OUR TEAM

As director of Kingfisher Academy I’ve been with the school since its very inception. I always knew that I wanted and needed to work at a small community-based school and Kingfisher is the embodiment of that desire. Kingfisher is a wonderful and challenging environment and we intend to keep it that way.

I have taught in preschools and elementary schools in the metro Atlanta area for over 31 years.  I directed a non-profit private school in West Georgia for ten years and was the curriculum coordinator for the YWCA for three years.  My degree is from Georgia State with my Masters in British Infant Schooling, which is very similar to the Reggio Emilia style of teaching. I have also taken numerous natural science courses and teach CDA courses at community colleges around the Metro Atlanta area.

I live in Clarkston (about 7 minutes away) and I have two adult children living and working in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.  I serve on several county and city committees and task forces, I spearheaded the annual Clarkston Bike Rodeo event, I am a member of Sierra Club, Atlanta Science Tavern, Atlanta Birdwatchers Group, and am on The Clarkston 2040 committee.  I have 5 garden plots to maintain, am redoing my deck and porches at home, have two Cocker Spaniels, and one crazy cat.

I’m interested in all kinds of things, but recently have become extremely interested in urban planning and how it creates a certain quality of life for the citizens of an area. I also love crafting (art with a practical purpose) and it’s hard to resist stenciling all over the school. I recently finished a quilt made of small circles that turned into a fringe that goes all around my house–my neighbors are worried that I’m going to start a “yard art collection” next.

I’m also a bird watcher and have worked off and on with Fernbank and Audubon over the years. This year, I will be working toward my certification as a Tree-Keeper with Trees Atlanta and then will take Project Wild, Project Wet, and Project Learning Tree at Chattahoochee Nature Center (possibly this fall). Along with that, I’m aiming for the Master Gardener Program for Teachers put out by the UGA Extension Agency.

One of my most important hobbies is being a phenologist—that is I watch for seasonal events in nature and report them to Cornell—such as, when the dogwood put out their blossoms, or spotting the first Monarch butterfly of the spring. Through the work of phenologists and citizen scientists, we are collecting really important data regarding the changes in weather patterns that are being noted all over the world. When I’m tired or bored, I watch the last two seasons of Wayward Pines on Hulu or Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I am also addicted to reading complex mysteries, especially if they take place in Canada or Alaska.

Debbie Gathmann

School Director | Teacher: Middle Elementary Lead, Science Middle and Upper Elementary

As director of Kingfisher Academy I’ve been with the school since its very inception. I always knew that I wanted and needed to work at a small community-based school and Kingfisher is the embodiment of that desire. Kingfisher is a wonderful and challenging environment and we intend to keep it that way.

I have taught in preschools and elementary schools in the metro Atlanta area for over 31 years.  I directed a non-profit private school in West Georgia for ten years and was the curriculum coordinator for the YWCA for three years.  My degree is from Georgia State with my Masters in British Infant Schooling, which is very similar to the Reggio Emilia style of teaching. I have also taken numerous natural science courses and teach CDA courses at community colleges around the Metro Atlanta area.

I live in Clarkston (about 7 minutes away) and I have two adult children living and working in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.  I serve on several county and city committees and task forces, I spearheaded the annual Clarkston Bike Rodeo event, I am a member of Sierra Club, Atlanta Science Tavern, Atlanta Birdwatchers Group, and am on The Clarkston 2040 committee.  I have 5 garden plots to maintain, am redoing my deck and porches at home, have two Cocker Spaniels, and one crazy cat.

I’m interested in all kinds of things, but recently have become extremely interested in urban planning and how it creates a certain quality of life for the citizens of an area. I also love crafting (art with a practical purpose) and it’s hard to resist stenciling all over the school. I recently finished a quilt made of small circles that turned into a fringe that goes all around my house–my neighbors are worried that I’m going to start a “yard art collection” next.

I’m also a bird watcher and have worked off and on with Fernbank and Audubon over the years. This year, I will be working toward my certification as a Tree-Keeper with Trees Atlanta and then will take Project Wild, Project Wet, and Project Learning Tree at Chattahoochee Nature Center (possibly this fall). Along with that, I’m aiming for the Master Gardener Program for Teachers put out by the UGA Extension Agency.

One of my most important hobbies is being a phenologist—that is I watch for seasonal events in nature and report them to Cornell—such as, when the dogwood put out their blossoms, or spotting the first Monarch butterfly of the spring. Through the work of phenologists and citizen scientists, we are collecting really important data regarding the changes in weather patterns that are being noted all over the world. When I’m tired or bored, I watch the last two seasons of Wayward Pines on Hulu or Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I am also addicted to reading complex mysteries, especially if they take place in Canada or Alaska.

Debbie Gathmann

School Director | Teacher: Middle Elementary Lead, Science Middle and Upper Elementary

Sherry Sherwood

Sherry Sherwood

Teacher: Upper Elementary Lead

Sherry Sherwood

Sherry Sherwood

Teacher: Upper Elementary Lead

Hello! My name is Ms.Talia Darby and I was born in Detroit, Michigan. I have lived in Georgia for just about the same as I were in Michigan, so technically I am from both!

I am currently a junior at Georgia State University studying for a degree in Middle Level Education. I am certified as a paraprofessional and this will be my first year at Kingfisher Academy. As a child my mother always stressed the importance of education by her determination to obtain two degrees, a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a masters in Forensic Psychology. It has made me take my education very seriously by seeing how motivated my mother was to receive these degrees.

As a child I have always aspired to become an educator. I enjoyed playing school and always nominated myself to become the teacher. Throughout my life I have tutored peers on subjects that they were experiencing difficulty in (mathematics, science, social studies, you name it!). It brings a sufficient amount of joy to watch someone who may have had problems with learning a new material be able to fully understand it. As well as observing my students get excited about learning. I enjoy watching individuals progress in their educational journey. I believe we as humans have a substantial amount of potential and feel educating ourselves is a great way to showcase that potential.

Talia Darby

Teacher: Middle Elementary Social Studies and Art, Upper Elementary Art

Hello! My name is Ms.Talia Darby and I was born in Detroit, Michigan. I have lived in Georgia for just about the same as I were in Michigan, so technically I am from both!

I am currently a junior at Georgia State University studying for a degree in Middle Level Education. I am certified as a paraprofessional and this will be my first year at Kingfisher Academy. As a child my mother always stressed the importance of education by her determination to obtain two degrees, a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a masters in Forensic Psychology. It has made me take my education very seriously by seeing how motivated my mother was to receive these degrees.

As a child I have always aspired to become an educator. I enjoyed playing school and always nominated myself to become the teacher. Throughout my life I have tutored peers on subjects that they were experiencing difficulty in (mathematics, science, social studies, you name it!). It brings a sufficient amount of joy to watch someone who may have had problems with learning a new material be able to fully understand it. As well as observing my students get excited about learning. I enjoy watching individuals progress in their educational journey. I believe we as humans have a substantial amount of potential and feel educating ourselves is a great way to showcase that potential.

Talia Darby

Teacher: Middle Elementary Social Studies and Art, Upper Elementary Art

Hello my name is Ashwaq Cox. I’m from Mombasa, Kenya and have been living in Tucker for about 6 years now. I am the second oldest of seven children, and I think that’s one of the reasons I love kids so much.

I’m currently in school to get my degree in psychology. I’m hoping with this degree under my belt I’ll better understand why kids do what they do. In my free time I babysit, hangout with my Godchildren, and make art.

My husband and I love exploring the nature trails throughout Georgia and plan on visiting more in the years to come. I cannot wait to meet everyone and learn from the children and parents at Kingfisher!

Ashwaq Cox

Teacher: Lower Elementary

Hello my name is Ashwaq Cox. I’m from Mombasa, Kenya and have been living in Tucker for about 6 years now. I am the second oldest of seven children, and I think that’s one of the reasons I love kids so much.

I’m currently in school to get my degree in psychology. I’m hoping with this degree under my belt I’ll better understand why kids do what they do. In my free time I babysit, hangout with my Godchildren, and make art.

My husband and I love exploring the nature trails throughout Georgia and plan on visiting more in the years to come. I cannot wait to meet everyone and learn from the children and parents at Kingfisher!

Ashwaq Cox

Teacher: Lower Elementary

My name is Jannette Fretwell and  I am originally from Havana, Cuba.  I came to the United States in 1966 and became a citizen in 1973.  I have lived in Georgia most of my life.

I attended Georgia State University and have a Masters in Community Counseling and Education.  I am married with two adult children who attend Duke University and the University of Georgia.  I love to garden, travel, and teach foreign languages.   I enjoy being creative, musical, and going to the movies and theatre.

Jannette Fretwell

Teacher: Spanish

My name is Jannette Fretwell and  I am originally from Havana, Cuba.  I came to the United States in 1966 and became a citizen in 1973.  I have lived in Georgia most of my life.

I attended Georgia State University and have a Masters in Community Counseling and Education.  I am married with two adult children who attend Duke University and the University of Georgia.  I love to garden, travel, and teach foreign languages.   I enjoy being creative, musical, and going to the movies and theatre.

Jannette Fretwell

Teacher: Spanish

I‘m Fatuma Ahmed, I was born in Mombasa, Kenya and have moved around quite a bit in my life. I’m the third born in a set of seven, so I’ve always had people surrounding me; family is also really important to me. I graduated high school a year early and I’m still in the process of deciding what I want my career to be.

In my downtime, I like reading contemporary novels and watching movies. I also enjoy photography and would love to become an editorial photographer.

I firmly believe that we should all try to maintain a positive outlook throughout our lives. Not for anyone else but ourselves.

Fatuma Ahmed

Teacher: After School

I‘m Fatuma Ahmed, I was born in Mombasa, Kenya and have moved around quite a bit in my life. I’m the third born in a set of seven, so I’ve always had people surrounding me; family is also really important to me. I graduated high school a year early and I’m still in the process of deciding what I want my career to be.

In my downtime, I like reading contemporary novels and watching movies. I also enjoy photography and would love to become an editorial photographer.

I firmly believe that we should all try to maintain a positive outlook throughout our lives. Not for anyone else but ourselves.

Fatuma Ahmed

Teacher: After School