Email : info[@]highlandacademy.org
Phone : 609-652-9500
Ms. Phyllis taught at a private school in Absecon for several years prior to opening her own school. During the 2000/2001 school year she was asked to run the school when the current owner decided to retire. Phyllis, loving what she did and feeling responsible to continue the education of those enrolled, decided to start her own school and as a result, Highland Academy was created. Although the school opened with only 7 signed contracts for students between the ages of 3 and 13, by the end of the first year a total of 43 students had enrolled. Under Phyllis's direction, Highland Academy has since grown to a family of over 100 students from Pre School through 12th grade.
When asked about her school Ms. Phyllis replied, "We feel it is very important to foster a family atmosphere in all that we do. We give children responsibility, respect and unconditional compassion. Not only do we care about our students and their families as extensions of our own, but they too include us in their personal lives. This lends even more legitimacy to the term “family”. In the classroom, we teach on a very individual basis and try to accommodate family needs and wants in the same manner. Our open door policy allows daily communication regarding each student".
Ms. Phyllis believes whole heartedly in her approach to education because her own children have benefited from it. Both of her children have graduated from Highland Academy and her daughter, Ms. Tori, has come back to teach our preschool students.
Ms. Sherri joined the Highland Academy family in 2006 as Administrative Assistant, but in 2012, was promoted to Administrator. She has been married since 2003 to her husband Rich and they have three children. Her oldest daughter has attended Highland Academy since she was 3 and graduated eighth grade in June of 2016. Her son, a Highland Academy 8th grade graduate, was accepted into an Engineering Magnet Program at Cedar Creek High School and graduated in June of 2016. He adjusted very well and has received the Distinguished Scholar Award 3 years in a row. Her youngest daughter is 20 months old and she can't wait for her to be a Highland Academy student.
Sherri is so proud to work for Highland Academy. She loves to share how unique the school truly is. According to Sherri, "The concept of learning to their ability and not to their grade works so well. The children are able to work ahead or work at a slower pace if they are having trouble and the small class sizes allow them to get the individual help they need. The students at Highland love to work and stay busy. Our Theater Arts Program, which gives even our youngest students time on stage, has truly brought out the actors and singers in all of our students! Highland provides a diverse set of experiences for our students that help them grow into responsible and well-rounded adults. Highland Academy is a big family who always has room for more!
Miss Chrissy has been a part of the Highland Academy family since her two eldest children started attending in 2006. She is now the proud parent of a 8th grader, 7th grader, and a kindergarten student. Through the years, Chrissy and her husband Mike have been active Highland PTO parents, always willing to help out where needed. Chrissy volunteered working the front desk in the mornings and afternoons when needed, and when offered a position with the school, was happy to accept. This is Chrissy's first year working as a pre-school aide alongside Miss Tori and she loves her days spent with the kids. She is currently pursuing her Associate's degree in Special Education from ACCC. Outside of school and work, Chrissy enjoys going to the beach and vacationing in Disney World.
Miss Lea has been teaching Kindergarten through First grade at Highland Academy since 2001. In addition, she specializes in teaching Art and History to the entire school and is our creative set designer for all of our school plays. Miss Lea has a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Drexel University and attended the teacher’s education program at Stockton University where she studied elementary education. Lea is certified to teach the Wilson reading program and has taken training in Choice Theory and Reality Therapy.
Lea has two children who have both graduated 8th grade from Highland Academy. Her daughter Meg attends Holy Spirit High School and her son PJ, in addition to working at Highland as a Gym teacher, is studying Art Education at Stockton University. When not working at Highland Academy’s Summer Camp, you will most likely find Lea on the Sea Isle Beach where she resides with her husband Keith. She also enjoys cooking, going to the movies, and making jewelry with her daughter.
Rachel began teaching music at Highland Academy in 2009. Prior to working at Highland, she ran a program at the Vineland Public Library that she created for toddlers and pre-schoolers called “Music Time”. She was offered the position of Pre-School Music Teacher at Highland and her class was such a success that it quickly grew to include Preschool through 8th grade. In addition to her music class, Rachel also offers private voice and piano lessons for Kindergarten through 8th grade students.
Rachel studied Musical Theater at Cumberland County College and performs in productions all over the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. In 2014, she was nominated for a Perry Award for her performance in Les’ Miserables. Rachel learns something new from every performance experience she has and always tries to share this knowledge with her students in a way that will help them enrich their own lives.
Both of her children attend Highland Academy. When they were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, she learned the true value that music and theater can have in a child’s life. Music and theater have been invaluable tools that help her children, and many others, with focus, non-verbal communication, self- expression, social skills and confidence. Rachel is very thankful to be able to share her passion of music with her students and watch her children grow up in a loving, nurturing environment that encourages compassion and acceptance despite one another’s differences.
Tammy began her teaching career in 1999, at Jarrets Run Academy, which soon after became Highland Academy. With the support of her awesome husband Kevin, Tammy was fortunate to have her 3 children, then aged 8, 6, & 4 come with her everyday to school. It was a proud day for Tammy to watch each of them graduate 8th grade from Highland Academy.
Teaching Language Arts has its rewards. Tammy has had the pleasure of teaching her students to appreciate reading as well as growing into budding authors. She values watching a student go from messy printing to beautiful cursive. Tammy also loves seeing her class mature into excellent students who are ready to master high school. Teaching is a gift that Tammy cherishes, and is thankful that she can educate the future every day.
Working as the stage manager in Highland’s annual school plays has also been a fulfilling role for Tammy. During the summer months, Tammy also enjoys her position as the Highland Academy Summer Camp Director at Stockton University. Additionally, Tammy serves on Highland Academy’s PTO Executive Board as the Treasurer. Raising funds for Highland Academy has been a challenging and rewarding position for her.
Some of Tammy’s highlights of her career are:
1. Teaching a class of 4th-8th graders to knit which was featured in the AC Press.
2. Placing 1st in the 2008 NJ Southern Middle School Division as well as the NJ Grand Champions in the Stock Market Game, especially proud because Highland Academy had never played before.
3. Placing 3rd in 2009 NJ PNC Christmas Price Index contest
Tammy lives with her husband and 3 kids. She has 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 parrot, 2 fish tanks and a hermit crab (who defies death), as well as all the wildlife that shows up in her backyard.
Patrick Joseph Larotonda, more commonly known as PJ or Mr. PJ, is a former Highland Academy 8th grade graduate and is in his second year as Highland's Gym Teacher/Assistant Theater Director. Prior to taking the physical education teacher position, PJ has spent many summers working at Highland's Summer Camp.
PJ has an Associate's Degree in Graphic Design and is currently attending Stockton University in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree in Art Education. When asked about himself PJ replied, "I am very passionate about education and helping children learn in the manner or method that suits them best. I have always found myself drawn to a career centered around art and I have always had a nitsch for teaching!"
Miss Tori, a former 8th grade graduate, has been working for Highland Academy since the age of 14. Tori started as a counselor in training for Highland's Summer Camp Program and went on to become the head Mini Camp Counselor. After graduating High School from Gloucester County Institute of Technology, where she studied Performing Arts, Tori came on board year round as a Pre-School Teacher's Aide. In the 2015-16 school year, Tori was promoted to Head Pre-School Teacher where she excels in teaching the 3 and 4 year old students. Tori often refers to her students as "Her Kids" because of the time she spends with them and the incredible impact they have on her life. In the span of a school year, Tori grows to love each and every one of her students and becomes truly invested in making sure everyone of them recieves the best possible education she can give them. Seeing the children grow and learn is worth every ounce of effort she puts into getting them to that point.
Tori graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College where she earned an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Development. Currently, she is enrolled at Rutgers University and is working on her Bachelor's Degree in Education.
Theresa has worked at Highland Academy since 2011. In addition to teaching Theater and helping out in whatever class she is needed, Theresa also directs the annual musical production. Her daughter, Madeline, has been attending Highland Academy since Kindergarten and graduated from 8th grade in June of 2016. Theresa attended Stockton University where she majored in Theater Arts.
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