A Company Built by educators focused on radically improving how children learn

The story of Young Innovators started in 2007 as a grassroots movement of early childhood educators In Orlando. Their concern was that traditional preschools had been offering the same curriculum for decades and looked the same as decades ago during the most fertile years of brain development. There was an urgent need to redesign learning environments and outdated curriculums to deliver better experiences for young learners.

CEO and founder Marnie Forestieri recruited a group of passionate professors from the University of Central Florida, including Dr. Debby Mitchell, Dr. Deirdre Englehart, Dr. Junie Albers-Biddle, and Dr. Kelly Jennings-Towle to embark on the journey of designing a STEAM curriculum framework and started working together with early childhood educators.  

To implement their ideas and design the prototype, Marnie purchased a struggling school in Oviedo, and with the help of school director Erika Seger and the teaching staff, the school became a success. The team, known as the STEM SQUAD, started gaining national attention, writing books for national publisher Gryphon House and designing toys for Kaplan Early Learning.

Dr. Junie Albers-Biddle, Dr. Kelly Jennings, Dr. Debby Mitchell, Marnie Forestieri and Dr. Deirdre Englehart at the University of Central Florida in 2013.
A community of academia and practitioners begins working together to create the framework for design the first STEM curriculum for early childhood education in Oviedo Florida.

The school became a success, started gaining national recognition, and shared its journey with educators to improve the quality of early learning. In 2017, The Orlando Science Center opened an exhibit inside the school to get children excited about STEM careers.

Yet, after scaling, the team realized that a STEM-focused learning framework in early learning was a good start but lacked important components. New research on brain development pointed out that if the two sides of the brain are disconnected, a child could struggle with learning challenges, as emotional well-being provides a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities.The curriculum team reflected that the initial prototype would become obsolete within a few years without innovation and decided to embrace change to move the company forward and remain committed to its original mission.

The school rebranded in 2019 as Young Innovators Academy. To redesign the prototype, the team needed to get back to work to design a teaching framework for learning that would allow them to keep innovating. This time, the team found inspiration in Agency by Design research from Harvard University and Stanford University Design school.

Having experienced firsthand the power of making from Harvard University professors Dr. Edward Clapp and Dr. Lynneth Solis, the original school became a laboratory of ideas that later became the teaching framework, The Innovation Advantage.

To remain committed to our mission, everyone on our leadership team has a solid understanding of child development to support teachers with curriculum implementation, behavior management strategies, and professional development.

A story of courage and resilience on how a mission-driven team practices the same principles they incorporate into their lessons. To teach children how to learn, pursue their passions, empathize with others, build confidence and resilience, work with others, do it again and make it happen.

Maker training
Young INnovators Oviedo
Dr. Edward Clapp introduces maker-learning strategies developed by Agency by Design.
Collaboration in action: Erika Seger, Donna Carruthers, Misti Castner and Marnie Forestieri.
Sharing with others
Marnie and Debby

Dr. Debby Mitchell and Marnie Forestieri.

Leadership Team


Marnie Forestieri


Education entrepreneur, curriculum writer, and author. Lifelong learner and world traveler. Marnie can be found in the hallways looking for dessert after lunch.


Dr. Debby Mitchell

VP Curriculum

Educator, curriculum writer and teacher. I blend my passion for music with my kinesthetic learning style and coffee to create fun music. 


Erika Seger


Educator, Passionate in curriculum implementation, Operations, and Director. Responsible for keeping things in order, family fun nights, and tailgating after an UCF Football game.
jay zettler

Jay Zettler

VP Business Development and Acquisitions

Deal maker, sales strategist, and Air Force veteran. Devoted to faith, family, friends, new adventures, fitness and music production.

Donna Carruthers

VP of Research and Development

Education Entrepreneur, impassioned teacher, and philanthropist. Devoted to faith, family, friends, new adventures, and chocolate.


Misti Castner


Childcare boss, teacher and administrator. Misti can be found in Oviedo planning staff parties and school events.


Domi Maigut

Enrichment Program Director

 Specialty Teacher. My expertise lies in teaching Artificial Intelligence (AI), coding, and specialty Art classes. I am thrilled to bring the wonders of technology and creativity to our young learners.

oliver von trapp



Darmouth alumni, deal chaser, policy and tech aficionado, enterprise sales leader, all-around team player supporting the new wave of early childhood education (friends call him Olly)



Milagros is an ambitious creative marketer who finds delight in creating compelling digital content for Young Innovators.



John de Armas


Gamechanger and C-Level executive mentoring the team.


Sarah Sprinkel


Educator and running for mayor of Winter Park.



Beverly Madison


Commercial Real Estate Investor & Entrepreneur

Give your child the
Innovation Advantage!


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