Our Amazing Staff
Who We Are
Hillary Dutton is beginning her 3rd year at The Novus Academy. Prior to finding Novus, she taught middle school science in public schools in the area for 11 years. Mrs. Dutton is married and has three children, a son, daughter and wonderful stepdaughter. She also is a mom to a dog, cat, and two Sulcata tortoises. Mrs. Dutton claims she is a huge science nerd and hopes to inspire students with her passion for the many branches of the subject
Educator and Curriculum Coordinator
Kyla Kiser has been an educator for 16 years. She graduated in 2006 from Harding University with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Shortly after graduation she moved to Rwanda, Africa to teach the 4th and 5th grades at Kigali International Community School. After moving back to the states, Ms. Kiser began teaching at Hill School of Grapevine in 2008 and worked there until it became The Novus Academy in 2014. At that time, she completed a Master of Science in Global and International Education. She currently teaches the intermediate grades at The Novus Academy and coordinates the school-wide curriculum.
Katie Lewis graduated from Southern Nazarene University. This will be Ms. Lewis’ third year at The Novus Academy and currently teaches upper elementary. In her free time, Ms. Lewis loves watching sports and hanging out with her loved ones. Ms. Lewis has a 3 year old Shih-Tzu named Millie, and Millie loves being part of the classroom dynamic here at The Novus Academy.
Maggie Osborne graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She began her teaching career at The Novus Academy in September 2022. Ms. Osborne's goal is to instill a love of reading in her upper school students by showing them the adventures books can take them on.
Lisa Reeves has been an educator for 26 years. She has taught all ages and presently teaches early elementary students at The Novus Academy. Mrs. Reeves joined Novus in August 2022. She enjoys loving on her students and helping them to grow in their knowledge of themselves and their abilities.
Navideh Vadie (also known as Ms. V) has been an adapted physical education teacher and math teacher for the last eleven years. She received her bachelor's degree in computer science with a minor in math and a master's degree in Adapted Physical Education (CAPE) from Texas Women's University. Ms. V encourages children to learn how to be physically active in ways that assist their physical, social and emotional well-being. Her goal is for children to develop a desire for lifelong physical activity and healthy habits. She also enjoys bringing math to life and making it enjoyable for the students.
Diego Vega is from San Diego, California. He graduated from San Fransisco State University with a Bachelor's of Arts in History with a focus on European History. Mr. Vega started his education career in San Diego, then Los Angeles, before settling in Dallas. He has been working at The Novus Academy since December 2021 teaching History and Spanish.
Special Support Providers
Health Service and Attendance Coordinator
Michelle Bowen (Ms. B) graduated from Trinity College of Vermont with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in music. She joined the Hill School Grapevine in May 2012, which later became The Novus Academy in 2014. Ms. B has three grown children and she loves speding time time them and their families. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her fur babies Fafner and Tchaicatsky (Chai). She plays guitar and is in the process of learning to play the ukele. Ms. B enjoys engaging the children of Novus in music as well.
Michelle Cornine is returning to The Novus Academy this year. She has been an educator for 17 years and a member of the Novus family since 2011. She is a wife and mother of 3 children. She likes to spend her free time watching her boys play baseball, coloring with her daughter and running. One of Michelle's favorite parts about being a teacher is helping students see how capable they really are and that they can do much more than they thought possible.
Emiline Lau-Camarena AKA "Mrs. LC" attended the University of North Texas where she earned a Bachelor of Social Work. She went on to graduate with a Master of Science in Social Work and a Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to coming to Novus in March 2015, Mrs. LC was an Investigator for Child Protective Services and a Child Advocacy Specialist for CASA of Tarrant County. Mrs. LC has a deep passion for neuro-divergent children and other children who find themselves lost among the crowd. She believes wholeheartedly this population has some of the greatest gifts to offer and as adults, we have the incredible opportunity to not only foster these gifts but instill in these children a positive sense of self, empowering them to become active participants in their own lives, affecting positive change throughout the world. When not at Novus, Mrs. LC enjoys gardening, rocking and talking with family and friends, and traveling and experiencing new foods and cultures.
Jenni Messina has been a teacher for 18 years and an Academic Language Therapist for 11 of those years. Ms. Messina is beginning her 4th year of teaching at The Novus Academy. She is passionate about helping all students access the gift of reading.
Maria del Portillo
Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator
Maria Del Portillo is a board certified behavior analyst with an M.A. in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology, a B.A. in Psychology, and a minor in Biology from Florida International University. Maria has been in the field of ABA for 10+ years. She is passionate about applying her knowledge and experience to help children acquire new skills, reduce problem behaviors and improve the overall quality of life through positive reinforcement strategies. In addition, she also helps caregivers by providing ongoing support and guidance to support their loved ones. Her favorite part about being a BCBA is that she gets to make a positive impact on the lives of her families and children. She has experience working in schools, in-home, and clinics. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, travel, and cycle.
Head of School
Amy Richard joined The Novus Academy as Head of School in July 2022. Amy has been an educator for 23 years. She is a Speech-Language Pathologist and a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist. Amy earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Texas at Dallas. Early in Amy’s career, she worked at The June Shelton School and Evaluation Center. While working at Shelton, Amy developed a passion for helping students with speech and language disorders learn to read. She realized that reading is language in the written form, and when students have deficits in speech and language, they often have deficits in reading and writing. In 2006, Amy moved to Houston and began her career at The Parish School. In her 14 years at Parish, Amy served as a classroom teacher and the Director of Elementary. Amy and her family relocated to the DFW area to begin working at The Novus Academy. As a mother of a young son with language and learning differences, she has first-hand knowledge of the difficulties parents experience in understanding and making the choices for their children.
Director of Admissions and Outreach
Sammie Salmeron has served in both the public and private sectors as an elementary school guidance technician, admissions advisor, academic support coach, upper school student advocate, college and career advisor, and educational leader. She discovered early on in life that her purpose was to serve and care for others. She attended the University of Texas at Arlington where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. In completing her public health degree, she was inspired to pursue her Master of Public Health degree at Texas A&M University with a concentration in Health and Human Behavior. Prior to joining Novus, Sammie worked on the leadership team at The Key School of Fort Worth where she fostered and developed her passion for the unique learner. As a public health professional, her heart for educating communities and community leaders on preventative processes and local public health infrastructures has led to the initiation of change. Her initiatives for positive culture and positive partnerships with families as well as the community have allowed her to work with numerous organizations including The River Legacy Foundation: Living Science Center, Arlington Orthopedic Associates, Faith in Practice, Boys & Girls Club Arlington, and Mansfield Cares. Sammie has worked in education specific to different learners for 7 years and feels personally connected to the individual learner with having children of her own diagnosed with learning differences. Before changing her profession to education, she worked as a supervisor in geriatric healthcare where she trained and educated caregivers, clients, and client families. Her heart is dedicated to advocating for human health and bringing awareness of children with learning differences to introduce understanding, implement change of public perception, and evoke support. She whole heartedly believes in the purpose of The Novus Academy where the “whole child” experiences a fluid togetherness and unity from educators, peers, and family in their education and authentication. Outside of Novus, Mrs. Salmeron is Coach Salmeron to a group of strong and competitive 12U girls who love softball just as much as she does!