. Being able to see students grow academically and socially, and having alumni return to let me know how well OCS prepared them for college and future success are some of the things I love about being a teacher.
I love OCS for my own children - the small class sizes, the camaraderie across grade levels, the academic challenge with a growth mindset emphasis. For myself, the positive staff, the ability to focus on teaching and not discipline issues, and being able to incorporate spiritual emphasis at all times.
I believe parents should send their students to OCS for a positive, Christian environment that focuses on the whole child, a growth mindset emphasis, accountability, and the rigorous curriculum.
S-H-I-R-E SHIRE SHIRE SHIRE!
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Mrs. Kalette James
Mrs. James was born “in a galaxy far, far away….. Lubbock, Texas.” She holds double Bachelor of Arts degrees in elementary education and English from West Texas A & M University. Mrs. James loves reading and writing, and has been teaching for 18 years, helping students of all ages master these important skills.
Mrs. James brings a joy and energy to learning, and her love of reading and writing is infectious! Even reluctant readers and writers find growth through Mrs. James’ deep knowledge and experience of the humanities, musical talents, and beautifully transparent Christian testimony.
Mrs. James has been married to her husband, Cliff, for 27 years, and they have three children. They relocated to the Tampa area from Amarillo, Texas in 2015 for Cliff’s work, and OCS was blessed as a result!
From Mrs. James:
Teaching has been a life-long passion for me! I love getting to know the students and watching them grow as people and learners. I especially love teaching at OCS because everything we learn can be connected to the Bible, and I am thankful to be allowed to share my belief in God and my love for Jesus with my students.
The students, families, and staff - OCS feels like family. I love the beautiful surroundings - the lake and trees and animals. There is so much beauty here for the students to see every day. What a great environment for learning.
We love our students! OCS' rigorous curriculum prepares students for each level and shines a light on Biblical truths. Students must work hard to achieve, but are allowed to be curious risk-takers in a non-threatening classroom environment.
I love (almost) all genres of music! I enjoy all things outdoors - hiking, biking, running, beaching, boating, kayaking, dog-walking, sports-watching,
tennis-playing, hammock-reading.... I miss my family and friends in Texas every single day....but I love Florida!
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
[H]is faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Mrs. Kara Boyd
Mrs. Boyd pursued her first Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education through Life Christian University, from whom she also holds a Diploma of Theology. She is currently working on her second Bachelor of Arts degree - in Psychology - through Saint Petersburg College.
Mrs. Boyd loves ministering to young people and serves as a Youth Leader and Drama Team Director at River of Life Church. She is an accomplished lacrosse player and is proficient in sign language. Mrs. Boyd’s prior teaching experience at a school for individualized education, together with her educational and life experiences, initiative, gentle manner, and creativity make her a dynamo in the classroom!
From Mrs. Boyd:
I am recently married to Devin, the love of my life and best friend. We currently have one dog named Nikki, a cat named Lux, a Gecko named Zuku and lots of fish. I love being a teacher because I feel like it is an amazing way to minister and love on all different types of people. It is what God has called me to do and I view it as my own personal mission field. The journey is filled with fun, love, excitement and it always keeps you on your toes.
OCS is a wonderful family to be a part of; it has provided me a sense of community and belonging. I love our school’s message and mission statement. Even though academics have a high importance here at OCS, the building of our faith, learning to imitate God's character, and applying the Word of God to our daily lives is of equal importance.
Parents should send their students to OCS because they can be assured that they are receiving one of the highest levels of personalized education to meet their student's individual needs. Their student will be held to a higher standard of academic and spiritual achievement.
1 John 4:18a
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
Mrs. Kristina Nast
Upper School Science
Mrs. Nast holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with an endorsement in Spanish from the University of South Florida. She married her high school sweetheart and together they have three beautiful children. Mrs. Nast brings a high level of spirit and enthusiasm to all she does at OCS, and is a Disney expert!
From Mrs. Nast:
I love being a teacher because I get to build a loving relationship with my students and show them God’s love and mercy in the classroom.
I love everything about OCS; what an incredible learning environment! Also, I love the house system and the sense of ownership it brings to our students for their school and the comradery it promotes throughout the school.
I think that students need an individual approach to their education and their character development. At OCS the teachers and administration are committed to meeting your student where they are and finding the best way to teach them and not just teach the class.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
The world tells us something different than God's Word. It’s important that I listen, follow, and most importantly, obey God.
Mrs. Evette Otero
High School Bible
Mrs. Otero holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Florida. She majored in Biology for four years before switching to English. This unique experience has helped Mrs. Otero develop a passion for teaching creative expression through written words, as well as a passion for teaching students about God's creation.
Mrs. Otero brings a high level of consistency and dependability to the classroom, and her godly patience and compassion are constant inspirations to students and faculty alike. Mrs. Otero is newly married to her love, Hector.
From Mrs. Otero:
I love being a teacher because I know it is God's plan for me. He has allowed me to share the things he has taught me with my students to bring glory to Him and help lead them closer to Jesus. My students give me so much joy and laughter and help me to remember that I, too, am God's child.
"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” (Matthew 18:2-5)
Knowing that children are cared for by people who are committed to following Jesus can give great peace and comfort to parents. Children are encouraged to know Jesus more and work together, caring for one another, striving for unity and peace with each other. We as teachers work under godly leadership and really have a heart for our students; we continually strive to do our best to serve and become better teachers. We also believe in doing everything as unto the Lord, as the Bible teaches, and we encourage students to always try their best.
God called me to be a teacher and I view teaching at OCS as such a beautiful gift. I feel so blessed and rely on Jesus' strength, through prayer and relationship with Him, to be the best teacher I can be.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Mr. Santo Ciulla
I love being a teacher because of how fulfilling it is to see students excel in school and conquer difficult tasks.
Mrs. Virginia Bush Nylen
Mrs. Nylen holds a bachelor’s degree in in general studies and political science from Macon State College (now known as Middle Georgia State University), as well as additional education from Life Christian University, including a Diploma in Theology, Associate of Arts in Christian Counseling, and an Advanced Diploma in Christian Education. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree.
Mrs. Nylen is married with three older children, and demonstrates a heart for excellence and faithfulness in all she does, which is evidenced in her work and relationships. She is a native Floridian, and has a heart for our local area and community.
From Mrs. Nylen:
I love watching the children grow and learn. I enjoy sowing the love of God into their lives.
Some reasons I love OCS include the unity of the staff who have a heart after God and a love for the students, and the freedom and to teach from a biblical perspective. Parents should send their children to OCS for a great learning atmosphere with godly principles - with a staff that cares, from the front office all the way through the classroom.
I seek to do my best to give every student 100% and will work with the student and parent to make each year a success while having fun and making memories they will be able to pull from in years to come.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
Mrs. Pam Warkenthien
Mrs. Warkenthien attended St. Petersburg College and earned her Associate of Arts in Business, and has been with OCS since 2012. Mrs. Warkenthien exhibits godly discernment, a gentle spirit, is a wonderful listener, and can wipe away tears and comfort a homesick child like nobody else. She has been happily married for 31 years and has three wonderful children.
From Mrs. Warkenthien:
I love working with numbers and this is why I chose accounting as my job. Most of all, I love kids. They are the absolute best part of my job; they say the most adorable things. Their pure hearts warm my soul!
There are so many things I love about OCS. My first would be the grounds. Anyone who has set foot on this campus knows what I mean. Diane Ciulla heads up the grounds and not only is she a true friend to me she is also the hardest worker I've ever known. She is here every single day, keeping the goats and chickens fed, running the lunchroom for our students - she is an amazing woman of God. Her service does not end on Friday after school; she is here every weekend working on the grounds, from pulling weeds to pushing a wheelbarrow, she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty.
Another thing I love about OCS is the love our teachers have for each of our students. Most people don't know that we pray over our students; we get to know the kids and we hurt when they hurt. We also rejoice when our students have succeeded. From doing great on a test to doing well in a sporting event, we really love our students.
Finally, I love that our kids can openly pray. This prayer time helps bond the students; they hear the needs of one another and in-so-doing they form a bond that is not just “friends” but instead, a brother or sister in Christ!
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Mrs. Rhonda Hill
Mrs. Hill attended Lee College and is an inspired worship leader and pianist. She has been married to her husband, Chad, for 24 years, and is a momma to three boys – Jonah (OCS Class of 2017 Valedictorian), Kelly (Senior), and Cody (4th Grade).
Mrs. Hill is passionate about designing and implementing functional procedures at OCS, especially as related to accreditation, faculty/student/parent involvement, and community outreach. She loves a “well-oiled machine” and understands what it takes to create and maintain it. She is an efficient problem solver and seeks to continually support and enhance OCS’ sense of family through special events and day-to-day culture.
From Mrs. Hill:
I love how all of our teachers, faculty and students feel like family. We truly love all our students and I believe it shows in everything we do, from chapels to talent shows, from Grandparents’ Day to graduations – OCS makes everyone feel like they belong, and I LOVE being a part of this.
You will not find another school that cares more for your student than OCS. As soon as you enter the front office, you can feel the love of Christ, and it spreads all throughout the entire campus.
I love to decorate and make spaces feel inviting. I feel that hospitality is one of my gifts, and I try every day to make others feel welcome, be it in little or big ways. I love to make things better if I can.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Mrs. Beverly Kidwell
Mentor and Counseling
Director of Development
Mrs. Kidwell, originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, attended the University of South Florida for 2 years and has been in Christian ministry for 30+ years. Ministry has taken her all over the United States, but her heart is here in the Tampa Bay area.
She is married to Pastor Brad Kidwell. They have a married daughter, Adrienne, and a new grandson, Shepherd, who has stolen Mrs. Kidwell’s heart!
Mrs. Kidwell has dedicated her life to assisting parents in “raising up children in the way they should go so that when they are older, they will not depart from it,” and she is well loved!
From Mrs. Kidwell:
I love OCS’ campus, where the presence of the Holy Spirit can be tangibly felt! Close relationships are developed here between one another – students and faculty - and with Christ.
I love seeing the fruit from sowing the seed of the word into kids!!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Section 1002.421(2)(h), Florida Statutes requires that classroom teachers at all Florida registered schools meet one of the following requirements:
OCS meets or exceeds this requirement.