Music (Ward Method) & Language Arts
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.
Kindergarten & Middle School Composition/Literature
Meagan Robinson was born and raised in Baltimore. She was initially a protestant and did not encounter Catholicism until high school. After falling in love with the Eucharist in 2014, she dedicated her life to the pursuit of all things Good, True, and Beautiful. This brought her to a tiny college in New Hampshire called Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. She graduated with a bachelor's in literature and also received an Apostolic Catechetical Diploma. At Magdalen, she was immersed in a rigorous classical education guided by the Socratic method - giving her a profound love for education and learning. While in college she was president of the writing club, a student tutor, a psalmist, an actress in the Karol Wojtyla Theatrical Society, and served with the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, M.A.
After graduating from college in 2019, she went on to give a year of service as a Seton Teaching Fellow in Bronx, NY. She taught 2nd grade during the day and then kindergarten for the catholic after school program, El Camino. She had the opportunity - and the privlege- to evangelize and catechize in the poorest congressional district in the nation. Seeing the suffering of this community made her realize the necessity for Catholic Classical education.
Ms. Robinson is excited to engage with all families who are also on the pursuit of wisdom and is grateful for the opportunity to teach (and be taught!) by her students. In her spare time, you can find her reading Flannery O'Connor, perusing bookstores, on a boat with her family, hiking, or talking someone's ear off about how wonderful all of her students are.
Mary Etta Jeske
Sacred Art, Art History & Nature Studies
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.
Dr. Ester Sesmero
Mathematics & Science
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!"
Spanish, Dance, & Physical Education
Catherina is excited to join the DMA team as a teacher of dance, physical education, and Spanish. 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. She focused both on special needs children and on the elderly and 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 two little girls and simply loves to dance with them! Inspired by their simplicity, flexibility and joy, she is in the process of putting together a new methodology for families to pray, play and dance together.
History, Religion, & Band
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.
Head Administrator, Science
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.