Meet our Primary Teachers
Mrs. Dimple Sharma, Teacher
Mrs. Sharma began teaching at St. Agnes in 2012 as an assistant teacher in First Grade and has been a lead teacher in First Grade since 2016. Mrs. Sharma earned a Bachelor’s in English, Bachelor’s in Education (English and Social Studies) and Master’s in English. She loves going on walks with her family and likes to watch basketball and tennis.
Mrs. Gemma Johnson, Assistant Teacher
Mrs. Johnson is beginning her first year as an assistant teacher with St. Agnes. Prior to working at St. Agnes, Mrs. Johnson worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Geographic Partners, and Discovery Communications. Mrs. Johnson loves sports, learning, and spending time with her family and friends.
Ms. Colleen Vorbach, Teacher
Mrs. Vorbach is beginning her ninth year as a teacher at St. Agnes, and eleventh year as a Diocesan educator. Her greatest joy in the classroom is sharing with young learners an enthusiasm for reading and expressing language through writing. To that end, she has enjoyed working with her St. Agnes colleagues to implement the Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach to language development. Mrs. Vorbach holds a Bachelor of Science from Old Dominion University and teaching certification from the Virginia Catholic Education Association, Certificate of Catechesis and is enrolled in the Special Education Graduate Certificate program at Marymount University. She and her husband have two children.
Mrs. Kathy Jackson, Assistant Teacher
Mrs. Jackson has taught at St. Agnes since 2005. Prior to that, she worked in a parents’-day-out program for 7 years. In addition, she has over 20 years experience in administration. In 2017 Mrs. Jackson returned to college to finish her bachelor’s degree and is still working on it. Mrs. Jackson has 2 grown children. She loves the beach, Snoopy, and all the children she is privileged to meet at St. Agnes.
Ms. Mary Kay Soos, Teacher
Ms. Soos is beginning her 23rd year as a 2nd grade teacher for the Diocese of Arlington and her 13th year at St. Agnes. She is a Hoosier at heart but has resided in Northern Virginia for the past 23 years. Miss Soos earned her B.A. from Christendom College and is currently pursuing her Masters in Education from Marymount University. She holds certification from the Virginia Catholic Education Association and an advanced Certificate of Catechesis. She feels blessed to be able to prepare the 2nd graders for the reception of First Communion and First Penance, and she enjoys integrating the faith into other areas of the curriculum.
Ms. Joanna Paniagua, Teacher
Ms. Paniagua’s began teaching at St. Agnes in 2020 and she is excited to be a part of the St. Agnes family. She graduated with a B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies from Marymount University in 2020. When she isn’t teaching, she is helping out in the Diocese, playing sports, practicing her photography skills, or being adventurous with her friends. She feels blessed to share her passion for the faith with her students so that they may form deeper relationships with God and with each other.
Ms. Sara Holland
Ms. Sara came to St. Agnes after working at Congo Summer Camp and has been a part of the Saint Agnes community since 2021 as an assistant teacher. She has worked with PreK-8 through the Extended Day program and is thrilled to be teaching 3rd grade this year. Ms. Sara graduated from Washington State University in 2021 with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science with two Minors in Communication and Criminal Justice. She will be completing a Masters in Elementary Education in Spring of 2024.
Ms. Claire Sweeney, Teacher
This is Ms. Sweeney’s first year at St. Agnes and 3rd year teaching 3rd grade! Previously she taught at a public charter school in DC. Ms. Sweeney has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a MS in Education from John’s Hopkins University. Fun fact: Ms. Sweeney attended St. Agnes for 10 years and graduated in 2011!
Primary Grades At A Glance
The focus in the Primary School is building strong foundations in academics, faith, and community. The Primary School provides a spiritual and educational environment valuing the development and growth of each child. Students explore a curriculum that provides hands-on learning and opportunities to deepen their faith. Small class size (average class size: 24) reinforces the sense of community.
Teaching teams provide continuity of instruction between the two classes in each grade and across grade levels. Each subject carefully builds on the skills mastered in the previous grade and teachers use standardized approaches to ensure a natural and continuous flow of learning. Saint Agnes uses a Balanced Literacy approach to teaching language arts, incorporating a comprehensive program that includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. This approach includes teaching phonics, grammar skills, reading and comprehension strategies, and writing forms and skills. Math and science includes flexible small group study, manipulatives, the scientific method, and hands-on activities.
Highlights of the Primary School:
- Faith formation includes daily prayer, weekly Mass, monthly Virtues Program, quarterly Penance services, and Prayer Partners Program, which matches older and younger students for Mass and other activities.
- Teachers in K-3 received training in Orton-Gillingham, a multi-sensory approach to teach reading, writing and comprehension.
- Teaching teams have weekly meetings to coordinate curriculum, lessons, teaching techniques, and best practices.
- First grade students dress as their Patron Saint on All Saints Day and introduce themselves to the entire student body.
- Second graders lead daily school-wide prayers as they prepare for First Penance and First Holy Communion.
- Third graders choose a state for year-long in-depth study culminating in a State Fair when each child presents projects completed during the year.