Leadership Team

Jim Werner – Founder/Administrator
[email protected]

Jim is the Founder and Administrator of Circle Christian School. Jim has a passion for his family and loves challenging parents and students to understand that education goes beyond mere academic accomplishment.  The learner must be equipped with skills for building relationships, developing character, and fully engaging with all life experiences.  He believes that Jesus Christ is the foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.  John 17:3  Jim is a graduate of Miami Christian College.

Linda Werner – Co-Founder/Director
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Linda‘s love for her children empowered her to establish the vision for the development of Circle Christian School. The five Werner children were enrolled in Circle from Kindergarten through their high school graduations. Her current role in the organization is that of an encourager to the staff, teachers, and families. 
For over thirty years, Linda has influenced and trained hundreds of women in their roles as mothers and teachers. Her passion includes mentoring women to pursue personal growth for God’s Glory. Her commitment to families and a passion for helping people understand their strengths make her an invaluable asset in the continued growth of the Circle community.


Melanie Harder – Chief Financial Officer
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Melanie has been a “Circle Mom” since 2012. Her Circle story began when her two daughters were entering third and fifth grade. Melanie graduated with a Master of Science in Taxation from Texas A&M University, and she graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She has worked with a number of 501(c)(3) organizations, and she has extensive experience in assisting organizations in developing and maintaining best practices for their accounting function. She is excited to be able to use her education, experience, and God-given talents to serve the families and staff at Circle.
Mike Stroup – Director of Operations
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Mike joined the administrative team in April 2007 after spending twelve years in the insurance industry. He is married to his wife, Joann and they have two children, Jordynn (’10) and Tristynn (’15). Both are Circle graduates. 
He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida. His personal mission statement is “Empowering, Encouraging and Supporting Others to Reach Their Maximum Potential.” His strengths, based on the Strengths Finder Assessment, are Relator, Strategic, Responsibility, Developer and Includer.

Mike Elmer – Director of Spiritual Formation
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Mike Elmer is the Director of Spiritual Formation, in addition to being hired as an Upper School Teacher. Mike’s focus, in addition to his teaching (Speech and Debate classes), will include working closely with the upper school academic team, and the executive and administrative leadership teams of the school. As Circle’s Director of Spiritual Formation, Mike will help students, athletes and artists better understand the process of spiritual formation, which is being conformed to the image of Christ for the glory of God and for the sake of others (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Mike holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and Master’s of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has successfully served in various capacities of student development for a number of years. Mike moves from the Boston area to Central Florida with his wife, Esther of 12 years and their four children.


Sue McIntyre – Director of Guidance
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Sue’s role and responsibility is to oversee the guidance of high school students. She plays a very active role in assisting students in the development of a personalized course plan to match their God-given strengths with appropriate academic rigor. Early preparation for college is critical in this competitive era, so Sue provides seminars for parents and students including guest speakers from numerous universities. Sue also directs the annual assessment program including the NWEA Measurement of Academic Progress, College Board’s PSAT and from ACT the PreACT exams.

Sue holds a Masters of Education from the University of Toledo and a Bachelor’s of Education from University of Northern Iowa. She loves education and especially loves working with parents and students as they prepare for their next station in life.

Matt Adams – Director of Guidance
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Matt joined the Circle Team in 2020 as the Director of Guidance after spending 15 years teaching in Christian Education. Matt is a graduate of the University of Central Florida. He enjoys using his experience in the classroom and Christian Education to help build relationships and guide families to find the best path for their individual student’s educational success. Matt enjoys working with families to explore each student’s interests and passions as they prepare for their steps into college and beyond. He is excited to get to know Circle families and provide the direction that will lead to each student’s success.”

Guidance Team
Rayna Sousa Guidance Counselor [email protected]
Linda Buskirk Academic Advisor [email protected]
Robin Smith Registrar [email protected]
Mary Jane Jenkins Senior Guidance Academic Assistant [email protected]
Loresa Powell Assistant to Registrar [email protected]
Cheryl Adams Admissions Specialist [email protected]
Front Office Team
Penny Martin Bookstore Manager [email protected]
Cassie Ishani Front Desk Receptionist [email protected]
Dianne Richardson – Director of Upper School
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Dianne began her adventure with Circle Christian School in 1995.  While her children were part of Circle, she teamed with others to write and publish curriculum as well as develop and teach high school classes. Her philosophy of education stems from a personal desire to do all things above reproach and with excellence as unto the Lord as well as providing powerful partnerships between parents, students, and teachers that transform lives to the Glory of God. Both of Dianne’s children graduated from Circle, went on to successful college experiences and are now in business and education careers. In addition to serving her Circle family, she seeks to faithfully serve her church family at One Hope Church near UCF as an Elder’s wife, community group leader, and mentor to other women. Dianne is excited to embrace the challenges and opportunities that will accomplish Circle’s vision for God-glorifying academic excellence.

Upper School Support Team
Helen Saxen
Upper School Campus Manager [email protected]
Julie Cashion
Parent Teacher Liason [email protected]
Cathy Godlewski
Parent Teacher Liason [email protected]
Jill Workman
Parent Teacher Liason [email protected]
Bryna Cannon eLearning Campus Administrator [email protected]


Gretchen Simmonds – Director of Lower School
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Gretchen Simmonds is Director of Lower School. She is a familiar face around Circle. She has taught 6th grade in the Frameworks program since 2011 and has served as Frameworks Program Director for the past 4 years. In her new role as Lower School Director, Gretchen will be providing parental support, guiding educational programming, leading teachers, and encouraging students.

Lower School Support Team
Jocelyn Bartle
Lower School Assistant Director [email protected]
Linda Novak Winter Springs Campus Manager [email protected]
Jeanne Vanetta
Winter Park Campus Manager [email protected]
Shannon Julin
Winter Garden Campus Manager [email protected]
Erin Theriault- Arts Director
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Erin Theriault is thrilled to be Circle Christian School’s Arts Director. She has been a part of the Circle Theatre Company family since 2007, serving in a variety of capacities. She is currently also the CTC Vocal Director and has musically directed many CTC shows including You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Through the Looking Glass, The Marvelous Wonderettes ’58, Jingle in the City,and Anything Goes.  Erin also spent many years as a performer, and has appeared on television, in musical theatre, and in concerts throughout the United States, Japan, and South America with Ray Conniff and the Singers. In addition to live performances, Erin has a variety of recordings to her credit as both a singer and songwriter, and has worked with such artists as Richard Carpenter and Glenn Frey. As a performer herself, she loves being a part of helping students find their own passion and love for the arts. She currently resides in Sorrento, FL, where she performs her favorite role of wife to David and mom to Jake (CTC alum and current CSP Director) and Sam (CTC alum and Palm Beach Atlantic University Music Composition Major, Class of 2019).

Michael Simmonds – Athletic Director
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Michael is a long time Circle dad, worship leader, and CCS teacher. He has served in the athletic department as a coach from 2012 – 2018 and joined the athletics administration team in 2019 as an associate athletic director. Michael assumed the role of Athletic Director at the end of the 2019-20 school year. A graduate of Stetson University in DeLand, Michael is one of the founding ministers of the Church at 434 in Winter Springs. He is also the founder of MDS, a team and leadership development consulting organization. Michael is a child of God, the husband of Gretchen, and the dad of Patrick (2018), Max (2022) and Katie (2024).

Karen Stella – Admissions Director
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Karen partnered with Circle for 13 years to homeschool her two children. With God’s guidance and direction, her children graduated college and are working in their careers and have a love for Jesus. During that time she felt drawn to find volunteer service projects for her students and others, so she began a volunteer program that still exists today. After serving in the office she moved to the Upper School Campus Manager position for ten years. She currently serves as Admissions Director and feels God has called her to connect and minister to families and students. Her joy comes from helping new students get adjusted to campus life, therefore, you will find her on all upper school campuses helping students build relationships with teachers, staff and other students. She holds the scripture Philippians 3:14 close to her heart; “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”