English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program is designed for international students who are serious about learning English in order to earn an American high school diploma or university degree.  Students with varying levels of English language proficiency are accepted into the program.  The curriculum includes language development using traditional classroom subjects (science, social studies, and math), oral language practice, and field trips.  American homestay is available as needed, and serves as an excellent avenue for language proficiency.  

Most international students need a full year of language study to achieve a level of English proficiency that makes it possible for them to be successful in mainstream classes. Our program has 3 levels of instruction. Level 1 is for students with minimal English proficiency. These students are not eligible for most high school credits. Level 2 is for students with intermediate language proficiency. These students may earn some high school credits.  Level 3 is for students with sufficient English language to allow them to transition into mainstream classes. Level 3 students are eligible to earn high school credits and will continue to receive ESOL support as needed. Transition between levels is made at semester's end, following student progress evaluation.

Our program is a fully accredited high school program. High school students who complete the first two years of high school at our academy (grades 9-10) are equipped to matriculate to other pretigious private schools in our area for the completion of high school and preparation for eventual university acceptance.  Many of our students attend prestigious universities in the United States. (See International Student under Admissions tab)

Candace IsemingerMS Education, BS Elementary Education, AS Early Childhood Education

Endorsements: Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education; Bible; Jr. Academy: health and PE; State of Maryland Educator Certificate; State of Washington Continuing Teacher Certificate

Biographical Information

Mrs. Iseminger ("Mrs. I" to her students) has a very international experience in education, having taught in Cairo, Egypt and Silang, Philippines as well as Spokane and Yakima, Washington, and Bozeman, MT, USA.  She received her education from Eastern Oregon University, Walla Walla University, and Portland State University.  As a teacher, she will do all she can to help her students succeed, even answering late night phone calls and early morning texts.  In addition to her teaching experience, Mrs. I also has had several years of administrative experience.  If you force her into her "administrative role" you may hear her giving you firm instructions in English or even Arabic! 

Mrs. I's hobbies include gardening, reading, moving from one country to another, and anything involving Pathfinders.   Her reading preferences are broad, including such authors as Jan Karon, Shel Silverstein, Charlene Baumbach and Lori Wick.   While she's fond of international travel, she has a hard time telling you her favorite locations, though Pyramids of Egypt; Mt. Sinai; Jerusalem; Ankor Wat; The Waldensian Valleys; Roman Coliseum; Eiffel Tower; Malta, where Paul was shipwrecked; Cyprus; Changmai, Thailand certainly top her list.  She hopes to visit such diverse locations as Finland and Mongolia in the future.

One disadvantage of having lived and worked around the world is that it is hard for Mrs. I to get all her boxes unpacked at one time.  At least when she travels to heaven she won't have to worry about taking the boxes with her.  With her family's many decisions as to where to live and work, it should be no surprise that her favorite verse is  James 1:5-6 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

Mark O'FfillMDiv Theology, BA Theology, ordained

Endorsements: NAD Professional Certificate -- Elementary Education, Bible, Communications, Jr. Academy History

Biographical Information

Pastor Mark O'Ffill has had two careers.  After finishing he divinity degree, Pastor Mark served as a youth pastor in California. He loves young people and wants to be where the kids are.  Realizing that during the week students are in school led him to return to school and complete requirements for a professional teaching certificate. Currently, he operates in both roles as chaplain and teacher.

Pastor Mark, as he is affectionately called, has been a youth pastor, teacher, and school administrator - but most importantly he loves to spend time with young people, helping them discover a forever friendship with Jesus Christ.  He loves to read biographies, short stories, and inspirational literature, especially by authors such as C.S. Lewis, Phillip Yancy, Rudyard Kipling, and Mark Twain.  

In his spare time Pastor Mark loves to travel and has been to 49 states in the US as well as Canada, Germany, Greece, Israel, and Jordan.  His favorite places include the Sea of Galilee, Israel; Ruins of Athens, Greece; Monument Valley, Everglades, and San Francisco.  He especially enjoys traveling with his family, a camera, a geocaching GPS and a rock hammer - though when visiting his favorite National Parks like Banff, Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Isle Royal, he "takes only pictures and leaves only footprints."  He often reminds his students that Christians should be the best examples of eco-consciousness. "After all," he says, "God put us in charge of the Garden of Eden and commanded that we take care of it!  We may have messed up Eden, but we CAN improve the world around us!"

Pastor Mark enjoys following a variety of sports, including Major League Baseball and  the NFL. His favorite professional teams are the Atlanta Braves and Indianapolis Colts, though he now has a soft-spot for the Denver Broncos, since "they have OUR quarterback."  Recreationally, volleyball, softball, flag football, and soccer are Pastor Mark's favorites. 

Pastor Mark states "I love teaching because it allows me the opportunity to engage the learner in both an academic and spiritual process.  As we become educated in how great persons of faith handled their lives and made their decisions in the past, we can become educated and impressed with how we too can experience a personal, living, giving relationship with God and how we can make a difference in our world."

Miya KimMS Special Education, BS Elementary Education

Endorsements: Elementary Education, Special Education, ESL, Jr. Academy English, General Studies, Religion, Social Studies

Biographical Information

Miya Kim came to Atholton Adventist Academy in 2008. After finishing her elementary and high school education at Northside Christian Academy (SC) and San Diego Academy (CA), she completed an elementary education degree at Southern Adventist University and a graduate degree in special education from Johns Hopkins University. She later went to Andrews University where she completed her TESOL certification.

Prior to coming to AAA Mrs. Kim taught in the Montgomery County Public Schools and Ruth Murdoch Elementary School in Berrien Springs, MI and then stayed home for a few years to rear her two daughters.  Mrs. Kim's husband is one of the pastors of the Washington-Spencerville Korean SDA Church.  Mrs. Kim is also Korean but was raised in the US by her American adoptive parents.  These factors allow her to move between American and Korean culture.

A combination of Mrs. Kim's Korean heritage, her upbringing by American parents, and her educational training in elementary education, special education and TESOL certification make her a natural to work with our students with academic challenges. As a teacher Mrs. Kim is extremely organized and creative and always illicits the best from her students. She is kind and gentle, which is reflected in one of her favorite quotes from Emily Dickinson:  " . . .always I have a chair for you in the smallest parlor in the world, to wit, my heart." 

Mrs. Kim enjoys gardening, talking with friends, walking, playing games, and spending time with family. She has traveled widely and holds fond memories of her trips to Tuscany, Rome, Prince Edwards Island, Kyungju, Bermuda, Grand Canyon, Boston, and Eugene, OR

Kayla ThomBS Language Arts Education

Endorsements: English, Communications, ESL, Jr. Academy Science

Biographical Information

Kayla Thom is not your typical pre-kindergarten teacher.  She started as a communication major, but after two years of teaching grades 7 and 8 in Majuro, Marshall Islands, she changed her major to secondary language arts education.  Little did she know that she would change her course of action once again as a result of working her was way through college as an assistant director of a day care center in Lincoln, NE. Upon completion of her college coursework, she made her way east and several months later was asked to head up our new pre-kindergarten program. Her students' parents would declare that she is the best pre-kindergarten teacher anywhere.

From early childhood, Ms. Thom has been a voracious reader. She especially  loves children's literature and the classics. She is fond of biographies and enjoys reading works by C.S. Lewis and Jan Karon.  She is especially fond of The Chronicles of Narnia series, the Mitford Series, and many of the Newberry and Caldecott award winners. Ms. Thom's stated goal is to instill a love for books in her students.

Outside the classroom Ms. Thom enjoys Jazzercise, group fitness activities, and running.  She also enjoys sports, and particularly likes cheering for the underdog.  Other hobbies include travel, art and photography, reading, scrapbooking, baking, and experimenting with cooking that will accommodate her allergy needs.

Some of Ms. Thom's favorite places she has been and things she has enjoyed doing are hiking to the top of a big hill in Guam; jumping off a waterfall in Pohnpei; visiting Antigua and Guatemala; watching the rolling waves of grain in her home state of North Dakota, going to Disney World (She's a kid at heart!); fishing on the lakes of Minnesota and Canada, and traveling to Yellowstone National Park. Future goals include filling up her passport as many times as possible, visiting each state in the US, running a marathon, going on a cruise, swimming with dolphins, skydiving, and going to an NFL game.

Quote:  "I am a teacher because God called me to teach. I love watching my students grow, explore, and discover God's love. Play is learning - that's one of the biggest reasons I love teaching preschool!"

Beth VillanuevaBS Language Arts Education

Endorsements: English, Communication, ESL, Keyboard, Jr. Academy General Science

Biographical Information

Beth Villanueva attended Southern Adventist University and graduated from Union College with a Language Arts Education degree. She has worked at Atholton Adventist Academy for six years as our upper grade English teacher. She also has been instrumental in making it possible to have computer instruction available for our younger students.

Mrs. V grew up as a missionary kid and lived in Zimbabwe and the Philippines besides several U.S. states. This background has given her a love for travel, photography, and learning about history, culture, and people. She's had a few unique experiences along the way such as petting a wild Zebra, exploring ancient ruins on three continents and in Micronesia, and vacationing where tourists never go. She loves long U.S. road trips and keeps an atlas with every highway she's traveled on highlighted - only three more states and she'll have been to all 50.

When Mrs. V is not traveling around the world - which is sadly most of the time - she enjoys keeping active at home with whatever sport friends are playing.  She loves soccer and volleyball.  And now Mr. V has turned her into a hockey player and a wall climber as well.  Mrs. V also loves the outdoors and loves camping and hiking.  When she has to stay home, Mrs. V enjoys trying out new ethnic recipes and hosting friends and family.  If stuck home alone, she'll do crafts, a puzzle, or watch a documentary with Mr. V.  Mrs. V does not know what it is to be "bored."

"Teaching was the only career I could see myself enjoying for the rest of my life," she says. "Every day, every class, every year is a new adventure, a fresh challenge." But in a broader respect, she says, "What I love best about teaching are the conversations that we get to have about life's big questions and issues, the growth and new understandings that I see students gain as time goes by, and the friendships that teaching allows me to nurture."