About The Owners
Setting a new standard in preschool
Melissa Pezzella and Toni Nolker have partnered to create a school that elevates the standards for preschool in Hampton Roads. By constructing a school and a curriculum that celebrates children while instilling values that will serve them throughout their lives, Pezzella and Nolker have set a new standard. The Peninsula Academy…where academic success begins.
Melissa Pezzella has over fifteen years experience in the field of education. She graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College in 1993 with a double major of Social Science and Early Childhood Education. In 2000, she completed her Masters in Reading Curriculum and Instruction from Old Dominion University.
Melissa has worked with children since high school. She volunteered at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters where she assisted children with their schoolwork during the time they were confined to the hospital. She went on to teach preschool, during the summers, while attending college.
After graduating from Virginia Wesleyan, she was hired by Virginia Beach Public City Schools where she taught for ten years. She taught fifth grade, first grade and extended day kindergarten. Melissa was named Reading Teacher of the Year in 1996.
Melissa was Chairperson for the Language Arts Committee, Safety Patrol Coordinator and assisted in training staff on new curriculum.
Melissa married Mike in 1996 and had their first child, Keegan, in 2000. Melissa taught part-time three years until the birth of her twins, Landen and Lorelle, in 2003. She stayed home for five years until the twins entered kindergarten. During that time, she started and excelled in a home-based business. She was also involved with PTO and various community activities. Melissa is very active in her church and volunteers in Wee World.
The Peninsula Academy has fulfilled Melissa’s lifelong dream. Read a letter from Melissa here.
Toni Nolker has over twenty years of experience in business and has owned and operated franchises in Northern Virginia as well as Virginia Beach, VA. She graduated from Kings College in Charlotte, NC with a Business Degree.
Her expansive career has included a wide range of experiences – almost all of which include handling many different personalities with ease and skill. Whether it was bringing airline presidents and their wives to a Presidential Inauguration or growing a Cub Scout pack from 25 to over 80, Toni has the coveted ability to make it look effortless.
The owner of multiple businesses for more than a decade, Toni developed a reputation of success and unshakable loyalty to family and community. Both made her an easy choice for President of the Mall Merchant’s Association and a member of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce in Manassas, VA.
When Toni’s son moved to Virginia Beach to go to school at ODU, she and her husband relocated also; Toni bought the Merle Norman Studio at Lynnhaven Mall. She took that studio to the top 3% in the nation and was chosen as one of the elite “Training Center Coaches” to train new studio owners from around the country.
As an Account Executive for Cox Communications, Toni handled marketing plans for advertising agencies as well as individual clients.
Her first year in the business, she was nominated as “Rookie of the Year” – placing her squarely in the highest echelon for Account Executives across the country.
Toni and her husband Wally have been married for 44 years. They have two grown children, Buck Nolker and Melissa Pezzella. Toni enjoys partnering with her daughter, Melissa, at The Peninsula Academy and serves as Administrator.