Sea of Strength's Acaddemy

Small School

Big Results

7313 International Place, Suite 90
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34240

(941) 538-6822


John Hettler – Principal

B.A., University of Richmond

M.S., Nova Southeastern University

John began his career working as a special education teacher in the public school system.  John became very interested in reading, and exploring why students struggled with reading.  This lead to learning more about dyslexia, and how to help dyslexic students.  John holds a master’s degree in Varying Exceptionalities, and has specialized training in reading interventions for dyslexic students.  In 2006 John co-founded The Reading Station, an after-school tutoring program for students with dyslexia and other learning differences.  This program grew, and in 2009 the Sea Of Strengths was founded.  John Hettler and Susan Stevens established the school to create a unique learning environment where students are able to thrive and achieve their goals.  John currently serves as the school’s Principal, and assists with math classes in the morning.



Susan Stevens photo

Susan Stevens – Assistant Principal

B.S., Frostberg State University

M.S., Nova Southeastern University

Susan began her career in social work, focusing on children and families.  Susan enjoyed working with students, and decided to pursue a career in education.  Working with at-risk youth, Susan saw a tremendous need for building reading skills.  Susan began learning more about dyslexia, and attended numerous training programs in multi-sensory instruction.  She also went back to school to earn a master’s degree in Special Education.  After co-teaching with John Hettler for several years in the public school system, she decided to start a new venture.  Susan worked with John to create both The Reading Station and Sea of Strengths programs.  Susan teaches our Orton-Gillingham reading classes in the morning, and also oversees the after-school program at SOSA.



Robin Hamilton – Lead Teacher

B.S., Florida State University

After graduating from Florida State University in 2010, Robin began working as a teacher and a tutor at the Sea of Strengths Academy and The Reading Station.  Robin has attended several International Dyslexia Association conferences, and has received specialized training in multi-sensory teaching strategies for students with dyslexia. As a passionate member of the SOSA family, Robin began the  tradition of SOSA’s annual Mad Scientist Day, which built on her love of science.  She has been the driving force behind many exciting events at SOSA such as the annual Spring Fling Field Day and Spirit Week. Robin brings a special blend of enthusiasm and creativity to her classroom, and is endlessly attempting to find new and creative ways for her students to learn and understand key concepts.  Robin currently teaches students in Writing and Science classes.




Meryl Rizzo –  Teacher

B.A.  City University of New York

Ms. Meryl has many years teaching English, History, Theater and Speech in Middle and High School before joining us at the Sea of Strengths Academy.   Meryl became involved with students with learning differences because of her own children. “I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling and rewarding than inspiring students to accomplish goals they have always felt were out of their reach. Everyday is a new challenge and an opportunity to share and teach subjects which I feel passionate about.”   Ms. Meryl brings the passion that comes with having a child with special needs, and wanting to make sure that they receive a high-quality school experience.  Meryl has attended Orton-Gillingham training, and uses this knowledge to help build students’ skills in reading and spelling.  Meryl also regularly attends ongoing training and national conferences focusing on students with language-based learning disabilities.  Hard-working, dedicated, compassionate, and enthusiastic are just a few words that describe Meryl’s work with SOSA students.  Meryl currently teaches Literature and Social Studies classes at SOSA.




David Stevens – Teacher Assistant

B.S. Full Sail University (In Progress)

David began working at The Reading Station as a tutor.  David later joined Sea Of Strengths as a teacher assistant.  David has received specialized training in academic interventions.  David has built his skills as a teacher, and always pushes his students to never settle for anything less than their best work.  David currently teaches Math, P.E., and Specials classes.