A little about us…

K-9th Leader

Alicia Frye

Alicia Frye has been a teacher in the public school system for 7 years. Prior to that, she spent several years in a charter school doing a variety of roles. While in these environments, she witnessed students have a lot of growth, however, many were missing something she views as extremely important. That piece was the desire and knowledge of how to learn. The current education system is great at teaching students how to memorize facts and procedures to “pass the standards”. This does little to create lifelong learners and leaves many students feeling like failures when they struggle. Alicia knows the importance of lifelong learning and has a passion to see kids not only learn skills that they will use to be successful in school, but also learn how to be a lifelong learner that will help them to be successful in every part of their life!

Physical Education Instructor

Andre Murillo

Andre Murillo’s educational journey began in 2009, focusing on physical education until 2023, while also being a dedicated husband, father to a four-year-old, and companion to three dogs. He led a sports program and coached multiple sports at a private school in Paradise Valley, adding depth to his role as an athletic director. After receiving his teacher education degree from Arizona State University in 2008, he cultivated his passion for music, mastering the piano, saxophone, guitar, and drums, contributing his talents to worship teams. In the past three years, he delved into art education, teaching drawing and painting. Excited for the upcoming 2023/2024 school year, Andre eagerly anticipates inspiring students in sports, music, and art, embodying a lifelong commitment to fostering creativity and learning.

Dance Instructor

Taylor Simpson

Taylor Simpson’s dance journey ignited at eight years old in Southern California, where she trained at Dunamix Dance Project until age 19, guided by American Ballet Theater Certified Instructors. From performing roles like Cygnets in Swan Lake to teaching young ballet students at 16 and choreographing recitals, her early path was marked with achievement. At Belhaven University in Mississippi, she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science, along with a Ballet and Modern Dance Technique and Performance Certificate, under the mentorship of distinguished dance professors including Krista Bower and Laura Morton. As part of DOXA, Belhaven’s Dance Leadership Team, Taylor led as an Event Coordinator and Collaborative Arts Member, even collaborating in dance films. Taylor’s time also included working with Belhaven University’s Dance Athletic Trainer, performing with the Dance Ministry Ensemble, and contributing to student works. In the Fall of 2021, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona and became a Performance Arts Instructor at Basis Charter school and taught at various dance studios, including Fuse Performing Arts, Ascend Dance, and Laveen Dance. Taylor’s expertise in exercise science complements her teaching as she aims to inspire students’ artistry while fostering a deep connection to faith and dance.

ASL Instructor

Steven Briesacher

Steven Briesacher is a serial entrepreneur and devoted family man. He was born Deaf, and American Sign Language is his primary means of communication. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to innovation have not only led him to collaborate with Intel and Omnibridge on Automatic Sign Recognition using Artificial Intelligence but also enabled him to make a positive impact within the Deaf community and beyond. Alongside his professional achievements, he takes immense pride in his role as a loving husband to his beautiful wife, Becky, with whom he has shared almost 20 years of marriage. Blessed with a family that uses ASL, he and his wife, Becky, have passed down the love of the language to their children, two of whom attend school at Awaken Life Academy. Steven has taught several ASL workshops over the years. His approach to education is marked by a deep belief in the power of fostering understanding and appreciation for Deaf culture. Additionally, Steven’s commitment shines as he meets with everyone, ensuring they know both ASL and Jesus.

Directors & Music/Drama Instructors

Daniel & Joy Willett

Pastors Daniel and Joy Willett are passionate about guiding individuals towards a profound and enriching spiritual journey with the Lord. They firmly believe that every believer should experience the boundless love, joy, peace, kindness, and goodness of God as an integral part of their everyday lives.

With 25 years of marriage and five children, Daniel and Joy have dedicated more than 15 years to full-time ministry, pouring their hearts into serving others.

Joy Willett has a degree in Music Education and has over 20 years of experience teaching voice and piano, as well as leading choirs at the Junior High, High School, and College levels. She has experience teaching High School Choir in the public school system, as well as experience in home schooling her own children. In ministry, she has over 15 years of experience as a Music Director and Worship Leader, as well as a songwriter and recording artist. She has led many church choirs, ensembles, youth choirs, and directed many theatrical productions over the years. 

Daniel Willett has been a recording engineer, music producer, and song writer for over 20 years and also has over 15 years of experience as a Music Director and Worship Leader. He has many years of experience in teaching guitar, studio music recording, engineering, and producing. Pastors Daniel and Joy Willett are passionate about education and the importance of teaching our children to keep their faith in Christ at the center of everything they do–especially in learning!  

Together, they founded Awaken Life Church, and have been the Senior Pastors for over 10 years. Their ultimate goal is to empower people to embrace and embody the fullness of their identity in Christ Jesus, as revealed through the transformative power of God’s love and grace. They wholeheartedly affirm that our Heavenly Father exceeds all expectations, surpassing our wildest imaginations. As shepherds of their congregation, their mission is to illuminate the depths of God’s love and grace, unveiling His extraordinary affection towards His children. It is through His unfailing loving-kindness that individuals are led towards repentance and awakened to their authentic identity in Christ Jesus.

AWAKEN LIFE ACADEMY 20817 N 19th Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85027