Jr. High and High School

Grade 7

The Grade 7 program is designed to bring students together with their peers and teachers in a community of writers, researchers, and learners. The curriculum gives students the opportunity to broaden their understanding of themselves, God, and the world around them. The classroom is a workshop, conference room, and think tank. The approaches to work are individual as well as collective, and much of the learning and discovery occurs through collaboration and integration. The staff is committed to providing affective and intellectual experiences to our Grade 7 students. 

Lisa DeWitt (Homeroom)MA Curriculum and Instruction, BA Elementary Education

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!)



Grade 8

The Grade 8 program encourages students to develop an individual and collective sense of responsibility, not only for their academic assignments, but also for their leadership roles. Students are given opportunity to acquire successful study skills, communication skills, and effective conflict resolution skills. Language arts and mathematics skills are expanded to include critical and logical thinking skills. Students learn how to present and critique oral research reports. Field trips enhance and expand classroom learning through hands-on experiences. Grade 8 students participate in fundraising to finance their graduation, class trip, and other projects undertaken during the year.

Steve DeWitt (Homeroom)BS Elementary Education

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.

Grade 9

The Grade 9 program gives students their first real experience of higher education. Coursework includes Bible I, English I, Math (Algebra I & II and Geometry), Spanish I, American History, Environmental Science/Biology I, Computer/Keyboarding, Physical Education, and Music. The small classroom environment provides ninth graders the emotional and academic support necessary for a successful first year of high school.  In addition to the core curriculum, students have opportunity to receive hands-on experience and to develop leadership skills by participating in Student Association, AV support for Chapel and other programs. 

Jeremy Villanueva (Homeroom)MS Public History, BA History

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. 

Grade 10

The Grade 10 program is designed to build on the skills and concepts learned in science, social studies, literature, and Bible during the freshman year. Coursework includes Bible II, English II, Math (Geometry and Algebra II), Spanish II, World History, Environmental Science/Biology I, Computer Education, Health, Physical Education, and Music. In addition to the core curriculum, students have opportunity to receive hands-on experience and to develop leadership skills by participating in Student Association, AV support for Chapel and other programs. 

Geofferey Hyde (Homeroom)MS Education, BS Biology

Contact: :

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.

Enrichment Activities

Physical Education and Athletics

The physical education program is required for all students in Pre-kindgergarten through Grade 10. Physical fitness, skill mastery, teamwork, and good sportsmanship are included in the curriculum for each grade.  

The Athletic Department coordinates after-school sports programs through Kids University (KidsU). Varsity sports include Boys' and Girls' Basketball, and Girls' Volleyball.  Intramural sports include flag football, soccer, and floor hockey.  All students in Kindergarten-Grade 10 are encouraged to participate in the after-school intramural sports program.

Foreign Language

Spanish is offered to all grades 1-10.  Spanish I and II are offered specifically to students in Grades 9-10. Both courses develop the basic skills of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing of Spanish and increase the knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the cultures in which Spanish is spoken as a first language. Spanish II expands grammar to include the use of a variety of verb tenses.


Students in the upper grades are provided several musical options.  Select Choir is an auditioned group that is made up of students who enjoy singing and want to develop their vocal skills. They experience several different genres of music and develop the ability to sing multiple-part music.  This group performs for area churches and other local area organizations during special events. The band provides opportunity for students who play an instrument  to be part of a group. The highlight of the year is the band concert during Strawberry Festival.