Faculty & Staff

Karen Achorn
AM Chipmunks, Woolly Bears, Club Acorn, Chippie Cheeks, Enrichment 
Welcome to Acorn!  My name is Karen. I have had the pleasure of working at Acorn School since 2003.  I received a BS in Early Childhood Education from Keene State College and have taught kindergarten and third grade. I live in Newfields with my husband John. We and our children, Tisha, Nias and Odin, are all outdoor enthusiasts.

Sue Bendroth
Director, Mighty Oaks
Hi, my name is Sue. What a pleasure it is to welcome you to another year at Acorn School. I am the Director and one of the Mighty Oak teachers. I have a degree in Occupational Therapy with more than 25 years of experience working with preschoolers and kindergartners in the classroom guiding them along their developmental path of acquiring social, emotional, physical and academic skills. All four of my children attended Acorn as Chipmunks, Woolly Bears, and Mighty Oaks. They are now grown and are presently scattered across the country-more places to visit!!  One of the highlights of the day is to open your car door and greet your child. It is exciting to be part of your child’s education as learning is a lifelong journey! Welcome to Acorn School!

Nancy Gitschier
Mighty Oaks
Hello.  My name is Nancy and I am a teacher in the Mighty Oak kindergarten class. I have been at this great school since 2000.  My Acorn journey began many years ago when my son was a Mighty Oak; the school touched my heart and I have been here ever since.  My son Brian just graduated from UNH with a degree in Environmental Science.  My husband Steve and I also have two daughters – Amy is a registered dietitian and Ellen works in public health.  In my spare time, I love to read and garden and travel this vast country of ours.  I also run for exercise, so if you see me on the roads, please wave!  I am looking forward to another fabulous year.

Shelly Gordon
AM Chipmunks/Club Acorn
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 play based curriculum.  I became a board 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 have taught elementary school for eight years before starting my family, so when I was ready to return to teaching, Acorn was the perfect place.  I truly enjoy observing all the “lightbulbs” of learning turn on for the Chipmunks and the Club Acorn team of students is inspiring with all the giving projects they complete.  My outside of school life is full of outdoor family fun, art projects, volunteer projects, reading and my favorite- adventuresome travel!

Chris Hochschwender
Mighty Oaks 
Hi, my name is Chris Hochschwender. I am one of the Might Oak 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 the 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! I am looking forward to another great year and to welcoming new families into our Acorn community.

Sarah Palmer
AM/PM Chipmunks, Woolly Bears /Extended Day
Welcome to Acorn School – I live in Stratham and have worked at Acorn since 2002.  My three children attended Acorn so I was an Acorn parent for eight years prior to teaching here.  I received my BA in Psychology from Denison University in Ohio.  I enjoy travel, going to the beach and spending time with my family at Lake Sunapee.

Kim Schults
AM/PM Chipmunks, Tadpoles, Woolly Bears
Hi, my name is Kim.  This is the start of my third year at Acorn.  I teach the Chickadees, Tadpoles, and both AM/PM Chipmunks.  I have enjoyed meeting new families and being welcomed into the Acorn Community!

Becky Shepard
Music Director
Hello everybody. My name is Becky and I teach Acorn music! I live in Exeter with my husband Dudley and my 2 dogs Zipper & Willy. I like to play golf and tennis and I also like to write musicals for the theatre. Most of all I LOVE ACORN SCHOOL!

Kathryn Swenson
Enrichment & Extended Day & substitute teacher
Hi!, My name is Kathryn Swenson and I have been teaching at Acorn School since 2010.  I teach the Enrichment & Extended Day programs.  I received me BS in Early Childhood Education from Colby-Sawyer College.  I live in Epping with my daughter Alexis and my many animals.

Christine Thomson
Woolly Bears, Enrichment & Extended Day
Hi, my name is Christine.  This is my eighth year teaching at Acorn, but I have also been a student and parent at the school. I grew up on the Seacoast and graduated from the University of New Hampshire.  When I am not having fun at school, I like to spend time with my family and friends, travel, exercise, ski, read and most of all enjoy the beautiful area that we live in.

Tracey Wilder
AM/PM Chipmunks, Chickadees, Tadpoles
My name is Tracey Wilder and this is my 12th year teaching at Acorn School.  I am a NH credentialed lead teacher for Early Childhood.  I share my passion for literature every day with my students.

Kimberly Williams
Business Director, Chippie Cheeks &Yoga Teacher
Hello Acorn families!  I’m Kim and I can be found in the office as Business Director, or on my yoga mat sharing my love of yoga with the Mighty Oaks. My connection with Acorn began over 19 years ago as a parent. My  2 alumni sons will quickly tell you that their years at Acorn were “awesome!!”  My BS in Nursing compliments my Childlight Yoga Teacher Certification.  I live in Stratham with my husband, three dogs and a cat. Travel, hiking, gardening, tennis, skiing, and reading good books are my passions. I  always look forward to meeting all the old and new “nuts” at Acorn School!