Faculty and Staff
who we are
Teachers at Academe of the Oaks love to explore the deep, perplexing questions of their subjects, and each full-time member of the faculty has at least one advanced degree. Inspiring students also involves connecting academic work to the real world and the experiences of people living in the present. Just as importantly, each faculty member is passionate about teaching and is committed to the development of every student. Teachers are very involved in the events and the welfare of the school. Each faculty member also serves as a mentor on an individual basis to a group of students throughout their high school journey.
George Batten, Ph.D
George Batten earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has worked in both industry and academia as a chemist, physicist, engineer, mathematician, and teacher.
Dr. Batten is married to Kathryn Batten. He has four grown children and a dog named Lucy. He divides his time between Atlanta and Madison.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Batten is an amateur vibraphonist and an indifferent pianist. Dr. Batten teaches mathematics and physics at Academe of the Oaks.
Emanuel Peters earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Clayton State University. He is the Lead Cloud Software Engineer at Productive Cloud Solutions, a web development company in Atlanta that specializes in web development and technology consultation.
In addition to his experience in software engineering and web development, Mr. Peters has worked in computer science education for the last thirteen years at several private and public schools in Metropolitan Atlanta. During this time, he has taught middle and high school students web development, app development, software development, and robotics. When Mr. Peters is not working on a project or teaching, he enjoys gardening with his wife, studying artificial intelligence, and giving back to his community through volunteer initiatives.
Alejandro A. Rovira
Science and Mathematics
Alejandro A. Rovira received his undergraduate degree in Neurobiology with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston. He later attained a Master’s in Public Health with a specialty in Epidemiology with Honors from the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences campus and a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance with Honors from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico. Alejandro enmeshed his fields of study by working as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies in the realm of disease prevention and safety. Mr. Rovira taught Chemistry at his alma mater, Northeastern University, before joining the Academe family. In his free time, Alejandro enjoys swimming, golf and chess. He teaches Science and Mathematics at Academe.
Tara Wyman, Ph.D
Dr. Tara Buckley Wyman received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from California State University, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in Organic Chemistry from UCLA. As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Wyman studied gene therapy at the University of California, San Francisco, before accepting a position as professor of chemistry at De Anza College, Cupertino.
Dr. Wyman lives in Atlanta with her husband, Greg, and their twin boys. Dr. Wyman completed the Waldorf high school teacher training program in 2007. At Academe of the Oaks since 2004, she teaches chemistry, physics, mathematics, and quilting. Dr. Wyman is a member of Academe’s Leadership Group; she coordinates the Governor’s Honors program for the high school; and she contributes mightily to the drama department’s wardrobe of contemporary and period costumes.
A word from our School Director:
“Our education is cutting edge, but rooted in sound academics and a classical approach.
Our core values are reflected in our daily work with the students. High school education is a journey, and the individual relationships formed between our students and faculty support the students on their way. Education at Academe is meaningful, relevant, authentic, inspiring, challenging and also fun. We strive for our students to become confident, well-rounded human beings who can think independently, care for others, and take initiative to make the world a better place.” – Eva Handschin
English, History, Music
Alex Lotito, a native Atlantan, was graduated from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy; he subsequently earned his master’s degree in Curriculum Instruction and Design. Mr. Lotito has taught at Vashon High School in St. Louis (under the auspices of Teach for America) and at Lakeside High School (his alma mater) in Atlanta.
In 2016, Mr. Lotito was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship; as a Fulbright Scholar, he taught English in Trapani, a small town on the western shore of Sicily. In his free time, Mr. Lotito enjoys playing the guitar and traveling. He teaches English, History, and Guitar at Academe.
Thomas Glenn Pelham
TG Pelham received his B.A. in philosophy and history from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, and his M.A. in rhetoric from Georgia State University. Mr. Pelham has taught in both public and private schools since 1995, specializing in literature and history, debate, and outdoor experiential education.
Mr. Pelham has coached both college and high-school debate teams for national competition. As a faculty member of Emory University’s National Debate Project, he helped establish urban debate programs for underfunded public schools. An outdoor enthusiast, Mr. Pelham has also created several outdoor education programs. For 20 years he directed youth summer programs at Turtle Island, a camp run by Eustace Conway and featured on the History Channel. Mr. Pelham teaches outdoor skills such as South Eastern American Indian technologies, backcountry and primitive camping, white-water canoeing, and rock climbing.
He lives in Decatur, GA, with his partner, Lesli, their two sons, and Sydney, their convenient travel-sized Mini Aussie.
Dierdra Reber, Ph.D
Latin American History
Dierdra Reber received her B.A. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on literature, film, culture, criticism, and cultural theory in Spanish and English for over twenty years at the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, Northwestern University, and the University of Kentucky, where she is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Hispanic Studies. Dr. Reber is the author of Coming to Our Senses: Affect and an Order of Things for Global Culture (Columbia University Press, 2016) and is currently writing a book on the Mexican film director Alfonso Cuarón (under contract with the University of Illinois Press Contemporary Film Directors Series), as well as a manuscript on race, affect, and power in the Americas. She lives in Decatur with her family; her daughters attend the Waldorf School of Atlanta and Academe of the Oaks.
Dr. Reber teaches Latin American History at Academe.
Dr. Ilise Cohen
Ilise Benshushan Cohen, Ph.D., received an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and a doctorate from California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Dr. Cohen is a scholar-activist on Israel/Palestine, specifically focused on Mizrahi Jews (from the Middle East and North Africa). She taught Jewish studies at Agnes Scott College, global issues of justice at Mercer University, international policy and perspectives, and socio-cultural concepts at Smith College’s School for Social Work, globalization, and social movements at California State University, Monterey Bay. She is active on Middle East, human rights, peace-building, and education and has led many delegations to the Middle East. She is committed to critical thinking, organizing, and educating for justice in the Middle East and to anti-racist activism and organizing locally.
Dr. Cohen is co-founder and co-coordinator of the Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus, co-founder and co-leader of Jewish Voice for Peace, Atlanta chapter, steering member of SEDQ: Global Jewish Network for Justice and a member of the newly formed International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine. She was co-vice chair of the national council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), former chair of Interfaith Peace-Builders (Eyewitness Palestine), and member of FOR’s Latin American Task Force Colombia program committee among other commitments.
Dr. Cohen also teaches Hebrew and mentors young Jews and allies. For the last few years, she has been teaching Middle East history and current events at Academe of the Oaks.
Fine & Practical Arts
Fiona Handschin graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2008 with a B.F.A. in Illustration. She is currently completing coursework at SCAD toward her master’s degree. A trained Waldorf teacher, Ms. Handschin’s independent studies in practical arts have included calligraphy, clay sculpture, printmaking, and woodworking. She has developed and coordinated a summer arts program for children, and provides individual instruction in various media.
Ms. Handschin is a native of Basel, Switzerland, where she attended Rudolf Steiner Schule Mayenfels; she has lived in the U.S. since 1999. She is a dedicated runner and has competed in several marathons and triathlons. Ms. Handschin’s daughter, Belinda, attends the Waldorf School of Atlanta.
Ms. Handschin teaches fine and practical arts and physical education at Academe, having joined the faculty in 2009; she also participates in our cycling club, including major cycling excursions like the Bike Ride Across Georgia!
Fine & Practical Arts
Corrina Sephora Mensoff began her life-long interest in metalworking at the age of five in her father’s workshop. After receiving her BFA in Sculpture and Metalsmithing from the Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) in 1995, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she created a self-guided journeyman’s apprenticeship. Two years later, she established Phoenix Metalworks, specializing in sculpture, furniture, and architectural works.
In 2005, Ms. Mensoff received her MFA in Sculpture from Georgia State University. Her metalworking awards include “Best in Show” from Annette Cone Skelton of MOCA, Silver Award from Icarus International, and a Silver Sculpture Award from NOMMA, among others. Her metalwork is on permanent display in Atlanta at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Temple Sinai, the Martin Luther King Natatorium, and in many private collections nationally. She continues to exhibit in museums, galleries, and public art venues.
Ms. Mensoff teaches blacksmithing to the ninth grade at Academe of the Oaks.
Omar Cabral graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University with a BA in Modern Languages (Spanish). In addition, he earned a MA in Foreign Languages with a minor in Secondary Education from West Virginia University. As a native Spanish speaker, Mr. Cabral grew up in a bilingual area of the South Texas border near Mexico.
His many years of teaching experience include K-12th grade instruction, as well as teaching Undergraduate Spanish at the college level to both Spanish majors and minors. Mr. Cabral enjoys teaching, spending quality time with family, hiking, and outdoor activities.
“Academe students are eager to learn—and they do learn—in an environment with heavy emphasis on developing the capacity for rational thinking. The administration solicits my input on the curriculum, values my judgment, and allows me to teach.”
– George Batten, PhD
Robert Glor, Ph.D
A native of Missouri, Robert Glor received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Missouri State University. While in St. Louis, he developed the choral program at St. Louis Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), taught public school, and completed a master’s degree in voice performance from Webster University. In 2007, he received his doctorate in music education from Shenandoah University (Winchester, Virginia).
Dr. Glor is the founding artistic director of OurSong, the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chorus, now completing its fourteenth season; he was formerly artistic director of the Atlanta Feminist Women’s chorus. He has been coordinator of K–12 choral music for the DeKalb County School District, and choral director (and chairman of the department of fine arts) at Chamblee High School. Dr. Glor’s choral groups have consistently received Superior ratings at choral festivals.
Involved with choral music performance and conducting for more than thirty-five years, Dr. Glor directs the choir and the select Academe Singers choral ensemble at Academe of the Oaks.
Marshall “Mac” Isseks is a musician and educator originally from Liberty, New York. He earned a BA in philosophy from Emory University and an MM in jazz studies from Georgia State University. He has studied and performed with many of Atlanta’s great jazz community members including: Gary Motley, Kevin Bales, Louis Heriveaux, Mace Hibbard, EJ Hughes, Audrey Shakir and Kermit Walker. Mr. Isseks’s undergraduate work in philosophy focused on French existentialism and jazz improvisation, both of which have remained lifelong passions. He performs regularly in Atlanta’s fertile music scene. Mr. Isseks teaches the Jazz Ensemble at Academe of the Oaks.
Steve Rucker (Professor of Music, University of Miami), and completed the Certificate Program at Drummers Collective, New York City. He has more than eight years’ experience as a private drum instructor, and ten years’ experience as a touring and recording drummer for a number of major-label acts.
Mr. Strauss teaches disparate styles and skill levels using a practical and musical approach to drumming. The curriculum he has developed for the high school includes rhythms in various styles, timing, dynamics, reading standard notation, rudiments and more advanced techniques of drumming, and independence. He emphasizes musicality, feel, development of creative abilities and listening analysis.
Mr. Strauss teaches drumming at Academe of the Oaks.
An Atlanta native, Ryan Gregory is an alumnus of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. Ryan went on to study at Kennesaw State University with Helen Kim and at the University of Maryland with David Salness. He received his B.S. in music from Kennesaw State University and his M.S. from the University of Maryland in music. He has performed in masterclasses by Roberto Spano, David Coucheron, the Vega Quartet, Midori Goto, and Regis Pasquier. He has played in the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and was Acting Concertmaster for the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra. As a member of the Anacostia String Quartet, Ryan was a featured performer at the Kennedy Center and served as Artist-in-Residence with the District New Music Coalition in Washington, DC. Ryan Gregory currently plays viola with the Atlanta Opera and performs actively in the Mirror Duo with harpist Tyler Hartley.
Michael Zimmerman earned a B.S. and M.S. in Exercise Physiology at the University of Wisconsin where he competed in track and field winning the title of Junior Olympic Champion in the 110 meter hurdles his freshman year. His talent in sports continued to excel as he began to develop an interest in football. After graduation, he was offered an opportunity with the NFL to play for the Greenbay Packers as an undrafted free agent for 3 seasons when coaches observed him run a 4-2-40. He later went on to become a NASM Certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Mr. Zimmerman is very passionate about being a role model while helping today’s youth explore their interest in sports as well as finding healthy positive outlets for their time and skills by supporting their individuality.
James Omedo is a passionate volleyball coach who values the life benefits and lessons of playing volleyball. He has been coaching volleyball for over 20 years at middle school, high school and college. James is a certified USAV level 1 coach, a certified FIVB level 1 coach, Impact certified USAV coach, member of the ACVA and developer of the celebrated Direct Impact coaching educational series. James Omedo is also the founder and director of Olympus volleyball club. As a Olympic qualifier player James played for his national team in the zone 5 olympic qualifiers and actively plays sand, grass and outdoor volleyball. James Omedo’s coaching philosophy are always give your best effort everyday and have fun doing what you love, the rest will take care of itself. James enjoys traveling, playing beach volleyball, designing and spending time with his wife and two kids.
Bijan Golshani was introduced to soccer by his father at a young age. His love and appreciation for the game have grown throughout the years playing competitively in high school and now in recreational leagues as an adult. He believes the game teaches life skills like teamwork, patience, discipline, and self-confidence. He loves sharing his passion for the game with his players and is excited to help each player excel throughout the season.
Bijan Golshani is coaching soccer at Academe.
School Counselor and Learning Strategist
Sumar Deen received her B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Spanish from University of Georgia. She went on to obtain a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Georgia State University. She is currently in the process of obtaining her Associate Professional Counseling License (A.P.C.), and will be pursuing licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (L.P.C.) through postgraduate counseling supervision. Sumar Deen was born in Nairobi, Kenya, moving to Decatur when she was five years old to start kindergarten. As part of her training to become a mental health counselor, Sumar returned to her alma mater to complete a year-long internship at the Decatur High School Student Center. In her work there, she discovered her passion for counseling with teens by providing individual counseling to students, conducting group counseling sessions for students and parents, and providing psychoeducation in classroom and small-group settings.
Originally from Maryland, and a graduate of East Carolina University with a BSBA in Accounting, Janice began her career in Washington, DC with BDO Seidman. Her career path led her to David C. Cooper & Associates, focusing on matching skills and personalities with a client’s hiring needs. Janice’s success at finding the “right fit” and her passion for helping people find their perfect career track is what led her into educational consulting. Her wide view of career possibilities has proven to be a valuable asset to students and parents as they identify college options. Janice is a CPA and is currently completing her practicum for Certification in College Counseling through UCLA and maintains a private college consulting practice in East Cobb.
As College Counselor at the Academe, Janice begins working with students in their Junior year and assists them through the application and decision process Senior year. Students are provided with necessary tools for college research as well as one-on-one meetings to address concerns unique to each student. Each student is on a different journey, and Janice is available to help our families navigate the college application process.
Master Beekeeper Keif Schleifer teaches our students the process of beekeeping and that they take the lead on this ‘art’. Keif has served as president of the Tara Beekeepers Association.
Laura Bliss Leary
Assistant to the School Director
Laura Bliss Leary joined as administrative assistant at Academe in 2020. An almost Atlanta native, having moved to the city when she was 4 years old. She attended Agnes Scott college as an English major. Before coming to Academe, Laura has worked in real estate, non-profit development, and as a professional volunteer. Laura is married with two almost adult children and two cats.
Director of Marketing
Atlanta native, Christina Edwards, received her B.A. from Georgia State University after studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Ms. Edwards brings over 15 years of experience in digital marketing, public relations, and communications, and began working with Academe in 2016. Ms. Edwards resides in intown Atlanta with her husband, son, and daughter, and enjoys hopping on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail on the weekends.
Director of Development
Tracy Delgado joined Academe as Director of Development in January 2018. Ms. Delgado has been a professional fundraiser for ten years. Before joining Academe, she worked at Emory University and The Paideia School. Prior to fundraising, Ms. Delgado was a trial attorney in Atlanta. She is a graduate of The University of Virginia and The University of Georgia School of Law.
Ms. Delgado values community service and has served on several Atlanta non-profit boards, including International Women’s House, DeKalb Library Foundation, and Decatur Book Festival, where she is currently a member.
Ms. Delgado lives in Atlanta with her husband, daughter and rescue dog, Maggie. She is an avid reader and book blogger and enjoys hiking and creative pursuits.
Want to learn more about our rolling admissions process and take the next step to learn if Academe of the Oaks is right for your child?
146 New Street
Decatur, Georgia 30030