Faculty 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!

Miya KimMS Special Education, BS Elementary Education


Endorsements: NAD Professional Certificate - Elementary Education, Special Education Specialist, Jr Academy: Bible, English, General Science, Health/PE, 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 Italy, France, Prince Edwards Island, South Korea, Bermuda, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Peru, and Iceland.  

Candy IversonMBA

Business Manager

Contact: finances@atholton.us -Office Hours: Wednesdays Mornings and Fridays -Outside office hours, please contact by email.

Rachelle Potts

Administrative Assistant

Contact: office@atholton.us

Delma Feitosa

Teacher Pre-Kindergarten

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


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.

Anita Minty MI Instruction, BS Elementary Education

Grade 1

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

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'."


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).

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 CooperMS Education, BS, 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 BiaseMS Elementary Education emphasis in Elementary Reading, BA 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."

Jason MartzMA Education, BS Business Administration, BS Long Term Care Administration

Grade 6

Endorsements: Elementary Education, Business Adminstration, Jr. Academy Social Studies

Lisa DeWittMA Curriculum and Instruction, BA Elementary Education

Grade 7 Homeroom, Bible, 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, | Mathematics 6-10

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 VillanuevaMS Public History, BA History

Grade 9 Homeroom | History 7-10 | ESL Bible

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 | STEM| Science 7-10 | Computer 10

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.

Marty ChedalavadaMS.Ed Speech Pathology & Audiology

Spanish 1-10 | Art 7-8 |International Student Coordinator|Yearbook

Endorsements: NAD Professional Certificate, Spanish Jr Academy: Physical Education, Art, English

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.

Beth VillanuevaBS Language Arts Education

English 9-10 | ESL LA 9-10

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."

Mark O'FfillMDiv Theology, BA Theology, Ordained

Chaplain| Bible 8-10 | ESL Bible, History | Computer 5- 8

Endorsements: NAD Professional Certificate -- Elementary Education, Computer Applications, English, Religion, and Jr Academy Social Studies

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."

Heidi DecenaM.Ed. Instructional Leadership with Reading Emphasis, BA Liberal Studies


Endorsements: Elementary Education; Reading, English, ESOL, Jr. Academy: Bible, General Science, Math, Social Studies

Biographical Information

Heidi Decena was born and raised in Southern California and completed her high school education at Orangewood Adventist Academy (CA).  She completed a liberal studies degree at Pacific Union College after desiring to spend time in the rainier, greener parts of California. She enthusiastically pursued major elementary education after working as a day camp counselor at her home church in Orange County, California. Those summer days were filled with abounding energy, the smiles of 60 children, and too-many-to-count learning opportunities.  She couldn’t believe she was getting paid to do work that was tremendously rewarding.  After expressing the desire to lesson plan and create art and science lessons for the following year immediately after the summer program ended, she became the Day Camp Director and changed her major from Nutrition to elementary education with the goal of one day pursuing special education.

After graduating with her BA in 2002, she was asked to return to Pacific Union College as a recipient of the graduate assistant scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree in Instructional Leadership, which was completed in 2004.  After graduating, she stayed home to raise her two sons, Luke and Aidan, and provided in-home educational assistance to different students and their families until returning to the classroom in 2014.  

She has worked with students from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and learning needs, from pre-k to assisting adult learners. She enjoys individualizing instruction to meet her students’ needs where they are at in their English learning, and helping students master the skills they need in order to continually achieve their academic goals.  

Her family has been fortunate to live in beautiful incredible places such as San Diego to the Napa Valley all thanks to the churches her husband, Jason,  has had the opportunity to serve in as associate pastor.  The Decena family was fortunate to add Maryland to that list when Jason started working at the New Hope Adventist Church in 2014. 


Mrs. Decena enjoys the beauty of all the seasons of Maryland and traveling to the many museums and historical sites that are nearby.   She enjoys cooking, gardening, listening to the many sounds of music that come from their residence, and she is even known for attempting to play the accordion herself.  Mrs. Decena appreciates learning about different cultures, meeting people and hearing people’s life stories.  She is excited to continually see the many surprises and adventures that God has waiting for all of us each day.

Beatriz Taylor

Music Department| PreK-8, Choir, Bells, Band

Dan Conway

Physical Education PK-10 | Athletics

Endorsements: Health/PE/Recreation

Biographical Information

Bio to come.

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