PREMO EDUCATORS

Why Our Teachers Are Different

Premo teachers are masters of their craft. That's why they are given a great deal of autonomy and are encouraged to teach how they teach best. Much of the school’s success can be attributed to the fact that our teachers are supported and our environment is positive. Happy teachers who feel valued and excited generate an environment of engaged students who feel connected to the joy of learning. Premo educators are honored, respected, trusted, and supported as expert professionals - and as a result, Premo students learn to honor and respect their own work as expert learners. 

Meet Our Staff

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Kerry Edgington

Director of Lower School |  kerry@thepremoschool.org 

Kerry graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelors of Science in Special Education and received her Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education with a literacy concentration and Reading Endorsement from Georgia State University.

 

Kerry is a lifelong learner who knew from an early age that she wanted to become a teacher. She taught in the Gwinnett County Public School System for many years. She is committed to the Premo philosophy of nurturing the whole child and fostering every child’s intrinsic desire to learn, grow, and succeed. Kerry takes a special interest in the creation of developmentally appropriate curriculum for children at every level.

 

Kerry and her husband have three children, all current or former Premo students. She enjoys reading, hiking, and knitting in her free time.

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Alashia Cody

Director of Upper School  |  alashia@thepremoschool.org 

Alashia has served as an educator for nine years. She has taught English Language Arts and History spanning third through eighth grade in both private and public schools.  She earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of North Georgia in middle grades education with a concentration in English and History. 

 

Alashia has worked with adolescents as a teacher, mentor, and liaison between school and community. She has led STEM committees, Google integration in the classroom, and relevant writing with a focus on project-based learning.

 

Alashia is an advocate for humanities-based learning. She believes history, art, philosophy, language, and literature open a window through which humans can experience an entire world from a mere idea, gain a wealth of knowledge from a hypothesis, and experience a single-human perspective with universal connections. 

 

Alashia is married and has a sixteen-year-old daughter. Together, Alashia and her family love to read, travel, and eat!

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Pilar Rodgers

Math & Science Specialist  |  prodgers@thepremoschool.org 

Pilar graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Electrical Engineering. She completed her graduate coursework in Math Education at the University of Georgia. Pilar has taught in formal classroom settings and has tutored 5th - 12th grade students in various settings for over 20 years.

 

Pilar is passionate about teaching math across the grades. She believes that math literacy isn’t just about learning algorithms and procedures but also about learning how to tackle and solve challenging problems. She is excited to structure a math program that addresses students’ needs in an engaging and creative way that also prepares them for high school math studies. As a result of her engineering training, she loves to answer that famous question, “When are we going to use this in real life?"

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Liz Freck

Liz dates her love of teaching to her senior year of high school when she participated in a joint program with The University of South Florida that allowed high school students to work as teachers’ aides in classes with at-risk students. Liz went on to graduate magna cum laude from Georgia State University with a BA in psychology, where she was awarded Honors Student of the Year for her research into how children connect with teachers to learn effectively. 

 

Liz’s passion for teaching and connection with children has led her to hold positions as a preschool teacher, art teacher, Odyssey of the Mind coach, paraprofessional in an inclusive special needs class, curriculum developer for a K-8 program about group collaboration and group dynamics, and children’s sewing instructor. Liz also homeschooled her own children for 8 years. Her teaching style is characterized by an enthusiastic, accepting, creative approach to meeting children right where they are. Liz believes that nothing beats an unfettered imagination when it comes to problem-solving.

 

When Liz is not teaching, you can find her having adventures with her seven children, who range in age from 3 - 15. As an artist and maker, she is always excited to find new skills to research and learn such as advanced sewing, 3D modeling, and woodworking. She loves roller derby, playing football with her kids, and investigating current topics and world issues from children’s perspectives.

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Susan Mehalick

Literature & Writing Teacher  |  mehalick@thepremoschool.org 

Susan has a degree in English from UCLA, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She also completed one year of an MAT cohort at Reinhardt University, including student teaching and one-on-one instruction for phonics and literacy, within the Fulton County School System for K-5. 

Additionally, she has a certificate from SUNY and The University of Hong Kong in News Literacy and she has completed a workshop in Media Literacy for educators through The News Literacy Project

Susan has worked for many years and continues to work now as a part-time, freelance writer/editor/researcher in the fields of marketing, health, education, television, and biography.

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Laura Hiller 

Early Childhood Teacher  |  lhiller@thepremoschool.org 

Laura graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in English Literature and Brenau University with an M.A. in Teaching.  She first worked in the commercial insurance industry for ten years as an underwriter and broker.  When her daughter began kindergarten, she was so inspired by her daughter’s teacher that she left the insurance profession and pursued teaching.  She taught in the Gwinnett County Public School system for 13 years and has experience as a paraprofessional working with students with mild intellectual disabilities.  As a classroom teacher, she taught second grade and kindergarten and holds certifications in English for Speakers of Other Languages and Gifted in-field.  

 

Laura believes in fostering students’ strengths and maintaining positive relationships with them and their families.  She wants every student to feel confident in their ability to question, seek evidence, and debate with an open mind and open heart.  Laura believes that once she is a child’s teacher, she is their teacher for life.  

 

She loves her family, her big dogs, reading, writing, shopping, cooking, and telling silly jokes.   

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Farren Zealand-Cash

Elementary Teacher  |  fcash@thepremoschool.org 

Farren was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. After finishing high school, she traveled extensively and lived in Amsterdam as well as the states before pursuing her studies. She earned a Bachelors degree in early elementary education from Cape Peninsula University and taught third-grade Literacy. Farren is very interested in language acquisition and wants to continue her studies in the US focusing on curriculum development.

 

Farren lives with her husband and two very opposite dogs, a German Shepard and miniature Dachshund. While she once enjoyed traveling, she now spends her free time finding new parks and hiking trails to take her dogs on. 

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Melanie Ponchot

Melanie has been a working artist/illustrator for over twenty years and an art educator for fifteen. She graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from Auburn University and trained classically for a few years before launching her career as a contemporary realist painter. She spent a decade doing portraits and gallery work before transitioning into the field of Illustration. She’s illustrated products, children’s books, surface patterns, and prints. Visit MelaniePonchot.com to see her broad spectrum of work. She’s been teaching at metro Atlanta art schools since 2007.

 

Melanie is thrilled to join Premo because she loves to bring her infectious enthusiasm for art to the classroom. She’s excited to come alongside students, helping them discover their artistic voices and encouraging kids to engage in playful curiosity while making art.

 

When she’s not busy making art, you can find Melanie snuggling her dog, hiking with her husband, or dominating [destroying] her three kids in competitive four square. 

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Amanda Nichols

Amanda received both a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and an M.A. in  Foreign Language Education from Auburn University. She has been teaching Spanish since 2004 in both private and public settings and has a deep love for the language and culture.

 Amanda lives in Woodstock with her husband and three children. When she's not spending time with her family or teaching, she enjoys hiking, coffee, and listening to music.

Amy Haysman

Yoga Teacher |  amy@groundedkids.com

Amy's desire to validate and nurture the innate goodness, unique potential, and emotional intelligence of a child, no matter what, sparked the creation of Grounded Kids Yoga and fuels her dedication to teaching. She values clarity, creativity, collaboration, and continual evolution. 

Amy graduated from UGA with a Masters of Science in Middle Grades Education. She knew she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. After taking some time off to raise her two boys, Amy fully expected to return to the middle school classroom. Instead, she fell head over heels for yoga and earned certification with YogaKids International in 2001 and worked for them for the next seven years as program director, mentor coordinator, and teacher trainer 

While she loved the playful aspect of the teaching, she found that many of the childr3en were interested in a more serious yoga practice. Grounded Kids grew organically as a response to that desire, and her new career evolved into co-founding Grounded Kids in 2007.

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."

-Robert Frost

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."

-Albert Einstein