“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.
“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 14-year-old daughter to see friends and discover new places. Although Mary isn’t competitive, she has planned and completed several half marathon-based trips to fun locations including Zion, Paso Robles, and upcoming Tahoe.
katie gravante, b.a.
"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!
Ricci Horwedel, B.A.
“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.
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.
I truly believe that every student learns differently. I want to be able to reach every student and inspire them to be great students and human beings.
When I’m not in the classroom, you will likely find me playing with my dog Kobe, cooking and visiting sports events
bring her great happiness.
Josh Hunter, MS.
JJ Imperatori, M.A.
“When I think of my most inspiring teachers, two women from two very different times in my education come to mind. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Bennett, sat each afternoon in a wicker rocking chair and read to us with joy and excitement. She taught everything in a way that inspired wonder. Since that year, reading and learning have been my greatest passions in life aside from my own kids. In college, Dr. Christy Desmet awakened a deeper love of literature and writing in me. She directed my master’s thesis, guiding and encouraging me through the entire process. Both incredible women remain mentors and friends today.”
JJ has been a teacher and tutor for 14 rewarding years. After discovering her passion for reading and writing at a young age, she went on to earn her M.A. in English and later in Teaching. When she learned that one of her children was Dyslexic, she began her intensive study of Orton-Gillingham and became a certified associate of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. She has taught grades 2-5 in both public and private schools, inspiring all types of learners to reach their full potential along the way. When she is not working, she is spending time with her six children spread around from Georgia to California to Australia. She loves reading, working out, and watching shows with her cats — Oswald, Reese and Darby. JJ is thrilled to be a part of Hess, forging the path for children with varied learning styles and special gifts through progressive education. She believes that every child should have the opportunity to develop their unique qualities in a fun, supportive and inspiring environment.
My favorite teacher was my 12th grade English teacher, Ms. Vasu. She allowed students to demonstrate knowledge in creative, expansive ways outside of the standard essay-writing I had grown to expect from English class. In her classroom, we wrote personal memoirs, flash fiction, poetry, short scripts, and even built 3D maps. We held debates and read texts ranging from spy fiction to Toni Morrison. Before starting the school year, Ms. Vasu surveyed us on topics we found interesting and then crafted our syllabus around those choices, teaching me that students’ role in the classroom is that of valued collaborators.”
Chloe’s interest in teaching began when she started attending creative writing summer camps (she knows, she knows, very nerdy!), which opened her eyes to how fun and personalized learning could be, as well as how writing could be used as an agent of change. Chloe studied English and Education at Skidmore College, then later earned her Masters in the Teaching of English from Columbia University. She has since taught middle and high school English Language Arts in New York City. She believes in education as an inclusive practice and an opportunity to build community. She loves to help students discover their own strengths, cultivate empathy, and become critical readers of the world. Chloe grew up in the Northeast and only just moved to Atlanta in 2020, so she eagerly solicits any tips about favorite spots in or out of the city! She loves to hike, play guitar, read, listen to music, and watch ridiculous TV shows. Chloe was drawn to Hess for its warm community, vibrant students, welcoming faculty members, and small class sizes. She can’t wait to become a part of Hess and get to know all of its unique members.
Misty Kosek, M.Ed.
“My favorite teacher was Ms. Lenhart, who taught 10th grade English. She helped me to explore writing as a means of self-expression; her influence inspired me to help others find their individual outlets of expression and communication.”
Misty holds certification in both School Counseling and Special Education. She completed her M. Ed in School Counseling at the University of Tennessee and received her B.A. in English from Penn State University. She prefers a Solution Focused counseling approach, and looks forward to supporting Hess students both in and out of the classroom.
“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 travelled.
“My most influential teachers were my high school art teacher, Mr. Miller, and my environmental anthropology professor, Dr. Campbell. Both of these educators encouraged my curiosity, empowered me to dive deeper into my interests, and opened my eyes to a world of wonder – from the storied history of art to the stories shared through seed saving.”
Becca graduated from Berry College with a degree in Anthropology and Studio Art. Trained in the constructivist and Reggio Emilia approach to education, her goal is to create beautiful learning environments that honor the capabilities, potential, and individuality of each student. She also works to connect the classroom community to the larger community, inspiring students to make a difference and make their mark on the world. Outside the classroom, Becca spends much of her time outdoors with her partner, Louie, and their adventure cat, Business – hiking, kayaking, gardening, and just sitting in the park with a good book. Her love of the outdoors also extends into a love of outdoor education. Her belief is that in order to protect the earth, we must first love the earth, which is why she encourages her students to play in the rain, get messy, and bring nature into the classroom. That passion for play also extends into Becca's love of art. She is an avid maker who loves working with a number of media including clay, paint, charcoal, ink, and fiber. In the classroom, she uses these skills to honor and empower the artist in each student.
Bobbie Williams, M.Ed.
“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.