Our Staff

Deborah Hofland
Executive Director, Philips Academy    

Deborah came to Philips in 2010 with extensive experience as a school counselor, working with special needs students and developing Individual Education Plans.  She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University. Deborah’s strong leadership is moving Philips Academy into our next stage of growth.


A FIRTH - 177835 PAC+AW108Amy Firth, M.Ed.
Program Director & Admissions        

With a Bachelor’s in Biology Education and a Master’s in Special Ed., Amy has taught in a variety of special education classrooms in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and even Australia. Amy came to Philips in 2006 as a classroom teacher and is adept at reaching students with diverse needs and leading them in their transition to “real life.”


faculty-daar_monicaaw345Monica Daar
, M.A.

Monica graduated with a B.S. in Special Education and then pursued her Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition through the University of Kansas.  Monica worked as an Intervention Specialist in both high school and middle school settings while living in Ohio and Missouri.


faculty-fredrick_darcyaw592Darcy Fredrick
, B.S. 

Darcy came to Philips Academy in 2013 as a volunteer exploring the field of exceptional children. She has quickly become an integral member of our staff. In addition to her passion for educating students, Darcy brings experience as a math and G.E.D. tutor. Darcy is a certified Special Ed. teacher and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia. 


Michelle Hull, B.A.                                               

Michelle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from Houghton College.  She has worked with adults with developmental disabilities in multiple settings, and as a teaching assistant in CMS.  Michelle brought her various experiences to Philips and has contributed to developing our Art and Life Skill programs since 2008.



faculty-martin_tomekaaw827Tomeka Martin
, M.A.


Tomeka received her Bachelor’s from UNC Greensboro and her Special Ed certificate at UNC Charlotte. She also obtained her Master’s in Executive Leadership . She has worked in numerous settings with children and adults with disabilities since 1999. In 2008, Tomeka began teaching students with severe-profound disabilities in CMS. Throughout her tenure with CMS she has worked with high school students and their families teaching the Extensions of the Common Core Standards.


MCGINNIS - 177844 PAC+AW438Michael McGinnis, B.A.

Mike graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Iowa and is certified to teach both middle & high school.  As a teacher and coach in Iowa for over 15 year,  Mike first came to Philips Academy as a parent in 2013.  He has become a valuable addition to the team, working with all of our students middle school through Bridges.


faculty-millikin_leighaw831Leigh Millikin
, M.A.


Leigh received her Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation and her Master’s in Visual Disabilities from Florida State. She previously served in CMS as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and as a Braillist. Leigh came to Philips as a volunteer, but was quickly hired to share her expertise as part of our teaching team. 



STAFF - Shields_Kris+AW638Kris ShieldsM.A.

Kris joined us in 2015 as a consultant, writing grants and leading social skills classes. After graduating from Queens College, received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. She has worked as a therapist in a residential setting and as a school social worker. She has also been a volunteered and led several non-profits for special needs children.


STAFF - Guess_Jackie+AW444Jackie Guess

Jackie came to Philips Academy as a “full-time” volunteer in 2014 (quitting her job in the corporate world after meeting our students). With experience as a youth leader, dramatist and author, she is now sharing her skills with Philips’ students as our Drama Teacher and Teaching Assistant.



faculty-turner_caseyaw586Casey Turner, B.S.

Casey came to Philips Academy in 2015 as a volunteer seeking experience with  students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has been a wonderful additional as a Job Coach and teaching vocational skills.