The Faculty of
New Hope Academy Elementary School
"Get to know the teachers"
Mrs. Beverly Berndt teaches core subjects for sixth grade. Her Bachelor's (high honors) and Master's study was at Northeastern University in Boston. She also completed an intensive 1-yr course in Montessori early elementary education in California.
|Mr. Mitchell Weintraub, known to his students as “Mr. W”, has been teaching at NHA since 2006. He is a native of New York City. Mr. W has received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from SUNY New Paltz. His experience includes working as a paraprofessional in South Ozone Park, Queens, with students of all ages in large and small groups for eight years. His passion to help children motivated him to work in the inner-city setting teaching third and fifth grades in the South Bronx. “It was a very challenging and demanding yet a rewarding experience,” he said. Mr. W utilizes his experiences to encourage self-esteem by teaching his students to be self-reliant, self- sufficient, and to care for others.|
|Ms. Mercy Alzate is NHA’s fourth-grade instructor since 2011. She was born in the Philippines where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Science and Health at Divine Word College of Calapan. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in Special Education through online studies at St. Joseph College. Her Maryland certification is in Middle School Science, Elementary Education, and Special Education. Ms. Alzate’s inter-continental experience includes teaching in Xiamen, China, before coming to the US. She has taught sixth and seventh grade Science for three years in Baltimore County schools. She also taught for three years in PG County Public Schools as a fourth and sixth grade science teacher and as the school’s science chairperson. Ms. Alzate pioneered a program training students for the Science Bowl for two years. The students won the quarter and semi-finals. She prepped students to compete for the S.T.E.M. Fair, which the students won County recognition. Her goal is to motivate students to learn and to love learning.|
|Ms. Judy Skarsten is no stranger to NHA. She has been with the school for a total of 6 years. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay area of California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Art, a Master’s degree in Arts Therapy, and a Master’s degree in Education with a Montessori certification to teach the Montessori methods for 3-12 year olds. Ms. Skarsten’s early experience working in a crisis center prompted her decision to work with youth. She was given a book entitled, “The Secret Life of Childhood”, written by Maria Montessori which changed her outlook on education. She started a small school and tutored and homeschooled teenagers for three years. She has taught both in public and private Montessori programs in New Hampshire, New York City, and Maryland. She introduced the Montessori method to NHA’s preschool and previously taught first grade and HS English here. Ms. Skarsten explains that “the best learning environment is where children can trust and open their hearts.” This is why she enjoys teaching at New Hope.|
Mrs. Abby Grow teaches core subjects for second grade. She was born in Virginia and traveled during her adolescent years before residing in Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Ms. Grow has come full circle, teaching students where she was educated since third grade and became a proud high school graduate. During Mrs. Grow’s college education, she stayed involved with NHA, accompanying Mrs. Beverly Berndt (the sixth-grade teacher) and other Service for Peace participants to The Gambia, Africa, to complete service work with Gambian youth.
Mrs. Grow has always loved being around children and her experiences at NHA inspired her strong passion for teaching. “My goal is to develop resilient and self-determined learners, ones who feel confident in their own innate abilities to succeed in our rapidly changing society. I believe students learn best through a process of exploration and discovery. The more students can explore concepts through hands-on experiences, the more students can understand the world on a personal and meaningful level,” she said.
Ms. Tanganika L. Swann teaches core subjects for NHA’s first grade since 2009. This local native of Maryland graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language. Ms. Swann has 15 years of experience in education, including as an elementary school teacher, reading specialist, and assistant principal. She has conducted workshops teaching educators about effective teaching strategies and building a positive classroom community. She strongly believes that both components are crucial to student achievement, but above all, she knows that educators must genuinely care about children.
Ms. Swann loves working with children, and she possesses a passion for teaching and learning. She believes that all children can learn and that each child is entitled to a quality education. She believes that children can grow academically and spiritually in a warm learning environment, which is why her son is enrolled at NHA. “I feel most rewarded when my students understand how the information taught in class actually relates to their real life experiences; this is when they really learn,” she said.
Mrs. Karen Wilkening has taught kindergarten at NHA since 1992. She was born in Denver and spent most of her adolescent years in Kansas City, MO. Known to all as “Mrs. Karen,” she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She continued her education receiving a Master’s degree in Divinity with a focus on Education. Mrs. Karen is a founding member of NHA and has been on the Board of Directors since 1995. As a testament to NHA’s solid academic curriculum, both her children attended NHA, and they now attend top universities.
Mrs. Karen believes that Kindergarten is a foundational year and that NHA addresses the education of the whole child: emotional, academic, and social development needs are all considered in the design of the Kindergarten program. “I want each child to discover self-confidence, develop self-control, and a positive attitude toward learning and life,” she said. “Games and participatory activities make a child’s first academic year exciting and fun. We read and we have fun with math. We become a loving and supportive classroom family, developing important relationship and conflict-solving skills.”
The order of entries on this page is first by grade level and thereafter by subject taught, following (except the special case of math) the curriculum, the sequence of which corresponds roughly to diploma requirements. --note from webmaster