For a high-quality education that prepares your child for success both in the classroom and outside of it, choose First Impressions Academy in Fayetteville, NC. We keep class sizes small, and each member of our faculty is trained and has received a degree in childhood education. All of our teachers are passionate about their jobs and about helping students grow and strengthen their academic and behavioral skills. We provide preschool, grade school and middle school classes as well as clubs, activities and summer camp to keep children engaged and excited about learning all year round. We are excited to work with you and your child!
First Impressions Academy was founded by Christy Pettit, when she renovated her home garage into a preschool in October 2008. After teaching for six years in three different states, she wasn’t impressed with the lack of education in preschools. She wanted to give children a quality educational foundation to properly prepare them for their educational careers. At that time, she was the sole employee and taught all of the half-day classes. Eventually, her three-year-old students were ready for kindergarten, and after completing much research on placement, the families asked Christy if she would open a kindergarten. She then began looking for commercial property, and within three months, she had her kindergarten up and running. Since then, First Impressions Academy has opened one grade per year, and Christy plans to go up to eighth grade. Right now, we are at seventh grade!
Meet our passionate, caring team of teachers!
For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. My career took me to various schools and gave me the opportunity to teach a variety of grades at different academic levels. Although teaching was amazing, the settings and lack of imperative core values were missing. I was not willing to give up on my dream; however, I refused to be a part of something that was broken. I had a vision, and I made it my mission to create a school that encompassed all of the components that make learning and teaching successful.
My name is Kelly Bullard, and I am the school substitute at First Impressions Academy. I began working at FIA in May 2015, and I am looking forward to starting a new school year. I received my bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Auburn University in 2013. Since, I have had the opportunity to work with children in pre-K through sixth grade. I enjoy subbing because it allows me to build relationships with many students as well as to teach all subjects! I moved to Fayetteville in March 2014 with my husband, who is in the army. My hobbies include hiking with my dog, gardening, recycling, and marine biology. I also enjoy reading, art, and spending time with my family and friends.
Hi, my name is Kim Hall. I am the pre-K after care teacher. I have completed a total of six years as a Family Child Care Provider, where I earned my CDA (Child Development Associate). I completed seven years as a teacher’s assistant at Jackson Elementary School, while my husband was stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. I love working with children and being able to help them grow and progress. My husband, Tom, and I moved back to North Carolina to be close to our children and grandchildren two years ago, after he retired from the military. In my spare time I love reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends. I am excited to be part of this wonderful staff and look forward to a wonderful year.
My name is Teresa Clayton, and I am one of the first faces you will see as you enter First Impressions Academy. I have been with the school since shortly after it opened in 2008, when my oldest daughter attended the preschool program. As the school began to grow, I volunteered to help when I could, as I wanted the school to progress with my daughters and be the only school they attended during their elementary school years. I have worked as the administrative assistant since 2011. I am originally from New York State. My husband’s military career brought us here in 2005, and we plan on being here for quite some time. I have a passion for FIA as a parent first, and it is the reason why I chose to work here. It is truly my wish that every child should have the opportunity to have the amazing start to their education as my girls have had.
My name is Samantha Hastings and I am so thrilled to be starting my third year here at FIA! I love learning and I have a passion for teaching children to have that same love and excitement towards learning and school. I am originally from the Toledo, Ohio area, where I lived until I graduated college. After college, I moved to Fayetteville to be with my husband Cody, who was in the Army at the time. Cody & I love to adventure all over North Carolina and hang out with our 2 cats, Snow & Rumple. I am so looking forward to another amazing year with great students and staff!
Hello, my name is Jasmine Scott and I am a teacher’s aide for the three-year-old class, as well as the after school care teacher for the grade school. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. I studied psychology because it was something that has always interested me. I plan on pursuing a career working with children in some way in the near future. I absolutely love working with children and being able to help them grow and progress throughout their lives brings me great joy. In my spare time I enjoy camping, hiking, running, traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends. I am very excited to be a part of this school and amazing staff, and I look forward to a wonderful year.
My name is Jackie Diwisch, and this is my first year teaching at First Impressions Academy. Last year, I taught fourth grade in Hoke County. I moved to North Carolina in July 2013 from the suburbs of Chicago to be with my husband, who is a medic in the 82nd Airborne. I attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, with an Endorsement in Special Education. I spent my first two years as a 1:1 assistant for a child with autism in Northbrook, IL. For an additional two years, I taught Special Education in Huntley, IL. I was the lead teacher for the Read 180/System 44 Programs and for the students identified in the areas of math and literacy. During summer school, I taught the Special Needs Autism Program for students who were non-verbal.
Hi, I am Kristine Cooper! I am married to my husband John and we have two beautiful daughters; Lily and Elaina. John is in the Army and a soccer coach at AC Sandhills. Lily is in fifth grade at FIA and Elaina is two years old and stays in the nursery at FIA. I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. I hold a certificate for Gifted Education. I have taught in Hoke and Cumberland counties previously. I am certified in prenatal/postnatal fitness for Stroller Strides, Fit4Baby and Stroller Barre at Fit4Mom, and I instruct in evenings and on Saturdays. I have a passion for teaching and living a healthy lifestyle! I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading, working out and traveling. I was the Happy Feet Coach last year at FIA and absolutely FELL IN LOVE with the school! I was hired to teach second grade for the 2016-2017 school year. I am energetic, enthusiastic, silly, loud, and you will see various learning styles being used in my classroom as well as students being allowed to move about. I took two years off to be with my little one and I am THRILLED to be back in the classroom and work for First Impressions Academy!
My name is Emily Dodt, and I am thrilled to be teaching 1st grade at First Impressions Academy! I am originally from Texas, where I received my Bachelors in Education from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I spent three wonderful years teaching kindergarten and 5th grade. The military moved my husband and I to Raeford, where we found FIA! I have taught a variety of grade levels and I am looking forward to another amazing year teaching 1st grade. I have worked with kids all my life and I love teaching. I could not imagine doing anything else. My spare time is spent with my wonderful husband, our beautiful daughter, and lovable dogs. I am glad to be a part of the FIA family and I am looking forward to another great year.
I have been coaching here at FIA for three years now. I Grew up playing every type of sport I could get my hands on. Basketball became my passion and I knew that I wanted to play it collegiately. In high school I was a 4 year letter winner in Basketball, Track and Field, as well as Tennis. I received All State honors in each one. I was a McDonalds All- American Nominee and TABC All- Star my senior year. My dreams of playing D1 basketball came true and I received a Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. While there, I helped my team to an A-10 Conference Tournament Championship, birth in the NCAA tournament, and followed that up the next years with 3 post-season births in the WNIT. While playing for the 49ers, I became a team captain my junior and senior years.
Once out of school I started working for a basketball personal training facility called Accelerate Basketball. While working there I was able to work with every type of athlete ranging from our NBA clients all the way down to our 5 year olds. In the summer of 2013 I was introduced to Crossfit and quickly became hooked. Shortly after, I received my Crossfit L1 Certificate. There is much to learn in the CrossFit world and at times it can be overwhelming but that’s what continues to drive me as a coach. There’s always something else to know and another way to do something, especially when working with young kids. I love working with our FIA students and helping to instill a love for fitness and sports.
Hi, my name is Tina Elliott and I am beginning my second year at FIA as a Paraprofessional for the 3rd grade, along with an assistant for preschool. I have over 14 years of experience as an educator, to include a Teacher’s Assistant for the first grade, Remedial Instructor for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, 6 years as a one on one Para-Professional for children with special needs from preschool through 3rd grades, and one year as a lead teacher in a toddler classroom. My husband is retiring from the army this year, after 30+ years of service, and we have 5 children of our own. I am in the process of getting my degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Education. I look forward to working with your children this year and helping to make a difference in their lives!
Hello, my name is Beau Norton, and I teach science at the FIA STEM middle school. I began working for FIA in September 2016 after serving in the army for 12 years. I received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Carson-Newman College in 2010. My favorite subjects are microbiology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and animal behavior. I have lived in Fayetteville off and on since 2004. My sons both attend FIA, and I am excited to join the FIA team. My interests outside of school include grilling, college football, and home-brewing. I also enjoy spending my spare time with my wife, two sons, three dogs, and our pet crayfish.
My name is Ashley Weeks and I am a kindergarten teacher here at FIA. I was born and raised in Raeford North Carolina. I completed 4 years at St. Andrews University and received my bachelors in elementary education k-6. I have worked with school aged children since I was 16 and completed my early childhood credentials. I truly love teaching and I am so glad to be apart of the FIA team!My name is Samantha Hastings and I am so thrilled to be starting my third year here at FIA! I love learning and I have a passion for teaching children to have that same love and excitement towards learning and school. I am originally from the Toledo, Ohio area, where I lived until I graduated college. After college, I moved to Fayetteville to be with my husband Cody, who was in the Army at the time. Cody & I love to adventure all over North Carolina and hang out with our 2 cats, Snow & Rumple. I am so looking forward to another amazing year with great students and staff!
My name is Melody Warfield. I am currently a kindergarten teacher here at FIA. I graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. My previous experience working with children has helped to prepare me for my career as a teacher. I have loved helping children ever since I could remember and I knew I wanted to be a teacher at a young age. My niece has been attending FIA for several years and our family has loved being a part of this school. I have a little girl named Lorraine that is my whole world. I am excited to be a part of the FIA family and grow as a teacher here.
My name is Emily Hall and I am thrilled to be bringing Kids Yoga to FIA this year! My original career calling was in the school system where I taught for four years. During a much longer than planned hiatus to stay home with my kiddos and then the discovery of yoga for myself, I began to feel the itch to get back into some kind of teaching role. I received my 200-hour certification through Asheville Yoga Center and my Yoga & Mindfulness for Children certification through ChildLight Yoga. I have been teaching kids yoga since early 2015, primarily at Resound Yoga Studio here in Fayetteville, and love watching children grow not only in the physical aspects of yoga, but also grow in mindfulness and self-awareness. I have a degree in English and Elementary Education from Hamline University and hold a current K-8 teaching license, specializing in Middle School ELA and math. I enjoy cooking, the outdoors, photography, and travel, particularly back home to Alaska.
Hello!-Hola! My name is Miss. Beatriz Torres (Señora Beatriz). I am originally from Puerto Rico where I received my Master degree of Arts in Education with a Minor in Curriculum of Elementary Education. I taught for nine years to Elementary School children. I am married to my husband Hector who is in the military. The US Army moved us to Fayetteville four years ago. I spent my two first year taking English class as a second language and volunteering at the Murray Elementary School in Fort Bragg then; I worked at JCPenney for two years. Finally this year I received the opportunity to teach at First Impressions Academy as a Spanish teacher. I am very grateful and happy to be part of FIA. My dream was to be back in the classroom and one of my goals since I arrived at the US. I love teaching. It is my passion and my calling in life. Thank you again for this opportunity. I am very proud to teach my language and my culture to your children. I always encourage my students to work hard and never give up, no matter how difficult the task. Spanish is the subject I teach but, my objective is to motivate, inspire, encourage, and lead young people. I am excited to make this my best year yet!
Hello, my name is Jennie Chaltain. I am the computer keyboarding instructor s well as the aftercare teacher for second and third grades. This is my first year working with First Impressions Academy and I couldn’t be more excited. This is a great facility that instills the love of learning. I am from New York but have been here in Fayetteville since 2011. I have one young son who attends FIA. It amazes me how much he continues to learn each day even at that level. I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I look forward to this year and working with all of the great children that attend FIA.
In 2016 I graduated from Mount Saint Mary College with my Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics with minors in Information Technology and Business. While in New York I also studied Childhood Education and Literacy at The Sage Graduate College. Before coming to FIA, I worked as a Teacher’s Assistant for Christ the King Early Childhood Center. Throughout the school, I built strong relationships with many students and fostered creative thinking. In addition to my Teaching Assistant experience, I was a head soccer coach for one of Greenville’s Soccer Club’s U8 teams. I hope to continue coaching in the near future. Outside of teaching, I enjoy spending my free time outside. I enjoy traveling, kayaking and hiking. And when possible, my husband and I enjoy taking our dog Daisy along with us on our outdoor excursions.
This will be my first year at First Impressions Academy and my sixth year teaching. My husband is in the military and this is our second time being stationed at Ft. Bragg. We have 2 cats, 1 dog, and are expecting our first child, a little boy, at the end of October! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania where I attended Penn State University. I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and recently earned my Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy. I have always loved reading and try to incorporate it in every subject I teach. I look forward to an exciting year in Kindergarten!
My name is Katie Hoffert and I am a preschool teacher here at FIA this year. Education is my greatest passion. I earned my Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a Concentration in PE and Wellness from Ball State University. Previously, I taught first grade for five years. Following that, I was an Instructional Coach for two years. I am a mother to three beautiful children, who all attend First Impressions. I am elated for the upcoming school year and cannot wait to begin this new adventure!
Hello, my name is Kristin Russell and I am a middle school STEM teacher at FIA. I am native to the Fayetteville area and both of my children have attended FIA since 2012. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Methodist University Physician Assistant Program in 2004. During my undergraduate years, I became a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and completed MU’s Honors Program Seminars while studying biology with a concentration in microbiology and cellular biology and a minor in mathematics. With an interest in acute care medicine, I have been practicing as a hospital based physician assistant since 2005 for a local gastroenterology group. I started working part time in 2013, in order to spend more time with my children and my farm animals and compete in dressage with my horses. I am an avid reader and challenge myself to read at least 50 books annually. My passion for a wide variety of sciences and mathematics has lead me to continue my understanding of these subjects by attending several scientific conferences, expositions, and classes hosted by our Raleigh museums and the University of NC at Chapel Hill. I volunteered as one of the coaches for FIA’s 2017 Division A North Carolina Science Olympiad team where my team placed second. Since 2016, I have been coaching an elementary student who scored in the top 2% internationally in a mathematics competition. The opportunities to be an academic coach have made me realize how much I enjoy working with our youth, and I am blessed to join our STEM middle school team this 2017 school year. It is my dream to show our students the amazing world of sciences and engineering, how fun mathematics can be, and challenge them in ways that grow their passions and interests. I would also like to show them the opportunities that our community and state have to offer that are not only academically challenging, but fun and exciting chances to interact with their peers across the state and work with some of the leading scientists and experts in the US.
My name is Ravyn Canale, and I teach literacy and social studies for the middle school. This is my first year at FIA, and I am very excited to join this wonderful community. I have been teaching English for five years in the university setting, and as of December 2016, I graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with my Ph.D. in English: Composition and TESOL. I made the transition from college to middle school teaching because I really want to work with students as they prepare for high school, and I really want to encourage younger students to enjoy reading and writing from an earlier age. I recently moved to Fayetteville to be with my husband, who is stationed at Ft. Bragg. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, spending time with family and friends, and being outdoors. I look forward to a great year here at FIA!
Hello, my name is Myraida Newsom. I am excited to be teaching first grade! I received my Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education at Cameron University in Oklahoma. Shortly after graduation my husband, who is in the military, received orders to relocate to Fairbanks, Alaska and I had the privilege of teaching third and fourth grades in a most unique environment. We have since lived in Georgia, Texas, northern New York, and as of March 2017, North Carolina. I was born in Puerto Rico and am fluent in Spanish. My passion is being in the classroom and helping children achieve their maximum potential and goals. In my spare time I enjoy visiting historical sites across the country and spending time with family, which includes our two dogs, a black lab and an Old English Mastiff. I look forward to a wonderful year here at FIA!
My name is Ashley Letendre and I am teaching fourth grade. I’ve lived in Fayetteville with my husband and kids for a few years now, but I’m originally from the Chicago area. Previously, I’ve taught in Wisconsin and Cumberland County. I have two young children also attending FIA and the positive relationships among staff, students, and parents has truly made this such a wonderful place for learning and growth. In my free time, I enjoy crafting and traveling, and I’m also a big Chicago Cubs fan. Thank you for the warm welcome I’ve received and I’m looking forward to a memorable year at FIA.
My name Is Kim Leighty. I am excited to teach third grade at FIA. Originally from California, I graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Elementary Education. After graduation, I joined my husband in Florida where I worked with Sylvan Learning Center as a Director of Education for about a year and as a third-grade teacher for four years. During our first move to North Carolina, I taught fourth grade in Hoke County. After moving back to Florida, I became a registered behavior technician. While working with the ABA company, I helped start and run a private school for students with Autism for the next three years. Now that we have returned to North Carolina, I am so thrilled to be part of the FIA team.
Hi, my name is Kailey Guida and I am very excited to be teaching Kindergarten Prep. This is my first year at First Impressions Academy, but my third year teaching. Previously I taught at a private school called Primrose where I taught preschool and pre-k. I am originally from Minnesota where I attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and earned my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I have been working in the Early Childhood Field since I was sixteen and have always had a passion for teaching. I love how rewarding it is to watch children grow and help them reach their full potential. My husband is stationed at Fort Bragg, which is what brought us to North Carolina. Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my husband and our fur baby, Mya. I am so excited to be part of the FIA family and am looking forward to a fantastic school year!