Elise Albrecht, m.ed.
4th and 5th 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.
7th and 8th Grade Teacher
“My 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Kearney, remains my biggest inspiration. We had writing time everyday, where we were free to work collaboratively with our peers and take on roles based on our strengths and interests. We always had fun writing projects to display at home. I was proud of the work I created! As an educator, I recognize that there was scaffolding in place. But as a student, what I remember was the thrilling experience of being free to create, as well as the pride I felt when my classmates asked me to collaborate with them because they needed my expertise. She was also just a really cool woman. Ms. Kearney treated me like an intellectual and respected my autonomy, which helped to shape my passion for education."
Academics have shaped Karen's life from the very beginning. Her parents were both avid readers, and most questions Karen had as a child were met with the command, "look it up." With the encouragement of her parents and teachers, Karen's mom began a quest to help her reach higher and higher academic heights. She attended private school on scholarship, went to Spelman College for a BA, and then to Boston College for her M.Ed. In her free time, Karen likes to hike, camp, garden, sew, write, and dance.
“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.
5th and 6th 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!
4th and 5th 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. 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.
7th and 8th Grade Teacher
"I was lucky enough to have had many proud, inspirational, and motivating teachers throughout my formative years who ultimately inspired me to choose teaching as my own profession. If I had to pick, some of my favorite teachers would have to be my 6th grade science teacher Mr. Reiniche and my 7th grade social studies teacher Ms. Brown. Mr Reiniche was by far the most engaging teacher I probably ever had. He was weird and wacky in the best of ways and put on a show every day. It was impossible not to hang on every word he said. Ms. Brown gave me a passion for history and had a unique ability to teach you more about yourself while simultaneously delving into other cultures from all over the globe."
I have a Bachelor's of Science in Education from the University of Georgia and enjoyed being a student ambassador for the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education. I have taught both 6th and 7th grade social studies classes for the past 3 years in Gwinnett County. I recently completed my gifted endorsement. I was most drawn to Hess because of their hands-on approach and focus on project style learning for students. In my free time I enjoy hiking, playing board games with friends, video games, and playing with my long haired miniature dachshund Ollie!
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.
6th and 7th Grade Teacher
"My most inspirational teacher is my mother, Karen Jones. She always taught me there was never a student that was too difficult to reach and to meet all challenges with compassion. She raised me around a team of educators that helped shape the person that I am today. They inspired me to pursue education which I could not be more thankful for. Her example set for me at a young age motivates me to be the kind of teacher and son she would be proud of."
Alex earned his BS in Sports Performance and Public Health from the University of North Georgia. While he attended UNG, he was set to commission into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant specializing in Air Defence Artillery and played college rugby. Alex made the switch to education after an injury halted his military career. Since then, he has worked as a Special Education Lead and STEM teacher in Middle and High School settings. His focus in the classroom is to teach students to ask questions often and make cross-curricular connections as they explore the world. He is also very passionate about environmental conservation. He volunteers with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper swhen he can, and he also works to educate people on the importance of protecting Georgia's native wildlife. He loves spending his free time attending rock concerts, kayaking, and hiking with his four dogs.
"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 and 7th 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.
Kindergarten and 1st Grade Teacher
"The teacher that inspired me the most was my high school math teacher Mr. Doscol. He was full of energy, excitement and fun. Before his class I didn’t think I could be good at math until he encouraged me and made me realize my potential. He used to sing songs to match the concepts he was teaching and other funny tunes while teaching as well. I gained confidence in myself and in math that year and I appreciated his love and dedication to each of his students."
Mina went to Georgia State University for my Early Childhood Education degree with an ESOL endorsement. She has taught in several different school settings and grade levels in 3 different states. When she was placed in Kindergarten, she fell in love with it and taught it for the next several years. She received Florida’s best and brightest teachers award in 2017, and then in 2019 she received the Teacher of the Year award. In her free time Mina loves to read, workout, cook, and connect with friends and family.
6th, 7th, and 8th 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!
2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher
"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 kooky 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.
5th and 6th Grade Teacher
"The teacher that influenced me the most was my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Smith. She had limited mobility in one hand and one leg, and I remember being nervous when I first met her. At this point in my life I did not have much experience and wasn’t sure how to be respectful in regards to her disability. However, Ms. Smith being the amazing person she was, brought a new light to this once gray area in my life. She wanted everyone in my class to understand what learning and non-learning disabilities were and taught us to be kind to everyone no matter their appearance or differences. She influenced me in a way that differed from other teachers because she made her classroom a safe and fun environment for learning."
Shannon was born in Vermont but spent most of her life moving around the United States due to her father being in the military. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Troy University. Over 11 years of teaching, she taught all over the world, including Germany, Alabama, Korea, Colorado and Georgia. Shannon has been married to her high school sweetheart for 29 years and has 2 children ages 24 and 19. In her free time she loves to go hiking and adventure out, or sometimes just relax at her house. Due to her adventurous heart, she is excited to get outside the classroom and teach based on the “outside world."
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.