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OPS Welcomes New Faculty for 2017 - 2018
Posted On:
Monday, July 24, 2017

Vincent Agosta (HS English)

In 2010 Vincent graduated from North Carolina State University summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Political Science, and returned to N.C. State to complete a Masters in English in the spring of 2014.  Starting in 2009 he has taught standardized test preparation courses for several companies, focusing specifically on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), GRE, and SAT.  Additionally, for 3 years Vincent taught college English courses, both at N.C. State and William Peace University, including composition, literature, professional writing, and public speaking.  

Vincent joins us at OPS as a Senior English and theatre teacher.  With his background in standardized tests and college instruction, he is excited to aid students in becoming exceptional college admissions candidates while focusing on substantive critical thinking, interpretation and speaking skills that will facilitate success into their collegiate careers.  He is also elated at the prospect of expanding the current debate class into a potential extracurricular for interested students.


Kerianne Lartz (HS Math)

Kerianne Lartz is originally from Poolesville, MD. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Business Administration from American University in Washington, DC.  She worked for a financial investment firm in DC after college, before joining Teach for America


For the last two years, Ms. Lartz has taught Leland, MS in the Mississippi Delta for the last two years, teaching high school math and chemistry. She decided to move to North Carolina to join the Oxford Prep team because of the school’s enthusiasm in their student achievement and the focus on students being college ready when they leave OPS.


Mary Katherine Lundquist (H.S. Spanish)

Mary Katherine Lundquist graduated from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington with a degree in French and then returned for K-12 certification in Spanish.  During her time there she traveled to Quebec for a French immersion program and to Costa Rica to attend both the University of Costa Rica and the National University of Costa Rica.  

Ms. Lundquist fell into teaching purely by chance.  A Venezuelan friend who was teaching Spanish in a private elementary school had to return home suddenly and asked Ms. Lundquist to briefly cover her classes.  By agreeing to this seemingly insignificant favor, Ms. Lundquist’s life plan took a dramatic turn.  Having accidentally found her true passion, she dropped her plans to attend the Masters in International Business Studies Program in Charleston and began to actively pursue becoming a teacher.

Ms. Lundquist has successfully taught Spanish to students at all levels.  She helped develop a FLES program in Columbus County that is still referred to as a success model in post secondary circles.  At the High School level, her students have consistently scored well on final exams and have been praised for their level of preparedness by other teachers upon entry into their classes.

Her teaching style is relaxed but effective.  She has high expectations for her students but does not “rule with an iron fist”.   Sometimes her classes can be a little…active but, rest assured, the students will be on task.  There are times where the work is just that - work - but Ms. Lundquist tries to make even the work days enjoyable.  She often says, “If they aren’t having fun, I’m not having fun.”  She teaches Spanish through games, stories, foreign films, art projects, etc. but she believes the most important lesson she teaches is the importance of consistent effort for the duration. 

Ms Lundquist enjoys a quiet life with her rescue kitty Sissa and travels whenever possible.  She also has a home based business and always has a project in the works.


Joyce Marie Martin (M.S./H.S. Social Studies)

Joyce Martin was born and raised in Northern Durham and is a graduate of Northern High School.  She earned a B.A. in History from Meredith College, while also serving as student secretary for the History Department and journalist for the school newspaper.

Joyce is very excited about joining OPS and brings with her a variety of educational experience.  As a veteran educator, she has taught Middle School for over 30 years, including 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Social Studies in Durham and Granville County Public Schools.  She also has taught high school for one year in Granville County and has also worked part-time at Durham Tech in the Adult Basic Education Program for reading and language.


Daren Pelkie (H.S. Math)

Mr. Pelkie was born in Endicott, New York, and attended college for a few years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.  When he eventually reached shore duty, he attended college at night and earned a B.S. in Business from Excelsior College in New York.  This helped him reach his goal of being commissioned as a Naval Officer. 

During his 21-year career in the Navy, Mr. Pelkie served as a public affairs officer around the world, including aboard two aircraft carriers, at the Pentagon, in Japan, and in the Middle East. After retiring as a Lieutenant Commander, he began teaching, and earned a Masters in Middle Grades Math Education from UNC Charlotte. 

Mr. Pelkie is beginning his 13th year of teaching and his seventh as a math teacher at a charter school.  Having earned all his promotions through education, he is excited to be at this incredible school with its focus on preparing students for success in college.  He and his wife Amanda moved to Oxford seven years ago, where they live with their five-year old daughter Carrigan and two-year old son Xander.


Aaron Prestrud (M.S. English Language Arts)

Our middle school English teacher, Aaron Prestrud, is a proud North Carolinian. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Appalachian State in 2015 with a B.S. in English Education. After graduation, Aaron felt called to volunteer a year of his time at a homeless shelter in rural Colorado, where he found a passion for service work. He feels the perspective he gained working with folks struggling with homelessness was invaluable.

After a wonderful and challenging year there, he decided to stay one more year with Americorps (the national volunteer service program) serving in a tiny mountain town’s charter school. However, North Carolina has always been home, so Aaron decided to move back to be nearer to family and to bring the lessons he learned in Colorado back home.

Aaron was drawn to Oxford because the school’s commitment to the arts, service, and higher education. He hopes to utilize his experience with Americorps to inspire students to see the importance of community service and to help them reach their potential as readers and writers. 


Susan Westbrook (H.S. English)

Susan Westbrook is a 21-year veteran teacher of English, having taught at Kerr-Vance Academy, Northern Vance High School, and most recently, JF Webb High School.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English and a minor in history from Campbell University.  She also holds a Master of Arts degree in English from East Carolina University.

She is excited to be a part of a school that emphasizes the arts, values service to community, prepares students for the challenges of a four-year university, and that ultimately cultivates lifelong learners.


Thomas Venetta (MS/HS Science)

Prior to entering the teaching profession seven years ago, Mr. Venetta was a biomedical researcher for twenty-five years.  He worked on a variety of projects, ranging from producing virus and cancer diagnostic tests used in hospitals and clinics to developing drugs to combat some of the worst viruses known to man.  One of his biggest accomplishments was playing a critical role in the development of an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Mr. Venetta graduated from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland with an M.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences.  He also received an Agricultural Education graduate certificate from NC State, a certifying him to teach biotechnology to 7th and 8th grade students in Durham Public Schools several years ago.  Most recently, Mr. Venetta taught biology in Vance County Schools.  

Mr. Venetta is married and has two adopted children who are now grown adults. His hobbies include yard work, listening to music, kayaking, hiking, traveling, and carpentry.  He came to OPS to be a part of what he considers to be a school that focuses on what he holds most dear – leadership, community service, and an appreciation of the arts.  After all, Mr. Venetta knows that science is just as much of an art as it is a, well, you get the idea.  Mr. Venetta looks forward to showing OPS students just how cool and applicable science is to everyday life, and he welcomes parents to contact him at any time to discuss his methods, his philosophy, and his intense desire to best serve the students that he looks forward to seeing every day.

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