Our Team

A new paradise

Coral Reef Academy staff

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.
Rodney Rice - Founder, Coral Reef Academy

Rodney Rice


Mr. Rodney Rice is the Founder and Owner of Coral Reef Academy, Mr. Rice is the youngest of six children, and had experienced many cultures at a young age as a result of his father serving in the Military. Being raised as an Air Force Brat has provided him and his siblings the opportunity to travel the world and be immersed in many cultures that have benefited him greatly. It was part of this experience that led Mr. Rice to seek an alternative treatment measure that allowed struggling older adolescents and young adults to experience new cultures and have their horizons broadened while engaging in evidence-based and individualized treatment. Being part of a large family, and then later in life having a family of his own, Mr. Rice holds family values and commitments as paramount, along with diversity, and providing opportunities for others to experience different cultures and be impacted by them.

Mr. Rice has worked in the treatment and the helping professions for over 25 years and uses that experience and knowledge daily. He attended BYU and majored in Social Work as well as playing football. Mr. Rice played in the NFL following his collegiate career and is quoted as saying “I believe I was allowed to play in the NFL long enough to broaden my platform so I could reach the kids that I work with today”. Mr. Rice followed his NFL career by working for a national treatment provider and soaking up all the knowledge he could in learning about the care and treatment of youth. Following that he founded Coral Reef Academy and has been the driving force and visionary there ever since.

For over 20 years Mr. Rice has provided care and treatment to youth and their families tirelessly. Mr. Rice believes in treating each student as if they were his own children. A coaching mentality and forming a team is a strength that shines through in how Mr. Rice has built and continues to run Coral Reef Academy. Mr. Rice is one of the most straight forward, humble, honest, and committed people to serve the treatment population
Mr. Rice is married to a wonderful woman for over 20 years. Together they have four boys and reside in Las Vegas with frequent trips to and from Samoa. Family remains the most important construct in Mr. Rices’s personal and professional practices. In Mr. Rice’s free time he lifts weights, attends his children’s sporting events, gives back to his community, and spends time with his parents.

Bryan Marks Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Bryan Marks

Chief Operating Officer

Bryan completed his undergraduate degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in substance abuse counseling prior to completing his Masters in Human Services. More recently Bryan completed a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Having worked in many areas of the helping professions, Bryan most recently worked for a top tier young adult program as the Director of Quality Assurance and Outreach. As of March of 2016 Bryan has taken the position of Chief Operating Officer and Partner of Coral Reef Academy . Bryan has worked in private treatment centers, not for profits, and has worked as an Independent Educational Consultant. Bryan has a unique skill set that draws from his personal, educational, and professional experience. Bryan also has the advantage of having been a product of programs and treatment centers and can draw from his personal journey, including being one of the first students at Coral Reef Academy 20 years ago.

Bryan has three beautiful children and spends every chance he gets with them. Bryan likes to read, hike, and engage in fitness based activities. Any ocean based experience is what Bryan does when he has time and is near the ocean.

Donjoe Bryce Bio

Donjoe Tina Bryce

Program Director

Donjoe came to Coral Reef Academy as Executive Assistant to our Executive Director in
Saoluafata in 2006 from being First Secretary to the Minister of Works from 1999 to
2003, before traveling to settle her children in New Zealand. She was educated in Samoa in Administration/Accounting and holds a Diploma in Public Management. Her passion is working with NGO communities and youth. She was the first coordinator of New Zealand Funded program addressing Violence against Women and Children in Samoa. She is a qualified New Zealand and Australian Counselor on above issues also a trained/qualified Paralegal which has seen her travel the Pacific countries advocating for the end of Violence against Women & Children. She is a mother of 8 children all settled in their various careers with families of their own in NZ, Hawaii and Samoa.

Moana Jonas

Assistant program director/director of education

My name is Mrs. Moana Jonas and I am the Assistant Program Director and Education Coordinator at Coral Reef Academy. I am here to work with students through their academic studies, as well as be a point person for communication with families. I was born in New Zealand. My father was Samoan and my mum is a New Zealander. I am married with four children, two girls, and two boys. We moved to Samoa ten years ago and we are still enjoying the change of lifestyle.

I carried out my education in New Zealand and Graduated from Waikato University with my Diploma of Teaching. I have been teaching for the last fifteen years in the junior, middle, and senior parts of the school system. I have also worked with Special Needs at the High School level. I was able to gain valuable skills that helped me focus on the importance of students’ individual needs. I am very passionate about providing the best environment to cater to students learning, where success is paramount and is part of the Coral Reef Academy journey.

I am proud of our educational component here at Coral Reef Academy. Partnering with Parents, educational consultants, and our online schooling system we will be able to form an individual education plan that will suit students’ academic goals. In-class support will be provided through daily monitoring of students’ progress and academic tutors will be available if needed.

Ms. Cecelia Bent Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Cecelia Bent

Program Therapist

I would like to introduce myself to you as one of the program therapists working here at Coral Reef Academy with one of your most treasured possessions, your child.

My name is Cecelia Bent, born and raised in England with Caribbean heritage. I have been working with children and families for more than thirty years, and I have been working as a therapist for the past ten years.

I’d like to share a little bit about my life. I was raised in a dysfunctional family which had an impact on my life. I wanted to understand myself and support others with similar backgrounds, so I trained and became a licensed counsellor. This I feel has been one of the best decisions I made in my life, because it helped me with the biggest question “Why?” 

Being equipped with answers allowed me to change disabling patterns in my life, step out of the blame culture and take ownership of my actions. I wanted the world to experience that richness of understanding ones behavior and taking back control with the wonderful feeling of empowerment. 

I have experience working as a therapist with married couples, children {aged 4-21} and families.  I have worked in private practice and with schools, charities and local authorities. My primary therapeutic approaches include person-centered, play, and transactional analysis.

Moana Solomona Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Moana Solomona

Program Therapist

Talofa Lava and welcome to the Coral Reef Academy (CRA). I am Moana Regina Mata’utia Solomona, and I am one of the Program Therapists here at CRA.

I was born in Samoa and my family moved to New Zealand when I was five (5) which is where I spent most of my life and where the majority of my education and training took place. I am a qualified Clinical Therapist specialized in Mental Health and Addictions. I completed my Bachelors and Postgraduate degrees in New Zealand and in 2019 was certified as an International Regional Trainer in Addictions through the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Plan (DAP) Kuala Lumpur. For 16 years I have worked in New Zealand and Australia in the field of Mental Health and Addictions and Guardianship with age groups ranging from 5 yrs to Adults. I have also worked as and Alcohol and Drug Clinician and Trainer in prisons in New Zealand and Australia. I came back to Samoa in 2015 to help set up the first Alcohol and Drug Therapeutic Court which is the first in whole of the Pacific.

I recently started working with the Coral Reef Academy as a Program Therapist and have found my transition into this new service to be very relevant as my specialized areas are needed here. I have had the opportunity to meet the students and talk with some parents and staff and find CRA to be a very unique service offering not only the clinical expertise but the Samoan Culture as part of a holistic treatment plan to support the boys on the program. It is very family and community oriented as is the Samoan Culture. The environment itself being on a tropical island is a wonderful therapeutic environment also for the boys.

My role is to work with the boys to provide counseling, therapy and education, in group work and individual sessions to help them work through their challenges, achieve their goals, life skills, etc so that when they leave here they will be able to making better decisions for themselves and their families and reached their desired goals.

Thank you for letting Coral Reef Academy be a part of yours and your sons journey.

Henrietta Aviga Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Henrietta Aviga

Program Nurse

Talofa Lava, I am the Program Nurse for Coral Reef Academy.  I was educated in New Zealand and registered as a Comprehensive Registered Nurse in 1993.  I have been working in a variety of nursing areas here in Samoa, New Zealand, and recently Remote areas of Australia.  I have experience in primary health care, chronic disease, pediatric nursing, corrections, mental health, research, surgical & emergency nursing.  My nursing experience has allowed me to be exposed to a number of scenarios including emergency and remote situations.  These situations have taught me resilience, compassion, mindfulness, empathy, and a strong work ethic.  As a Program nurse, my role is primarily to support our clinical team, manage medication, health education, liaise with parents, local community networking, and assess student health needs on a daily basis.  I have worked in this program for a number of years between 1995 to the present day.  As a mother myself, my passion to support young men to make better choices and seek help to guide them is imperative in their CRA journey.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count” (unknown)……while the outcome is important, it is all about the journey!

Ms. Gaynor Fepuleai-Tupuola Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Gaynor Fepuleai-Tupuola

Program Teacher
Gaynor is from Apia, the capital of Samoa where she still resides with her husband. Gaynor is a graduate of Samoa College as well as the University of Samoa. She holds a Diploma in Education. Gaynor gained experience teaching while posted in Government schools in the village of Siumu for over 10 years.Gaynor later taught at a host of private schools including All Saints Anglican School where she was Head of the English Department. With her skills, she implemented Policy & Procedures for Occupational Health & Safety in school-based environments. Gaynor also gained management experience in that role before coming to CRA.Gaynor is an educator who is passionate about “Inclusive Education”, this leads her to further studies at Australian Pacific Technical College where she graduated with a Certificate III in Education Support and Certificate IV – Disability. She implemented an Inclusive Curriculum and worked closely with students with special learning differences and facilitated classes for both students and parents.We are lucky that Gaynor chose CRA as her latest work home. Gaynor helps run the Education department and is engaged in direct teaching, tutoring, grading, evaluating, and setting classes/ curriculum for our students. Gaynor remains passionate about teaching all students and her unique experience and education shines when working with students who have learning differences.
David Gabriel Bio - Coral Reef Academy

David J. Gabriel

Special Projects Teacher

Born in Samoa at Motootua Hospital, I was raised in American Samoa since I was 3 years old. I have been lucky to explore different countries before eventually arriving in America. I have one son and spend most of my time not working with him. I am the 3rd of 4 children and the closest living son to my parents. After 2 years of heavy contemplation, I decided to move to Samoa to be closer to my parents and begin a new chapter in my life. I am excited to be part of the CRA family and look forward to continuing to work with the students that I am so lucky to be a part of their process.

I was educated in the Catholic school system attending St. Teresa’s elementary and then graduating from Marist brothers’ high school in 2001. I received a scholarship in 2003 to attend the University of Hawaii in Manoa, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I lived and worked in Hawaii for 6 years as a trainer before moving back to American Samoa to work for UCEDD (University center for excellence in developmental disabilities) housed in ASCC (American Samoa Community College). There I was able to assist programs and hold workshops to support people with developmental disabilities as well as assist in navigating their educational paths. Following that, I decided to accept a job in Special Education under the American Samoa Government Department of Education division. There I worked as a behavioral specialist for 2 years, where I was also practicing private therapy sessions for young kids who came from off-island having trouble adjusting to their new surroundings. I was then appointed to be an assessment officer to determine if a child is eligible for SPED (special education) services, assist with IEP’s, as well as proactive educational planning. I was also given a special assignment to design and implement the educational standards for SPED translated from DOE (department of education) standards. I was further fortunate to have been able to assist in writing and amending the SOP (standard operating procedures) of an assessment officer and coordinator.

I pursued further education during that part of my career and I earned my level 1 and 2 certifications for behavioral strategies from the University of Hawaii. I have many years working with students of different backgrounds, personalities, and also various abilities. I have learned to adjust many known strategies as well as creating new ones to cater to every need. It is my understanding that every child whatever the age must be prepared for the real world not only academically but emotionally and that goes hand in hand. Through my studies and travel, it has shown me that you must always be ready to adapt. And “assumption is the lowest form of knowledge”. I also believe that you don’t judge anyone on what one says, but on what you see for yourself. This has served me well at CRA and continues to be my code. Helping children and young adults find their way has always been my passion. I don’t say this lightly because I wish to see my students succeed beyond my expectations.

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” – Dalai Lama

Mr. Paul Elu Bio - Coral Reef Academy

Paul Heiko Elu

Culture/Activity Coordinator

My name is Paul Heiko Elu. I am a qualified Social Worker and Counselor with experience working within the youth sector. I was born and raised in Samoa, went to university in New Zealand, and have returned to Samoa to serve my community.

Since 2010, I worked as a Psychiatrist assistant for three years in the mental health sector while pursuing my counseling and social work degree. Since 2015, I worked for Sowers Trust in New Zealand; an agency providing at-risk youth and their families support and mentoring. Within that position, I had the opportunity to design and run various youth mentoring programs aimed to support kids meet their potential through the use of sports, experiential activities, psycho-education, and counseling.

My primary forms of treatment are experiential and cognitive-behavioral therapy. What I plan on in my professional journey is to work collaboratively with youth and help them to become physically, mentally and emotionally fit. As a professional athlete, I love to use sports as a foundation for empowering and mentoring young men to discover their true identity.

Residential Managers

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About us

Coral Reef Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for young boys who may have lost their way. Based in Samoa, our school offers both individual and group therapy led by licensed clinicians.

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