Meet The Staff
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Learning Officer
Mr. Christopher Marker has worked to develop student success for over 30 years in various capacities. He has served as a site-based administrator for Collier County Public Schools for over 20 years, the last 11 as a Principal of high performing schools earning only A+ grades in the Florida Accountability system. He is also the proud parent of his K-12 home schooled son, who is now a successful engineer serving our local community.
Before attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Mr. Marker was blessed to grow up in farm country where he learned the value of hard work, from baling hay to taking care of livestock. After achieving his Bachelor’s degree from Miami, he relocated to Florida to begin a career working in social service, and later in education. Opportunities to help students develop over the years have included mentor, intervention specialist, behavioral therapist, case manager, juvenile probation officer, teacher, program director, behavior analyst, dean, assistant principal, and most recently principal.
Later education included Doctoral work in Educational Administration from the University of Florida, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Mr. Marker is also a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) and National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) certified. Additionally, he is also a Florida certified School Principal (all levels), School Leadership (all levels), and Psychology grades 6-12.
Mr. Marker’s drive to help our clients foster economic freedom through learning is at the core of the Freedom Institute’s vision and mission. He looks forward to assisting your child with their home school or like educational goals, and in obtaining a career they love, with the skills and financial freedom to ensure their success
Dr. Nathan Poteet has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. His doctoral dissertation is based on character education programs and student leadership. He has worked as a teacher and administrator with K-12 students in Collier County for the last 12 years. As an administrator, he has helped two schools increase student achievement. As a result, both schools went from a school grade of a "C" to an "A" (Highlands Elementary and Lake Trafford Elementary).
Dr. Poteet is certified in Educational Leadership K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, Elementary Education K-6, and Physical Education K-12. He believes all students should have an individualized education tailored to their needs and interests. He looks forward to working with your child to accomplish their goals and set them up for lifelong success and financial freedom.
Mrs. Christy Vaill has a Masters Degree in Education, with a focus on Interdisciplinary Studies, from the University of Florida. After teaching for 10 years, she obtained a second Masters Degree from Florida Gulf Coast University in Educational Leadership. She prides herself on being a lifelong learner, and hopes to instill that in her students as well.
Mrs. Vaill has worked for Collier County Public Schools for the last 15 years in various capacities including classroom teacher, resource teacher, Media Specialist, Math & Science Instructional Coach, and as an Administrator in her most recent role.
Mrs. Vaill is certified in Educational Leadership K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, Educational Media Specialist PK-12, Elementary Education K-6, and holds endorsements for both English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and Reading. She believes that building authentic, positive relationships with students, families, colleagues, community members, and educational stakeholders is the foundation for success for a child. She looks forward to connecting with your child and helping support their goals and passions, with the same effort and excitement she does with her own children. Being a student at Freedom will be FUN!
Ms. Garafola has her masters in Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University. Ms. Garafola is a Collier native and has worked for Collier County public schools for the last 11 years in various capacities, including classroom teacher, resource teacher, math coach, and as an administrator. Ms. Garafola spent the majority of her time in Collier County Public Schools. Building relationships with staff and students to grow their capacity. Through these relationships, she was able to support the movement of failing schools to an 'A' grade from the state. Helping students see their potential is a passion of hers. Ms. Garafola Is certified in educational leadership K-12, exceptional student education K-12, and elementary education K-6, and holds her ESOL endorsement. Ms. Garafola is eager to start building relationships with families at Freedom and lead everyone to their greatness.
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Lauren Grady is an artist, coach, teacher, mentor, and mom. As an artist, she specializes in multi-media presentations melding proprietary photography with centuries-old news clippings describing everyday life in America. As a jeweler, she draws on her experience as a young woman and designs affordable jewelry with authentic precious stones and unique settings for young women (or the young at heart). Lauren’s art and jewelry are owned and appreciated by governors, first ladies, entrepreneurs, members of the Forbes 400, and hundreds of elementary school kids (and their parents). As a coach, Lauren is a personal trainer and yoga instructor incorporating her competitive springboard diving experience and modern ideas on fitness, diet, and nutrition. As a research guru, she draws on her skills honed as an English and literature major at Florida State University and helps law firms improve their clients’ outcomes when most in need. As a teacher and mentor, Lauren has inspired elementary kids (and one teenager) to find the artist in each of them and to relate that love to everything they think, learn and do. One HR VP said, “Lauren is innately gifted with her ability to connect with people.” And most importantly, Lauren is mom to 13-year-old Jesse, a gifted student, communicator, artist, and athlete who knows that his mom is the most amazing woman (and cook) in the world!
Mrs. Cheryl Vonderau has an Associate’s degree in Executive Secretarial and brings 35+ years of experience to The Freedom Institute of Collier County. Since 2019, Cheryl has worked in the Professional Learning Department for Collier County Public School as a data entry/secretary. While living in Pittsburgh she worked for Bristol Environmental where she was the Office Manager for 15 years. When Cheryl started working for BEI, it was a two-person office she helped grow over 15 years. Cheryl also worked for Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh for 18 years, where she was a Senior Executive Secretary in various departments such as marketing, human resources and benefits.
In 2019, she relocated from Pittsburgh to Estero to be closer to her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. In Cheryl’s free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, especially her new grandson, and cheering on the Pittsburgh Penguins! She is excited to join The Freedom Institute and welcome the clients each morning! Go Eagles!
Christopher Marker, CEO/CLO
Nathan Poteet, Program Director/Principal
Christy Vaill, Senior Success Coach
Michelle Garafola, Success Coach
Freedom Institute of Collier County
2706 Horseshoe Drive S
Naples, FL 34104