Continuity Reigns with New School Year
One of the absolute best aspects of being a teacher, whether one is in his twenty-fifth year of teaching or his first, is that every September offers a new beginning. Teachers, like their students, feel the excitement of seeing old friends, opening new textbooks, and starting the school year with a fresh slate. Every fall, new students offer teachers an opportunity to challenge them to reach newfound heights academically, spiritually, and socially.
This year, St. Martin’s School welcomes two new faculty members, sees two staff members in new roles, and celebrates an educator’s twenty-five years of remarkable service. “Our faculty and staff have a passion for teaching and a true devotion to their students and we look forward to another successful and joyous school year,” says Principal Stephen Lamont.
Mrs. Netta Morelli has been teaching middle school Social Studies and Language Arts at St. Martin’s School since 1997. We have been blessed by her extraordinary talent, dedication, and commitment to her students. Incredibly well-respected among her colleagues, Mrs. Morelli is the consummate leader, also serving as our Assistant Principal. “I have been so fortunate to be part of this wonderful school family for twenty-five years and counting,” she explains. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from Walden University, and an undergraduate degree in Education from Penn State University. She received the ADW Teacher of the Year Award in 2006, participated in ADW's Leadership Academy, and has led several diocesan professional development sessions. As a believer in life-long learning, she has participated in programs such as the Ford's Theatre Teacher Fellowship, the Holocaust Museum Bearing Witness Program, and the Discovery Education Network. Mrs. Morelli enjoys moderating quiz bowl teams and preparing students for academic competitions, as well as Student Council and Safety Patrols. When away from school, Mrs. Morelli is a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician in Frederick.
We are excited to welcome Mr. Ben Desmond, who is new to St. Martin’s. He brings a wealth of varied experiences to the role of middle school Language Arts teacher. Mr. Desmond explains, “I love teaching the kids, I love language, writing, and reading, but my faith is the core of my being.” He was born and raised on Long Island, New York, where he was active in his parish youth group and later taught Religious Education classes. Mr. Desmond has an undergraduate degree in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington and a Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University in Entrepreneurship. “I wanted to help others in starting their business,” he adds, “but teaching is my love.” He moved to Maryland with his wife, where he realized his true calling while teaching at a Catholic school. Mr. Desmond comes to us from St. Raphael’s School in Rockville where he was the Media Specialist, teaching Technology and Library classes. He began last year at St. Martin’s as a long-term substitute for middle school Language Arts and was thrilled when a permanent job opening became available. He explains that “working here enables me to do what I love, which is teach, but at the same time, I am driven by a mission to bring the light of Christ into these students’ lives. I am thankful for this opportunity and excited to start each day.” Now that afterschool clubs are returning, having been put on hold due to the pandemic, students were elated to hear that Mr. Desmond plans to bring back the Drama Club. When he is not teaching, he enjoys traveling and reading, which are two of his passions.
Our community is delighted to welcome Ms. Lisseth Chavez as our new third grade teacher. Her many teaching experiences will be of great benefit to our students. Ms. Chavez was born in El Salvador and raised in Falls Church, Virginia. She graduated from Holy Cross in Massachusetts, studying Spanish and Education. Ms. Chavez was most recently teaching Preschool at the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center. She has been a literacy educator through AmeriCorps and a Head Start teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ms. Chavez looks forward to teaching third grade, which will allow her to share more complex concepts and materials. "At this age, they are so curious about the world around them and now they can start using critical thinking skills to make these discoveries even more exciting," Ms. Chavez explains. She adds, “teaching at a Catholic school will allow my students to see themselves in me, as I am a witness to our faith in how I live.” As a parishioner at St. Charles in Arlington, Virgina, Ms. Chavez teaches Religious Education to second graders. She also coordinates Bible Studies for various groups in the parish. Ms. Chavez enjoys swimming and reading in her spare time.
Two of our staff members are taking on new roles this year. We are pleased to have Ms. Rocio Pineda taking on a new title as Pre-Kindergarten teacher after twelve years of working in our beloved Aftercare Program. Aftercare has prepared her well for her new responsibilities. Ms. Pineda, also known as Ms. Ro, has been dedicated to seeing our students grow in all aspects, through helping with homework, fostering creativity through exciting projects, and through fun physical activities which help keep our students physically fit and socially oriented. Her magnetic nature has made her a favorite from one end of the school hall to the other. Ms. Pineda is a local, born and raised in Gaithersburg. She worked for ten years as a business manager for Adventist Health Care. “My focus will be to create excitement in learning. There is no better way to prepare these four-year olds for Kindergarten,” Ms. Pineda explains. Her favorite activities outside of school are reading and going to the beach.
We are in great hands as Mrs. Jennifer Mohrbacher takes on a new assignment as office manager. Her thirteen years of teaching experience at St. Martin’s, along with her prior years of working in administrative roles, prepare her for the myriad of responsibilities in a busy school office. We appreciate her knowledge, experience, and friendly nature as she transitions to this important role.
As we look forward to another busy year at St. Martin’s School, we are particularly inspired by the dedicated lives of those who lead this important ministry. They are enthusiastic and ready to empower our students to excel academically, socially, and spiritually in a safe, Catholic-centered environment.