New Hope Academy Elementary School Faculty


  • Beverly Berndt, Sixth Grade, 
middle & high school Algebra 1, Gambia Project

    Beverly Berndt
    Sixth Grade Teacher, Gambia Project

    Beverly Berndt teaches core subjects for the sixth grade as well as HS Algebra 1. She was born in Massachusetts where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Sociology at Northeastern University in Boston. Berndt has taught at NHA since 1990. She loves the school and had her four children also attend. "To me this is the greatest testimony to our school," she said, "that all the teachers want to have their own children here, because we know the quality of education they receive." Not only is "Mrs. Bev" a dedicated teacher, she deeply believes in helping others, a trait she instills in her students. With the support of the NHA families, staff, and principal, Mrs. Bev and her husband have developed "Side by Side in The Gambia," a service project in The Gambia, West Africa.


    Erica Bates,
Fifth Grade Teacher

    Erica Bates
    Fifth Grade Teacher

    Erica Bates teaches core subjects for the fifth grade. Fostering the joy of learning in students has been Miss Bates’ career goal. As a graduate of Regent University with a Master of Education degree, Miss Bates who is originally from Maryland brings 16 years of classroom experience to NHA. She designs and implements workshops for educators on instructional strategies that promote active learning using brain based and differentiated learning techniques. Having taught in diverse communities and organizations, she infuses character values into the classroom instruction to support the development of positive interactions. Miss Bates strives to inspire and encourage her students throughout the school year.


    Aileen Liongzon Urbiztondo,
Pre-school Teacher

    Aileen Liongzon Urbiztondo
    Fourth Grade Teacher

    Aileen Liongzon received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Philippine Normal University, an accredited institution of higher education in the Philippines where she was born. She then moved to Maryland to continue her educational career. "Mrs. Aileen" completed her master's degree in elementary education at Bowie State University in Bowie, MD. She currently holds an Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate from the state of Maryland and is certified to teach Elementary, Middle School, and Special Education. With more than 14 years of teaching experience working in both public and private schools, Mrs. Aileen has gained in-depth knowledge on how to engage students with dynamic lessons that include hands-on activities, role playing, and technology.


    Judy Skarsten,
Third Grade Teacher

    Judy Skarsten
    Third Grade Teacher

    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.


    Erica McDonald,
Second Grade Teacher

    Erica McDonald
    Second Grade Teacher

    Erica McDonald teaches core subjects for second grade. Originally from Northern Virginia, she graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor's degree in Communication. Her experience coordinating professional development seminars for teachers inspired her to pursue a Master's Degree in Elementary Education at Trinity University. Mrs. McDonald loves traveling and learning about different cultures. She spent two years teaching elementary students in Seoul, South Korea. She also has experience in Special Education. Mrs. McDonald believes that working with children is both rewarding and inspiring.


    Tanganika L. Swann,
First Grade Teacher

    Tanganika L. Swann
    First Grade Teacher

    Tanganika L. Swann has taught 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.


    Karen Wilkening,
Kindergarten Teacher

    Karen Wilkening
    Kindergarten Teacher

    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.


    Joanna Cepeda, Saxon 7/6 Math Teacher

    Joanna Cepeda
    Saxon 7/6 Math Teacher

    Joanna Cepeda teaches Saxon 7/6 math to sixth grade and assists in preschool and aftercare. Originally from Puerto Rico, she majored in Early Childhood Education at Howard University, DC. "Ms. Joanna" has been involved with NHA since 2002 as an active parent volunteer before fulfilling her desire to teach. Her experience in the medical field lends to her caring demeanor. She understands and values the importance of a nurturing environment and challenging academics. Knowing this, she goes above and beyond to provide support to her students or anyone in need. She says, "New Hope has a community environment that is hard to find at any other school. Everyone here cares and takes care of each other. And in this day and age, to find that is very rare. I am proud to be a part of this community."


    Angela Teacher,
High school Art Teacher

    Angela Eisenbart
    Fine Art

    Angela Eisenbart teaches art at all grade levels at NHA since 1998. Originally from Italy, she studied commercial and graphic art at the Art College in Genoa, Italy, graduating with honors. She is a career artist and graphic designer with an impressive list of professional credentials from her decades of work in Milano, New York, and Washington, DC. But Mrs. Eisenbart always longed to express herself in the fine arts, and turned that passion to teaching. She exhibits a remarkable ability to draw out the talents of her students. Her basic approach to teaching is that artistic ability is not just an innate talent but can be learned or improved just like other activities.


    Luz Hughes,
High school Spanish Teacher

    Luz Hughes
    Spanish Language

    Luz Hughes has been teaching Spanish to grades K-12 at NHA since 2005. She was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and minored in Liberal Arts from the University of the District of Columbia. She is a candidate for her Master's in Education & Language. Mrs. Hughes' experience includes teaching for eight years in PG County and six years in DC (Spanish and AP Spanish Language & Literature). She believes it is important to "connect with the students" in order for them to learn and appreciate what is being taught. She takes responsibility to mentor her students, hoping to impact their lives. Mrs. Hughes has been recognized in Who's Who for making a difference in the lives of children. Her students nominated her.


    EunJung Kim,
High school Korean Teacher

    Eun Jung Kim
    Korean Language

    Eun Jung Kim teaches Korean language at all levels and for all grades at NHA since 2005. She's from Seoul, South Korea, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Japanese Literature, Language, and Education. She also holds a Master's degree in Bilingual Special Education from the George Washington University. "Ms. Kim" is fluent in Korean, English, and Japanese. She is a recognized author of Dynamic Korean II, a publication of her curriculum that is used across the nation. Ms. Kim's quest has always been to help students enjoy studying and aid them in overcoming their obstacles in learning a new language. She found that bridging curriculum with real-life experiences boosts students' desire to learn. In her upper grades, students have the chance to write essays in Korean to earn a scholarship to a three-week summer program in Korea.


    Noriko Wright,
High school Computer Teacher

    Noriko Wright
    Computer Technology

    Noriko Wright, NHA's computer/information technology teacher, is a native of Japan. She started at NHA as a volunteer using her joint accounting and computer skills to fulfill various needs at the time. Her dedication to the school and its advancement became evident in 1997, when she created NHA's information technology program, designing the program and writing most of the curriculum materials. Mrs. Wright prepares her students in various areas of technology, including web design, animation, video game design, Photoshop, video editing and robotics to name a few. "Information technology skills are a prerequisite for the majority of 21st-century jobs, and will continue to grow," she said. "Figuring out how to get the results you want on a computer is a great way to exercise your mind. My students learn by doing."


    Emily Tevault,
High school Music and Choir Teacher

    Emily Tevault
    Music, Choir

    Emily Tevault teaches General Music to grades K-8, and a "show choir with a twist" music elective, C3 (Composers Choir Club) for grades 8-12. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of The Johns Hopkins University. Mrs. Tevault also loves to sing! She has sung in her Church choir for 15 years, has directed the Junior Choir at her Church for four years, was the Singing Coach for New Hope Academy's production of Cinderella, and assisted her daughter's class at New Hope Academy with preparing to sing songs for their Holiday Performance. Mrs. Tevault's goal is that every child is exposed to a variety of styles of music, enjoys and appreciates music, and that they learn to express the music they feel in their hearts.


    Shaun Houston,
Physical Education Teacher

    Shaun Houston
    Physical Education

    Shaun Houston has taught Physical Education to grades K-12 at NHA since 2005. He is a native of Washington, DC. He received a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Xavier University, Ohio. His early teaching experience includes 12 years as a classroom teacher in DC Public Schools. His passion for sports and love of teaching motivated him to "come out of the classroom" and "teach in the field." By combining his love and passion, he has developed a fun and exciting PE curriculum. Mr. Houston is also a mentor to many of his students, affording them the opportunity to intern with him. He continues to promote sportsmanship, respect, and healthy habits with his PE program and through extra-curricular activities. He coaches basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, and NHA's successful high school flag football team, which has gone to the championship three years straight.


    Phyllis Valentine, Reading Teacher (Kindergarten-2nd Grade)


    Phyllis Valentine
    Phyllis Valentine teaches reading to grades Kindergarten through Second. She is a nativeWashingtonian, who received her BA degree in Elementary Education from Saint Augustine’s College (University) and her M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from Bowie State University. Phyllis taught reading in the District of Columbia Public Schools, Title 1 Program for more than 22 years. In 1995 she made a career move and became an Elementary Professional School Counselor in the District until her retirement. Mrs. Valentine believes that children are society’s greatest and most precious resource and the education of our children is the most important responsibility of our society. Phyllis has had many successes with developing and managing education programs with business partnerships.
    Phyllis enjoys gardening; traveling; line, hand, and liturgical dancing; and listening to many genres of music. Her favorite saying is " A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~ Author unknown


    Concha Marchitelli,
Performing Arts Center Director

    Concha Marchitelli
    Performing Arts Center Director

    Concha Marchitelli is the founder, artistic director and administrator of the Dance & Drama program at New Hope Performing Arts Center. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from the University of the State of New York and two diplomas as a ballet and Spanish dance teacher from the Superior Conservatory of Dance and Music of Murcia, Spain, where she is from. She is certified by the Royal Academy of Dancing, the Spanish Dance Society and Kindermusik International. Her experience includes an additional 12 years as a Spanish dance teacher at The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC., under the direction of Oleg Vinegradov. Since the program was established in 1991,she has produced and directed many dance performances and several musicals; among them The Wizard of Oz, Godspell, Cinderella, Peter & the Wolf, The Magical Land of Oz, Pinocchio, and Beauty and the Beast, all performed at venues like the Publick Playhouse and the Bowie Performing Arts Center. Mrs. Marchitelli adores working with children. "I rejoice when I successfully pass on to the children the love and appreciation for the performing arts," she said. Many of her students go on to pursue careers in dance or musical theater. She is proud to say that one of them performed on Broadway in the musical, "The Lion King."


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