Our Staff.

Staff Profiles

Dal Albretsen graduated Suma Cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Music degree emphasizing vocal performance. Because Mrs. Albretsen values education so much she did not stop there. She went on to complete her Master of Music degree emphasizing Choral Education in May of 2016.

Mrs. Albretsen is a concert Soprano who has performed locally as well as throughout the Intermountain Region. She loves working with youth of all ages and has been teaching music, in the state of Arizona, since 1987. She began teaching with Heritage Academy in the Fall of 2014 and dearly loves the students, the staff and the environment.

Mrs. Albretsen is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA), the Arizona Choral Educators Association (ACE), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honors Society.

In her spare time, Mrs. Albretsen loves to ski, both water and snow, and spend time with her growing family. The Grandkids are the best!

Email:  dalbretsen@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Albretsen’s Webpage

Gateway Choirs Webpage:

I attended high school in California and graduated from Utah Technical School in cabinet and furniture making. I have worked for Fetzer’s Woodworking and Challis Stairs in Salt Lake City, and Artistic Stairs and American Wood Stairways in Arizona. For over twenty years, I built spiral and circular staircases all over the country. Before coming to Heritage Academy I was a safety officer and assistant superintendent on various commercial endeavors all over the western United States. I am one of the original staff members at the Gateway campus. It has been a pleasure to assist in its growth. I am happily married and am so proud and grateful for my wife, my three children and three grandsons. I love baseball, all kinds of animals, and photography. It is wonderful to work with such a talented staff and such great kids.

Email:  ballred@heritageacademyaz.com

Liz-Sedona-sweater.headshotMs. Bellgardt first earned a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters degree in Public Administration, and worked for the Arizona Legislature. While her children were young, she worked from home with the first company to create digital scrapbooks, and then earned a Masters degree in Education. She has taught English since 2008, and Yearbook since 2015.

Ms. Bellgardt joined Heritage Academy in 2019 and has come full-circle, combining her love of teaching with her appreciation for our nation’s government. She is an avid reader of historical novels, and has compiled photo histories of her family’s immigration to the United States. She is currently editing her 93 year-old uncle’s memoirs into a historical non-fiction novel.

Email: liz.bell@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Ms Bellgardt’s Webpage

IMG_3824-scaledTyler Bergeron is originally from New Hampshire and grew up exploring our nation’s historical sites in New England and along the East Coast. While most kids wanted family vacations to theme parks, he planned yearly summer trips to historical sites. Tyler earned his BS in History from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. He then went on to earn his MA in History from Virginia Tech. His research focused on the idea of a martial spirit in the North and South through a comparison of college campuses prior to the Civil War. Tyler also served in the New Hampshire Army National Guard for 6 years. After returning from his deployment he moved to Arizona and has been living here for 4 years. Tyler has been teaching for 3 years and is excited to share his deep passion for American history and be a part of the Heritage Academy community.

Email: tyler.berg@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mr. Bergeron’s Webpage

I have a great love for this country, and a deep respect for the Founding Fathers. Teaching at Heritage has allowed me to communicate that love of country to my students. I believe that the best way to help our country improve and prosper is to return to our original Constitutional principles.

I have enjoyed the Spanish language since my father taught me my first phrase at a gas station in Mexico. After living in Venezuela, I studied the language on scholarship at Arizona State University and the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, graduating with a degree in Spanish and a Certificate of Latin American Studies from ASU. I earned a Juris Doctorate from ASU as well, but in the process I realized where my heart really was: teaching and coaching. I was privileged to begin teaching at Heritage Academy – Mesa Campus in 2005. I started the high school flag football program during my first year, and the football program in 2007.

Awards: Coach of the Year, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

State Championships: Flag football – 2005; Football – 2010, 2011, 2012

State Runners Up: Flag football – 2006; Football – 2009

Email: sbowers@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Bowers’ Webpage

I am so thrilled to begin the adventure of educating the fabulous scholars at Heritage Academy!

Ms. Cowles graduated Magna Cum Laude from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Administration.  She worked in the field of Recreation helping individuals enjoy life.  She followed a lifelong dream of becoming a professional educator.  She participated in a year- long Post Baccalaureate Teacher preparation program.  She shares her love of literature and creative writing with her students.  In addition to classroom teaching, Ms. Cowles loves athletics!  Her passion has changed from participating and competing to coaching.  She has coached basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, track and field and swim team.  She has been involved with coaching all ages in all levels of competition.  Everything from recreational sports to competitive varsity level sports at the high School level.

Ms. Cowles is also actively involved in helping special needs individuals; making sure they lead healthy, active lifestyles.  In her spare time, Ms. Cowles enjoys traveling, shopping and spending quality time with family and friends.

Email: bcowles@heritageacademyaz.com

WebpageMs Cowle’s Webpage


 I have been dancing as a performer and competitor for most of my life- but instead of pursuing a dance career, I originally attended the University of Arizona for biomedical engineering. It wasn’t until after college that I  became a professional ballroom dance instructor and competitor in 2014 and I realized that my calling is to help others find confidence and strength in themselves.

I was professionally trained and certified by the only 12-time undefeated US Rhythm Dance Champions, who are some of the most sought after coaches and judges in the ballroom industry. I currently hold 3 professional teaching certifications to teach beginner, bronze, and silver dancers in 12 styles of American dancing. I continue to compete nationally and train with my partner; we just began dancing together in 2019 but have already received a first place title in Rhythm Multi-Dance from the New England Open. When not competing, I absolutely love social dancing whenever possible!

I am thrilled to share the joy of partner dancing to the Heritage scholars by encouraging them to be confident, empowered dancers

Email: elizabeth.davi@heritageacademyaz.com

unnamedI have been at Heritage Academy since Jan  2016 and absolutely love my job and all the amazing people I get to be around daily! I grew up in northern VA and moved to Charleston, SC in 2002. My kids and I moved to AZ in Nov. 2015. Recently I got married in Vegas to an amazing guy! We have 6 children. I love road trips & exploring new places.Trying new restaurants is also fun. Being outdoors and exploring this beautiful state is at the top of my list hiking, riding quads, shooting, etc.

Email: vdespain@heritageacademyaz.com

I love teaching Kenpo at Heritage Academy; I have been a Black Belt since 1996. I absolutely love my Kenpo Instructor (he happens to be my husband) and I speak three languages: French, English and Laotian. I love fitness, hiking and being with my family.

Email:  dduke@heritageacademyaz.com

Hello! my name is Field Ferkin. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in History. I have been teaching history over 5 years in California. I have taught World History, U.S. history and Civics and Economics. I love teaching History. I also revere the founding Fathers and the United States constitution. I am very excited to joining Heritage academy.

Email: fferkin@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mr. Ferkin’s Webpage


Heather Forcey has 20+ years of experience teaching technology and business education in the east valley. Originally a business administration major in college Mrs. Forcey worked in the accounting field before obtaining a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.  Her goal in the classroom is to make the learning process enjoyable and challenging, while motivating scholars to want to learn more.

Mrs. Forcey has four grown children, two accountants, an ICU Nurse and the youngest an elementary teacher.  Originally from Southern California Mrs. Forcey prefers the desert heat of Arizona,not to mention the lighter traffic.  When not teaching you can find her with her 1 year old grandson, or playing Pickelball nearby.

Email: heather.forc@heritageacademyaz.com

Melody Fraser comes to Heritage Gateway with 20 years teaching in Gilbert Public Schools. She has taught all of the Microsoft Office courses, AP Computer Science, Marketing, Travel and Tourism, College Prep Keyboarding, Entrepreneurship and Advanced Business. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a Master’s degree in Secondary Education-Computer Emphasis from Northern Arizona University. She holds both Microsoft and Google Certifications and is committed to maintaining high standards of education with emphasis on developing skills in scholars that will allow them to be college and career ready. Her husband is an educator as well and they have two beautiful school aged children. She enjoys traveling with her family, sewing and swimming. She is proud to be taking scholars on this “Techcellent” adventure.

Email:  melody.fras@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Fraser’s Webpage

I love being an educator!  I earned both my Bachelors in Math Education and my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University.  I have enjoyed teaching for over ten years in Gilbert and now Heritage Academy Gateway.  In addition to teaching I enjoy spending time with my family, watching football and baseball, and when the glorious Arizona weather permits, snow skiing.

Email: jgraffius@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: Mrs. Graffius’ Webpage

Dr. David R. Grimm earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.  He has spent over 20 years doing DNA research in the fields of Molecular Biology or Molecular Genetics.  His research topics include the genetics of cancer, the genetics of drug response and personalized medicine, and the genetics of bone and cartilage development.  During his research career, Dr. Grimm has sequenced, genotyped, linkage mapped, cloned, replicated, transcribed and translated DNA.  In essence, if it can be done with DNA, he has done it.

Dr. Grimm’s research career has resulted in 23 research articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals, either as author or co-author.  In addition, he has written three books on the topic of understanding the scientific data and evidence that can be generated from DNA.

These experiences have empowered Dr. Grimm to combine two things that he is passionate about, science and educating others, into his new career as a science teacher.

Email: dgrimm@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Dr. Grimm’s Webpage

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities from Northern Arizona University with an emphasis in Art History.  She has taught Home Economics and Health at the Mesa campus and is the Art teacher at the Gateway campus.  Her skills include drawing, painting, sculpture, creating, sewing, and building.

Email: shaggarton@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Haggarton’s Webpage

Hello, my name is Heather Hatch. I was born and raised in Olympia, WA. My interests include hiking, running, longboarding, kayaking, street hockey and basically any good activities my four kids are up for! From a young age I have loved science and the process of discovery. I love asking questions and I love learning.

In 1996 I earned a General Associates degree with a major in health and education from Ricks College. I received a Bachelors of Science degree in social work from Brigham Young University in 2000. I recently completed courses in chemistry and mathematics at the Maricopa Community Colleges and plan to earn a Masters degree in chemistry. Last year I enjoyed teaching 7th grade science as a long term substitute teacher for the Peoria Unified School District.

I am honored to be teaching science at Heritage Academy.

Email: heather.hatc@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Hatch’s Webpage

Mrs. Higgins received her Bachelor of Arts degree from ASU with a double major in English and History.  Her teaching career has spanned middle school and high school.  Mrs. Higgins has coached multiple middle school students to the national level in the National History Day, We The People, and History Bee contests.  She teaches 10th grade English, cross country, basketball, and is the advisor for Scholar Council.  She believes strongly in the role athletics plays in developing the minds, bodies, and self-esteem of young people.  She played basketball in high school and college. She is also an avid runner who has completed multiple marathons and half-marathons.  Mrs. Higgins continues her dedication to scholar education, government and athletics at Heritage Academy.

Email: chiggins@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Higgin’s Webpage


Taylor Hubbard is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received a Bachelor of Music Education in 2017 from Grand Valley State University. Her primary instrument is flute/piccolo and during her time at GVSU she was nominated to participate in the outstanding Performance Honors program. During her music career she has performed with a variety of ensembles including marching bands, pep bands, chamber winds, full orchestras, pit orchestras, opera productions and more! Taylor also participated in a large recording project with Dr. Lowell Graham – President and CEO of the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The outcome was a professionally recorded CD titled Under Western Skies in which the ensemble and trumpet soloists perform works by Kevin McKee, Erik Morales and other well known composers. This will be Taylor’s fourth year teaching band and orchestra and she is excited to share her passion for all things music with the Heritage Academy Scholars. In her free time she enjoys hiking with her boyfriend and their German Shepherd or snuggling up with her cats to binge watch true crime documentaries.

email: taylor.hubb@heritageacademyaz.com

WIN_20210505_11_34_01_ProMy name is Renee Hyman. I have been a stay at home mom for the last 24 years. My children are one of my greatest loves. I enjoy spending as much time with them as possible. I am grateful to work at the school they attend. I feel very blessed to be a part of the Heritage Academy Gateway family.

Email: renee.hyma@heritageacademyaz.com

3193ph_thumbAngela Huston received her Bachelor’s Degree in History with a minor in English from Brigham Young University.  She has taught English in the middle school ages in Utah and Arizona.  As a parent of Heritage scholars, she is passionate about the quality of education provided at Heritage Academy and thrilled to be a part of it.

Email: ahuston@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Huston’s Webpage

Dr. Idso earned his BS in Agriculture and his MS in Agronomy & Plant Genetics from the University of Arizona.  He then ventured north and received his Doctorate in Botany at ASU.  Several years later, Dr. Idso attended the University of Phoenix where he completed a post-bac program in education to become a certified teacher at both the elementary and secondary school levels.  His secondary school certification carries endorsements in general science, biology, and chemistry.

As an educator, Dr. Idso served as an adjunct faculty member at ASU, CGCC, and SMCC where he taught various courses in botany and biology.  He also taught 5th grade for 15 years on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, before moving on to teach biology and chemistry at their high school for the next nine years.  After 24 years of service, Dr. Idso left the Indian community for the greener pastures of freedom at Heritage Academy where he plans to establish his new career as an educator.

In his free time —who are we kidding— Dr. Idso is a single parent of 11-year-old twin daughters, so he has no free time!  So, when he makes the time, Dr. Idso loves to go out country swing dancing!  He is also an avid hunter, rock climber, rock hounder, and enjoys collecting sea creatures and eating tacos down in Rocky Point.

Email: keith.idso@heritageacademyaz.com

After graduating from Heritage Academy Mesa campus, Ms. Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University-Hawaii where she studied Art, Special Education, and Teaching English to speakers of other languages. She has taught various arts and language courses in Hawaii, Italy, China, and Arizona. Ms. Jones enjoys travel, being in the great outdoors, theatre, music, languages, and art! In addition to teaching, she works professionally as a henna tattoo artist.

Email: marissa.jone@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Ms. Jones’ Webpage

3192phCoach Leavitt received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from The University of Phoenix and, although most of Coach Leavitt’s adult life was spent in the tourism industry in the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, he has always wanted to teach.  Moving to Arizona gave him the opportunity to fulfill his dreams of coaching and teaching at a school that shares his values and standards.  Coach Leavitt began his coaching career at Mesa Heritage in 2015.  Over the years he has been lucky enough to add more coaching and most recently became Athletic Director for Heritage Gateway.  Coach Leavitt has been married for 21 years and has 6 children.  The oldest graduated from Heritage Gateway in 2019 and 2 more are currently enrolled.  Coach Leavitt has a passion for physical education and believes sportsmanship should be valued over winning.  While coaching at Heritage Gateway he has led teams to state championships and received Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019.  He is looking forward to putting more trophies in our new gym while encouraging our scholars to be the best they can be in all aspects of their lives.

Email: dleavitt@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mr. Leavitt’s Webpage

My love of languages began where I am now, in high school Spanish class!  After graduation, I had the amazing opportunity to live and study for a year in Finland, as a Rotary International exchange student.  There, I learned Finnish, and began studying French, German and Russian.  At ASU, I continued studying both French and Spanish, earning my B.A., and after spending several years at home with my children, went back to ASU Polytechnic for my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction.

I firmly believe that learning another language is so important to a well-rounded education.  It opens up unexpected opportunities, and changes the learner’s perspective of the world and his or her place in it.

I am both excited and proud to be a part of the wonderful Heritage Academy community, and to be able to share my love of language learning with our scholars.

Email: slewis@heritageacademyaz.com

Profile-PicMy name is Kim Little, and I love math! I have a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education with a minor in PE/Coaching from Brigham Young University. I am excited to be back in the classroom after spending some time at home with my 4 kids and tutoring individual students in every subject from 3rd grade math to Pre-Calculus. Outside of the classroom, I love to participate in physical activity, spend time in the sunshine, and spend time with my husband and children.

Email: kimberly.litt@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Little’s Webpage

I earned my Bachelor degree in Special Education from ASU and a Master degree in Counseling from NAU.  I am also an Arizona certified math teacher grades K-12. I have taught special education, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry and Foundational Algebra II for the past 20 years.   I love Heritage Academy Gateway and our scholars and am proud to be one of the teachers who opened the school.

Email:  klopez@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Ms Lopez’s Webpage

meI  love being part of Heritage Academy Gateway both as a teacher and a parent.  This is my second year teaching 6th grade here and it has been amazing.  I am originally from Louisiana, but  I have lived in Arizona for most of my life, having moved here in 1980.  I graduated from ASU with a BS in Education.  I have taught all ages from the littles on up! I have been married for 26 years and I have 3  amazing children.  I have a 19 year old, Tristan, who is at ASU.  I also have a son named Tannis who is a junior here at Heritage and my daughter Carson who is a freshman this year.  When I am not teaching I am probably reading, watching soccer, or going to Disneyland!!  Literature, grammar, and teaching ELA are passions of mine and I feel blessed to get to do that with the best scholars in the world!

I feel at home at Heritage already. What an incredible school! I have been teaching for 16 years. I am certified in Language Arts, History, and Administration. I have a Master’s in Educational Leadership. I am blessed with three awesome children (14,16, and 18) and a musical, fun husband. We are all Cubs fans. Once in a while, you will see me riding my Harley Road King to school.

Email: carmella.mcne@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: Mrs. McNeill’s Webpage

meffanI grew up in a small town in Ohio and am new to Arizona! I can still remember horses and buggies traveling down main street when I was a child. I began my teaching career in 2013 after graduating with a dual certification in both Science and Language Arts. Both of my parents were teachers and my twin sister is currently working as an optometrist.  I love the energy and enthusiasm scholars bring to the classroom and can’t wait to start a brand new year in a brand new state! 

Email: allen.meff@heritageacademyaz.com

Email: kmelchin@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: https://sites.google.com/d/1QUL6J-caSjrtWpK-2Ndr56G2pnibzg6z/p/1UeUA3G_4JexMk5SmTTNpaAgKGy2q9pCx/edit?pli=1&authuser=3

I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology. I have taught at Heritage Academy for the past 11 years.
Some of my hobbies include; sewing, reading, creating things from nothing, any type of water, beach, lake, river, pond, pool I enjoy it all. Most of all I love being able to spend time with my family, they are the joys of my life. I have enjoyed the time I have spent with the scholars at Heritage, they make me laugh and keep me young and on my toes.  Hurrah for Yearbook.

20210606_092026-scaledI am so excited to be working with the great scholars at Heritage Academy! I graduated magna cum laude in Elementary Education with an emphasis in mathematics from Utah State University. My husband and I have 6 children, and we enjoyed a homeschool adventure for 12 years. I have worked with the National Center for Constitutional Studies for the last 20 years and have a deep love for America and the United States Constitution!

Email: tonya.nels@heritageacademyaz.com

IMG_6320-Darren-PasseyWelcome to Pre-Algebra and General Math! I am confident we will have a fun and successful year together here at Heritage. I taught Algebra 1 at Mesa Heritage for three years before transferring to Heritage Gateway. I also taught for Mesa Public Schools for 18 years before transitioning over to Mesa Heritage. I started my teaching career at Franklin Northeast teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math from 1997 – 2001. I taught the junior high math program at Franklin Northeast and then moved to Smith Junior High the first year that it opened. There I taught eighth and ninth grade algebra. I returned a year later to Franklin Northeast to teach sixth grade. In 2009-2010, I was asked to embark into a new endeavor to teach math for Franklin Junior High once again. After getting the math program up and running, I resumed teaching 6th grade at Franklin JH. After Franklin, I taught 5th grade for two years at Zaharis Elementary.

I have earned a B.S. in elementary education, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and a M.Ed. in Counseling from Ottawa University. I also hold a middle school endorsement (7th – 9th) and have passed the math Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment.

I was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. I have been married to my beautiful bride for 27 (ASL teacher here at Heritage Gateway) and we have four children, our two youngest are currently enrolled here at Heritage Gateway.

I am excited to start another school year! Yeah! I am thrilled to be part of the Heritage family. I am impressed with how Heritage teachers are able to instill a love of learning and our country’s heritage into the hearts and minds of our most precious treasures (our children). The support of the parents always makes a little sacrifice on my part all worthwhile!

Thanks for entrusting your children to us, and I look forward to educating the young minds of our future leaders.

Email: dpassey@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mr. Passey’s Webpage

I am so excited to teach American Sign Language (ASL) at Heritage Academy Gateway!  I have a great love for this language and I can’t wait to share it with my students.  

I became curious about ASL when my 2 Deaf cousins came to visit when I was about 12 years old.  They taught me a little bit each time they came.  When I got into high school, I took as many ASL classes as I could.  At Mesa Community College I decided to take American Sign Language as an elective.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to transfer to Phoenix College to join their 3 year Deaf Education Program.  

After graduating, I interpreted for a Deaf Child in elementary school for a couple of years as I attended Northern Arizona University.  When I received my BS in Education with a minor in American Sign Language, I taught for Mesa Public Schools and had 6 Deaf students in my classroom.  

After my son was born, I decided to stay home.  I worked part-time for Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB), working with families with Deaf children.  I enjoyed teaching many different families ASL.  After 12 years of working at ASDB, I decided to return to the classroom.  

I have always loved teaching my children and others how to sign!

Email: jpassey@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Passey’s Webpage

HeadshotEmail: christina.peop@heritageacademyaz.com

Christina Peoples graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music with a focus in Voice Performance.  She has experience with many different styles of music, from opera, classical, choral and solo performance to jazz, broadway and Disney.  She has performed with the ASU Lyric Opera Theater, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and and had the honor of performing with Doc Severinsen and the ASU Jazz Choir.  She has also performed with local theaters and has a great love for the stage, both on it and behind it.  She directed the Music Theater Program at Eduprize School for 2 years before following her 3 children to Heritage Academy.  Christina has been a private piano and voice teacher for 15 years and loves working with students of all ages, from 5 years to adults.  Some of her show credits include The Sound of Music, The Prima Donna, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Marriage of Figaro and the Soprano soloist in Carmina Burana.  In her spare time, Christina enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 children and 4 dogs!

Email: christina.peop@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Peoples’ Webpage

20200615_212638-Heidi-PhelpsI’m excited to join the Heritage team! I received my bachelor’s degree from BYU-Hawaii majoring in Special Education. I’ve been teaching for 20 years and have taught in Virginia, Hawaii and Arizona. I have taught grades pre-k through 12th grade.

Email: heidi.phel@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Phelps’ Webpage

Julie-Picture-Julie-PinkhamJulie graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Theatre Arts from Brigham Young University. She then earned her Master’s Degree in Theatre History, Theory, and Criticism, with an emphasis in Directing, also from BYU.

She has directed “An Evening of Shorts by Samuel Beckett,” Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale,” and a high school one-act version of “The Crucible,” among others. She was asked to spearhead a youth group’s Bicentennial Celebration of Joseph Smith’s Birth–and got the youth to write a script; act in it on stage and on film; and compose a symphony and perform it.

Her acting credits include “Henry V,” and “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare on stage, and “Minnie’s Kitchen,” and “Text and Performance with Arthur Henry King” in film. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Cedar City Community Theatre Company.

Her stage managing work includes “A Dream for Katy,” an original production for BYU Women’s Conference, and the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York. She also received an Honorable Mention award in the Utah State Irene Ryan Competition for her work stage managing “Henry the Fifth,” by Luigi Pirandello, directed by Cameron Deaver.

She has worked with Heritage Academy Gateway for several years, now. She has coordinated volunteers for the Instrumental Department concerts, and substitute-taught in the classroom. She assisted the Drama Department by doing costumes for Heritage Academy Gateway’s first ever musical, “Seussical, the Musical!” in March of 2019. In the 2019-2020 school year, she taught the Filmmaking class and designed lighting and sound for “Beauty and the Beast.” A perfectly designed and timed cue still gives her goosebumps!

Email: julie.pink@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Pinkahm’s Webpage

pictureMrs. Radostits was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Arizona in 2009.  She attended Illinois State University for her undergraduate degree in Business, with a minor in Art.  She went on to have a successful business career in sales for thirteen years before she found her true calling of being a teacher.  During her sales career she was asked to train new hires within the territory.  It was through this training she realized that teaching was her true passion.  Her trainees expressed how much her skills and experience benefitted their career, which gave her a great sense of accomplishment. After moving to Arizona, Mrs. Radostits continued her education at Arizona State University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Education and her teaching certificate.  She has been a 7th – 12th grade math teacher for the past 12 years.  Making the transition to teaching was one of the best decisions of her career.  Mrs. Radostits feels there is no greater reward than seeing the smile on a scholar’s face when he/she understands math.  It is a feeling she never received from her sales career and keeps her motivated to teach every day.

Email: mradostits@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Radostits’ Webpage

Merly Zoilo Raymond is a resident of  Gilbert,  Arizona and a new faculty member at Heritage Academy. She graduated with a Bachelor of Secondary Education, major in mathematics. She first taught at San Beda College Alabang, Philippines in 1999. She later earned a Master of Arts in Teaching in mathematics at the Philippine Normal University.

In 2005, she was given the opportunity to go to the United States to teach. She taught math at Baboquivari High School for 7 years. In 2012, she moved to Gilbert and has been teaching at Highland High School for the past 5 years until coming to Heritage Academy.

Mathematics has always been her passion since she was very young and considers Chemistry as her second love. Her inspiration to become a teacher came from her senior year class advisor — her dedication and her passion for teaching and learning is what pushed her to be in this profession. Her mission as a teacher is to  inspire her students in the same way that she was inspired during high school.

In her free time Merly enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children.

Email: mraymond@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Raymond’s Webpage

I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. I attended Brigham Young University in Utah, and then returned home where I received a Bachelor of Science in Education Degree from Northern Arizona University.  I coached City League sports, middle school sports, and led camp and church youth groups in Flagstaff for over 25 years. I developed curriculum, and taught Physical Education/Health at Northland Preparatory Academy for 5 years. I coached Varsity sports at Sinagua High School and NPA.  I played on the Women’s NAU basketball team, then qualified, and played at Nationals on the United States Tennis Association team. I also played competitive sponsored softball and volleyball for over 25 years.  My husband, Allen, and I have 5 children. I LOVE sports and LOVE helping kids!  I believe that participation in a positive physical activity or sports program helps develop confidence, responsibility, respect and accountability. It also teaches sportsmanship and builds character. Strong character helps build strong families, and strong families build strong communities and nations. I am excited to teach Physical Education and Citizenship, and happy to coach here at the Heritage Academy Gateway Campus. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my love for sports and kids, and my knowledge and experience for the promotion of each scholar/athlete’s happiness and success!

Email: cribelin@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Ribelin’s Webpage

Dr. Russell’s teaching is guided by the principle that close encounters with significant texts have the capacity to transform lives for the better.  As a book historian interested in the contemplative reading practices of the Late Medieval and Early Modern eras, he has seen how reflective engagement with primary sources shaped some of history’s greatest minds, including those of the Founders.  Inspired by these examples, Dr. Russell aims to offer educational experiences to Heritage Academy’s scholars in a similar spirit.

He received his BA in English Literature at the age of twenty from Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He was able to graduate at this age due Dual Enrollment (DE), which was then in early stage of development.  Having benefited from DE himself, Dr. Russell appreciates the opportunity to play a part in making early college-level courses available for today’s scholars.

Pursuing his lifelong interest in the Medieval Era, Dr. Russell completed his graduate education in the United Kingdom.  At Durham University he received an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies with a focus on Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. He took additional coursework at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Then he completed his doctorate at Durham with a focus on the History of the Book.  Dr. Russell’s research on the earliest printed books in Europe (called “incunabula”), took him to the British Library and the Vatican Library.  Following his doctorate he worked as an antiquarian bookseller at the Bauman Rare Books gallery in Las Vegas.

Dr. Russell has taught at the junior high, high school, university and adult education levels in the USA, the UK, and Honduras.  His research has been published in Kaleidoscope and the Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies.  He is married with one child.  After teaching he enjoys supporting new public speakers through Toastmasters and performing improv comedy.

Email: jrussell@heritageacademyaz.com

My name is Alisa Schoon, and I have been teaching high school mathematics since 2012. Teaching is my calling, and I have a true passion for helping my students reach their full potential in the classroom. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University, and recently earned my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Arizona State University. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my husband, our daughter, and our two dogs.

Email: alisa.scho@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Schoon’s Webpage

I earned my B.A. from Brigham Young University and my MA in English from Southern New Hampshire University. Both programs confirmed my love for literature and composition. This is a love that I’m thrilled to be sharing with Heritage Academy scholars. I taught high school English at the Mesa campus for five years, then took a 10 year hiatus to be at home with my three young children. I returned to Heritage’s English program in 2014 at the Gateway Campus where I have continued to enjoy sharing my passion for literature and writing.

Email: ascott@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Scott’s Webpge


Paciencia Scott first discovered Heritage Academy while searching for a quality education for her own children.  Since then she is proud to announce that she will not only be a Heritage Academy parent but also an employee. Ms. Scott came to Arizona  from the east coast where she attended Virginia Commonwealth University. She brings with her over 10 years of experience working as front office manager and registrar in a charter school setting. She is eager to serve parents and scholars with all of their enrollment needs.

Email: pscott@heritageacademyaz.com

Mrs. Smith attended James Madison University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in middle school education. She also graduated Summa Cum Laude from NAU earning a Masters of Arts degree in Educational Technology.  Mrs. Smith has held numerous positions over her 14-year career in the field of education. She began as a 7th and 8th grade Language Arts and Reading teacher at Marstellar Middle School in Virginia. She has since then taught social studies and English to students in grades 5th-12th grade and is a certified dual enrollment instructor. Currently, Mrs. Smith serves as the assistant principal for the Gateway campus.

Email: asmith@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Smith’s Webpage

3106phI am from Queen Creek, Arizona but have been attending school with my husband for the past four years at Brigham Young University-Idaho. There I received my bachelor’s in exercise physiology with an emphasis in nutrition. During my time in school I fell in love with exercise and teaching all aspects of wellness. I started teaching various group exercise classes on campus, including weight training, spin, yoga, kickboxing, high intensity interval training, step, Pilates, water aerobics, and more. I developed a strong passion for helping people see the amazing potential they had to do hard things while also helping them to see how important health and wellness are in their lives.

Before moving back home to Arizona I worked as a Cooperate Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor at the Melaleuca Wellness Company headquarters in Idaho Falls. There I was able to work with the Melaleuca employees by leading various exercise classes and personal training sessions they could take during their work day. I also provided mid-shift stretch sessions in which I would come to their offices and lead a group stretch session to help clear their mind and increase productivity.
I am so excited now to be here working at Heritage Academy with these amazing kids! I believe that the development of healthy habits at a young age can not only promote a high quality of life in the future, but also help them to learn self motivation and discipline. I am so grateful for the chance I have to share my love of exercise and wellness with them and hopefully show them the wonderful benefits that come from practicing them.

From my earliest years, family, friends, and educators have encouraged and supported me in each of my endeavors. They often opened doors of opportunity for me, granting experiences I never would have had without their help, and leading me to success in so many ways. I was one of the first who had the opportunity to experience dual enrollment courses here in Arizona. I was able to attend the community college over the summer during high school. Then, I was blessed to be accepted into the physics program at Arizona State University, at 15 years old, while still in high school. None of these things would have happened without the encouragement and support of so many others.

I earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Arizona State University in Physics. Since then, for most of the last ten years, I taught physics and astronomy at Mesa Community College. While teaching at MCC I was pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at ASU, with an emphasis in the use of mathematics in the science classroom. During that time I developed labs for physics majors that allowed the students to match their experimental data with visual computer simulations they had written.  During this time, I became greatly concerned about the future of our country and our personal liberties. I began an intensive study of constitutional principles, attended seminars, and read many of the words of our founding fathers. At length I determined that I needed to step away from science for a time and study the law, both as it should be and as it is. My teaching at MCC and my Ph.D. program were interrupted while attending Brigham Young University where I received a Juris Doctorate degree. Upon returning from law school, I continued teaching at MCC and also passed the Bar Exam in Colorado and Arizona. I now practice law, mostly pro bono, as service to the community around me.

The opportunity I now have to teach at Heritage Academy is a chance for me to give back, in some small way, to ensure that the upcoming generations of scholars have similar encouragement, support, and open doors.

Email: athompson@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Dr. Thompson’s Webpage

I earned my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish from ASU and my Master’s in Elementary Education from NAU. Before staying home to raise our two daughters, I taught grades 4-6 in numerous schools in the Mesa Unified School district focusing on second language learners many of those years. I’m thrilled to be making the jump to junior high, and excited to help scholars delve into Latin. They’ll be astounded by how much they learn about English at the same time! When I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my family on our boat, hiking, reading, and traveling.


Webpage: Mrs. Tietz’s Webpage

Pic-scaledI received a BS from Central Methodist University and am currently pursuing my MBA from Williams Woods University. I’m a former CTE Business teacher and worked in administration in Missouri for 4 years. I’m super excited to live in Arizona and love spending time with my husband and 2 children.

Email: kristen.wagn@heritageacademyaz.com

Webpage: Mrs. Wagner’s Webpage

2B0A3104-2I graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Psychology and soon after realized I had a love for special education. I have worked in classroom settings as a  paraprofessional and a Special Education teacher. I am thrilled to be bringing that passion to Heritage Academy. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my husband and 3 kids, cooking, reading, and traveling (especially to Disneyland!).

Email: lyndsay.walk@heritageacademyaz.com

Rayshawn was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Arizona with his family. He started getting into the arts at Heritage Academy Laveen where he was introduced to dance and musical theatre. Since graduating, he now attends Arizona State University and is pursing his BFA in Dance Performance.  Over the years, Rayshawn has been apart of many performance companies such as Grey Box Movement Collective, Desert Dance Theatre, and Metro Arts Company. These experiences has allowed him to go on tour to present “Sister Moses” around Arizona and in Texas. You can now find him in the valley teaching at multiple dance studios! He is excited to share his passion for dance with the scholars at Heritage!

Email: rayshawn.watk@heritageacademyaz.com

3096phMrs. Worley grew up in Salt Lake City and was blessed with many experiences and opportunities that nurtured her love of piano accompanying, her love of teaching, and her love of country. She is amazed and thrilled to have found a position at Heritage Academy that combines all three!

Mrs. Worley attended Brigham Young University as a Kimball Scholar and graduated in Elementary Education, finishing her student teaching a month before her first child was born. She spent the next few decades as a stay-at-home and homeschooling mother of (eventually) six children, living near Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

In 2016, she moved to Arizona with her husband and two youngest children who attend Heritage Academy and sing in choir. She feels very fond of Arizona and considers herself an “Arizona girl,” while still believing that her family’s move would have been worth it if only to give her children the chance to be taught and mentored at Heritage Academy.

Mrs. Worley is grateful every day for the privilege of supporting the outstanding Gateway choirs at the piano, assisting Mrs. Albretsen in the classroom, and enriching scholars’ lives with uplifting and fun music. She especially enjoys supporting the mission of Heritage Academy with spectacular patriotic music that deepens scholars’ appreciation for the founding principles and values of our American nation.

When she’s not at the piano, Mrs. Worley enjoys dancing in ballet class and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Email: mworley@heritageacademyaz.com