Meet the Staff


The entire staff of Ave Maria Preparatory School demonstrates outstanding commitment to students and families with special learning needs and emotional disorders. The staff deserves the best of accommodations for their teaching atmosphere to compensate for the intensity of their service. Our campus is restful and spacious. The learning, teaching area lends itself to individualization because of the various spaces available for learning and individual practice, as well as laboratory experience.

Professional development is a high priority at Ave Maria since the profiles of our students require that we keep abreast of the latest and most effective research based approaches to students with special learning needs.

Presently we have several staff members working to upgrade credentials related to expertise in Exceptional Student Education:

Sister Gilchrist

Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, B.A. M,A. M.A, Director

20 years of administrative experience in schools.

  • Designed and Directed three schools for Students with Special Learning Needs.
  • Designed and Directed Shepherd’s Field Agricultural College for Diverse Students.
  • Designed and directed national program for Inclusionary Methods in  Student Education.
  • Co-Founder with Senator John McKay of McKay Voucher for Students with Disabilities
  • International Speaker on Inclusive Education
Mr. Pawel Lipinski

Pawel Lipinski, B.A. M.A., M.A. Principal

Fourteen years of active teaching in exceptional student education, has advanced degree in ESE.

  • Two years of administrative skills as assistant principal Ave Maria.
  • Six months of administrative skills as principal at Ave Maria.
  • Two years, development work at Dreams Are Free.
  • Five years as owner and manager of Chicago restaurant, wherein youth group activities were facilitated by his skills.
Christine Smit

Christine T. Smit, Teacher

Bachelor of Science, Special Education from St. Xavier University
Florida Teaching Certification; ESE K-12


  • Autism
  • ESOL
  • Speech and Language

Additional Education through specific training:

  • Experienced and educated in Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Emotionally
  • Handicapped
  • Diagnosis in Learning Disabilities
  • Reading Disabilities
  • Special Olympics
  • Orton Gillingham Reading Techniques


  • 2006-2016 Teacher, Ave Maria Preparatory School
  • Director of ESE, Bradenton Prep
  • ESE Teacher, Horizons Alternative School
  • ESE Teacher, Morill Elementary, Chicago,IL
Y'amuel Perez

Y’amuel Perez, Teacher

Master of Education, Major: Special Education, Bayamon Central University-Puerto Rico

Bachelor of Arts, Major: Music, Inter American University of Puerto Rico

Bachelor of Arts, Major: Music University of Puerto Rico


  • Special Education Florida Professional: K-12
  • Music Education Florida Professional: K-12
  • Music Education Puerto Rico
  • Elementary Education Puerto Rico


  • Visual Impairment
  • Math Orientation and Mobility
  • Special Education


  • Elementary Special Education , Yabucoa, PR, Reading , Writing
  • Music Production Director, : Mennonite Academy, PR
  • Special Education Teacher, Duardo, PR
  • Vocational Education Teacher, Manuel Mediaville Vocational School, PR
  • Fine Arts Program Director, Department of Education, PR
Heidi Buck

Susan Heidi Buck, Teacher

Bachelor of Arts, Major: Christian Education, High Point College, NC

Manatee Technical School, Florida: Licensed Practical Nurse

Extra Training:

  • Life Coaching for persons with disabilities
  • Parent Advocacy Skills for students with disabilities


  • Teacher at Way of Faith Academy, VA
  • Home School Education for students with Disabilities
  • Live in Group Home Counselor for Adults with Disabilities
  • Life Coaching, transition skills for persons with Disabilities
  • Parent Advocate for students with disabilities
  • Business Education
  • SMART riding program for children with disabilities
  • Children’s Ministry Worker
  • Fundraising and Advancement Activities
Sister Mary Hope

Sister Mary Hope Riemenschneider, CE, Teacher

B.A. in Institutional management from Purdue University. is in process of acquiring certification in Language Arts, Grades 6-8. She will, thereafter, pursue a M.A. degree in exceptional student education at Longwood University in Virginia through a scholarship designated for Ave Maria Prep.

  • Past Director of Prison ministry for Diocese of Venice in Florida.
  • Currently ministers at half way house for incarcerated women.
  • Certification in FIT, Family Integrity Training Program.
  • Oversees above program at Ave Maria Prep.
  • Has developed writing program for Ave Maria Prep.
Sister Edith Aliano

Sister Edith Aliano, CE

A.S. in Radiology, (administrative assistance, First Aid, and administrator of transition services), is enrolled at Western Governors’ University, and is in process of acquiring a B.S. in secondary Science. Thereafter, she will pursue a M.A. degree in exceptional student education at Longwood University in Virginia.

  • Director of Shepherd’s Field Agricultural College
  • Certified Food Manager at Ave Maria Prep.
Sister Solano

Sister Solana, CE, Volunteer

Previously enrolled in an A.S. course of studies in Canada, is now enrolled at Western Governor’s University and is in process of acquiring a B.A. in Exceptional Student Education.

  • Certified in Family Integrity Training and teaches program.
  • Received Training in Social Skill Education and teaches social skill strategies.

For more information about Ave Maria, call 941-322-1601 or send us an email.

Thrive Program

Employs research proven protocols for addressing features of Autism...

Learn More >>

Shepherd’s Field

Shepherd's Field

2 Year Agricultural College for Persons with Diverse Disabilities

Prototype for Diverse Abilities Community

Learn More >>


Partnership for Shared Services with Goodwill Industries.

Counseling Services through Community Care Family Clinic.