Faculty

Nora Daub, M.Ed.

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Nora (Bucaj) Daub is a native New Yorker, born in the Bronx to immigrant parents who escaped communism. As the youngest of four children, she is the first to earn a master’s degree. Mrs. Daub studied biology and chemistry and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Pace University.  Upon returning home from her experience at World Youth Day in 2002, Mrs. Daub discerned her vocation and was asked to be a catechist at her home parish, Our Lady of Shkodra.  She began teaching middle school students full-time right after college.  In answer to a calling, she volunteered to be Dean of Students for one year in eastern Texas. Later, Nora taught literacy to children with learning disabilities and then began teaching at the high school level. After nine rewarding years of teaching science at Archbishop Stepinac High School in NY, she moved to Virginia to take on new responsibilities as Assistant Principal at the Basilica of St. Mary and then continued on to take on the role of Principal of St. Anthony’s in Falls Church.   While serving in the Diocese of Arlington, Mrs. Daub earned her Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from Marymount University and went on two mission trips to the Dominican Republic.  

Mrs. Daub and her husband live in Baltimore county and enjoy cooking, supporting their Ravens team, watching FIFA and inviting others into the joy of reading Sacred Scripture. 

Claire Horvath

Claire 2Administrator

Claire Horvath has been married for 40 years. She is the mother of 4 and Nana to 10! She and her husband Dave have run a successful small business for 30 years. Their girls grew up working in the store and now one of their daughters has taken the reigns. 

The Horvath family moved to Pasadena in 2001 and joined St. Jane Frances Parish where they jumped in to help where they could. In 2011, Claire was asked to change her status at church from volunteer to employee and took on the position of Youth Minister. During her 8 years in this role, she helped build a dynamic youth program for both high school and middle school youth as well as an Altar Server program for the church. Highlights for her were the week long "Work Camps" with the older youth.  

Claire was asked to move from Youth  Ministry to Administrator of Family Formation at the parish in 2019  when that position became available. She spent a year and a half working to solidify the family formation programs as well as working with all who wanted to receive sacraments. Claire joined DMA in 2021. 

Megan McHale, M.Ed.

Megan Mchale PhotoHumanities Tutor - Kindergarten

Megan McHale grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and holds a master’s degree in Special Education from Duquesne University. After  moving to Maryland in 2005, she spent four years as a Special Education teacher in Howard County, instructing elementary school
children with various disabilities and supporting their needs in general education classrooms. Megan and her husband have four boys. She homeschooled for eight years, has taught classes for several Catholic homeschool cooperatives, and is a Level
1 catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. In all settings, she seeks to motivate and engage her students in learning new skills by drawing upon their individual strengths and interests. In addition to her background in education, Megan also has a great love for the arts. She studied ballet from the age of 10 through college and still relishes the thrill of stepping inside a theater to attend a musical or dance performance. She is excited to be at Divine Mercy Academy where she can freely pursue truth, goodness, and beauty!

Lisa Dvorak, M.Ed.

LisaHumanities Tutor - 1st Grade (Team)

Lisa Dvorak earned her undergraduate degree with a dual major in English and history from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a graduate degree in teaching from Johns Hopkins University.  She has also completed coursework in gifted and talented education and is currently in level one Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training.  Prior to having children, she taught in Catholic, public, and independent schools and was most recently an English Department Chair. She is also experienced in teaching classes for standardized test preparation.  While homeschooling her children, she enjoyed teaching in tutorials and private tutoring students of a variety of ages in a variety of subjects. Lisa and her husband have five children and live in Baltimore City, attending Mount Calvary Catholic Church.  In her free time, she volunteers in her parish’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium, coaches 3-year-old soccer for her local Catholic school league, volunteers for her daughters’ American Heritage Girls troop, and enjoys adventures with her family.

Anne Marie Kubik, RN

Anne Marie KubikHumanities Tutor - 1st Grade Team

Anne Marie Kubik graduated from Villanova University in 1999 with a BS in nursing.  Upon graduation she was commissioned as an officer in the Army Nurse Corp.  She served honorably for six years specializing in OB/GYN with various assignments in HI, CA, and VA. She volunteered as an instructor for Sacrament prep/Faith Formation for two years while on Active Duty.   She entered civilian life in Maryland as a postpartum nurse and lactation consultant at Saint Agnes Hospital.  She volunteered for seven years performing Ultrasounds and teaching parenting classes at the Severna Park/Annapolis/Bowie Pregnancy Clinic.  She has been married for 16 years and has 4 children whom she homeschooled using a classical Catholic curriculum for the last nine years.  She is excited to join the staff at Divine Mercy Academy and share in their vision of making saints.  When not in the classroom, you can find her on a hiking trail enjoying God’s creation.

Lisa O'Keefe

Lisa Photo

Humanities Tutor - 2nd Grade Team

Mrs. O’Keefe graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University in 1998, dual majoring elementary education (K-8) and special education (Birth-21). She then taught in the Tucson Arizona public school system from 1998-2001. After marrying and starting a family, she chose to stay home and homeschool for 10 years.   She and her family moved to Maryland in 2004, where she came into the Catholic faith during Easter of 2005 at St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park. Since then, she has instructed in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and taught preschool through third grade classes. An avid hockey fan, when she is not spending time with her husband and four children, she is cheering for the “Caps”, reading, doing puzzles, organizing things and people, and traveling to new locations. 

Liz Chapman

Humanities Tutor - 2nd Grade Team

Liz Chapman did not take a traditional path to becoming a teacher.  Graduating from Gordon College with a double major in Political Science and Journalism she made her way to Washington, DC after graduation and started working for Senator Santorum (R-PA).  Her husband, Tim Chapman, also worked on Capitol Hill.   Starting out answering phones, giving tours, and talking with constituents she loved the fast paced atmosphere of Capitol Hill.  Liz soon became personal writer and speech writer for the Senator.  After several years with the Senator she was ready for a change and moved to K St. and worked for Wiliams and Jensen, PLLC handling events, political fundraisers, and working with clients on ethics.  During this time, Liz and Tim started a family.  After finding out she was pregnant with her third child, Liz decided to stop working and stay at home.  She quickly found that she loved being home with her children and started homeschooling.  She spent all of her free time researching curriculum, different educational methods, and the best books to read.  At this point, she started tutoring at a local classical conversations community on Capitol Hill.  She taught 4 to 6 year-olds in science, history, math, art, music, latin, and grammar.  Her children loved the repetition and recitation of the classical method when paired with reading rich classics.  

At the same time, Tim and Liz were also looking for a church home on Capitol Hill and while Liz was raised Presbyterian and Tim was raised Anglican, they fell in love with St. Peters on Capitol Hill.  In 2012, they converted to the Catholic faith.  This further enriched their homeschooling as they began living through the liturgical year together as a family.  In 2017, after outgrowing their townhouse on Capitol Hill due to the birth of a fourth child, they moved to Davidsonville, MD.  Last June, a friend mentioned Divine Mercy Academy and after touring they were sold.  Liz was also looking to dive more into teaching and didn’t hesitate when they offered her a job as first grade teacher.  She truly loves being a teacher and opening up her student’s eyes to the joys of the classics, grammar, Latin, math, history, and science and her faith is constantly deepening as she learns from her students and their families.  

Debra Kampsen

Screen Shot 2022 06 14 At 11.47.02 AmHumanities Tutor - 3rd and 4th Grade

Debra comes to us from the St. Thomas Aquinas Tutorial, where she taught fourth grade for four years and is a longtime enthusiast and advocate for Catholic classical education. A home schooling mom of four grown children, she was at the beginning of the home school movement in Europe while living in Germany as a military spouse. She found inspiration from the likes of Charlotte Mason, Dorothy Sayers and Mortimer Adler.

    While home schooling her own children, Debra also worked with the Stuttgart area home schooling co-op where she developed a love and expertise in the instruction of classical literature and poetry.

    She has a background in music and studied under classical pianist Vasilios Boobas. Debra has also worked professionally as music director in Annapolis, where she also currently teaches piano lessons in her private home studio.

Rina Brown

Pxl 20220613 234709703.portraitHumanities Tutor - 5th Grade

Rina, born and raised in Ohio, has been married for 30 years, and has two wonderful children, and a feisty poodle. She graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and worked in the actuarial field as a pension consultant. She then moved to Europe, for an exciting 3 ½ year adventure, where she traveled extensively and taught conversational English.

She started her journey in classical education over ten years ago and continues to hone her skills by participating in various learning opportunities. She loves the freedom of Catholic liberal education and the honor it pays to God’s creation by respecting each student’s mind, body, and soul.

Rina enjoys volunteering as a Master Gardener, hiking and walking with her family, reading, working on art projects and trying new recipes. You might also see her and her husband riding their tandem bike on the B & A trail! She also enjoys traveling with her family to the beautiful U.S. national parks.

She loves working together with DMA parents to help their children grow in faith, virtue, and wisdom.

Jack Grimes

Jack Grimes

Humanities Tutor - 6th Grade

Jack Grimes was the Director of Math Content Development for the Classic Learning Test, a new college entrance and high school assessment exam. Jack also teaches Geometry at Israel Henry Beren High School, the secondary school for Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Pikesville, and he was a founding faculty member for Chesterton Academy of Annapolis. Jack earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Tufts University.  He worked several years as Senior Legislative Aide for a State Assemblyman in New Jersey.  After beginning graduate studies in Theology at Seton Hall, he discovered a passion and talent for teaching, which he put to use as a volunteer catechist and later as a full-time academic mentor for BrainStorm Tutoring.  For more than five years with BrainStorm, Jack worked with hundreds of students to prepare for all sections of the SAT and ACT, as well as improve in their high school Math and Humanities courses.  Jack continues to offer tutoring privately through St. Catherine Test Prep. Raised as a nominal Lutheran, Jack experienced a profound Evangelical conversion to love for Christ at the end of high school.  Fervent pursuit of understanding the faith in college led to his reception into the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday a few years after graduation. Jack enjoys steering students towards reflection on the reality behind the grammar, reading, and math they are studying.  As a tutor and teacher he love to encourage thought about invisible nouns and intangible verbs, the power of questions and distinctions, and the elegance of equations so that his students have a chance to ponder the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty.

  

Christine Butrim, M.Ed.

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Christine received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Special Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.  She has taught in a variety of settings including public school, private parochial school and home school co-ops and tutorials.  She is skilled at integrating curriculum and inspiring wonder in her students.  Beyond her own classroom, she has experience developing educational support plans for students with learning challenges.  Christine and her husband have been married since 1989 and have two adult children. She has lived in the area for over 20 years. 

Jeanette Cohn

Photo 2Humanities Tutor - 8th Grade

Jeanette Cohn has been teaching for 36 wonderful years.  She began her professional career in the medical field working as a private duty nurse.  She became involved with homebound children and felt the call to teach.  In 1985, she earned her bachelor’s degree at USF in Exceptional Education with a minor in Early Childhood Development. She was employed in public and private school systems for 13 years working mostly with special needs children between 6 months and 12 years old.  In 1998, she answered the call to home school her 7 children and continued in the vocation for 21 years.  During those 21 years she mentored parents in formational education and tutored children in various facets, including homeschool tutorials and private tutoring, mainly in the areas of reading, writing and Literature.  Her educational philosophy encompasses a strong passion to embrace each child as being uniquely, beautifully created and, thus, should be taught as such.   Igniting their love for learning, she approaches her instruction on the specific formation of each child engrossing him/her in engaging conversation, implementing memorization, while fostering a desire to explore every aspect of learning.  She is looking forward to working at Divine Mercy Academy cooperating in the mission of helping each child become what God intended.

 

Ester Sesmero, Ph.D.

Ester Headshot Science Tutor

Dr. Ester Sesmero was born in Spain. Right before she started college she heard the call from the Lord to consecrate her life to Him. In 2005 she joined the Secular Institute of the Crusaders of Mary while studying for her Bachelor's degree in Chemistry at the Autonoma University of Madrid. The Crusaders of Mary is a community of lay consecrated women who are passionate about the education of the youth. At Autonoma University of Madrid, she was heavily involved in campus ministry and through that experience of witnessing her faith in a secular environment, she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. She arrived to the U.S. in 2011 and studied for her doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Since Fall 2011, Ester has taught the Confirmation group (7th and 8th grade) at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill and ministered to the youth attending the Youth Conferences at Franciscan University of Steubenville. During her time at UMBC, she started and led the Women’s group of the Catholic Retrievers (UMBC Campus Ministry). This women’s group is a community of women who support each other in their faith journey and the desire of to grow closer to Jesus and bring others to Him. Ester graduated with her Ph.D. on May 2017. From Fall 2017 to Spring 2019, she taught at Catholic University of America, Community College of Baltimore County, George Washington University and Montgomery College.

Ester is grateful for the opportunity to join Divine Mercy Academy. She is excited to teach our students to think critically, ask good questions and be in wonder and awe at gift of Creation. Her teaching philosophy is: "I believe in you, you are going to be able to do it, and I am here to help you!"

Mary Etta Jeske

Mary Etta PicSacred Art Tutor

Mary Etta Jeske is a mother of three children and has been married for 31 years. She has home-schooled her children for nine years, and enjoys teaching Art History, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and Classical Fine Art. Mary Etta has been a classical fine artist and an art teacher since 1993. A business major in college, she additionally attended four years at The Mitchell School of Classical Fine Arts and is certified to teach level 1 in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She served for many years as an office manager for the Allview Center for Family Enrichment, where she presently volunteers and teaches an art/home arts girls' club.

Kelly O'Connor

Ward Music, Band and Orchestra TutorO'Connor

Kelly O’Connor, mother of seven children aged 21-6, holds 15 years of homeschooling experience, including three homeschool cooperatives. She has worked as a parish music director for three years, and served on liturgical teams across 10 parishes.

A Michigan native and Marine Corps spouse of 24 years, Kelly and her husband have lived in 13 different duty stations. Her extensive travel has given her an appreciation for multiple cultures and diversity in a growing world. A parental advocate for special-needs children, she is experienced in accommodating students that require more tailored care for success. She studied Instrumental and Choral Music Education at Central Michigan University, and is passionate about Biblical theology, History, Literature, Jazz and Classical music. 

As a teacher of History, Religion and Band, Kelly will strive to connect students with God’s Master Story for salvation, and inspire them to see His hand throughout all of human history.  A convert herself to Catholicism, she brings a strong empathy for children as they begin to choose and embrace the Faith for themselves. 

Monica Ruppert

Dma Faculty

Latin Tutor

Monica Ruppert holds a BA in Music Education from The University of Notre Dame of Maryland. She is a veteran homeschooler of her 10 children and is distinctly dedicated to family-centered education. She believes Divine Mercy Academy will support families as essential building blocks of an ardent Catholic community on the front lines of The New Evangelization. Monica will implement the Ward Method of music education at Divine Mercy, a classical program rooted in and directed toward Gregorian Chant, in which every child learns the art of singing, sight-reading, composing and conducting. After 25 years of teaching her own children as well as many others in co-ops, tutorials, and various other unique settings, Monica is excited to share her zeal for the catholic liberal arts the full-day setting of Divine Mercy Academy. With her natural talent for teaching children and her joyful confidence in classroom management, Monica is ever grateful each Monday for another week of sharing and discovering the revelations of God with her students.

Catherina Marshall, M. DMT.

Catherina HeadshotPhysical Education and Dance Tutor

Catherina is excited to continue to be part of the DMA team as a teacher of physical education and dance. A native of Peru with French ancestry, she brings to the position a lot of creativity plus a rich cultural background and a lifelong passion for human expression through movement.

As a child and a youth, Catherina studied ballet and performed at the Municipal Ballet of the
cosmopolitan city of Lima during the school year while attending a renowned British academy (San Silvestre School). She spent her summers on her family’s remote dairy farm in the Andean highlands where she helped to teach catechism to children. Later she obtained a social anthropology degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in 2006 and studied dance in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Catherina earned a Master’s degree in Dance Movement Therapy from the University of Barcelona, Spain, in 2008.

Returning to Lima, Catherina started her own independent dance movement therapy practice where she focused on special needs children. There she found ways to enrich her work by incorporating her Catholic faith into the methodology. In 2013, she married and moved to the United States. Catherina is the mother of Sofia and Teresita and enjoys tremendously dancing with her husband and daughters. Inspired by them as well as by last years’ experience of teaching PE and dance at DMA, she is in the process of putting together a prayerful methodology for teaching classical barre with the goal of building up a dance crew for the school.

Laurena Sarver, M.Ed.

Resized 2Reading Specialist

My family has been my primary focus through the years, but I have also been blessed with opportunities to always continue to keep my hand in teaching as well. I have been married for almost 32 years to Lewis, who is a Montgomery County police officer. We have been active members of our parish. We have four children who have had the opportunity to attend Catholic schools. All four graduated from OLPH School. Our son attended Cardinal Gibbons and graduated from Mt. St. Joe’s, our daughters graduated from Mt. De Sales Academy. Three of our children have graduated from college, two are married and we are going to be grandparents in January! Our youngest will graduate from Franciscan University in May 2022.

My career in education began in a Catholic school where I taught second grade for two and a half years, and then third grade for half a year as a long-term substitute in the Washington Archdiocese. My love for teaching reading began in college. I graduated from Towson State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. I earned my Master’s Degree in Reading Education from Bowie State University. I am certified in Orton-Gillingham and have used this approach to reading instruction as a private academic tutor for over 20 years. I enjoy working in a variety of settings so I also work part-time as a reading specialist. Being able to help struggling learners has become a passion of mine, and being able to do this in a faith-based setting is ideal for me. The opportunity to bring my faith into teaching reading is the best!

In my free time, I love spending time with my family and friends, going to the beach, walking, going to Christian music concerts, learning more about my Catholic faith, and volunteering at church and in my community.

Laura Pontzer, Ph.D.

LaurapontzerschoolphotocroppedMath Tutor

Laura Pontzer has been married for 25 years and is blessed to be the mother of six children.  She has been homeschooling since 2004 and has enjoyed learning alongside her kids.  Raised in Maryland, she attended Connecticut College where she studied Chemistry and Math as an undergraduate.  She continued her education at Johns Hopkins University where she earned a master’s and a doctorate degree in bioorganic chemistry.  She is trained in Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and cherishes her time spent in the atrium.  Several of her children attended St. Thomas Aquinas Tutorial where she has enjoyed tutoring for the past five years in both science and math.  She loves Catholic classical education and was a founding board member of Chesterton Academy of Annapolis where she has served for the past four years.  Her passion is assisting her students in finding Truth while reaching their individual God-given potential.  Outside the classroom she enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with her family, including her golden retriever.  She is grateful for the opportunity to join DMA and excited to teach Algebra I this year.

Katie Butrim

Img 8714Tutor Assistant

Katie Butrim has enjoyed working with children as a teacher’s assistant since 2016. She loves to work in the younger grades, mostly kindergarten through third grade. Katie loves her faith and believes strongly in Divine Mercy Academy’s motto of “Making Saints”. She deeply believes that forming close bonds with young children is the best way to set an example for them of the amazing things Jesus can do in their lives. New to DMA in 2022, Katie looks forward to new friendships with the staff and students, and the family atmosphere found at the school.

Charles R. Hepburn II

Instructor Charles Hepburn Ii Picture 2020

Self-Defense Head Instructor

Instructor Charles was raised in Glen Burnie, Maryland; where he trained and taught under Grand Master Hyo G. Bai, and his son, Master Rick/Soo Bai for 10 years.  He has an extensive background in several martial arts, including: Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  Instructor Charles has also studied and trained in several reality-based self-defense / combative systems; including being a trained “Bulletman.”  The “Bulletman” is a fully padded assailant suit used in full-speed, full-force adrenal training scenarios.

Instructor Charles also has robust knowledge in the academics / non-physical portions of a good self-defense education.  Having taught several dozen self-defense seminars, as well as teaching martial arts classes several times per week since 1994, Instructor Charles brings a bevy of experience to the team.  Although he specializes in teaching children at Divine Mercy, Instructor Charles also teaches adults at the Severna Park Community Center.

The self-defense system taught is called Meta Mu Do.  It's a super-set of Tae Kwon Do; however, it adds Hapkido techniques for standing struggle and weapon defenses, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu techniques for ground grappling.  Meta Mu Do has 3 major training goals.  First, is effective self-defense training against realistic modern violence.  Second, is character development and empowerment.  Lastly, is overall physical and mental health through persistent training.  It took over 15 years to design the system; and Instructor Charles has been teaching it professionally since 2014.