about us

The Teacher Accelerator Program is a non-profit addressing our country’s chronic teacher shortage by recruiting, training, and placing college graduates and career changers in public school classrooms.

about us

The Teacher Accelerator Program is a solution for the greatest challenge facing America’s schools: a chronic talent shortage that has left thousands of classrooms without a dedicated teacher. TAP creates a clear pathway for professionals with bachelor's degrees and college seniors—not in the field of education—to graduate and enter the teaching profession. Beginning at our partnering universities, college seniors and career changers take a one-semester undergraduate course focusing on education foundations and teacher certification support. The course is followed by a paid summer internship where TAP participants will teach in Miami-Dade County Public Schools before landing a full-time teaching position. TAP participants will receive ongoing mentorship throughout their first year of teaching to support their professional development and to build a community of support.


Born out of a collaborative desire to improve our community, Achieve Miami teamed up with Teach for America-Miami-Dade and the University of Miami to mitigate one of Miami’s most critical needs–the teacher shortage. Achieve Miami, with a proven track record of success since 2015, created the Teacher Accelerator Program (TAP) to provide a scalable workforce design modeled solution–a teacher training program that creates a new pipeline of teachers entering Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Since then, TAP has expanded its unique community partnership network to include Miami-Dade College and Florida International University.


Creating pipelines to mobilize, train, and mentor new cohorts of educators to ensure every student has a qualified teacher.


Collaboratively building a new cohort of teachers for our students and our future.

meet our team


Leslie Miller Saiontz is a philanthropist, educational activist, and impact investor. Leslie founded Achieve Miami in 2015 with the goal of launching, scaling, and developing programs that narrow the opportunity gaps facing low-income communities. Into addition to serving as the President of the board at Achieve Miami, Leslie chairs the board of the Miami-Dade chapter of Teach for America, a national organization building a massive network of outstanding leaders who have committed at least two years to teaching in low-income neighborhoods. Before launching Achieve Miami, Leslie spent decades as a successful entrepreneur in retail and real estate. Leslie’s proudest accomplishment is seeing her six grown children dedicate their time and resources to strengthening their own communities.

Lydia Muñiz

Executive Director

Lydia has over 40 years of professional non-profit leadership experience, serving for 30 years as the President and CEO for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. Through her company, LIVE YOUR DREAMS, Lydia helps social impact organizations unlock new opportunities for growth, sustainability, and fundraising effectiveness. Amongst her clients, are Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Centro Mater Foundation, Rebuilding Together, Brooke USA and The Education Fund. Ms. Muniz holds a B.A. from InterAmerican University, San German, Puerto Rico and a Master of Science in Social Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University. Her post graduate education also includes Harvard Business School’s “Strategic NPO Institute,” the Aspen Institute in Colorado, and Bank of America’s Neighborhood in Excellence Leadership Institute.

Jasmine Calin-Micek

Senior Director of Programming

Jasmine Calin-Micek is the Teacher Accelerator Program's Senior Director of Programming. Jasmine, or Jazz as she is affectionately known, has over a decade of experience in K-12 education having served as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, instructional coach, educational consultant, and elementary content specialist. As a Miami native, Jasmine brings her passion for education to her hometown, working to ensure every child has the teacher they deserve. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Davidson College and is a proud alumnus of Teach For America Miami-Dade.

Lauren Barnes

Director of Planning and Grant Management

Lauren is dedicated to creating educational opportunities. She brings to the team a variety of experiences in grant writing, curriculum design, and teaching. She believes in building a better community through connecting with others. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s of Science in Education, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Sofia Renata Martinez

Program Manager

Renata Martinez is the Teacher Accelerator Program's Program Manager. Renata moved to Miami, FL, to be an educator through Teach for America, where she taught Algebra and Pre-Algebra at the middle school level at Citrus Grove K-8. Now, she focuses on guiding teacher candidates into the classroom through certification, testing, and mentorship. She has a B.A. in International Relations from Boston College.

Maria Gabriela Castro

Administrative Director

Maria Gabriela was born and raised in Machala, Ecuador and lived in Massachusetts for 3 years before moving to Hialeah, FL at 11 yrs old. She attended the University of Central Florida where she earned a B.A. in Anthropology and certificate in TEFL. Since graduating, she has been working in non-profit organizations, most notably 7 years at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science where she wore many hats, including positions in the Education and Guest Services departments. Maria Gabriela is passionate about making education accessible to all and serving her community by understanding cultural needs. In her spare time, MG loves to travel, try new foods, visit gardens, and go to the beach!

Adriene Lemon

Finance Manager

Adrienne serves as Achieve Miami's Finance Manager, brings over 25 years of comprehensive accounting experience in both profit and non-profit sectors. Holding a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Accountancy from Florida Atlantic University, she adeptly oversees financials and budgets. Her unique insights help streamline financial management. Beyond work, Adrienne loves to travel, taste new foods, and embrace novel experiences

meet our partners