Oak Forest Academy was founded by Mia and Joe Heil. They have 3 young kids, who have all attended preschool since they were 3 months old and will continue at Oak Forest Academy. Their son Connor is 7 years old, and their daughters Kaitlyn and Allison are 4 and 3. Their understanding of the early childhood education industry has been refined over the years as they’ve watched their children grow through this system. Their passion for the kids and teachers, along with their desire to advance the industry and improve the experience of all involved, has led them to this point. Their strategy has been refined and validated by fellow parents and teachers alike, and they are excited to provide a place where all kids can have fun, be loved, and advance academically, socially, and emotionally.
Mia Heil – Founder & Owner
I dreamed for many years of opening a new kind of preschool, one that I would have loved to find when my 3 kids were infants. That dream started to become reality in 2017 when I left my full-time job to focus on planning, designing, and building Oak Forest Academy. I assembled a team of advisors and refined all the details until I had designed a program and facility that could provide a top-notch experience for all members of the OFA community, including the parents, students, and teachers.
My passion is fueled by a love for kids and a desire to see them learn and thrive. I am also very dedicated to providing an environment where teachers can grow and reach new heights in their careers. As a working mom to 3 young kids, I also understand the concerns, questions and emotions facing new parents, and one of my commitments is to help make the transition from home to school as smooth as possible. I designed the OFA approach to make sure your kids are well cared for physically and emotionally by loving and well-trained teachers and am always eager to listen and help resolve any concerns that you may have. I know the stress that is alleviated when you find the right people to care for your child. I will be on site everyday to ensure the mission and vision is carried out and to ensure our OFA parents feel comfortable and confident that their kids are in the best hands possible.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Finance in 2002, I worked as an acquisition manager before I co-founded a successful consulting business with my husband, Joe, which he still runs today.
Dr. Jo (Jolene) Yoakum – Education Curriculum Director
Dr. Yoakum serves as our Education Curriculum Director. Dr. Yoakum has 37 years of experience in education, including 23 years as a classroom teacher followed by 14 years in administration. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher (NBCT), has served as an elementary Literacy Specialist, a Professional Development Coordinator, Director of Curriculum, and an Assistant Superintendent. She obtained her Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2007 and recently retired from public education. Dr. Yoakum has developed our proprietary age-appropriate curriculum that is in line with the Texas Early Learning and Development standards and incorporates STEAM, foreign language and our social-emotional learning program.
Lisa Gale – Operations Director
Lisa brings over 25 years of experience in early childhood and elementary education from both traditional and alternative learning environments. After earning a B.A. in Economics and Early Childhood Education from UT Austin and working in the field of early childhood for several years, Lisa decided to continue her studies in education with a post-graduate degree from Sam Houston State University. Lisa is passionate about creating healthy schools and specializes in creating healthy classrooms in which children love to learn and teachers are inspired to grow. Lisa’s experience and unique, holistic perspective allow her to make significant contributions to education through her heart-based style of leadership and curation of school culture.
Krystal Bellah – Assistant Director
Krystal serves as our one of our Assistant Directors. Krystal earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio where she served in Student Affairs within the university’s wellness sector. During her undergrad studies, Krystal taught in the classroom working with at-risk children and eventually working as an educator in Boston, MA. Continuing to refine her teaching skills, Krystal became recognized for elevating childcare with a specialty in Respectful Caregiving and Mindfulness. She is dedicated to serving institutions committed to caring for the whole child and guides our teachers as they implement evidence based strategies for building authentic connections inside the classroom.
Emma Lee – Assistant Director
Emma earned her B.A. in Child and Family Studies from Baylor University and then went on to Texas Women’s University to earn her Master’s degree in Child Life. During her time at Baylor University, she worked alongside the teachers at the Piper Developmental Center gaining extensive experience in early childhood development observation and research. Emma is excited to incorporate the fundamental early child development and family studies knowledge she gained during her undergraduate and graduate studies into her work here at Oak Forest Academy.