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!

Private Preschool, Elementary & Middle School in Fayetteville, NC

Our History

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!

Our Staff

Meet our passionate, caring team of teachers!

Christy Pettit

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.

Kelly Bullard

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.

Kim Hall

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.

Teresa Clayton

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.

Samantha Hastings

My name is Samantha Hastings and I am so thrilled to be starting my 4th 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!


Emily Dodt

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.

Kate Meador

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.


Ashley Weeks

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!

Beatriz Torres

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!

Kristin Russell

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.

Kim Leighty

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.

Kailey Guida

Hi, my name is Kailey Guida and I am very excited to be teaching Kindergarten  This is my third year at First Impressions Academy, but my 6th 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!

For more information about any of our staff, or to schedule a tour with us, contact us today at 910-339-0524!