Meet Our Staff

CEO & Founder: Michael Axtman, Arizona

Michael Axtman has been a leader in the K-12 online learning industry for more than 20 years. Before Accelerate Education, Michael was the President of Aventa Learning and a Vice President at KC Distance Learning, where he managed 9 Statewide Virtual Schools for the iQ Academies. Prior to Aventa Learning, Michael was the Vice President in charge of content development, technology, and sales at Apex Learning. Prior to Apex Learning, Michael was the President/CEO of AXC Interactive, a software development firm catering to Fortune 500 companies, located in Seattle, Washington. Michael Axtman is responsible for the overall management of Accelerate Education, as well as the strategic direction of the company.

VP, Curriculum & Instruction: Leanne Stapleton, Pennsylvania

Leanne Stapleton has been working in education for 30+ years, with 22+ years’ experience in the online space. She has classroom experience in both traditional and online schools, professional development experience teaching staff how to implement technology in classrooms, administration experience as the IT Director and Associate Director of 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and curriculum development experience in both traditional and the online educational space, having led curriculum teams at Aventa Learning, KCDL and K12. At Accelerate Education, she oversees curriculum development & instruction.

VP, Finance & HR: Bob Solis, Iowa

Bob Solis has more than 17 years of experience in the K-12 online learning industry. At Accelerate Education, Bob is responsible for all Finance and Operations, including Customer Support and Human Resources. Prior to joining Accelerate Education, Bob led the Operations, Finance, and Technology teams at KC Distance Learning. In that role, he managed the company’s statewide virtual schools and private school implementations, operations functions, and technology systems. He has also directed the development of new curriculum product lines for Middle School, Online Credit Recovery, and the next generation of High School courses for Keystone National High School. He also has extensive experience with Information Security, having led major initiatives in PCI, HIPPA, and other security standards compliance. In addition to his online learning industry experience, Bob also has 10 years of Information Technology consulting and Program Management experience as a Partner within Computer Sciences Corporation Consulting Practice and at Exxon/Mobil.

VP, Technology: Anthony Stevens, Washington

Anthony Stevens has over 21 years of experience with web, mobile, and cloud computing software. Since 2001 he has worked in the education space designing, building, and managing mission-critical systems that students and instructors depend on every day. His enthusiasm, love of learning, and passion for excellence set the tone in the IT and Engineering teams at Accelerate Education.

Director, Product Management: Mary Scott Senan, Washington

Mary Scott Senan has over 23 years of experience in in the education technology industry. She has led content development teams, managed technology projects, and worked with users of the product to determine what features and functionality are needed to enhance their learning experience. Prior to joining Accelerate Education, Mary Scott worked at Apex Learning in many roles, including Product Owner, Senior Product Manager, Director of Product Marketing, and the Director of Production. Mary Scott’s first experience in education digital technology was converting print textbook teacher resources to an online, searchable website for Prentice Hall.

VP of Client Services: Jill Linden, Arizona

Jill Linden, VP of Client Services, joined Accelerate Education in 2020, bringing with her more than three decades of experience in customer service and business management. In her current position, Ms. Linden leads efforts to drive an exceptional customer experience through training, professional development, and ongoing customer support. Prior to joining Accelerate Education, Ms. Linden held a variety of management positions with Person Online & Blended Learning, K-12 Inc., and Aventa Learning.

Guidance Counselor: Jessica Scrimo

Jessica Scrimo has been working in education for over ten years. She started her experience in special education where she worked one on one as a registered behavior technician in a school for students with autism. Following that, she became a school counselor and has experience in both the traditional and online settings. Additionally, she has worked with staff of all levels on implementing self care and mindfulness practices within their physical and online settings, both for themselves and for their students. Professionally, she has a passion for promoting sound mental health and awareness, advocating for special needs students, and post secondary planning. At Accelerate Education, she is the school counselor and special education coordinator.

Instruction Manager: Jennifer Canan

Jennifer Canan has been working in online education for 12+ years. Jennifer began her career in online education as an English teacher for Aventa Learning. She mentored new teachers as a Master Teacher for Aventa Learning, coached teachers on how to use data to drive instruction as a Content Coach for K12, led instructional teams as a State Lead and Teacher Supervisor for K12, and trained administrators and educators on platforms and teaching strategies as a trainer for Stride. Jennifer currently leads the secondary instructional team at Accelerate Education.

Instruction Manager: Shannon Svalen

Shannon Svalen has been working in education for 21 years, with 15+ years experience in the online world. She has classroom teaching experience in both traditional and online schools, has led professional development in instructional practices and has worked with instructional design teams in implementing online curriculum and teacher training materials. She also has supported curriculum alignment and accreditation projects, coordinated successful grant-writing efforts,  and has previous administrative experience as the district director for after-school, credit recovery and family education programs. At Accelerate Education, she currently manages Elementary, Middle School, Art, Music and PE/Health education and teacher professional development.

Project Manager: Mandy Quine

Mandy Quine has been working in Project Management for 14 years, with 5 years of experience in education software. She has led cross-functional domestic and global teams while delivering projects that were on-time and on budget. She has implemented process improvement steps in her previous and current role that have enhanced project organization. She has both her PMP and CSM certifications.

Multi-Media Manager: Jennifer Whiteside

Jennifer Whiteside is the Multimedia Manager for Accelerate Education. Jennifer started with Accelerate in 2018 as a contracted Web Developer and now oversees the technical course development with the Graphic Design, Video Production and Web Development teams. Jennifer’s diverse background includes Military Service in the United States Army Reserve, Distance Education with the Utah State University, and Enterprise Solutions UI/UX Web Design with PAML. Unique skills acquired in each of these fields/positions coupled with a degree in Graphic Design, as well as certifications in Web Design & Computer Science helps her ensure high-quality visual, and functional, content is produced within Accelerates course development while staying up to date on new and current design/development standards and trends.

Curriculum Gaps Manager: Laura Monks, Michigan

Laura Monks has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Educational Administration. She has been working in education for 24 years, with 3 years’ experience in the online space. She has 14 years of classroom experience in a public-school setting where she taught grade levels K-6. She spent 2 years as a Literacy Coach overseeing professional development and coaching teachers in grades K-8 in the implementation of the district literacy program for her school. From there she became a Teaching and Learning Specialist at the district level where she designed and implemented professional development programs and coached teachers across multiple schools K-12. Her experience with the online educational space started with School Improvement Network where she was the Curriculum Director overseeing the online curriculum for their student platform, then moving to Accelerate Education as an Account Manager and then the Director of State Approvals and Alignments. Her current position at Accelerate Education is Curriculum Gaps Manager.

Director of Instruction: Miki Merritt, Pennsylvania

Miki Merritt started her career as a classroom Physics teacher. After working in the classroom for 10 years, she transitioned into the consulting space and started working in publishing as an author for math, science, and technology integration. With the completion of her Master’s in Education: Curriculum and Technology, she ventured into the online learning space in curriculum development and began her work in project management and instructional design. At Accelerate Education, Miki has worked in both curriculum and instruction; she currently leads our instructional staff.

Manager of Learning & Development: Rusty Yates

Rusty Yates is an educator with over 15 years of experience in both in-person and online settings. He began teaching at a small high school in downtown Los Angeles, where he pioneered web-based learning programs that brought new technology to at-risk students. In 2012, Rusty transitioned to the eLearning space, and has since worked in almost every area of curriculum development, including content creation, video production, professional development, and more. Today, he works to bring best practices in learning experience and design to Accelerate Education’s curriculum and instruction team.