By Kate Quesada

Students at LLT Academy, a K-8 independent charter school in Tampa, were recently inspired to help children on the other side of the world thanks to a visit from a character from one of their favorite books.

Shannon DiRuzzo, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Assistant Director of Operations for Turtle

mermaid-libraryIsland Conservation Breeding And Research Center For Turtles and Shirley Sullivan, President of  Eisenhower Middle School PTSA visited the school for a reading and presentation of The Lost Mermaid–A Shem Creek Moonlight Jamboree. They were joined in a surprise visit by Lily the Mermaid and her favorite sidekick, Pirate Tybee.

According to Sullivan, who is head of marketing distribution for the books, The Lost Mermaid series are mythical tales.

“The books can enrich children’s imagination and immerse them in a coastal seascape, where they will meet loggerhead turtles, dolphins, oysters, crabs and octopus,” said Sullivan, who is also a teacher.mermaid-joe-and-jan-at-the-sea-hagg

“They will visit a musical jamboree and search for a sunken treasure aboard a pirate ship. The tales also offer valuable lessons about the danger of judging others by appearance and language, the importance of kindness and gentle approaches to the issues of bullying.”

Jan DiRuzzo, the author of The Lost Mermaid Series, has taught writing and literature at both secondary and college levels, and she and her husband Joe are currently serving with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, Africa.

According to Sullivan, her sister, LLT Academy media specialist Stephanie Groulx, was inspired by the readings to start a cultural exchange with Jan and Joe’s children in Pemba Africa.

“Project Pemba was born,” said Sullivan. “Many of the schools in Africa are in great need of all school supplies, art work, desks and chairs, balls and sports equipment just to name a few. Stephanie has started a donation drive at LLT Academy and has a huge box of supplies to be shipped to Africa.”

Email For LLT, call 234-0940 or visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.