Teri Dwyer: Principal (SRS), Director (SRNS)
Teri is the founding principal of St. Raphael School and has served as the director of St. Raphael Nursery School since 1990. She has a Master of Education from Marymount University, a Bachelor of Arts from Immaculata College, and she has taken post-graduate courses at Penn State, Trinity College, University of Virginia, and Loyola College of Maryland. Teri has been director of St. Raphael Nursery School since 1990. She has taught grades 3, 4, 6, and 8 and has substituted in all grades from preschool through junior high. She is certified as a catechist for the Archdiocese of Washington and has conducted sacramental preparation classes in the dioceses of Washington, Arlington, and Philadelphia. Teri coordinates St. Raphael Parish's baptism program. She is part of the Archdiocesan Curriculum Committee, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Catholic Educational Association. In 2018, she was selected as the Archdiocese of Washington Distinguished Principal of the Year and, in 2019, received the Learn, Lead, Proclaim Award from the National Catholic Educational Association. A Philadelphia native, Teri and her husband, Dick, have lived in the area for more than 30 years. They have three adult children, Maureen, Richie, and Meghan.
Faculty & Staff
Charlotte Amaya: After-Care Provider
Charlotte was born in Front Royal, Virginia, and moved to Maryland when she was a child. She graduated from Charles W. Woodward High School in Rockville (which later merged into Walter Johnson High School). In 1978, she started working at The Forum, her first full-time job, and is still employed there today. Her daughter, Sofia, was baptized at St. Raphael Parish and attended St. Raphael Nursery School and St. Raphael School (Class of '17). Charlotte has worked in the After-Care Program at St. Raphael School since 2012. She spearheads the Box Tops for Education fundraiser for both SRS and SRNS, and, in her downtime, she enjoys cooking, sewing, and watching Hallmark movies.
Amy Burgaleta: Fifth Grade Cohort Teacher
Amy grew up in Damascus and received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics and education from Loyola College of Maryland. She and her husband, Rob, have been active members of the St. Raphael community for many years. Amy has been involved with SRNS since 2005, when her son first attended the preschool. She has worked as a substitute teacher for both SRNS and SRS, has helped with Lunch Bunch, and was part of the front desk staff. After her youngest graduated from SRNS, she continued to volunteer at St. Raphael by teaching Religious Education classes. Amy has been a member of St. Raphael Parish since 1996 and has volunteered with the Religious Education program as a catechist and co-catechist in first through sixth grade. Amy has also spent several years teaching software applications and writing user guides. She lives in Clarksburg with her husband and their two children, Matthew and Sara, both of whom are graduates of SRNS. Amy joined the staff of SRS in 2020.
Rosa Cevallos: Spanish Teacher (4–8)
Rosa was born in Portoviejo, Ecuador. She studied architecture at the Catholic University in Guayaquil and completed her bachelor’s degree at Central University in Quito. Rosi, as she is known by her friends, and her husband, Gustavo, moved to the area in 2002. Both a Spanish and religion teacher, she started teaching catechism at Mother Seton Parish in 2006. Before joining the staff of SRS in 2016, she taught Spanish to elementary school children for five years under Big Learning Foreign Language (FLES) at various Montgomery County schools. With the help of visual aids, educational songs, and active participation, the children learned extensive Spanish. Rosi also serves as a private Spanish tutor. She and her husband live in Germantown. Their three adult sons live in Spain, Ecuador, and Portland, Oregon.
Emily Chesterton: HSPT Teacher, High School Application Process Coordinator
Emily was born and raised in Vail, Colorado. She completed her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies with a minor in Spanish at Santa Clara University in California. Shortly after graduating from Santa Clara, she moved to Oregon, where she worked as a high school Title 1 classroom assistant while earning her Master of Arts in teaching. In 2007, she and her husband, Steve, moved to Colorado, where Emily taught high school Spanish and language arts at a Catholic high school in Broomfield. They moved to Rockville in 2011 after her husband accepted a position with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. Emily taught middle school Spanish at Mary of Nazareth School in Darnestown for three years until she made the decision to stay home with her two children. Emily joined the St. Raphael staff in 2017 as a preschool teacher and transitioned to eighth-grade homeroom teacher in 2018.
Maura Chongpinitchai: Enrichment Teacher (Math), HSPT Teacher
Maura is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she attended Catholic grade school and high school. She graduated from Gettysburg College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in writing. At Gettysburg, Maura was a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology, and was also a varsity field hockey player and captain. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Saint Joseph’s University and earned a Master of Education. At Saint Joseph’s, she was a member of Alpha Epsilon Lambda, an honor society for graduate students. Maura is certified to teach all subjects from kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as math and science for seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. For two years, she taught fifth grade in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia before joining the St. Raphael's family in 2011. Maura coaches CYO basketball at St. Raphael’s and formerly coached varsity field hockey at the Connelly School of the Holy Child. She, her husband, Joe, live in Rockville with their sons, Leo and Anthony.
Natalie Coene: 3's Teacher, Spanish Fiesta Teacher
Natalie grew up in Twinbrook and is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish. She has a master’s in school counseling from Johns Hopkins University. For several years, Natalie worked with the developmentally disabled as a career counselor at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute of Catholic Charities. Natalie and her husband, Michael (a graduate of SRNS) are longtime parishioners and got married at St. Raphael's. They have six children, all of whom are SRNS graduates and three of whom are SRS students. Natalie has been active in the school community by teaching in the 3’s program for several years and helping to pioneer the Spanish Fiesta class when it launched in 2004. Natalie grew up speaking Spanish in her home and loves sharing the gift of learning a second language with her students.
Julie Cress: Administrative Assistant
Julie grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and received a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior and management from the University of Michigan. In 1997, she moved from Columbus, Ohio, to Maryland, where she joined St. Raphael Parish and her oldest child started in the 4's program at St. Raphael Nursery School. She was on the board of St. Raphael Nursery School from 1998 to 2000 and started working at the nursery school in 2000. Julie was also an aide in the 3’s program for four years. She and her husband, Scott, have three children, Tom, Joey, and Annie, all of whom are alumni of St. Raphael Nursery School.
Terri de Raet: Kindergarten Assistant
Terri was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, and moved to Maryland after graduating from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in marketing. She joined our staff in 2012 as a teaching assistant in the nursery school and transitioned to the kindergarten classroom in 2020. She previously worked as a teacher's aide for 3- and 4-year-olds at Children of the Cross Preschool in Rockville. She and her husband, Philippe, live in the Fox Hills West neighborhood of Potomac with their children, Nicholas, Christopher, Caroline, and Emily.
Carol DeGraba: School Nurse
Carol is a native Marylander who attended Washington Hospital Center School of Nursing. After years of working in D.C. and Maryland hospitals in various nursing roles, she settled in Montgomery County and joined St. Raphael’s Parish in 1994. She served on the Nursery School Board and began working as an aide in the 3’s program in 2002. When St. Raphael School opened in 2006, she became its first school nurse and also took on the role of the Archdiocese of Washington's Child Protection Policy compliance coordinator for the parish. She has also served as the nurse for the Rockville Catholic Summer Program and coordinates the Angel Friends Ministry at St. Raphael’s for the Gabriel Network. She and her husband, Tom, have three children, Maria, Thomas, and Nicholas, who are all SRNs alums and currently serve in various ministries in the parish.
Ben Desmond: Media Specialist
Having spent nearly 20 years living in North Carolina—but born and raised in New York—Ben studied professional writing and information technology, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and his Master of Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. He caught the teaching spark as an adjunct instructor of English at Cape Fear Community College and has followed that passion to SRS, becoming the Media Specialist in 2015.
Maria A. Dubravcic: 3's Assistant
Maria Angela (“Angie”) was born and raised in Tarija, Bolivia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Catholic University in Bolivia. Upon graduation, she worked in the banking industry, where she received multiple awards and promotions, before marrying her husband, Antonio, and moving to Maryland in 2009 for a job opportunity he had. In 2015, Angie started volunteering at Lunch Bunch in the Nursery School to help her oldest daughter transition to preschool. Since then, she has also enjoyed being a Lunch Bunch supervisor, a substitute teacher in the Nursery School, and a Stay & Play assistant. She joined the staff of SRNS in 2020. Angie is an active member of the Spanish community at St. Raphael Church, where she serves as a lector for the Spanish Mass. In her spare time, she loves to cook, watch movies with her husband, and go on family walks and bike rides with their daughters, both of whom attend SRS.
Maureen Everling: Second Grade Assistant
A native of Potomac, Maureen attended Our Lady of Mercy School and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana. She worked at Georgetown Prep Day Camps prior to her career in public relations. Two of her three children attended St. Raphael Nursery School, where Maureen enjoyed working as a Lunch Bunch supervisor and substitute teacher before joining SRS as the second-grade assistant in 2016. Her son, Joseph, currently attends SRS, and her daughter Lauren graduated from SRS in 2020. She is an active volunteer with both of her daughters' Girl Scout troops. Maureen and her husband, Larry, reside in the Potomac Woods neighborhood.
Serrita Francois: Third Grade Assistant
Serrita was born and raised in Seattle, where she attended St. Theresa grade school and Holy Names Academy. She made her way to the Washington, D.C., area and graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts and Science. Serrita worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. After eight years on the Hill, Serrita and her husband, Allen, moved to Louisiana and Mississippi to work on post-Hurricane Katrina housing projects. Serrita then chose to stay at home full time with their three children—Tatum (SRS '20), Holbrook, and Oliver—and, in 2012, the family moved back to the D.C. area and enrolled the children at St. Raphael. Serrita has enjoyed being on the Nursery School board, serving as a Lunch Bunch parent, and teaching an after-school beginners’ knitting class for middle- and upper-school students. Before joining the staff of SRS in 2017, Serrita served as an assistant at SRNS in the 4’s program.
Cristina Gatica: Receptionist
Cristina was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She graduated from the Universidad Externado de Colombia with a Bachelor of Arts in tourism and business administration. She moved to the United States in 1988 and has been working at St. Raphael's since 2008. She and her husband, Jorge, have three children. Their youngest, Samuel, was one of the pioneer students at St Raphael School and graduated from SRS in 2014. In her free time, Cristina enjoys dancing, doing word-search puzzles, learning vocabulary and expressions in any language she encounters, and watching foreign documentaries.
Kimberly Geary: Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Kim grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland and received bachelor's degrees in psychology and occupational therapy from Allegheny College and Thomas Jefferson University. She received her Master of Science from Towson University. Kim has worked at Rehabilitation Associates in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and The Lourie Center in Rockville, and she was a co-founder and a practicing therapist at ITS for Children and Families in Kensington. She has been in private practice for the past 20 years and is the owner of Jumpstart Therapy LLC in the Kentlands. Her clinical interests and specialty training include working with children with sensory-processing disorders, dyspraxia, behavior-regulation issues, autism-spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, fine-motor/handwriting deficits, visual/vestibular issues, developmental delays, and social-skills challenges. She has been a guest speaker for the Sensory Integration Lecture Series in the Washington, D.C., area, the Down Syndrome National Conference, CHADD, the Washington School of Psychiatry, and Zero to Three. Kim lives in Rockville with her husband and two children, both of whom are graduates of SRNS.
John Henderson: Seventh Grade Teacher
John was raised in Columbia, Maryland. He graduated cum laude from The Catholic University of America in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. While a student at CUA, John joined Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and Eta Sigma Phi, the national honor society for classical studies. Upon graduating, John spent a year discerning a vocation to the religious life at a monastery in New Hampshire. He ultimately felt a call to teach instead and did so for Harford County Public Schools as a sixth-grade social studies instructor. John joined the SRS teaching staff in 2019.
Lindsay Howley: First Grade Assistant
Lindsay grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, where she attended Catholic school and graduated from Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. After earning her Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from Loyola College of Maryland, Lindsay worked in advertising in Baltimore, then relocated to Bethesda and worked as a legal assistant for a large Washington, D.C., law firm. Before joining the SRS staff in 2018, Lindsay worked at SRNS, where she served as an assistant for 10 years. She and her husband, Patrick, live in Potomac Woods with their three children, twins Morgan and Patrick, and Caroline. All three children graduated from St. Raphael Nursery School.
Rachel James: 4’s Assistant
Rachel grew up in Potomac and attended local public schools. She and her husband, Brian, have been involved in the St. Raphael’s community since their oldest came to the nursery school in 2006. They live in Potomac with their three children, Mary, Michael, and Thomas, all of whom loved their time at SRNS. After their youngest graduated from the 4-Plus Program, Rachel continued volunteering at St. Raphael’s, where she helped out with Lunch Bunch and substituted in the classroom. Rachel joined the SRNS staff in 2017.
Melissa Kelly: Sixth Grade Teacher, Science Teacher
Melissa is a native of Montgomery County. She lived in Towson for 17 years and returned to the area in 2002. She has a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from Towson University and after graduation conducted research with a professor at Johns Hopkins University. While at home with her children, Melissa volunteered for five years in the art program at Immaculate Conception School. Before joining the SRS staff in 2009, she taught biology at Towson Catholic High School. Melissa has six children, including St. Raphael School alumni Tess (SRS '16) and Conor (SRS '18).
Cecilia Kent: 4's Teacher, After-Care Provider
Ana “Cecilia” was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social communications at the Sacred Heart University in Lima and began her career working with the American Chamber of Commerce in Lima. Work brought her to San Francisco and ultimately to Washington, D.C., in 2001. She has been a member of St. Raphael Parish since moving to the area. Cecelia joined the St. Raphael Nursery School staff in 2009 and also works in the After-Care Program for SRS and SRNS. Her daughters Cristina and Sarah attend SRS, and her oldest, Natalie, is an alumna (SRS '17). Cecilia and her husband, John, reside in Rockville with their children.
Kelly Kimmel: 3's Assistant
Kelly grew up in Montgomery County and moved back to the area after earning her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech. She has been part of the St. Raphael Parish and school community since 2010. Kelly has been actively involved in volunteering at St. Raphael School and has also been a Lunch Bunch parent for the nursery school. Kelly lives in North Potomac with her husband and four children, all of whom attend SRS.
Francine Krivka: Kindergarten Teacher
Francine grew up in Beltsville, where she attended St. Joseph's Catholic School and High Point High School. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in education. Francine worked for five years for Montgomery County Public Schools as a third- and fifth-grade teacher and as a math assistant before having her children. She volunteered at both St. Raphael Nursery School and St. Raphael School for several years before joining the SRNS staff in 2012. She lives in Gaithersburg with her husband, Mike, and sons Mak (SRS '17) and Jak. Both of her sons are alumni of St. Raphael Nursery School.
Susan Kuykendall: School Nurse
Susan grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, where she attended Norfolk Christian School. After graduation, she pursued her love of art and photography at Tidewater Community College, where she earned her degree in photography. While her children were young, Susan operated her own photography business as she attended Thomas Nelson Community College. She graduated in 2014 with a degree in nursing and has been working as a nurse since then. Her primary focus has been public health, specifically school health, in which she has been working since 2016. Being a military family has allowed Susan, her husband, and their two children to travel up and down the East Coast, settling most recently in Crofton, Maryland. Susan joined the staff of SRS in 2020.
Jake Lee: Enrichment Teacher (Language Arts)
Jake was born and raised in College Park, where his father founded and pastored a church for campus evangelism. Although Presbyterian, Jake graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School. It was there that he came to realize firsthand the value of Catholic education. He went on to attend the University of Maryland and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. After graduation, he moved to South Korea, his parents' homeland. He worked there as a teacher and educator in both public and private schools for over 10 years before moving to Seattle to change careers and become a coder. After just a year working as a web developer, however, he found he missed the classroom too much to leave it behind and returned to working in education. He moved back to College Park in 2020 to be closer to family and friends while raising his 13-month-old son, Jonathan, with his wife, Grace. He is thankful to God for leading him to St. Raphael’s shortly after moving back. Bringing his years of experience teaching and developing effective curriculum, he hopes to truly instill a lifelong love of reading and writing in the students at SRS and challenge them to find their inner creativity. He is also eagerly looking forward to his son eventually being able to attend SRNS.
Rosa Lombardo: Receptionist
Rosa was born in Italy and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. She worked as a secretary in the Special Education Department for Montgomery County Public Schools. In 1974, Rosa and her husband, Vito, founded their family business, Associated Tile & Marble. They have three grown children, and some of their grandchildren attended St. Raphael Nursery School. When she is not multi-tasking at the receptionist’s desk, Rosa enjoys cooking and going to the beach.
Alicia Madlala: Third Grade Teacher
Alicia was born and raised in Durban, South Africa, and moved to the Washington, D.C., area with her family in 2009. She attended Holy Family College from first grade through 12th grade. She began her higher education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal before transferring to the University of Maryland, where she majored in psychology. Alicia then worked as a teacher’s assistant at a large day-care company in Montgomery County before starting graduate school. She received a Master of Arts in school counseling at Marymount University, where she was a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma honor society. Alicia joined the staff of SRS in 2017. She lives in Bethesda, where she is a member of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.
Julie Mahon: 4's Teacher
Julie was born and raised in Long Island, New York. She has been a member of St. Raphael Parish since 1998 and volunteered with the Religious Education program for six years. She worked as a substitute teacher in the nursery school before joining the staff in 2014. Julie received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Loyola University Maryland and her master’s degree in special education from Johns Hopkins University. She was a classroom and special-education resource teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools before leaving to raise her family. Julie currently resides in Gaithersburg with her husband, Patrick, and their three children, Shannon, Ryan, and Grace, all graduates of St. Raphael Nursery School.
Patty Markey: Speech-Language Pathologist
Patty is a pediatric speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience. Bilingual in Spanish and English, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in speech-language pathology/audiology and a Master of Science in speech-language pathology from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Patty works with children from infancy to school age in the areas of speech and language delays, phonological disorders, apraxia, and oral-motor/feeding. A member of the Student Assessment Team at St. Raphael School, where she has been performing speech-language screenings since 2007, Patty also works privately by serving families and children in their homes, daycares, and schools. In addition, she handles contract work with the Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers Program, where she serves children and their families in their homes and teachers in their preschools or daycares. She also occasionally works with children in Prince George's County. Patty has three children, all of whom are graduates of St. Raphael Nursery School.
Cleofe “Fely” Martínez: 4's Assistant, 3's Assistant, Before-Care and After-Care Provider
Cleofe was born and raised in Cuzco, Peru. She completed her early education and then earned her sewing certification from the prestigious high-fashion Selene Institute in Lima. Fely, as she is known by everyone, has been a member of St. Raphael Parish since 2004 and has volunteered with the Religious Education program. She has been active in the Lunch Bunch program for several years, previously as a volunteer and now as a supervisor, and also works in Before and After Care. Fely lives in Rockville with her husband, Ernesto, a U.S. Amy retiree with 23 years of service now working with the Department of Homeland Security, along with their daughters, Emily (SRS '20) and Brianna.
Grace Martínez: 3's Assistant, Receptionist
Grace was born in Cotuì, Dominican Republic. She studied at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, and she has continued her education through classes at Montgomery College. She holds a certification in early-childhood education and a Child Development Associate credential. Since 2012, she has worked as a teaching assistant at St. Raphael Nursery School and has served as an aid in a kindergarten class in our Religious Education program. During summers, Grace has served as a lead teacher for the camp program at Geneva Day School. She also provides childcare Sunday afternoons for St. Raphael Church, is an active member of the Hispanic Council, and helps with ministry to the sick. In 2011, she started as a receptionist at St. Raphael. Passionate about helping others, she volunteered for many years for the Housing Opportunity Commission of Montgomery County, where she was recognized as a dedicated volunteer. Previously, she had worked as a hairstylist but always wanted to work in a school, so she pursued her dream by earning her certification. Grace and her husband, Gustavo, have lived in Rockville since 2000. They have raised four children, Christopher, Christina, Jessica, and Ashley, and are also proud grandparents.
Drew May: Enrichment Teacher (Math)
Despite being new to SRS this year, Drew is no stranger to the community. He grew up in Rockville and has been a parishioner of St. Raphael's for over 20 years. He attended St. Raphael Nursery School, St. Elizabeth's Catholic School, St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., and the University of Maryland, College Park. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in economics and a minor in Spanish. Drew served as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Guinea (West Africa) as a ninth- and 10th-grade math teacher. His two sisters are graduates of St. Raphael School. For his Eagle Scout project, Drew directed the creation of the garden located next to the school's front doors.
Tim May: Enrichment Teacher (Language Arts)
Tim grew up in Kensington, where he attended Holy Redeemer Catholic School. He graduated from St. Anselm’s Abbey School in Washington, D.C., and received his Bachelor of Arts in history from The Catholic University. Tim and his family are parishioners at St. Bernadette’s Parish in Silver Spring, where he has taught Religious Education for several years. He has also volunteered for the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, teaching adults to read and write English. He has had an extensive career as a marketing associate for Sysco Baltimore, consulting clients in the hospitality industry. With a lifelong interest in education, he made a career change to pursue his passion to teach, and he joined the staff of SRS in 2020. Tim and his wife, Alison, are dedicated to Catholic education; their children, Megan and Peter, are graduates of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.
John McCutcheon: Eighth Grade Teacher
John studied mathematics and physics at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science, he began a career in the insurance industry and became a credentialed actuary. He spent nearly 30 years using mathematics to solve insurance and business-related problems. Interested in making a career change to teaching, John completed a Master of Education from University of Maryland University College in 2017. He is certified to teach mathematics and business education, and he taught algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus at the high school level before joining the SRS staff in 2018. John is a native of Montgomery County and lives in Germantown with his wife and three children.
Elinor Metz: School Counselor
Elinor grew up in Pittsburgh and earned her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hill College with a double major in psychology and history. She has 28 years of teaching experience. Before leaving Pittsburgh, Elinor taught at St. John the Baptist School, Elizabeth Seton High School, and the Allegheny County Juvenile Detention Center. She also worked for the Allegheny County Office of Opportunity as a community organizer and staff trainer and as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Allegheny County. After taking some time off to raise three children, and while teaching for Montgomery County Public Schools, Elinor returned to graduate school to earn a master’s in counseling from The Catholic University of America. She taught psychology and advanced-placement psychology at Wootton, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and Churchill high schools. Elinor is a licensed professional mental health counselor with a private practice in Rockville. She was also certified by the state of Maryland as a guidance counselor. She has been a member of St. Raphael’s Parish since 1978 and a member of the SRS staff since 2010.
Karen Murphy: Resource Teacher
Karen was born and raised in Connecticut, spent much time in Massachusetts as a child with extended family, and loves her New England roots. She attended The Catholic University of America and earned a bachelor's degree in drama. Pursuing her interest in helping others, she received her Master of Science in special education from Johns Hopkins University. Her degree is in severe/profound disabilities from birth to adult, and she also holds a certification in the education of individuals with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. Since 2002, she has been teaching students of ranging capabilities from 2 to 18 years old. Before joining the staff of SRS in 2020, Karen was a resource teacher and program director at different Catholic schools. She also has an interest in early-childhood development, literacy, and educational leadership. She has taught sixth- and eighth-grade literature.
In addition to teaching, she enjoys singing and playing the guitar. She was active in her parish choir in Florida, where she lived for three years before relocating back to Maryland in 2020. She loves reading, especially about the Catholic faith, and spending time with family and friends. A huge animal and nature lover, Karen also appreciates outdoor adventures.
Molly Nagel: Resource Teacher, Third Grade Assistant
Molly grew up in Potomac and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. She received her undergraduate degree with certifications in both special and elementary education from Saint Joseph's University. She is trained in Orton-Gillingham Plus, a scientifically based teaching program that can prevent or effectively limit the severity of reading and writing challenges for students, including those with dyslexia. Before joining the staff in 2015, Molly worked as a classroom and special-education resource teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools. She and her husband, Chris, have been members of the St. Raphael Parish and school community for several years. They have three children, Emma, William, and Lilly, who currently attend SRS.
Jerry Nash: HSPT Teacher
After six great years as the seventh-grade homeroom and middle-school language arts teacher, Jerry moved to fifth-grade homeroom teacher in 2018-19, the same year he received the prestigious Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching by the Archdiocese of Washington. A native Washingtonian, Jerry graduated from The Heights School, and he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Loyola College of Maryland and his Master of Arts in English and American literature from the University of Maryland. In addition to his time in middle school at SRS, he has taught third- and fourth-grade math and language arts, as well as sixth- and seventh-grade social studies.
Angela Orr: Fourth Grade Cohort Teacher
Angela was raised in Potomac and attended Walt Whitman High School. She has a Bachelor of Science in human and organizational development and psychology from Vanderbilt University. She earned her master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America. Angela has worked in numerous schools in Maryland and Virginia, assessing the educational needs of students as well as conducting workshops for parents. Angela and her husband, Grant, live in Darnestown, with their two children, Olivia (SRS '15) and Tony (SRS '18).
Andrew Price: Fifth Grade Cohort Teacher
Andrew was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, with a degree in elementary education. While at Canisius, he was on the men’s soccer team. He earned a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Trinity Washington University. Andrew taught third grade at Our Lady of Victory in Washington, D.C., for 11 years before joining the staff of SRS in 2019. He and his family have been parishioners at St. Andrew Apostle since 2009. Andrew lives in the Silver Spring/Wheaton area with his wife, Jackie, and son, Lincoln.
Yolanda Prinsloo: Art Teacher
Yolanda studied art at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she is originally from. She has taught art for more than 20 years at both the elementary and high school levels and has also taught at her studio in Gaithersburg. The world of art has brought Yolanda much happiness and has allowed her to have wonderful experiences, including meeting and painting a portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1998. Yolanda illustrated the book “Christmas Rose,” by Dalton Delan, which published in 2012. In 2011, she began teaching a popular extracurricular art class at St. Raphael School. The following year, Yolanda officially joined the staff as the art teacher for all grades, where she is passing along her love of art to her students.
Lara Roach: Administrative Assistant
Lara is a native of the Washington, D.C., area. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She started at St. Raphael's as a receptionist and after a few years began working as an administrative assistant. Lara has various duties in supporting the day-to-day operations of the school, including billing and payroll. She also assists with clerical duties for CYO, hot lunch, and after-school programs. Lara and her husband, Joe, have four children, Amelia, Joey, Antonia, and Angela, all of whom attended St. Raphael Nursery School.
Michelle Roche: Fourth Grade Cohort Teacher
Michelle is a native Washingtonian. She worked for 15 years in Family Court Social Services for the District of Columbia Courts System and has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Salisbury University. While employed at the court, Michelle earned a Master of Arts in nonprofit organizational management from the University of Maryland. Upon the birth of her twins, she stayed home to raise her three daughters, and afterward, she went back to school to receive her elementary education certification. She is trained in Orton-Gillingham Plus, a teaching approach designed to help struggling readers, including those with dyslexia. Before joining the staff of SRS in 2015, she taught in the Montgomery County Public Schools system as well as at St. Augustine Catholic School and Mary of Nazareth School. Michelle lives with her family in Poolesville.
Camila Ortega Samper: Spanish Teacher (K–3), 3's Teacher, 3's Assistant, 4's Assistant, Extended Day Coordinator
Camila was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied hotel and tourism management and co-owned a restaurant. After moving to the area in 1985, she worked for the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools program for five years. Camila has been teaching Spanish at SRS since the school opened. Through songs, games, and repetition, she teaches vocabulary and expressions in the hopes that the children will be able to converse comfortably in Spanish. She has been on the staff of our preschool since 1999 and taught Spanish Fiesta, the preschool's Spanish program, for 20 years. Camila also manages our Before-Care and After-Care Program. She and her husband, Rudy, live in Rockville. Their three grown children, Mateo, Lina, and Cami, all attended St. Raphael Nursery School.
Jennifer Smith: 4's Teacher
Jenny grew up in Gaithersburg, where she attended Catholic schools in the area. She graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design. After college, Jenny worked as a graphic designer at public-relations firms and for printing companies. As a full-time mother, she has always worked with children, including volunteering in her daughters' classrooms and serving as a teacher’s assistant for preschoolers for two years in the Olney area. A staff member of SRNS since 2020, Jenny lives in Brookeville with her husband, Kevin, and daughters Lexi (SRNS) and Katelyn.
Gerri Stoner: Administrative Assistant
Gerri has a Bachelor of Science in management science and statistics from the University of Maryland. Upon graduation, she worked in the technology sector and spent 19 years with General Electric Information Services in various leadership positions. Gerri joined the staff at St. Raphael's in 2005 and loves being a part of the school community. A Long Island native, Gerri and her husband, Dick, have lived in the area for more than 30 years. They have three grown daughters and three grandsons.
Patty Timm: 4-Plus Assistant
Born and raised in Rockville, Patty attended Richard Montgomery High School and Montgomery College. She has served as a teacher’s aide at Montgomery Blair High School, St. Raphael Nursery School, and St. Elizabeth School. In 2019, Patty returned to the staff of SRNS and excitedly reunited with Susan Wooten, whom she had worked with for five years earlier in her career. Patty brings a wealth of experience working with preschool children. Her enthusiasm and caring nature enhance the classroom environment and ensure each child is surrounded by love every school day. Outside the classroom, Patty enjoys spending time with her granddaughter, swimming, reading, and visiting the beach. She and her husband, Joe, have three grown children and live in Rockville.
Kasey Trees: Second Grade Teacher
Kasey grew up in Bethesda. She earned her degree in elementary education from Mount St. Mary's College. Before joining the staff of SRS in 2010, Kasey taught at St. Jane de Chantal, St. Patrick’s, and St. Raphael Nursery School. In 2020, she won the prestigious Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching from the Archdiocese of Washington. She is a certified catechist as well as a Responsive Classroom instructor. Kasey’s three adult children are former students of the St. Raphael Nursery School program, and her two daughters are also elementary school teachers. Kasey resides in Kensington with her husband, Jeff.
Silvia Urdanivia: 4's Assistant
Silvia grew up in Lima, Peru, where she attended Catholic school and completed her studies in international business administration. After working for several years in administration, including jobs for international corporations, Silvia decided to move to the United States in 2000. She has lived exclusively in Maryland. Silvia attended Montgomery College to improve her English. As a full-time mother, she has always worked with children, including serving as a teacher’s assistant for four years in the Silver Spring area. Silvia and her husband, José, live in Brookeville, just outside of Olney, with their three girls, Tamara (SRS '18), and Camila and Natalia, who attend St. Raphael School.
Mary Ellen Vassallo: Music Teacher (SRNS and K–2), SRNS Religion Teacher
Mary Ellen has been part of the St. Raphael's family for many years. She attended the Levine School of Music, where she completed an early-childhood music program. In 2011, she received her certification in Making Music Praying Twice. Mary Ellen is also a certified catechist. Since 1994, she has taught music at St. Raphael Nursery School, where she also teaches religion, and she has been part of St. Raphael School’s music program since the elementary school opened in 2006. In 2018, she was honored by the Archdiocese of Washington for her 25 years in Catholic education. Mary Ellen enjoys instilling a love of music in her students. She has also worked as a registered nurse and has volunteered innumerable hours of community service. Mary Ellen and her husband, Joe, live in the Potomac Woods neighborhood of Rockville. They are the parents of three grown daughters, Lauren (a graduate of SRNS), Megan, and Liz.
Catherine Williams: First Grade Teacher
Catherine was born and raised in Rockville. She graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a certification in early-childhood education. Catherine earned her master’s degree in elementary education at Loyola College in Maryland. She is trained in Orton-Gillingham Plus, a teaching approach designed to help struggling readers, including those with dyslexia. Before staying at home with her children, Catherine worked in Montgomery County Public Schools as an elementary classroom teacher. Catherine joined the staff of SRNS in 2015 as a lead teacher in the 4-year-olds program, and she transitioned to SRS as the first-grade teacher in 2018. Catherine and her husband, Jeff, have four children, Hannah (SRS ’17), Hayden (SRS '19), Caitlyn, and Brandon.
Stacey Woodward: Marketing & Development Co-Director
Stacey was raised in Bronxville, New York, but relocated to Darnestown from Darien, Connecticut, with her husband and daughter in 2011. She holds a master’s degree in history and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary education and history from Boston College. Stacey also obtained an Advanced Business Certificate in finance from the University of Connecticut and worked for 11 years in the financial industry at UBS and Morgan Stanley. In addition, Stacey worked for nine years in education, including as History Department chair at the School of the Holy Child in Rye, New York, and as a teacher at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in New York City as well as at Seneca Academy in Darnestown. Stacey leverages her professional background in business management and education in her development position at St. Raphael School, which she joined in 2016. Stacey’s daughter, Caitlin, attends SRS.
Susan Wooten: 4-Plus Teacher
Susan was born in San Antonio and raised in a Catholic military family. She spent a large portion of her childhood in Germany, where she fondly remembers traveling and camping throughout Europe with her family of six. Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in art education (K-12) from High Point College in North Carolina. After graduating, she moved to California, where she was the secretary to the director of billeting at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base outside of San Diego. Susan has lived in Montgomery County since 1986. She began teaching the 4-Plus program in 1993, and in 2018, she was honored by the Archdiocese of Washington for her 25 years in Catholic education. Susan has two grown sons who live in Brooklyn, New York, both of whom are graduates of SRNS.
MJ Zafis-Garcia: Marketing & Development Co-Director
MJ has a background in newspaper editing and design that spans more than 20 years, with stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. She graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a minor in health science. While working as a journalist, she earned her certification from the American Council on Exercise and taught fitness classes in California and Minnesota. MJ leverages her communication and graphic-design skills to promote the strong programs that St. Raphael School and Nursery School have to offer. MJ has been part of our staff since 2004. Before joining the Marketing and Development Office in 2010, she was on the staff of the nursery school. MJ and her husband, Emilio, have two grown daughters, Alex and Sophie.