Our Team
"What can I say?  The Coral Reef Academy staff was incredibly warm and available, and their clinicians are very skilled.  That was so reassuring.  When you implicitly trust the staff, it feels like your son is just around the corner instead of far away."  -Merle M.


Despite-or perhaps because of-our location on a small island in the South Pacific, Coral Reef Academy has attracted world-class talent from Samoa and abroad.   We're proud of our clinical staff, our teachers, our mentors and our campus staff and look forward to you meeting them in person and experiencing a warm "Talofa lava!" or "Welcome!"   Meanwhile we have provided a brief introduction to some of our staff, below.


Breda Tipi-Faitua Alalatoa
In Loving Memory

June 12th, 2015 our Coral Reef family suffered a tremendous loss. Mrs. Breda Faitua passed away due to complications, as she was recently hospitalized. Mrs. Faitua was a wonderful friend, colleague, wife, and mother. She leaves behind a loving husband, 3 bright and talented daughters, and her beautiful grandchildren. She also leaves behind her CRA family that will miss her dearly. She has left a legacy of commitment and loyalty that is unrivaled

Mrs. Faitua touched many students and families through her 18 years at CRA. She carried a tremendous presence and with that was gentle and kind. She was filled with the spirit of calmness. She always had the gift to know what to say in any situation. Anyone who had the honor to know Mrs Faitua was blessed in knowing her. Her cultural and spiritual base allowed her to share profound prayers with those she touched.

We ask that during this time you keep Mrs Faitua's family in your thoughts and prayers. We are very proud of our CRA team, which has come together to share stories and offer support to one another and make sure everyone's needs are being met at this time, especially the needs of our students. Mrs. Faitua will be greatly missed however, her legacy and memory will always live on. One of Mrs. Faitua's many attributes was that she was a true leader, and because of that she prepared and groomed her staff to function both with and without her. One of the greatest gifts that she gave to our team was that she always challenged her colleagues to be better and surpass even her expectations. While Mrs. Faitua can never be replaced, she left a team that, while mourning, will come together and make sure our students and families are well taken care of.

Thank you Mrs.Faitua for touching all of our lives, you will be truly missed and never forgotten.

Michael Geffeney                                                                                                          - top -
Clinical Director

Hello my name is Michael Geffeney and I am the clinical director at Coral Reef Academy program and Beyond the Reef program. I want to welcome you and thank you for choosing to partner with our team in Samoa for your son's treatment. I have been working with youth to bring change into their life for a number of years. My academic path led me contiguously from high school graduation to the University of California at Santa Barbara then graduate school directly into practice with El Nido Family Centers. I began working in private practice residential programs and found my niche. I have earned entrance into the Australian Psychological Society as an associate member. I practice on the island of Upolu with authorization from the Samoa Qualifications Authority. I have an open policy to make treatment transparent and understandable to parents and guardians we serve and advocate for their youth. I work to provide your family success achieving positive outcomes and invite your joining with me.



Patrick Dotson                                                                                                          - top -
Program Therapist

Patrick Dotson comes to Coral Reef Academy from the State of Utah. Patrick received a Master's Degree in Social Work from Utah State University and Licensed in Utah as a Certified Social Worker. Patrick has extensive experience working in treatment environments with adolescents and adults. Patrick has been the lead therapist at a drug and alcohol residential treatment center on the Ute Indian reservation in Northeastern Utah and has grown to love the culture and people of the Ute Tribe. Patrick also has experience with outpatient programs and has offered such mental health services as; Individual, family and group therapy, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, experiential therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy, couple counseling, domestic violence therapy for perpetrators, substance use treatment, and addiction treatment.

Patrick has been married to his wife, Bridgette, for fourteen years and together they have five children. The adoption of their oldest child from Samoa has created strong ties and a passion for the people and culture. Patrick and his family look forward at renewing old relationships and creating new ones.




Tasha Johnson, ACMHC                                                                                              - top -
Program Therapist

Tasha Johnson comes to Coral Reef Academy from the state of Utah. She is a licensed mental health counselor (ACMHC), with an MS in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University and a BA in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Additionally, she has training in dialectical behavioral therapy, play therapies, and attachment disorders.

Tasha has been working in adolescent residential treatment for the last couple of years in Draper, Utah. She loves working with adolescents and young adults and has experience working with a wide variety of mental health issues. Some of these issues include family relationship conflicts, post-traumatic stress and trauma, substance abuse, oppositional defiance, depression, anxiety, attachment, ADHD, and pervasive development disorders. Her approach to therapy includes modalities such as cognitive-behavioral, expressive and experiential therapies, and family therapy.

Tasha developed a love for Polynesian cultures while living in Hawaii a few years back. She has moved to Samoa with her daughter and is excited about being a part of the Coral Reef Academy team, and being immersed in a new culture. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, hiking, reading, gardening, making jewelry and creating artwork.


Moana Jonas                                                                                                             - top -
Head Program Teacher

Moana Jonas comes to Samoa by way of New Zealand. She was educated there, and received a Diploma of Teaching from Waikato Univesity. Before moving to Samoa in 2006, Moana worked for over 10 years in a variety of educational settings. She has worked at all levels of schooling from the primary to senior levels. Her final position, before joiing Coral Reef Academy was with a High School for students with special needs. Here she gained valuable experience in working with students requiring additional support and skills. Most importantly, Moana brings her love of teing passion for providing a supportive and effective learning environment for our students to work each day.ore pal note, Moana joined the Coral Reef Academy team in 2010. She works closely with all the students, identifying their academic plan, working with their individual learning nd supporting them at the various levels of education presented in our school.

Filia Sua, RN                                                                                                                 - top -
Registered Nurse

Filia is the program nurse for Coral Reef Academy. She looks after the health and the general well being of all students and staff on campus. She has been working with the Coral Reef Academy since July 2008. Prior to working for Coral Reef Academy, she was firstly employed as a Registered Nurse mostly at the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, now called the New Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Australia from 1988 till 2006, secondly at the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick, Sydney Australia and occasionally at the Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland New Zealand. Her main field is the Pediatric Emergency Department with some experience in the Adolescent Mental Health. She did all her nursing and education training in Samoa.

Raised in one of the rural village of Samoa called Sauano, Fagaloa. Filia now lives with her one and only 4year old son and her husband at Maagao, not far from Apia the capital of Samoa. Filia has recently moved back from Australia and established their small Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, which is running beautifully at the moment by her husband despite the tsunami which hit Samoa on September 29th.


 

 
   
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What can I say?  The Coral Reef Academy staff was incredibly warm and available, and their clinicians are very skilled.  That was so reassuring.  When you implicitly trust the staff, it feels like your son is just around the corner instead of far away.  -Merle M.

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