Teachers and Staff

The faculty and staff at AAA are dedicated to the mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development of their students.  

Many have achieved advanced degrees and certifications -- all to make them better teachers!

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

Vice Principal | ESL Science

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."

Kayla ThomBS Language Arts Education

Pre-Kindergarten

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!"

Miya KimMS Special Education, BS Elementary Education

Grade 6

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

Erline BurgessMA Early Childhood Education, M.Ed Education, BS Secondary Education and Home Economics

Kindergarten

Endorsements: Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Home Economics

Biographical Information

When Mrs. Erline Burgess joined the Atholton faculty six years ago, she brought a wealth of diverse knowledge and experience from her 38 years of teaching in the Chesapeake Conference.  Coming to Atholton brought her back to teaching in her favorite area of teaching—first grade.  “They keep me young,” she says.  Ironically, pretending to be a first and second grade teacher was one of her favorite childhood games. 

Whether teaching a breadmaking class to a group of young students or teaching Testing and Measurements at Washington Adventist University students, Mrs. Burgess "feels at home."  She holds an advanced certificate in the Gesell assessment and often shares her talents with other schools throughout the conference by testing students to help determine their educational needs.  Her past experience working for education specialists at the National Institute of Health has been an invaluable resource when working with students who have learning challenges. Her philosophy of education shines through when one observes her encouraging a student to take their time and think. "Education should be a journey and not a race," she says.

Professional growth is important to Mrs. Burgess.  In the past she has served on the Curriculum Committee and the Executive Committee for the Chesapeake Conference. Currently she is a member on the  Advisory Committee for the Journal of Education. She also worked on committees that developed the pre-first curriculum and the new English curriculum for the North American Division.

Blessed with the gift of listening, Mrs. Burgess makes parents and colleagues feel comfortable when they have questions or concerns regarding their child's education needs. She is always willing to create new avenues to teach a math concept or reading skill. Mrs. Burgess was awarded the Zapara Award for outstanding teaching in the classroom. She is also a member of the Who's Who of America's Teachers.

Mrs. Burgess, who happens to be an identical twin, enjoys listening to uplifting Christian music, reading, crocheting, scrapbooking, sewing, and vacationing with family. She loves traveling across the US in their RV.

Karen CerioneBS (Master’s equivalent) Education

Grade 2

Endorsements: Professional Certificate, Elementary Education, Reading, and Jr. Academy Fine Arts

Biographical Information

Mrs. Cerione loves teaching elementary students.  In fact, she says, "God put me in teaching."  She worked as a dental assistant for many years before God led her to her true calling - teaching.  Mrs. Cerione loves teaching grades 1 and 2 and first taught those grades in beautiful Grants Pass, Oregon. She loves using project-based learning to actively engage her students. You will often see her students' work displayed along the hallways, such as a variety of science demonstrations or a series of rock collections. "I love teaching because I am able to entice students to come to the water hole of knowledge and to the Living Water. "

Mrs. Cerione's science interest carries through other parts of her life.  She enjoys visiting places like Saint Thomas, Carlsbad Caverns, Yellowstone National Park, Redwoods National Park, Yosemite National Park, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon National Park.  Even her favorite quote - "God's promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine" - shows her love of science.

Mrs. Cerione enjoys reading, especially biographies, historical Christian novels, and true animal stories.  Her favorite authors include Max Lucado, Ellen G. White, and Gary Richmond.  Musically, her tastes are varied, including a love of guitar, saxophone, southern gospel, and contemporary Christian music.  In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, crafts, drawing, singing karaoke, and playing the piano, saxophone, or mandolin (but only at home).

Anita Minty MI Instruction, BS Elementary Education

Grade 1

Endorsements: Elementary Education, Reading Specialist, Jr. Academy Religion

Biographical Information

Anita Minty grew up always knowing she wanted to be a teacher. She spent hours as a child playing school in a corner of her room, using every spare piece of paper she could find. In fact, her preschool teacher predicted Mrs. Minty would become a teacher.

At school Mrs. Minty enjoys getting to know her students and their families. She enjoys watching her young ones tackle something difficult and feels just as excited as her students when she observes the "Ah Ha!" moment when they finally get it. Mrs. Minty believes in positive reinforcement and strives to bring out the best in each student. She wants her students to have a safe, Christian, comfortable environment in which to learn.

Professionally, Mrs. Minty is a member of the International Reading Association and likes to keep abreast of new concepts and teaching strategies by reading The Reading Teacher journal each month.  She feels that keeping up with the latest research is so important to being a teacher of excellence.

Mrs. Minty was born in New Jersey, but grew up north of Philadelphia, PA. She was one of four siblings in a close-knit family. She currently lives in Eldersburg, MD with her husband, one of the treasurers with Chesapeake Conference, and her son Nate. Her stepdaughter Jordyn, a former Atholton Adventist Academy student, completed an elementary education/special education degree from Towson University.

Mrs. Minty enjoys many activities and hobbies outside of the classroom. Some of her favorite things are exercising, walking, scrapbooking, reading, biking, and gardening.She loves going to the beach, especially Cape May Point in New Jersey. She claims the best way to relax is with "the beach and a book!"

"God has always led me and guided my every decision," says Mrs. Minty. "Philippians 4:13 is my favorite text. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'."

 

Monique HydeBS Human Movement and Elementary Education

Grade 3

Endorsements: Elementary Education, Physical Education K-12, Jr. Academy Bible

Biographical Information

As anyone who knows Monique Hyde would agree, she is a teacher able to touch her students’ hearts in a unique and powerful way. Her “I Am God’s Kid!” program, which she developed, guides students to learn their value in the eyes of their Father Creator.  Mrs. Hyde says, “I have a passion to teach and a love for children.  As I teach I will help each student discover his or her vast potential, thus empowering them with endless opportunities to touch the lives of others.”  This is the philosophy that guides her teaching. 

Mrs. Hyde’s talents extend outside the classroom. She loves swimming and over the years has lifeguarded and taught swimming and various aquatics classes such as canoeing and kayaking.  She is an American Red Cross Instructor for Lifeguard Training, Community First Aid, CPR for the Professional Rescuer, and Water Safety.  Besides working at YMCA and other fitness centers, Mrs. Hyde has enjoyed putting her skills to good use directing aquatic activities at Laurel Lake Camp in Pennsylvania, Camp Blue Ridge in Virginia, Camp Heritage in Missouri, and Indian Creek Camp in Tennessee. 

 Mrs. Hyde has served as a gymnastics coach at each of the schools where she has taught. After coming to AAA she felt our athletic program just wasn’t complete without a gymnastics team so she began the Aerial Jagz.

 Besides her love for water sports and gymnastics, Mrs. Hyde loves to spend time with family outdoors in God’s nature. She loves biking, hiking, rock climbing, camping, hockey, and reptiles.  When Mrs. Hyde is not engaged in some athletic hobby, she may sit down and read a good book from Max Lucado’s Wemmick series, watch a good nature or Bible film like Planet Earth, or listen to contemporary Christian and praise and worship music.

Veronica CooperBS, Language Arts for Elementary Education

Grade 4

Endorsements: Elementary Education; Reading; Jr. Academy: Bible, English, Mathematics, Social Studies; Montessori Diploma—Early Childhood

Biographical Information

Ms. Cooper is from the United Kingdom. She attended Hackney College and Westminster College before coming to the US, where she also received college training at Andrews University. Prior to her professional career as a teacher, Ms. Cooper served as a legal/paralegal secretary.  She brings her eye for details to her classroom where she pushes her students to question and explore. In fact, her favorite quote is "It is better to be a fool for a minute than a fool for life!"

 

Ms. Cooper loves to read and also stresses the importance of reading with her fourth graders.  Many of her favorite authors are those whom her students enjoy as well. Students also get to know Ms. Cooper’s love of the artistic. “I’m artsy,” she says. “I love anything that pertains to the arts: interior design, painting, sculpture, writing, drama.”

 

This love of hers, not only takes Ms. Cooper to museums, it also takes her shopping. She loves the mall and she love quaint and charming shopping districts. Stores are wonderful places to discover creativity. It follows well that Ms. Copper enjoys traveling. She has been to many places in France, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica. Her bucket list of travel adventures includes visiting all 50 US states and the Seven Wonders of the World. Her number one goal I life, however, is to extend a personal invitation to each of her students to “run the race” of life with Jesus.

 

Julia Di BiaseBA Psychology, Licensure K-8

Grade 5

Endorsements: Elementary Education; Kindergarten; Jr. Academy: Bible, English, History, Science

Biographical Information

Ms. Di Biase is one of Atholton’s only home-grown Maryland teachers. She attended several Chesapeake and Potomac Conference schools where her mother taught. Ms. DiBiase was the kind of student who rushed through her work in order to bury her nose in a good book. She also wrote lots of her own stories and actually finished an entire book in ninth grade.

Her lifelong dream has been to live on a piece of property big enough to accommodate a horse. She has always been in love with horses and as a girl collected hundreds of Breyer horse statuettes. As a college student she worked during the summer as a cowboy camp counselor and wrangler at Leoni Meadows Camp in Grizzly Flats, CA.

 

Ms. DiBiase received her college education at Southern Adventist University. After graduation she came to Atholton and has been here ever since. She also has a dramatic flair and a keen wit. In her creative moments she composes music, writes stories and verse, and plays the guitar (country & Christian especially).  In fact, her school day with her students often begins with music - Ms. Di Biase leading and her students singing along with her. These skills are often combined in classroom instruction or Drama Club scripts.

 

When she gets a chance to travel, Ms. Di Biase often heads west to the desert areas of North America - such places as Bryce Canyon, Zion, or Grand Canyon National Parks.  She has also visited Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake. She eventually hopes to travel to all 50 states in the US.

When asked about her teaching, she stated "I love the 'light bulb' moment when a student finally understands a concept, and they are excited about it. I appreciate teaching at a Christian school because I can share my faith and the hope that Jesus brings into our lives."

Lisa DeWittMA Curriculum and Instruction, BA Elementary Education

Grade 7 Homeroom, Bible, So. Studies | Reading/LA 7-8

Endorsements: Curriculum & Instruction Specialist, Elementary Education, Jr. Academy: Business Education, English, Religion, Social Studies

Biographical Information

Lisa DeWitt was born in Niles, MI but spent all of her before-college school years overseas, living in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Her school years 1-12 were spent in mission schools, including Far Eastern Academy.

For college, Mrs. DeWitt returned to the United States to attend Andrews University in Michigan.  She began as an accounting major, but after working at Camp Leoni Meadows (CA) during summer camp, she discovered she loved kids and changed her major to elementary education. One of Mrs. DeWitt's best accomplishments while at Andrews was snagging Mr. DeWitt as her husband. (Mr. D, as he is affectionately known, is our distinguished upper grades math teacher.)

Mrs. DeWitt's teaching career has been a varied one.  She taught for 4 years in a two-room school in Cleveland, OH where she was responsible for various subjects in grades K-9. Most of her time, however, was spent in the younger grades. Next, she moved back to Berrien Springs, MI where she taught grades 5-6 for 5 years. One of those years she team-taught grades 5-6 with Mr. DeWitt, which allowed Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt to swap off time with each other so they didn't have to hire a babysitter for their two small boys. About this time Mr. DeWitt came to Atholton Adventist Academy to be our math teacher. Mrs. DeWitt decided it was now time to be a full-time mom and homeschool teacher for her boys.

Eventually, the lure of the classroom was just too much, so Mrs. DeWitt took a position as a one-room school teacher at Martin Barr SDA School in Gambrills, MD. Three of her 7 students were her own boys. Some might say that is having your cake and eating it too!

After several years of trying to convince Mrs. DeWitt to join our staff at Atholton Adventist Academy, she agreed to assume the homeroom position for grade 7 and teach Reading/Language Arts, Bible, and social studies to our grade 7-8 students.

She has endeared herself to her students by her kind, gentle manner and unique ideas and projects. Not the least of which is her crocheting. She has made hundreds of crocheted hats over the last couple of years, and almost every student in her room has been the recipient of a hat this year.

In addition to crocheting, she loves reading (especially children's literature), socializing with friends, scrapbooking, and collecting Lego sets (an interest that she share with her three boys. She says her biggest challenge is keeping up with and feeding the four boys in her house. (Yes, she included her husband in the number!)

 

 

Steve DeWittBS Elementary Education

Grade 8 Homeroom, Bible | Mathematics 7-10

Endorsements: Elementary Education, Mathematics, Science, Jr. Academy Bible and Social Studies

Biographical Information

Steve DeWitt, or Mr. D as he is affectionately known, is just an overgrown kid.  If someone were to paint a picture of him, he’d be wearing a Detroit Lion’s jersey, holding a hockey stick in one hand and a doughnut in the other.  (Mr. D claims to be “promoting the culture of doughnut appreciation.”)  As a sports fanatic, Mr. D watches, plays, and loves just about any sport except car racing, horse racing, and golf - which in his opinion do not count as sports. As a true “die-hard” Michigan fan, Mr. D roots doggedly for the Detroit teams regardless of their record.  At Atholton, Mr. D often plays basketball after school with some of the boys or finds time to take his class out for an afternoon game of soccer.  When he first arrived, he instituted sports tournaments for grades seven through ten held on each of the final school days before major holidays.  Mr. D also plays roller hockey often with local alumni and several of the other teachers.

Mr. D’s hobbies extend beyond sports.  He loves listening to Contemporary Christian music and “Michigan polka.”  When he finds a particularly good song, he has been known to play it all day long for his students.  At home, Mr. D keeps his mind sharp by competing with the game show contestants on TV.  He faithfully tapes each episode of Jeopardy and plays the video during lunch in his classroom.  Mr. D is also the undisputed king of Text Twist, an online game of scrambled words in which he and his wife have racked up millions of points. He is known for his witty sayings, and, no matter how serious a discussion is taking place, he is sure to put forth his famous comedic words that leaves the room in stitches.

Mr. D, a graduate of Andrews Universtiy, is not all fun and games, however. He is a serious math teacher with certification in both math and science. Turn in your homework assignment even one minute too late and you’ll find out just how serious he is. He aims for his students to learn, and learn they do.  On daily assignments, he offers half credit back if students correct their mistakes and resubmit their papers. He also offers extra credit at the end of each quarter to anyone who will memorize the first 100 digits of pi. There are always some students who actually earn the credit, too.

As if Mr. D didn't already have a busy life being a teacher, dad, husband, sports enthusiast, music critic, and comedian, he has a major bucket list he hopes to accomplish:  Slam dunk a basketball on a 10 ft. rim; skydive solo from 15,000 ft.; scuba dive around a shipwreck; do a front flip; visit Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, Australia; and play football with his friends on an NFL field.

Jeremy VillanuevaBA History

Grade 9 Homeroom | History 8-10 | ESL Bible/History 7-10

Endorsements: History, Sociology, Jr. Academy Bible

Biographical Information

Jeremy Villanueva, or Mr. V, grew up in New Jersey with three brothers and a Doberman Pincher named Sable who ate as much as the boys did and enjoyed all their favorite activities—eating, sleeping, watching TV, wrestling, and playing with a ball.  Despite his busy schedule of childhood activities, Mr. V managed to finish elementary school a year early at his small church school where, despite adjustments, he somehow ended up in the same classroom every year from grade one to grade nine. 

While earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Rutger’s University, Mr. V led out in the youth department of his local church, organizing events, bringing kids to church, and leading out in meetings and activities.  Mr. V’s spare time was filled with sports; he took up indoor climbing and bowling with friends.  But mostly, he played volleyball and basketball, often driving all over New Jersey with friends to amateur league games.  

After graduating from Rutger’s, Mr. V worked in marketing research.  Several boring years into that job, Mr. V decided to earn his teaching certificate and go into education where he could make a difference in people’s lives - and not be so bored at work.  He earned his teaching certification at Washington Adventist University.  Before coming to Atholton, Mr. V worked with autistic youth and then did substitute teaching in Washington County schools. 

Joining the Atholton faculty once-and-for-all ended Mr. V’s worries about boredom at work.  Now his dream is to retire and become a competitive eater, but Mrs. V doesn’t think that’s a good idea.  In the meantime, Mr. V samples area restaurants, Mrs. V’s ethnic cooking attempts, and whatever other interesting food people offer him.  He also plays at least three different sports a week, usually taking Mrs. V with him, and is making progress in turning her into a Philadelphia sports fan like him. 

Geofferey HydeMS Education, BS Biology

Grade 10 Homeroom | Science 7-10 | Computer 8-10

Endorsements: NAD Professional Certificate -- Biology, Computer Applications, Jr. Academy Chemistry, Mathematics

Biographical Information

Geofferey Hyde’s friends can attest to his three great loves: people, snakes, and sports.  They just can’t say which one comes first.  Growing up the only child in a pastor’s family who relocated every few years, Mr. Hyde’s ability to make - and keep - friends has served him well through the years.  Mr. Hyde loves to laugh and joke.  He tells students that his favorite part of teaching is “messing with you all.” But he admits that’s just a front. “It’s really about building relationships,” he says. Joking and teasing students serves that purpose. Having positive relationships with Christian mentors and role models makes students more likely to develop and keep a positive relationship with Jesus, which is Mr. Hyde’s ultimate goal for his teaching. 

No experience in Mr. Hyde’s classroom is complete without an introduction to another of his loves - his snakes.  Lining the walls in his science lab are cages and cages of snakes. He keeps several more at home, including a 10 foot Burmese python named Lucy. All total, Mr. Hyde’s family owns more than 35 snakes.  They also have an assortment of other reptiles such as bearded dragons and turtles.  New students to Mr. Hyde’s room always get an introduction his famous menagerie and most learn to become comfortable with his legless reptile friends.  Many students enjoy handling the more docile ones, while others better enjoy “playing with the food,” as Mr. Hyde calls the mice that he raises to feed his pets.  Several times a year Mr. Hyde takes some of his snakes on the road and does nature presentations in different venues.  He also packs them up and takes them to summer camp to share with the campers.

Mr. Hyde and his wife have a soft spot for youth camps since they spent several years running Camp Blue Ridge in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.  While at Camp Blue Ridge, Mr. Hyde did every job there was to do at one time or another except be a girls’ counselor. His favorite job was driving the ski boat.  He’ll tell you that job put him in the best shape he’s ever been in—which is saying a lot considering how much he loves sports and how many hours a day he played them when he was in college.  Mr. Hyde loves a long list of sports, but volleyball is his favorite to play. When watching sports, Mr. Hyde cheers for the New England teams, the Patriots and the Red Socks.  We’ll forgive him, since he did attend Atlantic Union College outside Boston. 

After graduating, Mr. Hyde and his wife worked at Garden State Academy in upstate New Jersey.  Mr. Hyde also served as principal at Cedarvale Jr. Academy in Missouri and Wilmington Jr. Academy in Delaware before coming to AAA in 2007.

Marty ChedalavadaMS.Ed Speech Pathology & Audiology

Spanish PK-10 | Art 7-10 |ESL Advisor |Yearbook

Endorsements: Spanish, Physical Education, Art

Biographical Information

Marty Chedalavada, or “Mrs. Ched,” hails from Venezuela, South America. She studied speech therapy and audiology in both her undergraduate and graduate programs at Howard University and Old Dominion University, respectively, working her way through school with a providential job at the National Institute of Health. Although she worked early on at the National Cancer Institute, she says she followed her children to school and moved into the education field.

At Tidewater Adventist Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia, Mrs. Ched taught several classes, as well as served as the registrar and athletic director. She holds certifications in Art, P.E., and Spanish. Currently, Mrs. Ched teaches Spanish to all grades at Atholton and art to grades seven and eight. She says one of her favorite teaching moments is when a student says, “I get it!”  If students don’t try hard enough, though, they will likely hear another of Mrs. Ched’s favorite sayings, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” 

Mrs. Ched and her family live an active life and manage to fit in several forms of recreation. Mrs. Ched runs, bikes, and coaches sports and gymnastics. For the last two and a half years she has started signing up for races, and has done three to four a year since then. She’s run several 5Ks, two 10Ks, three half-marathons, and one full marathon. Mrs. Ched also has some less demanding hobbies. She loves to sing, photograph all sorts of things, create pottery, and make all types of crafts. Her travels have taken her to Puerto Rico, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Someday she says she’d like to serve as a missionary “somewhere where there’s a real need, where even simple things you do for people are big.”  This dream hints at Mrs. Ched’s generosity and the big heart students learn she has.

Mark O'FfillMDiv Theology, BA Theology, ordained

Bible 9-10 | ESL Bible, History | Computer 5, 7

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."

Beth VillanuevaBS Language Arts Education

English 9-10 | ESL LA 7-10

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."



Isaac TymanBS Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Studies

Physical Education PK-10 | Athletics

Endorsements: Health/PE/Recreation, History

Biographical Information

Bio to come.

Meredith Herzel

Classroom Music 1-6 | Select Choir 5-10

Endorsements: Experience in classroom music, choral directing, piano, and voice

Biographical Information

Meredith Herzel is probably best known for her beautiful lyrical soprano voice, which she willing uses to the blessing of others. She is one of those individuals to whom you give a job that you want done and done well. The creativity and excellence that Mrs. Herzel brings to each assignment is well-known, but probably best illustrated by the yearly AAA Christmas productions she orchestrates.  Not only are the sets elaborate, the costumes detailed, and the storylines unique, but the student-rendered music is always first rate.

Currently, Mrs. Herzel provides classroom music instruction to grades 1-6, directs the Select Choir, and teaches private voice lessons to AAA students. Her musical training was gained at Andrews University and the Baltimore Art Institute. Prior to coming to AAA, she worked as the art director and photographer at the Columbia Union’s Visitor magazine. She also homeschooled her two boys for 13 years. Raising them, she says, is her greatest accomplishment.

Atholton church knows Mrs. Herzel as the lead coordinator of the weekly worship services, many youth activities and retreats, and many special programs.  Although this may sound like a lot of work, Mrs. Herzel enjoys being so involved because her service intersects fluidly with her hobbies and allows her to apply them for ministry. Still, considering her often more-than-busy schedule, it’s no wonder Mrs. Herzel’s favorite quotes are, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” and “It will all work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end.”

People acquainted with the many hats Mrs. Herzel wears often wonder how she ever finds time to really relax.  When she does, she enjoys reading inspirational literature, watching family films, and, of course, listening to a wide variety of music.  One thing students may not know is that Mrs. Herzel is a pretty good first baseman in softball.  She and her family also immensely enjoy the outdoors and love to travel when they have the chance.  A glimpse at Mrs. Herzel’s list of the top ten places she’s visited might make you ask to go on their next family vacation.  She lists: The Swiss Alps, Thailand, the Canadian Rockies (Banff and Jasper), Minnesota’s Boundary Waters canoe wilderness, Montana’s Glacier National Park, Denmark’s Lego Land, California’s Sequoia & Redwoods National Parks, North Carolina’s Cades Cove in Smokey Mtn. National Park, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula & Mackinac Island, and Michigan’s Camp Au Sable.

Mrs. Herzel brings her love of the world’s varied people and places to her music instruction by teaching a diversity of instruments and introducing students to music from many cultures and contexts.  Most importantly, however, Mrs. Herzel brings her walk with God into her classroom and shares with students her greatest passion – the joy of loving and serving God.

Debra GantmanMSW Social Work, BSW Social Work

Administrative Assistant

Biographical Information

Debra Gantman was born in Mussoorie, India.  Her parents were from Australia, but at the time of her birth they were serving as missionaries to India. Eventually, during Mrs. Gantman's college years, she also served as a missionary for one year to Forli, Itlay. 

After completing her undergraduate social work program at Pacific Union College (CA) and her masters program in social work at Walla Walla University (WA), Mrs. Gantman worked in Florida and California as a social worker and later as an administrative assistant for K-LOVE/AIR1 Christian Radio Networks.  For the ten years prior to joining the Atholton Adventist Academy staff, she chose to be a stay-at-home mom to her two beautiful Chinese daughters, who now attend Atholton Adventist Academy.

It only takes a short visit to the school office to realize how well-travelled and well-read Mrs. Gantman is. It seems that no matter who comes into the office or where they are from, she immediately makes a connection that is quite remarkable. According to Mrs. Gantman, she "loves her job!" and it shows.

Mrs. Gantman enjoys travelling, cooking, reading, swimming, and listening to classical music.  Her favorite book is I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven. 

Cherie Collett

Teacher Aide

Biographical Information

Cherie Collett currently works as the teacher aide in the pre-kindergarten classroom and has been at Atholton Adventist Academy for eleven year. She is married to Mark Collett, School Board Chair for the AAA School Board, and has two sons, Matthew and Zack.

Mrs. Collett's artistic talents are very appreciated when it comes to creating a beautiful table setting involving food. Each year she prepares the serving areas for our annual Thanksgiving Banquet and our Open House. She also has a gift for working with struggling students.

Pam Pinder

Teacher Aide | After School Supervisor

Mary Bonchack

Teacher Aide | Morning Care Supervisor