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St. John the Baptist
Catholic School
12319 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20904 | 301-622-3076

Principal's Note 7/23/19

Dear SJB Families, 

We pray that your summer vacations have been safe and enjoyable. With new school-year events just a month away, we thought you should know about changes at SJB. 

Bittersweet Farewell 

Three teachers are leaving for new opportunities: 

  • Mr. Lucey, middle-school math and homeroom teacher for 16 years 

  • Mrs. Griffith (Watson), 1st grade and 2nd grade for the past eight years 

  • Mr. Shillingford, music teacher for one year 

Mr. Lucey, Mrs. Griffith, and Mr. Shillingford will always be SJB family. We say goodbye to them with heartfelt prayers, many memories, bittersweet feelings, and our gratitude for all they have given to the children of SJB and to us.  

New Teachers  

We are fortunate to be able to introduce three well-qualified teachers to take on the responsibilities of teaching 1st grade, middle-school math, and music: 

  • Ms. Christine Morin will teach 1st grade. Ms. Morin recently received her master’s degree in early-childhood and elementary education from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. 

  • Dr. Elizabeth Garbee will teach middle-school math and help SJB develop a STEM program. Dr. Garbee holds a PhD in STEM education policy after earning a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics and classical Greek literature from Oberlin College. 

  • Ms. Sandi Lewanika will teach music. Ms. Lewanika, who has a Masters in Music from the University of Rhode Island, previously taught music with the Children's Chorus of Washington, where she worked with Mr. Shillingford. 

 Ms. Morin, Dr. Garbee, and Ms. Lewanika are all eager to meet the students and families of SJB. We know they will soon experience the warm welcome and support of our wonderful SJB families. Further below are brief biographies of our new teachers. 

New Sign-Up Form for After Care  

All families wishing to have their children participate in After Care must complete the After Care sign-up form and return it to the school office over the next few weeks. Please send the form to the attention of Comfort Mingot, After Care Director, at the SJB School Office.  After Care billing will be handled differently this year. For an explanation of how After Care billing will work, please read the After Care billing schedule and the Frequently Asked Questions on the After Care page. 

New Child-Protection Rules 

Most school parents need to be fingerprinted for child-protection certification if they want to volunteer in the school, according to new rules of the Archdiocese.  

A few weeks ago, the Archdiocese announced that volunteers must now be fingerprinted for child-protection certification. For several years, volunteers needed to undergo only an electronic background check for certification. As a result of the rule change, many parent volunteers went from certified to non-certified overnight. The parish Virtus coordinator has updated the compliance list. About 30 school parents are compliant under the new fingerprinting rule. They were fingerprinted as part of their original Virtus background check. Hundreds of SJB parents are not certified and cannot volunteer in the school until they become certified. 

If you want to confirm that you are compliant or take steps to become certified, I encourage you to contact Martha Kerley, parish child-protection coordinator, at to get started.  The steps to certification have been updated on the school’s Volunteers and Child Protection page. 

Our New Faculty Members 

Ms. Christine Morin -- Ms. Morin received her Master’s in Arts in elementary education and early-childhood education from St. Mary's College in St. Mary's, Maryland, in 2019. Ms. Morin graduated from St. Mary's as an undergraduate in 2018. She was a student teacher in Kindergarten at White Marsh Elementary in Southern Maryland, and she is a parishioner at Holy Redeemer in Kensington and a graduate of St. John's College High School. At St. Mary’s, Ms. Morin was on the All-Academic Team and played basketball. Her passion for teaching started at a young age learning from her mom, who was a para-educator in Montgomery County. 

Ms. Morin also credits her “25 little cousins that have inspired me to be a loving and compassionate individual... This will be my first year of teaching and words cannot describe how excited I am to be able to educate students. My goal is for my students to come into class every day with a smile and be excited to learn! 

Dr. Elizabeth Garbee -For Dr. Garbee, teaching in an elementary and middle school will be a career change. Math will be nothing new. For the past two years, Dr. Garbee has been a program associate at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Mirzayan Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, where she co-authored a book on the integration of arts in STEM. Previously, she was a research assistant at the Risk Innovation Lab of the Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes and an associate at the Science and Technology Policy Institute.  

Dr. Garbee taught nanoscience and science communication to graduate-level students as an instructor at Arizona State University.  In 2018, she received her PhD from Arizona State University in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology.  Dr. Garbee’s research focused on the value of a STEM PhD from student and non-academic employer perspectives. She wanted to better understand how to broaden the career possibilities for individuals earning STEM degrees.  

In 2014, she received her bachelor's from Oberlin College, where she majored in astrophysics and minored in Classical Greek Literature. She's a certified Suzuki violin teacher, an avid hiker, and a frequenter of used book stores. Dr. Garbee was a math tutor at Pine Creek High School in Arizona. She’s enthusiastic about coming to SJB to build a STEM program and teaching math to students in grades 4, 6, 7, and 8.  

Ms. Sandi Lewanika -- While she was getting her master’s degree in MusicMs. Lewanika taught the History of Jazz to 73 students at the University of Rhode Island, where she was a graduate teaching assistant. She graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2014 with a bachelor's in music and from the University of Rhode Island in 2016 with her master’s degree in Music.  

Ms. Lewanika has been a substitute teacher in Alexandria public schools for three yearsShe taught music during and after school at Lafayette Elementary in DC as part of the Children's Chorus of Washington 

Ms. Lewanika has been a collaborative pianist at the International Lyric Academy in Vicenza, Italy, an organist with the Episcopal Church of the Creator in Clinton, Miss., a piano teacher with the Salvation Army in Jackson, Miss., and a music teacher with the ARS/ASLAN Performing Arts Center in Madrid, Spain.  She grew up in Mississippi.

Back to School Events, Dates, and Times

See the Back to School information page and the Gold Folder page, which always has information on SJB events and activities.

And please consider syncing your phone calendar to the SJB School online calendar.

We hope that you enjoy the rest of the summer, and we look forward to seeing you for the start of school.

Respectfully and Faithfully,
Brian Blomquist
St. John the Baptist Catholic School
12319 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Md. 20904


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