Dr. John Lesko ’92

Dr. John Lesko

Since graduating from PCC, Dr. John Lesko (’92) has spent nearly 12 years overseas in places like South Korea, France, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. He has been a professor, a Fulbright scholar, and an employee for Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. He never imagined how God could use his English degree.

Lesko’s appreciation for foreign languages and cultures began when he was a toddler growing up among the Navajo. His father, who spent 10 years ministering to Navajo Indians, had determined that missionary work could be best accomplished through learning the language of the people. “My parents and extended family instilled [in me] a love of learning and were a model of service to others.”

As a teenager, the words Lesko had heard his entire life began to sink in, and under his father’s preaching, Lesko rededicated his life to Christ, claiming the promise from Genesis 24:27, “I being in the way, the LORD led me.” For him, following God’s leading meant attending PCC. “As a student, I used to write Proverbs 22:29 at the top of my list of things to do each day: ’Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.’”

Diligence paid off as Lesko graduated with a double major in English and professional writing from PCC and was accepted into a TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program at Bowling Green State University. “I knew that I enjoyed language study, and I wanted a bit of adventure in life.” Studying TESOL provided him with his first overseas teaching position as an intern in South Korea.

After finishing at Bowling Green, Lesko married his college sweetheart, Danuta Salomon (’92), whom he had met at PCC, and the Lesko family’s international adventures began. That summer, they traveled to France for language school and then headed to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for Lesko to complete a postgraduate research degree program. 

After their time in Scotland, Lesko and his wife moved with their children to Wisconsin, but when a teaching position in the United Arab Emirates became available, Lesko applied. His willingness to learn new languages was vital for his landing the job. “I had determined to learn at least a few phrases before the interview. When I walked into the room, before a rather intimidating committee of ranking officers from this language institute, I was able to greet them in Arabic, and this broke the ice immediately. The head interviewer smiled, and we commenced what would turn out to be a successful job interview.”

The Lesko family spent three years in the United Arab Emirates, gaining valuable experience and learning about a new culture. Yet, once again, God was leading the Lesko family somewhere new, this time to Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. At SVSU, Lesko taught courses to TESOL students. During this time, he was also selected for a two-year Fulbright Scholar Teaching Exchange in the Sultanate of Oman; this position was a great honor and a wonderful experience as the Lesko family studied Arabic together.

In 2011, Lesko transitioned into his current position for Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. “This new job has involved a transition from academia to the corporate work environment where effective business communications are important, where the English language continues to play an important role, and where intercultural relations are vital in both personal and professional contexts.”

While Lesko has spent much of his life learning about languages and other cultures, he has done his best to pass this passion on to his children, two of whom are PCC students. Solomon is a business major, and Olivia is studying missions.

For Olivia, a passion to travel and learn about other cultures is mixed with a burden for people who have never heard about Christ’s love. “What greater calling is there than to share the love of God with people around the world?” she said. “I’m extremely excited to be able to travel to a country and tell people that through Christ they will find the answers to life and death and happiness.”

Lesko can see how God has led him, his wife, and his children each step of the way. “We look back, finding it hard to believe that so many years have passed and praying for our children to ’be in the way’ and follow the Lord's will for their lives.”

Melissa Newport ’97


Melissa Newport

It would be a defining moment for The Master’s Academy in 2018. On behalf of Dr. Andrea Ramirez, acting director of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, Christian educator Melissa Newport (’95, M.S. ’97) received an invitation to attend off-the-record roundtable discussions at the U.S. Department of Education with Secretary Betsy DeVos on November 29, 2018.

“Meeting Secretary DeVos was an honor,” Newport said. “She hears the promise that allows teachers to flourish and the frustration that inhibits teachers from educating. She wants to clear the path and use her pulpit to help us.”

The discussions covered the issues affecting K–12 teachers; focused on teacher retention, recruitment, and compensation; and allowed for teachers from across the country to discuss how these issues affect them and how to improve the teaching profession.

As a teacher representing a Christian school, Newport was honored and humbled by the opportunity. “This experience clarified the privilege of teaching in a Christian classroom and the dignity of the teaching profession,” she said. “Much of teaching is intangible; much of real education is unquantifiable. How do we measure a student’s ability to persevere to learn? This is hard and holy work. Only eternity will reveal the results of our efforts.”

Melissa Newport

Newport’s road to represent The Master’s Academy in Washington, D.C., began 34 years ago when her father Dr. Ed Carney, pastor of Bible Baptist Church, asked her to teach a Wednesday night Bible class for children. “I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

Dr. Carney planted the church in Kissimmee, FL, in 1969 and also founded Heritage Christian School, the oldest and largest private school in the county, in 1974. Newport attended there K4–12th grade and, after graduating from PCC, returned to Heritage for six years to teach alongside the same teachers who had taught her. In 2002, she transitioned to The Master’s Academy, a thriving Christian school in Oviedo, FL, where she’s taught ever since. “I live my dream every day in my classroom at TMA,” she said. “The first day I walked on the campus, I knew I was home.”

Melissa Newport

At The Master’s Academy, Newport teaches 11th and 12th grade advanced and dual enrollment English classes while also serving as the English department chair. “Faithfulness in little things modeled by the PCC faculty and staff is a principle that has served me every day in my teaching career. The education I received from PCC influences decisions I make every day from the Bible classes I had with Dr. Mullenix to English classes with Dr. Chapman and Dr. Rand,” she said. “I [can] still hear Dr. Chapman in my head teaching the difference between ’descriptive and prescriptive’ dictionaries. Dr. Rand’s influence cannot be underestimated in my teaching career. Her care, knowledge, and professionalism inspires me, even after all these years.”

Early in her life, Newport realized her gift for teaching, and she has used that gift to teach her students about God’s truth in language while honoring God with her work. She found that her faith allowed her to represent her school along with other Christian teachers in Washington, D.C. “Because of the transformative power of God’s grace, I never spend a minute of any school day in Christian education wondering why I do this work or whether it is worth it,” she said.

Leslie Collier ’01

Leslie Collier

  • MBA: University of New Hampshire
  • Teacher, Westwood Baptist Academy (Poplar Bluff, MO)

“I teach junior high and high school English, history, and drama. After teaching at Pensacola Christian Academy (PCA) for three years, God brought my husband and me back to our home state where we could rear our children near our families.

“I love watching the students learn and grow each year. Since I have most of them every year, it is amazing to see how much they progress and very exciting to watch them graduate and see how the Lord works and directs in their lives.

“The classes I took at PCC definitely prepared me for my career. When I started my first teaching job at PCA, I felt completely prepared for what was expected of me. The caring teachers were great examples of how I as a teacher should minister to my students.”

Carli Saffert ’02

Carli Saffert-English

  • M.S. in Library Information Science, Wayne State University
  • Reference Librarian, St. Clair County Library (Port Huron, MI)

“My primary duty is researching questions for patrons over any number of topics, as well as acquiring new material for our collection and withdrawing outdated and unused material. I develop the library’s resources so that they match our informational need.

“Now, as a professional librarian, I use much of what I learned as an English major on a daily basis. I help library patrons not only with their reading preferences, but also with questions that run the spectrum of information. Thanks to PCC, I have a solid understanding of the English language and literature. I will forever be grateful that God led me to attend college there.”

Amber Griffin ’05

Amber Griffin

  • MBA: University of New Hampshire
  • Teacher, La Molina Christian Schools (Lima, Peru)

“For the past five years, I’ve worked as the high school English teacher at La Molina Christian Schools in Lima, Peru. I first learned about this school through the February Recruitment Conference PCC offers to graduating students. Director Andy Pace presented the school’s mission as challenging Peruvian students with a solid academic program while instilling in them a biblical worldview and encouraging them in their personal relationships with God. In retrospect, I more clearly see how God has used my education and experience at PCC to fashion me for His use to accomplish that mission. At Pensacola, I was challenged to work diligently to attain high academic standards, and I learned through every class how to view the world through a biblical lens. The environment of the school and the spirit of the teachers fostered in me a deeper desire to grow in my relationship with my Creator and Redeemer.

“When I arrived in Peru and saw the material I would be teaching, I found that the detailed English program at PCC had thoroughly prepared me for this field. Because I had already studied the majority of the works I would be teaching, I could spend extra time focusing on classroom management and developing relationships with my students and their parents.  

“God gives us a ministry no matter the geographical location or the professional field because wherever we go there will be people. Without a doubt, my favorite part about the field I’m in is the people. I have the privilege and challenge to work with Peruvian teenagers; and whether I’m teaching them about John Milton, playing basketball with them, demonstrating how to write a persuasive essay, having a personal conversation with one of them, or praying with them, I get to see how God works in their lives. That is challenging yet rewarding.”

Tammy Jump ’97

Tammy Jump

  • Assistant District Attorney, Second Judicial District (LA)

In 2011, Tammy Jump (’97) became the first assistant district attorney for the Second Judicial District in Louisiana, which includes the Claiborne, Jackson, and Bienville parishes. As the first assistant, if anything were to happen to the current DA, she would become the acting DA. Her job includes screening criminal cases, preparing cases for trial, and trying felony cases. She enjoys working closely with law enforcement and knowing that every day she goes to work, she is making a difference in someone’s life.

Since 7th grade, Tammy knew she wanted to be an attorney, but when she decided to attend PCC, she didn’t choose pre-law. “Although I knew I wanted to be a lawyer,” she says, “I felt that an English major would give me more advantage in law school as well as in my profession. PCC gave me the background I needed to be able to articulate arguments for court and to write letters and briefs. Writing research papers, taking speech classes, and even taking my Spanish classes prepared me for my current field.”

While in college, Tammy enjoyed the extracurricular activities PCC offers. She was active in her collegian; participated in the orchestra, symphonic choir, and string ensemble; and worked on campus. She says, “Time management would probably be the thing that I took away from PCC that has helped me the most in my career. I had to learn to be organized in college in order to juggle my busy schedule. In this career, you can build a bad reputation quickly if you do not stay organized and do your job well.”

Tammy shares that her greatest blessing while attending college was meeting her husband Nathan. According to him, “Tammy and I fell in love over a math book. She was tutoring me.” In every situation in her life, Tammy can see the Lord guiding her: first to PCC, then to her husband, and finally, to the right law school.

In 2000, Tammy received her Juris Doctorate from Regent University and began living her dream, knowing the Lord had guided her every step of the way after giving her the foundation she needed.

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