Navigate STL Schools is made possible through the following staff, parent navigators, and board members.
Anna-Stacia Allen - Executive Director
Originally from Toledo, Ohio and a graduate of The Ohio State University Anna-Stacia has spent her career working in non-profit and education-based organizations. She returns back to the St.Louis area extremely passionate about helping to provide equitable access to education for all families.
Mayra Garcia Hernandez - Director of Family and School Support
An educator and a parent, she started her career here in Saint Louis as part of Teach For America. Mayra taught biology for 4 years at Saint Louis Public Schools and served in many different roles outside of the classroom. Originally from Mexico, Mayra grew up in Madison, WI, and Corvallis, OR. She holds a Masters in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis and a B.S. in Biology from Truman State University. Mayra believes deeply is very passionate about making sure that all families regardless of race, economic status, or scholastic ability can find and access a school that enables each child to thrive
Caressa Davis - Marketing and Community Outreach Manager
A St. Louis native and a graduate of Hampton University, Caressa has enjoyed a vast career as a communications professional, working in sales, resource development, and marketing roles for St. Louis-based nonprofits and arts organizations. She has a passion for seeing the St. Louis region uplifted and volunteers with serval community organizations to further serve her passions.
Maria Pintor - School Navigator, Bilingual (Spanish)
Maria is currently a student at Webster University pursuing a career in education. She is originally from Mexico but grew up in St. Louis. Maria has experience translating for families all over St. Louis. Overall Maria believes that education is one of the most important factors in child's life. She’s excited to provide families with accessible information to get their child in a school best suited for them.
Carmen Ward - School Navigator, Special Education & IEP
Carmen is a native of St. Louis and lives in the heart of the city. Carmen is a product of the public school system but graduated from an alternative high school in Macomb, Illinois, and has gone on to receive a Double Bachelor Degree from Western Illinois University in Sociology and Law Enforcement. Carmen always believed that she was supposed to be doing something to shift the paradigm of her community and began advocating for her son and access for children when he was diagnosed with Autism in 2008. Since then Carmen has traveled to State and National forums advocating for parents and students. She is firmly rooted at the intersection of community, people, and policy, and is dedicated to shifting the trajectory of her community.
Abby Eisenberg- School Navigator, Secondary Education Specialist
Hunter Brown- School Navigator Social and Emotional Transitions
A proud St. Louis City resident and social worker, Hunter is driven by his desire to see a world based on values of justice, equity, and opportunity. He graduates with his master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in December 2021 where he will continue his pursuit of a more just world through service to his community. Hunter has over two years of experience working with children and their families and has seen firsthand the impact poverty and systemic inequity has on families, far too often based on the zip code they reside and the identity they hold. His aspirations are anchored in a passion for social and economic justice and he looks forward to advancing that cause in St. Louis City’s educational landscape for all of St. Louis.
LaDonna Ellis - School Navigator, Kinder Readiness
LaDonna was born and raised in a large family in St. Louis, Missouri. After high school, she attended the University of Missouri-Columbia (MIZ-ZOU) where she obtained a Bachelors's and a Masters's of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies. LaDonna has worked in the field of Early Childhood for over 25 years as a teacher, director, college instructor, home visitor, and trainer. She is passionate about education and is excited to partner with families in taking charge of their child's education. She is a single mother to an amazing 15-year-old who family and friends call JJ. LaDonna knows all too well the importance of education and navigating the school system to meet her child's needs.
Dr. Renee Racette - President
Dr. Renee Racette is a lifetime-certified chemistry, biology, and mathematics teacher in addition to holding a lifetime principal's certification in the state of Missouri. She holds a Masters in Secondary Administration and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, both from UMSL. She spent 13 years in the St. Louis Public Schools in a variety of roles from chemistry teacher to school leader. She currently works as the Director of Research, Evaluation, and Strategic Learning at Rung for Women. Renee believes deeply in the mission of Navigate STL Schools and is keenly aware of how hard it is for families to navigate the complex landscape of school options in St. Louis. She aims to build an organization that the community can trust as THE source of unbiased and unfiltered truth about all schools in the St. Louis region while also pushing, alongside other stakeholders, to tear down the oppressive and racist systems that continue to plague our region, more specifically our schools.
Matthew Christian - Treasurer
Dr. Sam Smith is a passionate advocate for educational equity and has enjoyed a career in education for the past fifteen years. She has served as an English teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal in the St. Louis Public and Maplewood Richmond Heights school districts. She earned her BS in Secondary English Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia (2005), MA in Educational Leadership from Maryville University (2009), and EdD in Education Administration from Maryville University (2017). She holds career certifications in 9-12 English and K-12 Reading, as well as initial 9-12 Principal and K-12 Superintendent certifications. Dr. Smith has spent over a decade coaching high school policy debate, sending students to national competition three years in a row. She serves on regional AdvancED school accreditation teams annually and enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring St. Louis. Dr. Smith currently works as an Assistant Principal at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.
Dr. Tina Hamilton
Dr. Tina Hamilton is a dynamic and innovative instructional leader who has served over twenty years as an educator. She has served as an English teacher and reading specialist in the School District of University City and as an academic instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal in Saint Louis Public Schools. She earned her BA in Communication from Saint Louis University, MAT in Multidisciplinary Studies, and MAT in Communication Arts & Reading from Webster University, as well as an MEd in Educational Administration, and EdD in Instructional Leadership from Lindenwood University. Dr. Hamilton currently serves as the Principal of Oak Hill Elementary School in Saint Louis Public Schools. In her personal life, Dr. Hamilton enjoys spending time with her three children and supporting their endeavors.
Joshua is a St. Louis native and graduate of SLPS as well as St. Louis Univerity. A proud father of one he is also the founder and CEO of Dope Dad. His organization is a network of fathers with a mission to highlight, encourage, and inspire the positive relationships and interactions between fathers and their children. Joshua has a passion for youth and enjoys utilizing his community connections to make an impact in their lives.
I like to believe that I’m an outcome-based leader who tries to understand and help the youth, families, and communities in which we serve. Through engagement, whether it be at the Tower Grove Farmer's Market or at a recreation center.
Airionne Givens is a Certified Financial Planner® who has helped serve hundreds of clients to have a
more peaceful and prosperous retirement. She is a top retirement advisor at Compass Retirement
Solutions and has played a major role in helping the company expand to one of the fastest-growing firms
in the Midwest. In addition to her professional expertise, she has become a pillar in the community,
which led to her being awarded as a 2019 Delux Power 100 Recipient. She volunteers consistently,
dedicating her time to feeding the homeless and mentoring the youth. She takes it upon herself each
year to adopt a family for Christmas, as well as organize back-to-school drives to donate supplies to
children in need. Airionne, is also heavily active of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated,
where she has served in many positions.
Dr. Courtney Belfor
Dr. Courtney Belfor is a distinguished educator with over ten years of
experience. Her lifelong dedication to student achievement is what makes her
an iconic symbol in education.
“I consider it an honor and privilege to work with children and their families.
My mission is to inspire, encourage, and assist all children in reaching their
full academic potential. Most emphatically, it is my personal belief that this is
done through a team effort comprised of family, school, and community. This
is the path that will enable us to support today’s youth.”
Dr. Belfor’s dedication to the impact theory, equity, excellence, and inclusion
in our schools is what sets her apart from others. This desire is consumed by
her thought that “students will make their own positive and lasting impact in
Dr. Belfor earned her BS in Business Administration from Southern Illinois
University Edwardsville (SIUE), MA in School and Professional Counseling
from Lindenwood University, MA in Education Administration from
Lindenwood University, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from
Maryville University. She currently serves as a Guidance Counselor in Saint
Louis Public Schools.
If you have any questions about our team at Navigate STL Schools please contact us today.