School Leadership Team


Meet the tireless educators whose dedication and vision have brought The SEED School of Miami to life. Click on their names to contact them via email.


Kara Locke, Ed.d., Head of School

Kara Locke, Ed. D. served as the Principal of The SEED School of Washington D.C. from 2007 - 2014 and began her role as the Head of School of SEED Miami in early 2014. She is a native of Washington, D.C. who received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a concentration in Secondary Education from Rhodes College. She completed her graduate work at Johns Hopkins University where she earned a master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision. In 2006 she was selected by New Leaders for New Schools to serve as a Resident Principal and engage in a yearlong learning and leadership fellowship program. She completed her coursework to earn her Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Locke has taught at both the elementary and high school levels in Washington, D.C. area private and public charter schools. She has been recognized for her teaching by the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and for her leadership by New Leaders for New Schools.

Giovanna Maldonado, Director of Operations

Giovanna Maldonado is an accomplished Human Resources professional with proven skills in the educational non-profit arena.  Giovanna has used her background as an educator and HR professional to successfully lead all HR functions for 15 years. Currently, Giovanna is the Director of Operations for The SEED School of Miami, South Florida's first public, boarding school, where she has been an instrumental leader streamlining start-up efforts of the HR Department.  She has been responsible for driving best-in-class initiatives in talent management, employee relations and strategic planning. Giovanna has consistently delivered results by aligning human capital strategy with mission priorities of the organization.  Giovanna earned her MBA from Nova Southeastern University and bachelor's degree in Psychology & Education from the University of Miami.  

Owen A. Baillie, DIRECTOR OF Development

Owen A. Baillie, an Eagle Scout and active community volunteer, received a Silver Night nomination for his success in building partnerships with local community agencies to underwrite diabetes educational programs for at-risk youth in Miami-Dade County. Although a native of Miami, he spent eleven years directing both annual and capital campaigns for institutions of higher and medical education in the northeast United States. There, his efforts secured over $15 million in charitable giving to support pre-matriculated minority and first-generation college students in medicine, biomedical and health sciences. As Director of Development, he primarily works to develop and implement a strategic work plan that focuses on funding the near-term capital goals and long-term sustainability for The SEED School of Miami. Prior to joining SEED, Mr. Baillie was the Director of Development for the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University. He holds a BS in Liberal Studies from the University of Scranton.

LUNA OTERO, Director of Admissions & Enrollment Management

Luna Otero has worked with families across South Florida, identifying, implementing  and coordinating programs and opportunities for youth. Most recently, Ms. Otero was the Community Compact Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, where she fulfilled various roles over the years, such as School to Work and Relationship Development Team Coordinator, since she began with the agency in 2008. Prior to this, she was a Case Manager and Family Empowerment Program Facilitator for Informed Families. She also served as a contract clinician for the Institute of Child and Family Heath. Currently, in addition to her position as the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management for The SEED School of Miami, Ms. Otero serves as a board member on Carlos Albizu University's Professional Development Advisory Board (PDAB). She began her career as a math teacher. Ms. Otero was born in New York City and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Human Development from Boston College and a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Carlos Albizu University. She has been a Miami resident for nine years and volunteers her time as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami. 

Maria Ceballos-Zagales, Director of Student Support Services

Maria Ceballos-Zagales is a Florida Certified Teacher in Varying Exceptionalities (K-12), English for Speakers of Other Languages (K-12) & Reading (K-12). She holds a bachelor's in Varying Exceptionalities, a master's in TESOL and Technology and completed her coursework for the Education Specialist degree in Reading at Barry University. Ms. Ceballos-Zagales has over 13 years of combined experience in the education field. She began her teaching career as an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Miami-Dade College and Barry University. She is a certified trainer in the areas of socio-emotional development, positive behavior support, program curricula, family involvement and classroom interactions.  

Latrice thomas, Overnight and Morning Program Manager

Ms. Latrice Thomas is a Founding member of the SEED School of Miami and currently serves as the Overnight and Morning Program Manager for the school. From the moment she read the mission and vision of The SEED School of Miami, she knew that this was the place for her to continue and eventually end her career as a professional social worker.

The only time she lived outside of Miami was to obtain her bachelor's degree from The Florida State University in Tallahassee. She earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology (with a minor in Child Development and African American Studies in 2006); and later went back home to attend Florida International University, where she obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work (in 2010). Ms. Thomas loves to dance and have fun, but she has high expectations and standards for her students and pushes them to reach their highest potential!  She has been in the human services field for twenty years now, and her passion involves working tirelessly to improve and uplift the lives of children and their families throughout South Florida.

Derik Washington, Dean of School Culture and Climate

Derik Washington is a proud boarding school graduate who later served his alma mater in various capacities for nearly a decade; most recently as Dean of the Elementary Residential Program.  Mr. Washington moved to Miami to attend graduate school.  During his graduate studies he served as a Fraternity Graduate Advisor and volunteered for Empowered Youth USA, serving the organization as a mentor, youth facilitator, and program coordinator.  Upon graduation, Mr. Washington served as a Full Case Manager at the Family Resource Center of South Florida, Inc.  Mr. Washington’s love for the arts navigated his postsecondary academic path.  He holds a bachelor's degree in Film and Television from Drexel University, and a master’s degree in Music from the University of Miami.  

Miguel Rivera, Director of Middle School Student Affairs

Miguel has been an educator since 2006, when he taught physical education to middle school and high school boys at Lanham Christian School in Maryland. After teaching mathematics and religious studies at Chicago Hope Academy High School, he returned to Maryland to work for The SEED School of Maryland as a student life counselor and assistant to the director of athletics. Most recently, Miguel taught at Chicago Bulls College Prep and Bethany Christian School in Fort Lauderdale. He began his career as an NBA correspondent for and coached basketball throughout his career. He recently completed his masters in education from the American College of Education. 

Cristine O'Hara, Ed.D., Director of Middle School AcademiC affairs

Cristine O’Hara has been an English educator in Miami-Dade County for 15 years. In 2011 she served as the Francisco R. Walker Teacher of the Year for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and was also one of the top 5 finalists for Florida’s Teacher of the Year. She has a bachelor’s degree in English education, a master’s degree in urban education, and a doctorate in organizational leadership. She has also been a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international teacher sorority,  and is currently the president of the Gulf-Regional Chapter, Zeta. She has been a presenter and teacher trainer for organizations such as the Zelda Glazer Writing Institute and in 2011 she was the keynote speaker for Florida International University’s Women Who Lead conference as well as the recipient of FIU’s Torch Award.  Mrs. O'Hara also serves as our Conflict Resolution Designee.  In this capacity, she represents SEED Miami to help facilitate parental involvement, provide information, assist parents, and resolve disputes.


Theresa Thomas, Director of High School AcademiC affairs

Theresa Thomas started her work in education in New York City as a City Year Corps member where she focused on attendance, behavior, and academic initiatives to enrich the experience of middle school students in East Harlem. She then transitioned to Miami to teach reading and English at the middle school and high school levels before joining Miami-Dade County Public School’s Division of Academic Support. Working for the district, she was a Curriculum Support Specialist where she managed and supported the needs of leaders and teachers at five under-performing schools, helping to increase reading proficiency rates and teacher quality. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Miami and is currently completing a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership at St. Thomas University.

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