A Story of Courage and Resilience

The story of Young Innovators started in 2015. CEO and Founder Marnie Forestieri noticed that young children exhibited all the character traits of innovators. Yet, research was pointing out that by the third grade, the same students were no longer interested in STEM subjects– the field where innovators are needed the most.

Her concern was that traditional preschools were offering the same curriculum for decades and that the early years were the most fertile years to preserve the skills and mindsets. There was an urgent need to redesign learning environments and outdated curriculums to deliver better experiences for young learners.

Marnie recruited a group of passionate professors from the University of Central Florida, including Dr. Debby Mitchell, Dr. Deirdre Englehart, and Donna Carruthers to embark on the journey of designing a STEAM curriculum. To 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 started gaining national attention, writing books for national publisher Gryphon House and designing toys for Kaplan Early Learning. As they opened new locations in Central Florida, they realized that the original prototype lacked important components to accomplish their mission.

After visiting college campuses around the country with her daughter, Marnie came back with a solution to create a program to help prepare children for the challenges of an uncertain future and connect with the learner’s interests, passions, and skills.

Yet, it required the team to scale back to the original location to redesign the prototype.

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

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


Director, educator and mother of three. Responsible for keeping things in order, family fun nights and tailgating after an UCF Football game.

jay zettler

Jay Zettler

CEO Young Innovators franchising Company

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.



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

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