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Saint Rita Catholic School

Preschool - Grade 8
3801 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA 22305

Faculty & Staff

Rev. Christopher Christensen, Pastor.

Rev. Christopher Christensen was born in Oak Harbor, WA and grew up in a Navy family. After spending time with his family in Washington, Florida, California, and Japan, he finally moved to Northern Virginia, where his family still resides. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge for middle school and went on to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria (2002). He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2006 with majors in Philosophy and Japanese language, and was   commissioned as a Naval Officer through the NROTC Program. From 2006 to 2008, he served on the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) in Yokosuka, Japan as a Surface Warfare Officer. In 2008, he entered seminary for the Diocese of Arlington and spent 6 years at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Since his priestly ordination in June 2014, he has served at 3 parishes as Parochial Vicar - John the Apostle, Leesburg (June 2014 - Nov 2015), the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Arlington (Nov 2015 - June 2020), and St. Leo the Great, Fairfax (June 2020 - June 2021). He arrived at St. Rita in June 2021. It is his first assignment as Pastor, and he is loving every minute of it!

frcc41@gmail.com

703-836-1640 ext 17

Rev. Nicholas Schierer, Parochial Vicar and 6th Grade Religion teacher.

Rev. Schierer was born in Fairfax, VA, the third of 4 boys of Ann Schierer and the late Daniel Schierer.  Raised in Herndon, VA, he went to St. Joseph’s Elementary School and Paul VI Catholic High School (2005).  He studied at the University of Mary Washington (2009) where he double majored in History and Religion.  After graduation, Fr. Schierer worked for three years in the special events industry, as well as a long term substitute teacher and home care giver to his great Aunt.  He entered seminary in 2012.  He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA for Pre-Theology and attended the North American College for Theology.  Fr. Schierer was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ on June 9, 2018.  He served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope from 2018-2020.  He has been the parochial vicar at St. Rita’s since October 2020.

fatherschierer@gmail.com

703-836-1640 ext. 30

Mrs. Bethany Hamm, Principal

Mrs. Hamm is a Minnesota native.  She holds a B.A. in History from The College of William and Mary, an M.A. in Security Studies from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.  She is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Administration and Supervision from Marymount University.  She has always loved learning and has spent her life in the classroom, either as a student or a teacher.  She taught high school history for nine years before transitioning to law and then being a stay at home mom (where the clients were just as demanding, but they paid a lot less!).   She and her husband Paul have been St. Rita parishioners since they moved to Alexandria with their first baby eight years ago, and three of their children now attend St. Rita School as well.  Here's hoping they don't act up and get sent to the principal's office! Mrs. Hamm looks forward to another exciting year of learning and growing in Christ and thanks the entire St. Rita community for their prayers and support as together we raise up the next generation of saints!

principal@saintrita-school.org

703-548-1888 ext 24

Mrs. Caitlin Rockwell, Preschool Director.

Mrs. Rockwell has taught preschool for over sixteen years in Alexandria — eleven of those at Saint Rita Catholic Preschool! After graduating from St. Lawrence University with a BA in English Writing and studying Journalism at American University, Mrs. Rockwell began her career as a news producer for both PBS and NBC before starting her family. It’s during that time that Mrs. Rockwell switched gears to focus on early childhood development. Since joining Saint Rita Preschool, Mrs. Rockwell has helped develop the program’s curriculum and offerings, including the opening of the preschool’s two-three year olds Angels classrooms and after-preschool Lunch Bunch extension. She loves the excitement that comes with being the Director of the Saint Rita Preschool community. When not on campus, Mrs. Rockwell enjoys tennis, running and volunteering within Alexandria. She lives in Rosemont with her husband, Christian, and two rambunctious Goldendoodles. Mrs. Rockwell has two children. Her daughter, Chapin, attends Colgate University and her son, Christian, is at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). 

preschooldirector@saintrita-school.org

703-548-1888 ext 16

Mrs. Josephine Cunningham, Director of Admissions and Development.

Mrs. Cunningham has been a part of the Saint Rita family for twenty years. She joined the Saint Rita staff in January 2008. Prior to that as a parent, she served on the PTO board for two years, helping to build a school and parish community. She has two daughters, Sarah, a graduate of the  University of Limerick in Ireland, and Niamh, a recent graduate of James Madison University, VA. Both girls are graduates of Saint Rita.  Josephine was born and educated in Ireland and emigrated to the US in 1985. She worked as a nanny in her early years in New York City before moving to Virginia in 1990. She spent many years in the hospitality industry as well as owning her own business. She also spent two years as a treatment foster parent with Fairfax County before joining the Adoption Opportunities Grant at The Department of Family Services in Fairfax to work with children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Josephine is working closely with the Saint Rita School and Parish community to spread the good news about our school. She is also working with our very active PTO and Alumni groups to secure additional funding to support our many upgrades and scholarship program. As a parent, volunteer, and staff member at Saint Rita School she truly believes that we can achieve great things if we work together with one goal which is to “Prepare our children for this world and the next.” 

jcunningham@saintrita-school.org

703-548-1888 ext 32

Mrs. Noemi Neville, School Secretary.

Mrs. Neville  has been a member of Saint Rita Parish for 13 years, and all three of her children attended Saint Rita School, K-8th grade. She loves the commitment every family brings to the school, and the joy with which everyone serves. The Neville family truly enjoys the outdoors in their rustic cabin in West Virginia, especially around the holidays.

office@saintrita-school.org

Miss Mary Kate Vander Woude, School Nurse.

Miss. Vander Woude,  is so excited and grateful to be joining the St. Rita family for another year! Mary Kate is from Nokesville, Virginia, and was very blessed to receive an excellent Catholic education at Seton School and then at Christendom College, where she graduated with a Bachelors in Philosophy and a minor in Theology. After college, Mary Kate went on to nursing school in northern Virginia and became a Registered Nurse. She then served for two years as a FOCUS Missionary at the University of Connecticut, mentoring and discipling the female college athletes there. After UConn, she spent the next three years in Colorado with the FOCUS International Missions Department, coordinating and leading college students on international mission trips to third world counties, serving the poorest of the poor. After spending the majority of her last year in Missions running medical missions in multiple countries, Mary Kate decided the Lord was calling her back into full-time medicine. She then worked as a Registered Nurse at a Level 1 trauma hospital outside of Denver, before making the move back to her home state and joining the St. Rita team as the school nurse. She is convinced she has the best job (and the best stories!) and is looking forward to another year! Some of her favorite things include iced coffee, peppermint ice cream, her extra-large family, Mother Teresa and all modern day saints!

mvanderwoude@saintrita-school.org

Miss Haley Lange, Kindergarten Teacher & Lower School Team Lead

Miss. Lange is excited to start her third year teaching kindergarten at St. Rita School. Miss Lange recently graduated from George Mason University earning her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Elementary Education. Miss Lange is a local, having attended Catholic elementary and high school here in the Diocese of Arlington. Before coming to St. Rita’s, Miss Lange previously worked for 10 years as a teacher’s aide and extended day director at St. John Academy. Some things Miss Lange enjoys in her free time are going on hikes, crafting, and spending time with her nine beautiful nieces and nephews. The thing Miss Lange loves most about teaching in a classical Catholic school is that she can integrate Jesus' life, the lives of saints, and scripture in all academic subject areas she teaches.

hlange@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Dana Smullen, Kindergarten Instructional Aide.

Mrs. Smullen  begins her fourth year at St. Rita School.  Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she is a graduate of Miami University and spent more than ten years on Capitol Hill working on health care and education policy for Members of Congress in the Ohio Congressional delegation and on several political campaigns.  She lives in Alexandria with her husband and two children who are both students at St. Rita School.

dsmullen@saintrita-school.org

Miss Margaret McLaughlin, 1st Grade Teacher.

Miss. McLaughlin is a recent Elementary Education graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she gained significant experience student teaching at the first grade level. Having grown up in Falls Church, she has been a lifelong parishioner at St. John the Beloved and attended diocesan schools at St. Catherine of Siena, St. James and St. John parishes before graduating from high school at Oakcrest School in Vienna. She is very excited to share her love of the Catholic faith, while fostering the nurturing learning environment that she experienced growing up in Catholic schools. She looks forward to meeting the St. Rita community and having a fruitful school year!

mmclaughlin@saintrita-school.org

Miss Jennifer Hwang, 1st Grade Instructional Aide.

Miss. Hwang grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Public Policy and Anthropology. Prior to St. Rita’s, she worked as an instructional assistant at St. Veronica Catholic School and volunteered at St. Paul Chung Catholic Church. She is excited to continue learning how to educate the whole person at St. Rita’s and wants children to know and feel that they are loved. In her free time, Miss Hwang enjoys singing, cooking new pasta recipes with family and friends, and praying the Mass.

jhwang@saintrita-school.org

Miss Megan Rolla, 2nd Grade Teacher.

Miss. Rolla grew up in Scranton, PA and graduated from Christendom College with a B.A. in Philosophy.  She trained to become a Catechist of the Good Shepherd for Level I and II Atriums, where she worked at Saint Rita for many years before transitioning to the Second Grade classroom.   She loves literature, history, science, music, art and loves the outdoors.

mrolla@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Cindy Hart, 2nd Grade Instructional Aide.

Mrs. Hart studied French and math at UVA and received her Master’s in Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. She and her husband have been members of St. Rita Church for over 30 years and are blessed to be the parents of eight, including six graduates of St. Rita School and two younger boys with Down syndrome. An active PTO and classroom volunteer while her children attended St. Rita, Mrs. Hart has more recently been immersed in the world of special needs, gaining a deep appreciation of the unique gifts and abilities of each child. Mrs. Hart loves big family meals, strong coffee, St. Teresa of Avila, and HGTV. She is delighted to be joining Miss Rolla and the second grade class for their exciting sacramental year!

chart@saintrita-school.org

Mr. Thomas McMullin, 3rd Grade Teacher.

Mr. McMullin is a graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. He is entering his ninth year as a classroom educator. Mr. McMullin is in his third year of teaching at St. Rita. He has also served as a teacher’s aide in a 4th/5th special education classroom, a professional child care worker, and a parish youth minister.  What excites me about teaching at St. Rita is the focus on teaching the whole person. Modern education often focuses too narrowly on the acquisition of knowledge and/or churning out industrious members of society. Our goal at St. Rita is to not only help the children to acquire knowledge and success, but also to inspire them to pursue virtuous lives. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Nothing is more important for the public wealth than to form and train youth in wisdom and virtue. Only virtuous people are capable of freedom."

tmcmullin@saintrita-school.org

Miss Becky Walker, 4th Grade Teacher.

Miss. Walker is excited to be continuing at Saint Rita School.  She graduated from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Indiana, with a BA in Economics and English Writing, and with a minor in Film Studies.  Before coming to Saint Rita, Miss Walker worked at Saint William of York, the same school she attended from fourth through eighth grade and where her own mother teaches math.  Miss Walker loves the science fiction and fantasy genres, including books, movies, and television programs.  She enjoys creative projects, including crochet, sewing, and writing.  She aspires to dress as delightfully as Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame.  Her favorite part of teaching classically is getting to explore early technologies, such as radio, film, and the airplane, and their impact on the global community.

rwalker@saintrita-school.org

Miss Kristin Malcolm, Dean of Faculty, 5th Grade Teacher.

Miss Malcolm is eager to apply her faith in Christ, her love for classical education and pedagogy, and her care for students in her new role at St. Rita Catholic School. Kristin graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hillsdale College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Politics. While attending Hillsdale she was a recipient of the George Washington Fellowship Scholarship, the leader of Hillsdale’s Young Life program, a member of Phi Sigma Tau Honorary, and an active volunteer with middle school students and the elderly. Since graduation, Kristin has served as Immanuel Lutheran School’s 5th Grade Homeroom Teacher, Jr. Kindergarten Assistant Teacher, and 3rd and 4th Grade Latin Teacher. Her post-graduate classes at the Dominican House of Studies have taught her the joy and challenge that is Ecclesial Latin. Her time teaching at ILS has taught her faith, hope, and love—and the invaluable place of prayer in the life of a teacher and the life of the school.  Kristin is passionate about teaching children to know God and His world so that they can love God and his world. She cherishes simple joys and peaceful times with family and friends. Two of her favorite things are a good book and a good conversation. She also loves playing volleyball, the piano, and European board games.   

kmalcolm@saintrita-school.org

Miss Laura Tillotson

6th Grade Core & 8th Grade Latin & Religion

ltillotson@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Renuka Carlitti

Pre-Algebra and Algebra Teacher

rcarlitti@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Aileen Warren, Pre-Algebra and 6th Grade Math Teacher.

Mrs. Warren is a Florida native.  She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, and a J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.  She worked in several legal roles in the U.S. and abroad before settling down in Alexandria and becoming a stay at home mom. Mrs. Warren speaks Spanish fluently and enjoys traveling, cooking, and gardening in her free time. She looks forward to this new adventure and hopes she can instill a love of learning in her students.  

awarren@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Holly Carroll

Science Teacher, EDC Director

hcarroll@saintrita-school.org

Miss. Monica Kolf

Dean of Students and Student Support

mkolf@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Molly Metzgar

Resource Teacher, Instructional Coach

mmetzgar@saintrita-school.org

Miss Elizabeth Vail

Good Shepherd Catechist Level 2

evail@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Monica Ciatti

Instructional Aide and Alumni Relations Coordinator

mciatti@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Hannah Armstrong

Good Shepherd Catechist Level 1

harmstrong@saintrita-school.org

Miss Cristina Totanes

Preschool: Angels Lead Teacher

ctotanes@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Alexsandra Oakes

Preschool: Angels Aide and Lunch Bunch Aide

Mrs. Melanie Worth

Preschool: Lambs Lead Teacher

mworth@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Kristin Lowe

Preschool: T/TH Lambs Aide

klowe@saintrita-school.org

Miss Taylor DeRosa

Preschool: Shepherds Lead Teacher & PM Kindergarten Aide

tderosa@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Noely Estrada

Preschool: Shepherds Aide, Lunch Bunch Coordinator

nestrada@saintrita-school.org

Mrs. Marie Garzon, Preschool Music Teacher.

Preschool: Music Teacher.Mrs. Marie Garzon - Preschool Music . Previous to working at St. Rita’s, I was a Pre-K teacher for six years who taught four and five year olds at a Catholic school in MD. I attended Catholic school my whole life before attending college. My faith is very important to me so I always knew when I taught, I would be a Catholic school teacher. I am certified to teach Early Childhood and I absolutely love teaching little ones! Their joy and imaginations are so special to witness. I recently got married to the love of my life and I have a sweet golden retriever, Gracie girl! I love spending time with my loved ones, cooking/ baking, and working out with my husband!

Mgarzon@saintrita-school.org