Faculty & Staff

Mrs. Debra Balint

Mrs. Balint is starting her ninth year as the Preschool Director and Pre-K teacher. She graduated from Marymount University in 1993 with a BA in Psychology.  In 1995, she earned her M.Ed from Marymount, as well. She is certified by the State of Virginia to teach Pre-K through 8th grade. She began teaching for the Diocese of Arlington in 1995 at St. Thomas More Cathedral School.  In 2004 she joined the staff at Saint John’s. She is a member of National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) and Virginia Catholic Education Association (VCEA).  She is also a member of the Preschool Director Committee for the Arlington Diocese.  As a member of the Diocesan Preschool Director Committee, she, along with seven other directors, helped create the Preschool/Pre-K curriculum for the diocese.  Most recently, she helped the same committee create the Diocesan Preschool and Pre-K progress reports that will be used in all the preschool programs in the diocese.

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Ms. Ruth Bethencourt

Ms. Bethencourt is the 4th grade homeroom teacher. She received her bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Pedagogy from the University of Navarre in Spain and a bachelor’s in Theology from the University of the Holy Cross in Italy.

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Mrs. Catherine Bishop

Mrs. Catherine Bishop is a full-time aide in the lower school. Catherine graduated from the University of Dallas in 2003 with a BA in Politics and a concentration in International Studies and Spanish. Following graduation, she worked on Capitol Hill before moving to Monterrey, CA. Since then she has lived and worked all over the world, most recently in Amman, Jordan. She loves to explore new places and cultures with her husband and six children. Catherine grew up in the Arlington/McLean area and is happy to be back in her home parish of St. John the Beloved.

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Mrs. Sarah Cannon
Mrs. Cannon is one of our 5th grade homeroom teachers. She graduated from UVA with a degree in Russian Language & Literature, and has prior experience working as a librarian and a tutor. Outside of school she enjoys playing the piano and collecting books.
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Ms. Lisa Coyne

Ms. Lisa Coyne is the 6th grade homeroom teacher. Ms. Coyne has over 32 years experience teaching History, English, Spanish and Math at the Middle School level, including many years at Oakcrest School in Vienna, VA, and recently at a liberal arts Catholic school in Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Simmons College with a BA in Government and Communications Media and holds a MA in teaching from Rice University.

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Mrs. Cristina Crowley

Mrs. Crowley is the 3rd grade teacher and the Director of After School Clubs and Summer Camps.  She grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Marketing and Advertising. She worked for several years with the marketing departments of Marriott International and Hilton Hotels. In 2008, her family relocated to Northern Virginia and she began working at Saint John the Beloved Academy in 2009. She spent eight years working as a classroom aide in first grade, third grade and Kindergarten at SJBA, and she was the Director of Extended Day at Queen of Apostles Catholic School.  She is Virginia Catholic Education Association (VCEA) certified, and she has completed the Orton-Gillingham training program.

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Mr. Andrew De Sa

Andrew de Sa is a local artist with a focus on sacred works. Andrew and his wife Emily run a painting and music studio in Hyattsville, MD, Studio de Sa (studiodesa.com)  Andrew has won awards and scholarships on both the local and the national level and previously served as acting Creative Director of the Carl Schmitt Foundation. Additionally,  Andrew  is a recognized copyist at the National Gallery of Art, has been appointed to the Benedict XVI Council for Liturgy and the Arts, serves as co-chair of the Partnership for Catholic Sacred Architecture and previously served as the first Arts Ambassador and Visiting Board Member of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Art, Music, and Drama at the Catholic University of America.

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Mrs. Carlie Dixon

Mrs. Carlie Dixon teaches American Civics and History to the 7th and 8th grades and religion and writing in the lower and middle school. She has a law degree from George Washington University Law School. She was credentialed in secondary school teaching after graduating from college with a major in History, and this spring began taking graduate level history courses to brush up on American History. Carlie has been a stay at home mom, homemaker and school/church/community volunteer, including initiating and leading Welcome Catholics Home at St. John the Beloved from 2013-18, teaching CCD, and advocating for mothers and children in the public square. Recently, Carlie decided to return to a life long desire to be a teacher, especially of history and civics. We are pleased and grateful to add Carlie as a member of the faculty and for her passion to bring the great American story to life (replete with its mistakes, victories, failings, foundations in freedom, and profound promise).

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Mr. Thomas Gorman

Mr. Thomas Gorman is one of our second grade homeroom teachers. Thomas is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and has many interests and creative talents—including with film and digital art, in addition to his love for horses and working with mustangs.

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Mrs. Elizabeth Hatch

Mrs. Elizabeth Hatch is one of the second grade homeroom teachers. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Catholic University of America and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Marymount University. She has been a homeschool educator of kindergarten through fifth grade for over ten years and brings with her special interests in visual and performing arts, cooking, children’s literature, natural history, and in particular gardening. Elizabeth has been helping to design the natural history garden program at St. John’s and is looking forward to getting young green thumbs in the dirt this fall.

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Mr. Austin Hatch

Mr. Hatch teaches 8th grade literature. He has been helping with curriculum review and schedules at Saint John’s these past two summers, served as Assistant Headmaster at Western Academy with Mr. Presberg in Houston, Texas, and leads the prestigious Jackson Scholars program at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland. He is an extremely gifted and effective history and literature teacher.

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Mrs. Katie Heeter

Mrs. Heeter is one of our first grade homeroom teachers. She has a BA in Sociology from Roanoke College and a MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia, Curry School of Education.

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Ms. Brittany Higdon

Ms. Brittany Higdon has extensive experience advising schools in implementation of humanities-based instruction using proper reading techniques, and providing in-depth assessment for individual students. Additionally, she holds a BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a M.Ed in reading education from the University of Virginia.

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Ms. Margaret Howerton

Ms. Margaret Howerton is one of our first grade homeroom teachers. She is a graduate of Christendom College with a BA in literature. Prior to joining St. John’s in 2021, Margaret served as a Seton Teaching fellow, teaching at a school and as a catechist to charter school students in the Bronx. Margaret has many interests and hobbies, ranging from writing, swimming, making wine, and playing the violin!

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Mr. Daniel Kelley

Mr. Kelley teaches theology and the history of the Catholic Church to the 7th and 8th grade. Mr. Kelley is a graduate from MIT and Harvard. Bilingual in Spanish, Mr. Kelley has been appointed a Correspondent Member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, the US affiliate of the Royal Academy, and has published in its journal. He also speaks French, Italian, Portuguese and (some) Russian.

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Mrs. Dawn Kuker

Mrs. Dawn Kuker teaches classroom music at Saint John’s and directs both the Academy Choir and the Beloved Choir. She also currently serves as cantor at Saint John the Beloved Parish.  She has expertise singing in early sacred music ensembles, including Holy Family Schola Cantorum in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and in the St. Gregory Choir here at Saint John the Beloved. She also is a chorister in the Reston Chorale, and a member of the Camarata, the Chorale’s chamber ensemble. The Chorale sings a variety of musical genres, including spirituals, sacred anthems, jazz and pop. She has extensive vocal training and shares her knowledge of vocal pedagogy and enthusiasm for singing with her students. Mrs. Kuker is a graduate of Concordia University, St. Paul, with a BA in Child Development.

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Mrs. Trish Loria

Mrs. Loria is one of our Kindergarten teachers. She graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1982 with a BA in Elementary Education. She also graduated cum laude and was a member of The International Honor Society in Social Science. She and her husband Jack have ten children. She was a full-time homemaker until she accepted a position at Saint John the Beloved Academy as a preschool teacher for the last thirteen years! This is her first year joining our Kindergarten team. She obtained her Virginia Catholic Education Association (VCEA) endorsement in 2015. In addition to teaching, she also serves as a Chapter Coordinator in LeadersNow International and has been doing so for the past ten years. This organization was founded in 2003 with the mission to promote the dignity and integrity of young women. She loves the outdoors, exercise, and spending time with family and friends!

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Mr. Tyler McGee

Mr. Tyler McGee, who is joining St. John’s to primarily teach with Mr. Murray in the 5th grade. The Louisiana native (and active sportsman) has six years experience of teaching core subjects to 4th-7th grade boys and has been teaching at Catholic schools in Mexico for the past four years, and has done a great deal in a personalized mentoring program. Prior to his position in Mexico, he worked in the business office at Western Academy, in Houston, Texas. Mr. McGee has a BS in Business from Louisiana State University and is in the process of completing his MA in Humanities from the University of Dallas and an International Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Buckingham, School of Education in London, United Kingdom.

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Mr. David Murray

Mr. David Murray is one of our fifth grade homeroom teachers. Mr. Murray was born into a musical family; his father was an opera singer and head of a professional opera company, and his mother was a pianist and organist. As a percussionist, he has performed in concert and in master classes around the world, including all 48 contiguous states of the U.S.A., much of Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Okinawa, Japan. David served as a member of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band in Washington, D.C. for 26 years, from 1992-2018. David continues to perform and teach in the D.C. area, currently serving on the music faculty at Georgetown University. David holds a BM degree from Rice University, Shepherd School of Music, and a M.M. degree from the Eastman School of Music.

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Mrs. Kathleen O'Beirne

Mrs. Kathleen O’Beirne is (re) joining us as the 7th grade Literature and Writing teacher this year! Kathleen graduated from the University of Dallas (UD) with a BA in English Literature and a concentration in German. She has taught in a variety of settings over the years, including homeschooling her own five children for several years, while also working as a freelance writer and editor. She taught 7th and 8th Grade Literature and Writing at St. John the Beloved Academy before taking a break to work on a Masters in Humanities with a concentration in Classical Education from UD. Kathleen looks forward to returning to St. John the Beloved Academy this year and exploring with her students truth and goodness through the beauty and power of the written word.

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Mr. Brian O’Neill

Mr. O’Neill is the 8th grade boys homeroom teacher. He is a graduate from the University of Dallas with a BA in Politics concentrating on the American Founding and the Constitution. He is an athlete and a huge sports fan-especially of all the DC teams.  He is outdoorsman and naturalist and an avid reader of history.

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Mrs. Meredith Parker

Mrs. Meredith Parker is a Natural History teacher in the lower school and our 7th grade biology teacher. She has worked with Friends of the Rappahannock, a nonprofit for the Rappahannock River, as the field trip coordinator and an environmental educator. She has experience working with students of all ages, Pre-K through college, teaching a wide range of environmental topics such as habitats, ecosystems, biodiversity, the water cycle, watersheds, pollution and prevention, and E-STEM, to name a few. She is a graduate from the University of Mary Washington with a BS and a concentration in Environmental Science.

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Mrs. Irene Perez

Mrs. Perez teaches the Kindergarten class and is celebrating her 20th year teaching at Saint John’s. Her interest and focus lies in early childhood education. She has been trained in the Wilson multisensory language program, as well as the Orton-Gillingham multisensory reading program. In addition to taking multiple graduate level education courses at the University of Virginia, she has her Virginia Catholic Education Association (VCEA) certification. Mrs. Perez was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Like most Canadians she learned both English and French as a child and then learned to speak Spanish when she lived in South America. She is a graduate of McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

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Fr. Christopher Pollard

FrPollard‘s formative years were spent at Westminster School and Pine Ridge Elementary, both in Annandale, VA. After Bishop Ireton High School and the University of Chicago (A.B. in philosophy) he entered the seminary and completed graduate degrees in philosophy, theology and catechetics. Ordination to the priesthood took place in 1998 but there are still Great Books to be read, good books to be taught, and more languages to learn so study continues.

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Mr. Jeff Presberg

Mr. Presberg has been the Headmaster of St. John the Beloved Academy since 2018.  He has over twenty years of broad experience in education, ranging from teaching and coaching to a variety of administrative responsibilities. He was the founding Headmaster at Western Academy in Houston, where he served (2008-13). Prior to that, he served as the Lower School Head and teacher at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland (1994-2009). Additionally, he is the founder and President of the Samuel & Erasmus institute, (SEi), a small institute for liberal arts education and culture. Mr. Presberg earned a B.A. in English Literature and a Masters of Humanities from the University of Dallas. Jeff and his wife Kristin live in Northern Virginia with their nine children.

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Mr. Jonathan Reilly

Mr. Jonathan Reilly is the 7th Grade homeroom teacher, primarily teaching core 7th grade subjects and 8th grade science. A Northern Virginia native (and with many teachers in his extended family), Jonathan graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Biology and in Philosophy. He subsequently spent two years with FOCUS serving as a college campus missionary in Philadelphia and leading engaging Scripture discussions with youth. Mr. Reilly loves the natural world, Tolkien, and exploring symbolism & meaning in culture and stories.

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Mrs. Karen Tessier

Mrs. Karen Tessier is the Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Academics at St. John the Beloved Academy. Mrs. Tessier graduated with a B.S. degree in Education from Elmira College and a MEd. from Marymount University in Administration and Supervision and has worked in the area of education her entire professional career. Her interests include the outdoors, reading, cooking and most importantly spending time with her family. She resides with her husband and five children in the Northern Virginia area.

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Mrs. Ann-Marie Thrasher

Mrs. Ann Marie Thrasher is teaching the Preschool 3 years-old class. Mrs. Thrasher and her family moved from Memphis, TN to McLean 12 years ago. She comes to us from the Potomac School where she has served as a Kindergarten teacher for the past 11 years. Additionally, she has a BA in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and has been trained in the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program and the Responsive Classroom which links academic success with social-emotional learning.

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Mr. Sutton Truluck

Mr. Sutton Truluck graduated from Santa Clara University in 2014 with a business degree and worked as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, at Heritage Foundation, and in public policy generally. Over the last year he lived in the mountains of North Carolina on somewhat of a sabbatical working in food and beverage. Sutton will primarily help with PE, lower school math and reading and 6th grade Latin. An outdoorsman and avid reader, he especially enjoys kayaking, hiking, philosophy, and contemplation.

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Mrs. Tamara Walder

Mrs. Walder is the Spanish teacher for grades Kindergarten-8th grade at Saint John the Beloved Academy. She is a native Spanish speaking professional who is committed to student achievement in Spanish language acquisition. She holds a degree in Law from Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (Caracas, Venezuela), and a MA in International Legal Studies from American University, Washington College of Law. She holds a Virginia Catholic Education Association (VCEA) Certification and has enjoyed teaching Spanish at SJBA for the last three years. She is bilingual fluent in both Spanish and English, with working knowledge in Croatian and Italian.

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History & Mission

The school was founded in 1954 to provide children with a Catholic liberal arts education rooted in...

Headmaster's Welcome

A message from Jeffrey Presberg, the Headmaster at Saint John the Beloved Academy.

School At-A-Glance

Our liberal arts curriculum is rooted in a Catholic humanist tradition, a unique academic and...