Debbie Simoes

Debbie Simões was inspired by a professor in her freshman year to make her life a quest for her personal best. He introduced her to giants like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, and John Maxwell. She knew then that she wanted to teach and inspire people too!

Her quest took an unexpected turn, however, when an accident left her battling a brain injury and unable to complete the student teaching requirement to get her teaching degree. Despite this adversity, Debbie’s desire to teach and inspire grew. She pursued advanced degrees, earning an M.Ed. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction for Second Language Acquisition from the University of Maryland.

Through various roles as an educator in mostly urban environments spanning Phoenix, Washington DC, and South Florida, Debbie encountered firsthand the challenges of working within disconnected and under-supported communities. The striking gap between the vast potential of students and their actual performance, coupled with their yearning for someone to embrace and encourage them resonated deeply with Debbie’s journey.

Having navigated the challenges of bureaucracy as a Teacher, Principal, and Director of a university lab school, she understands the difficulties educators encounter. These experiences drive her passion to empower educators from the classroom to the boardroom, equipping them with the mindset and skills set to foster communities of belonging, connectivity, and achievement.

From learning Spanish to spearheading initiatives like building libraries in orphanages in Peru and Honduras, Debbie’s quest to connect with and add value to others on their growth journey continues. To this end she became a Nationally Certified Trainer with the Center for Teacher Effectiveness, and a Maxwell Leadership Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach, studying under her longtime mentor, internationally recognized leadership expert Dr. John Maxwell. She is also a certified Life Coach and Business Coach and has completed Dr. Srikumar Rao’s famous Life Mastery course.

In 2021 Debbie established Best Questers, a culmination of her lifelong advocacy on behalf of children and teachers. Her mission is to equip educators to transform the school experience to ensure every teacher and student feels valued, connected, and positioned to thrive. 

Through a strategic partnership with esteemed educators Dr. Donita Grissom and Dr. Viki Kelchner, Best Questers now boasts a dynamic team that solves teacher attrition and improves student achievement with practical, data-backed, and fun professional development for educators. The Best Questers Team helps educators of every level live out their highest calling, magnify their impact and results, and love going to work each day.

When she’s not out Best-Questing, you can usually find Debbie in her South Florida garden sanctuary with Mr. Fabulous (her husband), their yellow lab Buddy, and the fab four felines.

This is Debbie Simoes
This is Donita Grissom

Dr. Donita Grissom


Dr. Donita Grissom’s journey through education is a testament to her passion for teaching and empowering others. Her story is one of dedication and expertise, woven with compassion and a profound commitment to equipping others in their purpose in life. She describes the evidence of her heart of a teacher being revealed as a little girl, playing school with her dolls, using a Webster’s dictionary to teach them with her blackboard and chalk. Also, being the oldest sibling, her nurturing gifts were made evident.  

It all began at Southeast Missouri State University, where Donita pursued her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Even in those early years, her natural talent for nurturing young minds shone brightly. Donita’s classrooms were vibrant spaces of learning and growth, where she intuitively grasped the unique needs of each student. Her thirst for knowledge led her to the University of Florida for her Master’s Degree, a pivotal step that immersed her in Project BEST—a pioneering program for Bilingual Education teacher training. Here, Donita honed her skills in second language instruction, realizing the transformative impact of multilingual education on diverse communities and teacher training. 

While doing an independent study during her Master’s Degree, Donita was in and out of classrooms and first handedly saw the need for quality professional development for teachers.  Thus, driven by this desire, she pursued and earned her Ph.D. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at the University of Central Florida. This academic achievement marked the beginning of more  profound contributions to the field.

Today, as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Central Florida, Donita imparts her wealth of knowledge to aspiring educators. Her courses in TESOL Methods and Culture are not just about teaching; they are a reflection of her belief in the power of language to bridge cultures and empower individuals. Donita inspires her students to embrace innovative methodologies rooted in empathy and understanding and she provides rich cultural proficiency which she deems of utmost importance for educators. Moreover, as the Ed.D. TESOL Specialization Advisor for the Ed.D. Curriculum & Instruction program, Donita’s role extends beyond the classroom. She guides and mentors future leaders in the field, instilling in them a deep sense of purpose and responsibility toward English learners, research, teaching methods, and teacher training.

Dr. Grissom’s strengths extend beyond academia. After the tragic death of her husband, her research trajectory was influenced by her own personal trauma.  Also, she was always interested in helping her English language learner students who had experienced trauma from various life events.  These pressing circumstances led her, while being mentored by her social work professors, to the topic of Snyder’s hope theory.  This pivot has now become her passion.  She has now become a hope specialist and a certified life coach.  She uses her experiences and expertise to empower people around the world to work through their goals and problems using the components of hope theory..  Her commitment to holistic education has made her a requested keynote speaker and professional consultant.  Her  projects include being an English Specialist for the U.S. State Department highlighting her dedication to global collaboration and cross-cultural understanding.

Outside academia, Donita’s nurturing spirit shines through as she assumes roles as a mentor, national and international professional consultant for teachers, and, most importantly, a devoted mother and grandmother (or Grammy). Her ability to encourage and uplift others is a testament to her character—a blend of academic prowess, empathy, and unwavering support. In essence, Dr. Donita Grissom’s story is not just about achievements; it’s about the lives she touches and the futures she shapes. She embodies the true essence of an educator—someone who not only imparts knowledge but also inspires hope and transformation in those around her.

Dr. Viki Kelchner

With her impressive array of titles and accolades, Dr. Viki Kelchner is renowned throughout the world for her expertise in counseling and education and has become a beacon of knowledge and compassion for those in need. Dr. Kelchner is a licensed professional counselor, a licensed professional supervisor, a National Board-Certified counselor, and a certified school counselor. She has national and international experience working in the areas of mental health wellness and community-based interventions. Her research interests and publications focus on families, individuals/families with neurodivergence and supporting youth and families through school-based family services and intervention programs. Dr. Kelchner has over 25 years of experience working with K-12 school systems and increasing positive outcomes for youth and families, dedicating her life to supporting them through every challenge they face.

At an early age Viki learned the power of love and strength of living a genuine life through her own life challenges. She knew all humans needed to feel loved, accepted and supported. This is why she chose to go into the field of mental health so others can experience self acceptance, love and feel truly cared for.

For the last 21 years she has had experience working with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, and families in multiple capacities, including teacher, supervisor, advisor, school counselor, and marriage and family therapy. She has worked as an EFL instructor in the Japanese public-school systems. Currently, she is a counselor educator, and her area of interest focuses on providing trauma services and interventions for high needs families and school children. Through her work she has seen the power of working systemically to support children and families. Her aim is to form relationships with organizations in order to work collaboratively to promote healthy mental health behaviors, trauma-informed practices for people of all ages, cultures, careers, and seasons of life. She has continually worked with preservice teachers and preservice counselors to understand mental health literacy. She trains and supervises counselors-in-training to work collaboratively and systemically with schools, teachers, parents, behavioral health organizations, and the community.  She has created curricula for multiple courses in trauma, and courses for individuals with neurodivergence. She has led workshops for teachers on how to teach youth with neurodivergence. Currently, she is working on a book about teachers’ self-care and self-compassion. 


Dr. Kelchner feels that although she has dedicated her life to helping others there’s still so much more she can do.  Dr. Kelchner pours her heart and soul into every project, fueled by her passion for helping others and her unwavering commitment to making a difference. She speaks with conviction and clarity, sharing her insights and recommendations for promoting mental health and well-being. With each step she takes, she is one step closer to creating a brighter, more compassionate future for all.

This is Viki Kelchner
Best Questers