Cindy Bacot

Executive Director

I hold an advanced standing Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Florida State University. I am also an intentionally recognized Certified Autism Specialist (CAS). I have worked with the Children’s Home Society teaching behavioral and social skills classes for students with behavioral disorders, and also conducted training workshops for the FSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. Since 2008, I have been the Executive Director of Bacot Academy. I have a particular interest in genetic mutations and the environmental Epigenetics of Autism. In my free time, I enjoy reading, traveling and spending time with my family.



Caytee Stransky

Assistant Director/Teacher

I have my Bachelor's degree in Social Work from the University of Toledo. I am CPR and first aid certified as well as have training in elopement procedures. I love working at Bacot Academy, because the students have the opportunity to learn and grow in such a supportive environment. I have taught in the high school classroom, and have gladly accepted the role of Assistant Director. My husband and I moved to the area from Ohio about 3 years ago. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family and going to the beach.


Vernon Walderon

Registered Behavior Technician /Teacher

I teach second and third grade at Bacot Academy. I first started working here as a volunteer in 2009. When a position came available, I was very excited to come on board. The foundation of my teaching is respecting individual differences and incorporating my students' talents. I believe in a consistent, positive and respectful approach. We all have something to contribute. I learn from my students each and every day. I am married and have a beautiful baby girl. I'm currently pursuing a degree in Special Education. I am certified in first aid and CPR and I am a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). I never saw myself as a teacher but I wouldn't change it for the world.

 Ashley Walderon


Hi, my name is Ashley Walderon and I am an elementary  teacher here at Bacot Academy. In our class, we strive to have a fun and energetic approach to our work. The students love to inspect things and do anything involving a computer. I have worked here since the beginning of 2015 and love every minute of it. I am pursuing a degree in Education and am certified in CPR, Child Development and Recognizing Symptoms and Illnesses.I believe that each student can have an impact in their community as they apply their knowledge and skills to whatever comes about. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family and friends.


Rachel Watkins


Hi, my name is Rachel and I am a teacher in the Early Learning classroom. Before coming to Bacot Academy, I worked with 3rd-5th graders in the public school system for 7 years. I knew helping children was already rewarding, but working at Bacot has brought a whole new meaning. I love working with the children and staff here. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my daughters, son, and grandchildren.

Cheri Stemmer


My name is Cheri, and I am the middle school teacher. In our classroom we learn with an interactive approach. Because we have so many hands-on activities, learning is made fun. Working with the students at Bacot is incredibly rewarding. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family.   




Danielle DeForest


Hi, my name is Danielle, and I am a teacher for 2 students. I have an Associate in Art from Gulf Coast State College and am currently pursuing a Bachelors in communication with a minor in psychology from Florida State University. In my classroom, we work on functional communication and life skills. I incorporate American Sign Language as well as ABA practices.  I have been at Bacot since 2016, and love working with the wonderful students. I believe that God is the center of everything we do.


Samantha Pauley


  Hi, I'm Sam and I am the teacher in the early learning classroom. I am a recent graduate of Florida State (Go Noles!) where I earned my bachelors in psychology and child development. My goal for my classroom is to make learning a fun and engaging time. I always knew that I wanted to work with children. In the past, I have been a camp counselor, Ronald McDonald House Charities volunteer, and  a coach at a pediatric rehabilitate therapy office. My hobbies include crafting, boating, and lazy days with my fur children!

 Mitch Pickard

Student Helper

My name is Mitch Pickard and I am the Student Helper that helps assist the teachers in the Early Learners Classroom.  I started in 2015, and I really enjoy helping! My dream job would be to work at Bacot as a full-time Teachers Assistant when I graduate. I love to see the children learn and interact with each other. Seeing them do their school work and fine motor skills make me feel proud that they are doing their best.

I enjoy playing for the Miracle League in the fall and spring. I also am very technological savvy and help the teachers stay up to date with things happening around the community. I also have participated in the Special Olympics!

I love what I do and hope to keep helping the kids grow!