Faculty & Staff

Mrs. Mary Arkoosh

Mrs. Mary Sharon Arkoosh is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville with degrees in Theology and Catechetics. Over the last few years, Mrs. Arkoosh has taught fifth grade, Latin and Religion mainly in the middle school. Mrs. Arkoosh has a background in performing arts, having been a ballerina and vocalist throughout her life, and has shared these passions with the school community in several ways.

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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. This is her second year here at St. John’s and she has loved every minute of it!

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Mr. Joe Blumenauer

Mr. Blumenauer is the 7th grade boys’ homeroom teacher. He is a recent graduate from the University of Dallas with a BA in Politics concentrating on Constitutional Law and the American Founding. He has spent summers teaching classes on topics from Moral Virtue to Introductory Law in the Bronx, Chicago, and DC. Outside of school, he is a lover of all things outdoors, especially backpacking, a chess enthusiast, and a diehard Capitals, Orioles and Redskins fan.

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Mr. Carl Buckis

Mr. Buckis is the Athletic Director and PE Teacher for SJBA. He is from Florida where he worked as the Athletic Director for Bay County Parks & Recreation hosting many major athletic events year round. In addition, Mr. Buckis coached football and basketball at North Bay Haven Charter Academy during his time in Florida helping to lead the football team to their first ever state playoffs birth. Prior to Florida, Mr. Buckis earned his MS at the University of Georgia while working for the women’s basketball team, the Lady Bulldawgs. He also earned his BEd at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He has a broad background working in every level of sport ranging from youth sport development, personal fitness, and extending to the NFL ranks.

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Mrs. Sarah Cannon
Mrs. Cannon teaches Religion, Life Science, and American History. 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. This is her first year of teaching, and she is excited to be the 7th grade girls’ homeroom teacher and a part of 5th grade.
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Mrs. Cristina Crowley

Mrs. Crowley is the 3rd grade teacher. 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. This is her third-year teaching third grade at SJBA, and she really enjoys it!

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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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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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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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Mrs. Clair Moriarity

Mrs. Clair Moriarty is one of the 8th grade homeroom teachers this year. A graduate of The Catholic University of America and the University of Notre Dame, she is in her 8th year serving Catholic schools in both teaching and administrative capacities. This year, she is teaching history, math, literature, and grammar in the middle school. Clair loves good stories, spending time outside, dancing with her kids after dinner, and going on day trips with her family.

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Mr. David Murray

Mr. David Murray is the 5th grade teacher. 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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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. 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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Mrs. Karen Tessier

Mrs. Karen Tessier is the Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Acadmics 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. 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...