Highland Academy Staff
Highland Academy Staff
DirectorMs. 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 in September 2001. 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’ direction, Highland Academy has since grown into a large extended family educating hundreds of students from preschool through 8th 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”.
With a background in child care development and elementary education, being certified in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy is one of her greatest personal accomplishments. This is the method used within the classrooms at Highland Academy as a management tool, building relationships, and understanding individual needs.
Ms. Phyllis believes wholeheartedly 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.
Ms. Phyllis finds community service and giving back to be so important she added service to the Highland curriculum. Students are often surprised to find out Ms. Phyllis continues her own service work within the local community as an active member of the Absecon-Galloway Rotary.
Language Arts , Computer Technology Teacher & Business AdministratorTammy 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 every day to school. It was a proud day for Tammy to watch each of her children 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. Teaching is a gift that Tammy cherishes and is thankful that she can educate the future every day.
Tammy additionally has taken on the role of Business Administrator in 2016. She appreciates seeing how both sides of Highland Academy runs. 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 SIFMA 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. And again winning 1st place in the SIFMA 2018 NJ Southern Middle School Division Stock Market Game.
Tammy enjoys life with her husband and kids. She has 4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 parrot, 2 fish tanks, as well as all the wildlife that shows up in her backyard.
Art and History Teacher
Miss Lea has been teaching at Highland Academy since 2001. She has taught pre-school, and Kindergarten through first grade until 2018. In addition she specializes in teaching art and social studies kindergarten through eighth grade. She is currently teaching her second through fourth grade homeroom math, and has added spelling to art and social studies. Lea is the creative set designer for all of our school plays and is the current president of the PTO. 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 eighth grade from Highland Academy. Her daughter Meg is a graduate of Holy Spirit High School and the Shore Beauty School esthetician program. Her son PJ attended Stockton University and studied art education. He now resides in Bridgeton with his wife Rachel, they own and operate The Shirt Shop, a custom design apparel company. When not working at Highland Academy’s Summer Camp you will most likely find Lea on the Sea Isle City Beach, her favorite place, or spending time with her granddaughter Mia. Lea resides in Egg Harbor Township with her husband Keith.
Kindergarten & First Grade TeacherMiss 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 excelled in teaching the 3 and 4 year old students. In the 2018-2019 school year she was promoted to Kindergarten-1st grade teacher. 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 receives 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. Tori graduated last May from Rutgers University and is working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a concentration in Education.
Pre School TeacherMiss 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 10th grader, 9th grader, and a second-grade 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 fourth year working at Highland Academy. Chrissy 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.
Music TeacherRachel 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.
Theater TeacherTheresa 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.
Pre School AidMacKenzie “Mr. Mac” is the newest addition to the Highland Academy Staff. He is the Pre-K aid. After graduating from Highland Academy, he went onto graduate from Charter Tech High School, studying Computer Tech. Continuing his education at ACCC, he realized that working with children was his real passion. He changed his career goals and was fortunate to be able to go back to his roots at Highland Academy and has not looked back! In addition to the Pre-K aid position during the school year, Mac has run the Sports Camp at Highland Academy’s Summer Camp for the past 4 years. His main interest is ice hockey, ice hockey, ice hockey. Go Flyers!
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