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Introducing New Faculty & Staff

SJPDS looks forward to introducing you to our new faculty and staff for the 2021-22 school year. 
 
We welcome Mary Finley to our Early Childhood 3's team!
 
"Hello. I am excited to be joining the St. John’s Parish Day School family. Everyone has made me feel very welcome. I know this year will be a great opportunity for all of us to grow and learn.
I am excited to be teaching the 3-day 3's. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University and have over 27 years of experience teaching young children from 3-years through 1st grade. I have spent the last eight years teaching in a 3-year-old preschool classroom. My philosophy for early learning is enriching young minds through play and mindful experiences. I strive to build confidence, creativity, and a love for learning through age-appropriate activities throughout our day.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my two teenage children and my husband. We like traveling, cooking, and visiting with friends. I also enjoy playing with my big dog, Charlie.
I look forward to meeting all of you very soon."
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Mrs. Finley reading “I’m Not Ready!” by Jonathan Allen.
 
 
We welcome Andrea Hunt to our Early Childhood 3's team!
 
"I’m Andrea Hunt and I have been working in the field of early childhood education since 2006. I have worked with children as young as six weeks through 4th and 5th graders. My experience includes teaching young children in preschool settings, as well as developing and facilitating outreach STEM and art programs for Maryland children’s museums, and engaging students and their families at community events throughout Maryland. My Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts was obtained from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction; Early Childhood Education was obtained from Concordia University. When I am not working with students, I enjoy spending time with my husband and cat, baking something delicious, working in my small garden, or photographing something new. I so enjoy working with children and look forward to meeting everyone. I am very excited to join the St. John’s Parish Day School Community!"
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Ms. Hunt reading “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin.
 
 
 
We welcome Chantelle Wedderburn to our Early Childhood 4's team!
 
"Hello, my name is Mrs. Chantelle Wedderburn and I have been teaching pre-k for the past 10 years. I migrated from Jamaica to pursue a degree in nursing but quickly realized I really wanted to be a teacher. I have an associate degree in education and humanities from CCBC and will be continuing my education to obtain my Bachelor’s in education/social work. In my spare time, I love to craft, travel, spend time with my loved ones, and exercise. I really enjoy working with children because they bring so much love and joy to my day. One of my main joys of teaching is seeing the excitement on my student's faces when I have taught them something new and interesting. Also, it brings me joy when each parent can see the difference I am making in their child/ children`s life."
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Mrs. Wedderburn reading "Let's Go for a Drive!" (an Elephant & Piggie book) by Mo' Willems.
 
 
 
 
We welcome, Mrs. Acacia Yates, our new Fourth Grade teacher!
 
“Hi my name is Mrs. Acacia Yates and I have been working in the field of education for over 10 years. I have my bachelor's degree in Child and Family Studies from the Indiana University of PA. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and traveling. One of the joys of teaching is making connections with the students and parents and knowing how much of a positive impact you’re making on a child’s life.”  –Acacia Yates
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Mrs. Yates reading a poem from “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson.
 
 
 
We welcome Mrs. Kiona Lookingbill, our new school Chaplain!
 
Please enjoy learning more about Chaplain Kiona in the post below.
 
 
 
We welcome Ms. Christina Monteleone to our Second Grade team!
 
"Hello, St. John’s Parish Day school! My name is Christina Monteleone and I am so excited to start my journey, teaching 2nd grade, with your wonderful community. I moved to Baltimore about three years ago from New Jersey, where I grew up. I had attended a Catholic grade school and high school and grew up going to church with my family. After high school, I attended Ursinus College, where I received a B.S. in psychology, focusing my studies in child development, and a double minor in dance and education. After Ursinus, I attended Towson University receiving a post-bachelors certificate in family-professional collaborations. I have also taken various graduate courses in play therapy and child life services. I am currently attending Liberty University (online) to receive my M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with a graduation date of December 2021. This past school year, I was a Wilgis Teaching Fellow at the Bryn Mawr School, where I was a kindergarten teacher. Besides teaching in the classroom, I also am a dance instructor and group fitness instructor. Some fun facts about me include: I love the Jersey shore, purple is my favorite color, and sushi is my favorite food. I feel so blessed and honored to be teaching at St. John’s Parish Day school, next year, and officially starting my teaching career in such a supportive environment." – Christina Monteleone
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Ms. Monteleone reading “The Positive Ninja” by Mary Nhin.
 
 
 
We welcome Mrs. Brooke Wakeman to our Second Grade team!
 
“I received my B.S. in Psychology and Biology from Washington College, and went on to complete a M.S. in Clinical Psychology at Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Baltimore. My passion, however, has always been teaching, and so several years later, I returned to school to pursue my M.Ed. in Elementary Education and Special Education. Having taught in a wide variety of settings, ranging from Baltimore City Public Schools to schools based in the Montessori method, my students have taught me countless lessons and brought me incredible joy. It is important to me to encourage children to be curious and confident while learning. I work to build a trusting community within the classroom where the students are comfortable and respected while expressing their thoughts and being themselves.
 
When I’m not in the classroom, I love being outside walking and hiking with my family and our dog, Blue. I’m also passionate about traveling, cooking, reading and music, especially seeing live performances. Perhaps you will hear the students and I singing (when safe to do so), as I love to incorporate music into learning whenever I can. I’m so grateful to be a part of the St. John’s community and am eager to get to know you all!” – Brooke Wakeman
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Ms. Wakeman reading “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn.
 
 
 
 
We welcome Ms. Tira Valkanas to our Kindergarten team!
 
"Hello! I am excited to join the bright and welcoming community at St. John’s. My name is Tira Valkanas, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus in Educational Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. It was here where I discovered my love of learning and passion to teach young children. Since then I have found myself in the classroom with our youngest learners. I have taught 3s, Kindergarten and had a brief spotlight with fourth grade math! I love watching the growth and progress of each student in all aspects throughout their Kindergarten year. I also find joy in coaching, I have been a high school soccer and basketball coach for four years. I enjoy hiking, yoga, painting, and just being in nature. I love birds, spending time with my big Greek family, and my German Shepherd, Zeppelin. Finding adventure and traveling bring me happiness!" - Tira Valkanas
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Ms. Valkanas reading "Be Who You Are" by Todd Parr.
 
 
 
We welcome Ms. Jane Thomas to our First Grade team! 
 
“Hello! My name is Jane Thomas and I am excited to be joining the St. John's community in the fall! I earned an M. Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Towson University and have been teaching for about 13 years. I have worked with a range of ages from infants to fourth graders. I love teaching because children are amazing. Being able to witness the incredible progress a child can make in one short year brings me joy. Working with children reminds you to take a breath and celebrate every little accomplishment. When I'm not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my extended family. I always look forward to time with my seven nieces and nephews. I love going to the beach, hiking and just being outside and enjoying nature.” - Jane Thomas 
 
Enjoy this video with your child(ren) of Ms. Thomas reading “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae.
 
 
 
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