A private school for pre-k through 8th grade | Decatur, GA
6th Grade Teacher,
Assistant Principal for Administration
"I had a lot of influential teachers, but two of my high school English teachers stand out: Mr. Miller and Mr. Mischler. They were teachers whose classes were always rigorous, yet full of joy and laughter. They were teachers who diverged from the public-school norm of punitive discipline and managed their classroom on the basis of the relationship between teacher and student. Their example stuck with me! On top of all that, they performed in a band of teachers called the “Lords of Literature.”
Elise earned her B.A. in English and Education from Denison University in 2006. After graduation, she worked for an early childhood education non-profit for seven years, where she trained college student volunteers to deliver language, literacy, and social-emotional programming to preschool children in low-income neighborhoods: first in Boston and later in Atlanta. At Jumpstart, Elise spent a lot of time traveling throughout Atlanta's neighborhoods and building relationships between local universities and students and families in preschools. In 2013, desiring a closer connection with individual students, Elise returned to the classroom and earned her M.Ed. in Literacy from Lesley University. Elise taught at The Cloverleaf School and The Howard School, where she discovered her enthusiasm for teaching students with learning differences. Elise believes in creating a school environment where everybody feels a strong sense of belonging, thinks that their collective efforts produce work of high personal and social value, and trusts that education is a lifelong process. Outside of school, Elise loves hiking, biking, reading, writing, watching movies, and relaxing on the porch with her old dog, Kinsey. She was drawn to Hess because of its emphasis on the outdoors, tight-knit community, and dedication to student-centered learning.
“My most inﬂuential teacher: Mrs. Frazier in 2nd grade. Mrs. Frazier physically engaged with her teaching by demonstrating concepts to us. She laughed a lot and taught us that learning didn’t have to be such serious business!”
With over 20 years of teaching experience, Naomi joins Hess Academy with a genuine love of teaching and learning. Her many years teaching have been spent working with children from two to ﬁve years of age. She earned her Child Development Associate certiﬁcation in 1996 and continues to enjoy studying teaching theories and working on curriculum development. Along with her husband and two children, she loves hiking and camping. Naomi’s love of the outdoors inspires her to bring natural elements into the classroom learning environment as well as strongly support the importance of outdoor education for all children. Using a constructivist approach to teaching, she engages each child and encourages further learning based on what they know. She understands and acts on the fact that children need to feel emotionally safe for new learning to take place. She enjoys learning from and teaching young children.
4th Grade Teacher
“The most influential teacher for me was Mr. Egan, who taught me AP History. He was the first teacher in our school that I know of who offered international travel with student groups. He took a group of us to the Soviet Union my tenth-grade year. The trip focused on fun as much as it did culture, history, and people. Back at school, he was also a teacher who used his humor to engage and relate to students.”
Mary earned her BA in Elementary Education from Wittenberg University in 1994. Since then she has taught grades Pre-K-8 in Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona. She loves to include food, in any way, into the classroom. From hosting Flapjack Fridays and holiday celebrations in her home for students, to encouraging kids to demonstrate their knowledge with creative food-based projects, it’s always a part of her class. Outside of school, Mary enjoys traveling with her husband and teenaged daughter to see friends and discover new places.
Kindergarten and 1st Grade Teacher
"My most influential teacher: 1st and 2nd grade language arts teacher, Mrs. Bobbie Williams (who happens to be Hess’ other K/1 teacher!). Bobbie fostered a passion for writing, reading, and learning in my most formative years that is still with me to this day! Bobbie not only shaped my development as a learner and critical thinker, but as a human being. She taught me that I was capable of achieving great feats, and she set me up with the tools and resources to accomplish these feats. I will never forget how valued, smart, and loved I felt in her class!
Katie recently earned her BSEd. in Elementary Education with an ESOL endorsement at Georgia State University. Katie’s passion for teaching began at age 15 when she started an ESOL tutoring program in her local elementary school, in which she paired high school students with elementary schoolers who were learning English as an additional language. While attending Georgia Tech for her undergraduate degree, Katie volunteered for Americorps’ Jumpstart program, which grants college students the opportunity to implement literacy, language, and social-emotional development curricula to preschool students. She loved her time working with her students in Jumpstart so much that she transferred from Georgia Tech to Georgia State to pursue her degree in elementary education. In addition to teaching and learning, Katie spends her time knitting, roller skating, and reading. Katie is thrilled to work in such a warm, inclusive, and innovative environment, and she cannot wait to watch her learners grow and thrive this year!
7th and 8th Grade Teacher
"My two most influential teachers inform my two areas of concentration in teaching. Kristan Jacobs, my seventh grade language arts teacher and professional mentor, encouraged my passion for reading and writing and inspired me to help others access the power of language. I was even fortunate enough to experience her love of education all over again as her co-teacher at Beacon Hill Middle School. My other most influential teacher is my mom. Witnessing her 30-plus years of work helped instill in me an appreciation for the diverse abilities and perspectives we all bring to the table. She inspires me to amplify the voices of my students and move through compassion each day.
Katy’s passion for teaching is guided by two core beliefs: 1. Be equitable, and 2. Knowledge is power (shout out School House Rock!). As a child, Katy always loved the creative elements of reading and writing, whether that meant being transported to a magical new place or creating a world of her own. As a teenager, she began to appreciate the emotional validation of seeing herself represented in books and learning about experiences that differed from her own. Writing became an outlet for her budding interest in social justice and equity movements. Throughout high school and college, Katy would return to the art of language as a means of accessing and making sense of the world around her. This love of language ultimately led her to pursue a career in education, graduating from Auburn University with a degree in Secondary Language Arts Education. Over the last six years working in middle and high school inclusion settings, she has striven to help students discover their own voice and to provide them with a means of sharing that voice, that story, with the world. She believes now more than ever, in our fast-paced and ever-changing lives, literacy is the key to connecting with others and affecting positive change. This is especially important for students with diverse needs, whose unique and valuable perspectives often go unnoticed in a large classroom setting. Hess Academy’s flexible and individualized learning environment aligns closely with her personal philosophy that each student needs and deserves to learn in the way that works best for them. Outside of the classroom, Katy enjoys playing various instruments (although she has not touched the clarinet since college marching band!), knitting and crocheting, being a plant and cat mom, and checking out local eateries with her husband.
2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher
“My most inspirational teacher was Dr. Dennis Felder. I admired the way he was able to help each student be the best that they could be. He was always willing to stop and help students, no matter if they had his classes or not. He taught me how to be professional and how to excel no matter the odds.”
Josh brings to Hess Academy over 5 years of experience working with youth in recreational and sports settings and in the classroom. Josh earned his BS in Sports Management from Winston-Salem University and recently completed his MS in Sports Administration. Josh’s combined experience in teaching, coaching, and mentoring has given him the opportunity to understand that each and every student learns differently. Josh’s goal is to reach every student he meets, inspire them to do their best, and encourage them to be great human beings.
When Josh is not in the classroom, you will likely find him playing with his dog Kobe, attending sporting events, cooking, and spending time with his wife.
7th and 8th Grade Teacher
Middle School Coordinator
“My most influential teachers: Dr. Brian Barlow and Dr. Kevin Radaker at Anderson University. Both are brilliant educators who shy away from“telling,” trust that students will find their own way to truth, and, at just the right moment, reveal paths that may lead them there.”
Ricci was fortunate to grow up in a home where learning was a passionate, every day affair. From a young age, she was shown the beauty of discovery and encouraged to study those things that gave her joy. This love of learning followed her to Anderson University, where she earned a B.A. in English and Spanish, in addition to TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She believes meaningful education allows for student-led exploration and rich, facilitated discovery. Ricci’s studies under a constructivist educator and her work with children of diverse needs have continuously affirmed these approaches to be fruitful. Ricci aspires to empower and challenge each child who enters her classroom with enthusiasm, patience, and persistence. In addition to teaching, coffee ice cream, writing, traveling, an ornery dog named Crosby, great works of art, and antique stores bring her great happiness.
4th and 5th Grade Teacher
“The most influential teacher in my life was my mother Gayle Mastrogiacomo. She was a board certified music therapist, PBIS coach, PSC endorsed TSS mentor, GNETS leader/educator for 25 years, and classically trained cellist at Indiana University. Her guidance in my education and life, her model of always speaking her truth, and her encouragement to follow my dreams and passions forever shaped me. To borrow a quote from Abe Lincoln: ‘All that I am or hope ever to be, I get from my mother.’ (Not to undersell my father, who was a wonderful role model, too. Love ya, Pops!)”
I am a first generation Atlien / Atlantasaurus. I grew up here attending a wide mix of public & private schools, giving me a very diverse view of how school can be taught. My undergrad focus in Geography, International Studies, Political-Science, and History may have been sparked by the frequent trips our family made to the Dekalb Farmers Market, where I marveled at all the different flags overhead, the facts I was told about them, the plethora of languages I heard, and imagining the different places the delicious morsels came from. I am passionate about working with young humans as they find their own way, and teaching hard history. I am all about the passions of the pupils, observing the connections they make and preparing them to make an impact in the world they want to create. I want all students to shine brightly and be seen! I had a former life in the natural gas industry and found my way into the classroom via coaching on the ballfield-- I’ve been coaching baseball since 2010 and teaching around Atlanta since 2015. I love my ATL sports teams (yes, I know, it's hard!) esoteric music, eccentric movies, and going down the path less traveled.
"My most influential teacher was my high school English teacher, Ms. Ballard. She always expected the highest effort and never hesitated teaching a challenging subject. She did this all while making each student feel truly seen. Her example encourages me to do the same in my own classroom setting."
Nicole made a career switch to early childhood education after becoming a mother of two amazing children. She was astounded by the impact early childhood experiences had on an individual and wanted to be a positive force for change in that sphere. She has now been an early childhood educator for nine years, constantly finding ways to give children a loving and solid foundation for the rest of their educational experience. Nicole incorporates children's innate sense of wonder about the natural world and creative self-expression into project-based learning projects. She is most passionate about social-emotional learning being a consistent part of the early childhood experience and believes a classroom should be a place where all feelings and ideas are acknowledged and accepted.
6th Grade Teacher
“The most influential teacher I ever had was Ms. Henley. She was my 7th grade Language Arts teacher and high school drama teacher. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she not only encouraged us, but pushed us to try new things and take risks. She loved all of us fiercely; we knew it and felt cared for everyday.”
Jenna earned her BA in Elementary Education from UGA and has taught grades Pre-K through 6th in a variety of settings. She loves to bring nature, literature, and creativity into the classroom. Jenna is always working to build cross-curricular connections, as well as foster social-emotional connections with peers, creating a rich educational experience and meaningful relationships within the classroom community. Outside of school, Jenna loves to bake, hike, and go on adventures with her three children.
4th and 5th Grade Teacher
"My most influential teacher and mentor was my grandmother, Sara Louise Fitzgerald, who taught through a hands-on approach. With grace and grit, she gave space for curiosity, while also encouraging the beauty in making mistakes and learning from them."
Entering their 18th year of education and teaching, Adrian has a deep love and passion for learning and tinkering! Adrian received their Bachelor’s in the Arts in Political Science and Gender Studies from Simmons College in Boston, MA and their Master’s in the Art of Teaching from Hunter College. They have vast knowledge and expertise in project-based learning, science education, tinkering, differentiation, socio-emotional learning, and language arts. They have taught in South Korea, New York City, India, Boston, and Atlanta! Adrian adores building furniture, fixing broken machines, taking things apart and putting them back together, playing and coaching sports, and creating fun, playful, beautiful, interactive, and practical projects. They believe in student-centered learning and put rigor, love, equity, and consistency at the forefront of their teaching. Adrian strives for each student who enters their classroom to question, discover, and find joy in what they are learning. Adrian successfully manages and builds after-school programs, providing deep exploration and supporting learners in unique ways that enhance their creativity, academics, and willfulness in having fun while learning. When not in the classroom, Adrian can be found playing kickball, cooking and baking as a proud foodie, enjoying nature hikes, building furniture, and hanging with their gentle and loving retriever, Mojo!
6th Grade Teacher
"My most influential teacher: Skip Fennell, mathematics education professor, author, and previous NCTM President. Skip poured a love for mathematics into pre-service teachers. He provided the how to teach math and not just the what to teach. He knew that behind every successful student is a teacher who knows how to connect, assess, and implement lessons effectively."
Debbie is a 30+ year veteran teacher and administrator. She holds a BA degree in Psychology/Elementary Education from Western MD College (now McDaniel College), Masters degree in Middle Grades/Mathematics, and a Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from UGA. Debbie has worked primarily with upper elementary to high school aged students teaching in the classroom, leading grant-funded intervention programs, and tutoring privately. Working with students in small groups has allowed Debbie to better understand the misconceptions present in the foundational years of mathematics. Her goal is to spread a love of mathematics everywhere!
"When I think of my most influential teacher, I think of Mrs. Freeman in 1st grade and Mrs. Johnson in 4th grade. Mrs. Freeman always had the biggest smile. She made me feel loved and grew my excitement for school. Mrs. Johnson was a cooky teacher who always dressed up to match our content or holidays. She showed me how much joy there is in learning and in life. I am thankful for these teachers for inspiring my own teaching today!"
Hannah is joining Hess Academy with seven years of teaching experience in grades K-3. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Miami University in Ohio and continued her education in Tennessee where she earned a Master of Education. Hannah loves to play soccer, spend time outdoors, and tend to her flock of backyard chickens. She believes that learning is an active and joyful endeavor where students grow in their sense of self and their understanding of the world around them. Building relationships with students and joining them in the fun of learning is the biggest privilege of working in the classroom.
2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher
Kindergarten and 1st Grade Teacher,
“Most influential teacher: Tom Davidson, education professor at West Georgia College, inspired me as a student teacher to believe that I could change the world. He nudged me to discover my love for teaching mathematics to young students and demonstrated how to develop students’ conceptual understanding of numbers by modeling his college classroom like a child-centered classroom full of manipulatives.”
Bobbie Williams has loved teaching and challenging young children to think for the past 38 years. She earned a B. S. in Elementary Education and a Masters in Elementary Education at West Georgia College. She later added a gifted endorsement. In 1992, Bobbie joined the staff at the Center for Innovation in California where she has trained teachers in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin to teach Math Their Way to primary students. She has taught K, 1st, K-1 multi-age, Readiness, 2nd, and 6th grades. Bobbie is passionate about teaching writing, math, and gifted education with young children and mentoring classroom teachers in math and writing. Most recently, she has been honing her craft of teaching writing through a workshop approach. Bobbie has dreamed of teaching in a progressive private school and is thrilled to be a part of the Hess learning community where teachers ignite an appetite in children to read, write, think, solve problems, and most of all, love learning.