Meet Our Staff


Rebecca Hancock - Principal

Rebecca Hancock’s connection to HOPE Christian Academy began at the onset of her teaching career, when the school was called CrossRoads Community School. After graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Elementary Education in 2005, Rebecca taught for two years at CrossRoads Community School. Since that time, she has gone on to teach a variety of grade levels from kindergarten all the way through upper-level elementary classes in the public school system. Additionally, she has taught GED courses and supervised teachers through an online teaching program. She earned a Master’s of Education degree from Northern Arizona University in 2010 and plans to continue her professional development. Rebecca has a heart for children and has felt God’s call to administration for some time. After thirteen years of teaching, she is looking forward to the opportunity to work with parents and teachers who collaboratively educate and pray for their students. Rebecca is excited to see how God uses her in this new chapter as Principal at HCA.

Rebecca enjoys hiking, basketball, reading, and playing music. She and her husband, Joey, live in Chandler with their son, Canaan, and they attend Renovation Church.

Amanda Johnson - Office Manager

Amanda joined the HOPE family in 2000 when her daughters began attending the school in 3rd Grade and Kindergarten when the school opened as CrossRoads Community School.  She became an involved parent, assisting in classrooms and in the school office, and served as Parent Volunteer Coordinator for seven years.  Amanda feels blessed by the opportunity to use her skills in organization, creativity, and communication to provide the administrative support to this special school as the Office Manager since 2009.

Amanda and her husband, Kurt, both originally from the Seattle area, have lived in Chandler since 1990.  Amanda loves spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing, walking, on-line scrapbooking, completing home decorating projects, and making herself available for support to her now adult daughters, Jasmine and Heidi. 

Melissa James - Office & Classroom Assistant

Melissa came to HCA in 2009 when she and her husband enrolled their oldest in kindergarten in what was then known as Crossroads Community School. Since then she has been involved as a parent/educator, substitute teacher, Kindergarten assistant, art teacher, and assisting with administrative duties in the front office.

Melissa and her husband, Ben, have been married for 16 years. They have 2 daughters, Charis and Emma. Ben and Melissa have been members of Grace Bible Church since 2007 where they are actively involved in women’s ministry, children’s ministry and small groups. In their free time they enjoy hiking, playing board games, and traveling to new places. 

Kristin Hanson - Kindergarten

Kristin is thrilled to be joining the HCA family in 2018! She received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University in 2004, along with an endorsement in English as a Second Language. She taught elementary school for 8 years, then worked as an early childhood curriculum designer for another 6 years. Kristin is passionate about creating a strong
educational and spiritual foundation for young children through hands-on learning experiences and individualized learning plans.

Kristin and her husband Derek live in Gilbert with their two children, Joshua and Madelyn. Their family attends the Grove church and they have a passion for supporting missions both locally and globally. Kristin loves to travel and serve: she has visited 18 different countries on 5 continents
and been on over 20 missions trips around the world. Kristin is proud to be an Arizona native and a third generation Arizona teacher! In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking, reading a good book, and game nights with friends and family.

Links: Kindergarten Curriculum, Sample HBL,  FAQs about Kindergarten at HOPE

Sherry Nelson - First Grade

Sherry feels blessed to have been led to HOPE Christian Academy in December 2012. She earned a BS in Psychology from Kansas State University and a BA in Elementary Education from Southwestern College and has taught for many years at both the Elementary and College level. 

Sherry's hobbies include cake/cupcake baking and decorating, crafting (especially Pinterest), estate auctions, and spending time with family. She and her husband, Mark, have three grown children, Chase, and twins, Kaitlyn & Cooper.  Originally from Kansas, the family moved here in 2003 and is fully immersed in Arizona activities; they even like the hot weather!   Mark is the Assistant Athletic Directory at Grand Canyon University, and all three children are either graduates of, or are currently attending there. Sherry attends Central Christian Church in Gilbert.

Links: 1st Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Melanie Walker - Second Grade Teacher

Melanie's association with HCA began in 2001, when she and her husband, Jeff, discovered Crossroads Community School, now Hope Christian Academy, to partner in educating their three children, Austin, Emily, and Nate.  Since then she has been an involved HOPE parent/educator, leading the Moms Prayer Ministry, substitute teaching, teaching a 6th grade math course, and leading Kindergarten activity time.

Serving people through ministry and prayer has been part of Melanie's life for over 21 years.  This includes leading multiple small groups and prayer groups, planning Women’s Ministry events and leading the Women’s Ministry teams.  Her desire to teach, and influence children academically and spiritually, has been present since her early years of college.

She has been married to her husband, Jeff, for 26 years and they like to hike, serve their church, pray, and workout at the gym together.  She and her family attend Antioch Community Church.

Links:  2nd Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Kelly Allen - Mentor Teacher, Student Council Leader, & Chapel Cooridinator

Kelly came to HCA in the fall of 2016!  This will be her 11th year of involvement in a Christian school where her previous experience includes Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and also middle school Bible, History, and English.  Kelly earned her BA in Elementary Education with Middle School and Language Arts endorsement from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.  She also has 2 years experience serving on the staff at her church, which gave her the opportunity to write curriculum, plan chapels, teach up-front, lead Bible studies, and participate in local and international mission trips (she has been overseas 6 times and LOVES it!).Kelly and her husband Kevin live in South Chandler.   

They attend Redemption Church and love participating in Bible study and serving projects. In their spare time, Kelly and Kevin enjoy hiking, participating in Spartan runs and 5Ks, traveling and cheering on the Cardinals! 

Lisa Wendt - Third Grade

Lisa began teaching at HOPE in the fall of 2016. She was born and raised in Southern CA and graduated from Cal State University Fullerton with a Bachelors’ Degree in American Studies and an emphasis in elementary education. Lisa earned her Master's in Educational Psychology and holds both her Pupil Personnel Services and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  Lisa worked in CA as a middle school counselor serving at risk students in her community and taught grades 1st, 2nd and 3rd for 11 years - before enjoying the privilege of being a stay-at-home mother to her three daughters and homeschooling her now teenage daughters K-8th grade.  Lisa delights in the challenge of assisting her students develop a strong educational foundation, both spiritually and academically, as she shares her love of Jesus and love of learning with them in her classroom. Every child is indeed God’s masterpiece! (Eph 2:10)

Lisa and her husband Steve have been married for twenty years and have been blessed with three daughters.  They attend Central Christian church where Lisa is active in her life group and teaches a teenage girls’ bible study. Their youngest daughter, Nessah Joy, attends HCA. Lisa’s hobbies include hiking, photography and cheering on our AZ Cardinals!

Links:  3rd Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Jamie Smith - Fourth Grade

Jamie is so excited to join the HCA staff in 2018! God has been preparing her heart for teaching full time at HCA over the past year while she served as a primary substitute on many occasions. She graduated from Southern Nazarene University in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in math. She taught for several years before starting a family, and since then, has been a stay-at-home-mom, a part-time RTI (reading) aide, a substitute teacher, a childcare worker, a HOPE hot lunch coordinator, and a hair care business owner.

Jamie is married to Brian, a staff pastor at CrossRoads Nazarene Church, and they have three wonderful children, Hallie, Macie, and Tyson.  

Her favorite things include spending time with her family, trying new restaurants, and watching sports, but she is passionate about teaching kids how to be successful learners.

Links:  4th Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL 

Megan Raber - Fifth Grade

Megan began teaching at HOPE in the fall of 2017. She earned her undergraduate degree at Point Loma University then completed her teacher training through the Northern Arizona University distance program. She holds a BA in Elementary Education. Megan has spent the last six years on staff at CrossRoads Nazarene Church as pastor of the Early Childhood Department. She has a passion for hands on learning, connecting learning with life, and having an influence on children both educationally and spiritually.

Megan and her husband, Cameron, have been married for 13 years. Together they have three children – Marissa, Grant, and Elaina. In her free time, Megan loves to curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. She also enjoys vacations with her family, crafting, and spending time with friends.

Links:  5th Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Jenny Brecht - Sixth Grade Homeroom, Middle School Writing and Reading

Jenny began teaching full time at HOPE Christian Academy in 2014 after being an HCA parent for 4 years.  She graduated from Biola University with a Bachelors in English and a minor in Bible.  Upon graduation, Jenny taught 9th grade English in California.  Since moving to Arizona 9 years ago, Jenny has been blessed to be a stay-at-home mother as well as working part-time as a Children’s ministry Elementary Coordinator and substituting for Mesa Public Schools.  Jenny is passionate about teaching the Bible in a way that brings it to life for children and seeing them grow in all areas of their life as a result. 

She is married to Matt, who has pastored at NorthPointe Church in Chandler since 2002.   They have two children, Kyla and Chase.

Links:   6th Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Rula Kassisieh - Seventh Grade Homeroom, Middle School History and Bible

Rula is honored to be a part of the HOPE community as of July 2015. Rula holds a B.A. in English from the University of Jordan and recently a Masters in Education from NAU. She began her teaching career at a Catholic school in Amman, Jordan, and found her passion for teaching during her 6-year stint there. In 1995, Rula answered God’s call to become a missionary alongside her husband in Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus for four years. Later, Rula moved to the United States where she worked as a banker for 9 years. Hearing her calling again in 2010, Rula left her successful banking career to become an educator. She taught 6th grade at Gilbert Christian Schools and taught 3rd through 8th grade as a substitute teacher in Gilbert and Chandler districts. 

Rula, her husband, Sam, and their two daughters, Amani and Amber, attend Chandler Christian Church where she regularly serves in the Children’s ministry. Rula is passionate about teaching the Bible in an engaging style, inspiring kids to love and live for God.

Links: 7th Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Cheri Graham - Eighth Grade Homeroom, Middle School Science and Grammar

Cheri began teaching at HOPE Christian Academy in the fall of 2010 after 4 previous years of experience in Christian education teaching math, science, language arts, history and Bible.  Cheri earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and obtained certification for Middle School Mathematics.

Cheri and her family have lived in Arizona since 2007. She and her husband, Sean, and their two children attend Alma School Road Church of Christ where they are active in youth activities such as Bible Busters and Bible Hour. Cheri also teaches Bible classes for children ranging from ages 2 years to school age. In Cheri’s free time, she likes to exercise, watch her children’s sports activities, and root for the Diamondbacks and Suns.

Links:  8th Grade Curriculum, Sample HBL

Enrichment Teachers


Liz Griggs teaches age appropriate, "hands on" music to HOPE's Kindergarten through 8th grade students and also prepares student music for school events throughout the year. Liz's enthusiasm for the Lord and music is a powerful combination for inspiring HOPE students, and she artfully weaves biblical lessons into music instruction for her students.

She, her husband, Brian, and their three girls are currently seeking the Lord's direction as they explore churches in the valley to find a new church home.


Nicole Kirkish began her employment at HCA as a Kindergarten Aid and substitute teacher in many grade levels including our Spanish classes.  Her love of teaching and her ability to spark the interest of students of all ages made her the perfect fit as our Spanish teacher when the position became available mid-year.  Truly bilingual, Nicole speaks Spanish with flair and fluency!  She brings high expectations and a passion for teaching kids and making Spanish accessible and enjoyable.

Nicole's two children have attended HOPE for many years.  The Kirkish family attends Antioch Community Church.


Christopher Menicucci, educates and equips students in sports and physical activity. Chris graduated from Grand Canyon University's College of Theology, and he is currently enrolled in classes to get his personal training license and is enrolled in the Antioch Discipleship School. He is excited to join the staff at HOPE, and to teach all of the students about his knowledge of physical education. 

Chris also serves the school as a Tech Advisor and Campus Safety Patrol.

Chris is a member of Antioch Community Church, Phoenix.