Acorn Staff

Becky Shepard - Music Director and Founder of Acorn School

I am Becky, the founder of Acorn School back in 1972,  and I teach music at Acorn! I live in Exeter with my husband Dudley ad two dogs, Zipper and Willy. I like to play golf and tennis and I also like to write musicals for the theater. Most of all I LOVE ACORN SCHOOL!

Susan Bendroth - Director of Acorn School, Mighty Oaks

I am the Director of Acorn School and one of the Mighty Oak teachers.  I have a B.S. in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire with more than 30 years of experience working with preschoolers and kindergarteners guiding them along their developmental path of acquiring social, emotional, physical and academic skills through Acorn’s science and social studies curriculum. All four of my children attended Acorn School. My goal and desire for every Acorn student is to develop an “I can” attitude, to understand it is okay to make mistakes and to love to learn.

Kimberly Williams - Business Director, Yoga Teacher and Chippie Cheeks

I can be found in the Acorn office, on my yoga mat sharing my love of yoga with the Mighty Oaks and also having lunch with the 3 year old Chipmunks. My connection with Acorn began many years ago as a parent. My two alumni sons will quickly tell you that their years at Acorn were “awesome!!” My BS in Nursing compliments my Childlight Yoga Teacher Certification.

Jendiss Frizzell - Mighty Oaks, Lead Teacher
Hi my name is Jendiss Frizzell and I am the lead teacher of the kindergarten Mighty Oaks. I have 4 grown children who all went to Acorn School. I enjoy hiking, singing, and gardening. I have been in the education field for 30 years and love sharing books with children! I love Acorn School!
Chris Hochschwender - Mighty Oaks

I am one of the Mighty Oak kindergarten teachers. In 1986, I received my BS Degree in Elementary Education with minors in child Development and Psychology from Plymouth State University. I have also taught kindergarten and third grade in the past. I love to read and travel whenever I get a chance. I live in Newfields with my husband and three sons.  All three of my boys were Chipmunks, Chickadees and Mighty Oaks here at Acorn many years ago.

Melissa Guy - Mighty Oaks
My name is Melissa Guy and I’m so excited to be back in the Mighty Oak classroom as an assistant. Both of my girls attended Acorn as Chipmunks, Woolly Bears and Mighty Oaks so I know how special this school is. I live in Exeter with my family and Golden Doodle, Parker. It’s going to be a great year!
Shelly Gordon - Chickadee and Tadpole Lead Teacher , Chippie Cheeks

I teach the morning 4 year old Chickadee and Tadpole classes, as well as Chippie Cheeks.  I have been part of the Acorn community since 2009 when my daughter became a Chipmunk and then a Tadpole. My son followed as a Chickadee and I loved the warmth of the teachers and the nature based curriculum. I became a boar member and enjoyed serving the needs of the school with a great group of volunteers. I have a B.S. in Education from the University of Kansas and taught elementary school for eight years before starting my family, so when I was ready to return to teaching Acorn was the perfect place. My outside of school life is full of outdoor family fun, art work, volunteer projects, reading and my favorite – adventurous travel!

Kelly Flynn - Chickadees, Tadpoles, and Chippie Cheeks

I teach in the Chickadees and Tadpole 4 year old classes, and Chippie Cheeks. My son was a Tadpole and then a Mighty Oak. My transition from parent to teacher has seemed like a natural passage! I have a Degree in Psychology and over 15 years of experience working as an educator of young children. I live in Stratham and enjoy tennis, travel and spending time with my family…and our several pets.

Tracy Hall - Chipmunks and Woolly Bear Lead Teacher

Hello friends, I am Tracy Hall and I teach the Chipmunks and Woolly Bears here at Acorn School. I earned my degree in Elementary Education from URI and taught for several years before staying home to raise my children. I live in Stratham with my family and pets. When I’m not at Acorn School I love to cook, craft, and garden. I am also very active in Girl Scouts. I am so honored to be able to spend time with your children.

Kathryn Swenson - Woolly Bear and Chipmunks

I am Kathryn Swenson and I teach in the AM and PM 3 year old Chipmunk classes and both AM and PM 4 year old Woolly Bear classes. I have a Bachelors in Early childhood from Coly Sawyer. I am a huge animal lover.

Kim Canfield - Lead Chipmunk Teacher
Jody MacBride - Chipmunks
Leigh Daley - Music Teacher

I am a graduate of UNH, passed the PRAXIS in 2002 and was the permanent sub at Main Street School in Exeter for 20 years. I love all animals (especially horses as I started riding at age 9) and I sing, play guitar and the piano! I was in a female a cappella group (Mamapella) for 10 years and plan to sing with the Rockingham Choral Society this year.

Margaret deRham - Enrichment

I received my Masters of Science in Reading from Wheelock College in 1992. I also received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a major in Special Education from Wheelock College in 1981. My teaching experience over the years has included 4 year olds, kindergarten, first grade, second grade and children with special needs. I live in Newfields, NH with my husband and we have two grown daughters who also attended Acorn School many years ago. When I am not teaching I enjoy reading, traveling, time with my family an friends and being at Squam Lake.

Michelle Graziano - Extended Day
Gayle Vardakis - Extended Day and Enrichment

Hi Acorn families! My name is Gayle Vardakis and i’m happy to be joining the Acorn staff this year. My two children went to Acorn School through their Mighty Oak Year and it has been wonderful to watch them learn and grow at Acorn School and take this strong foundation with them as they move onto new adventures.  I’ve also been a part of the board of directors since 2018 and it has been a honor to be able to give back to the Acorn Community.

I have a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and am excited to join the Acorn team for enrichment and extended days. I love going for bike rides and hikes with my family, gardening, reading, and being in nature.