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Andrew Stetser, C’22, Shares St. John Regional Catholic Internship Insights

Nicole Patterson

Stetser feature

“The kids always ask: ‘Where’s Mr. Stetser? Is he going to teach us today?’ He has the best positive attitude,” said Julie Pessagno who teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies at St. John Regional Catholic School in Frederick.  

When junior Andrew Stetser isn’t throwing on the Mount’s DI track and field team, he’s pursuing his secondary education with social studies major. Every Tuesday and Thursday, since mid-February, he brings enthusiasm to Pessagno’s seventh and eighth grade classes as he completes his Internship I requirements.  

“I had so many great teachers in high school (Gloucester Catholic High School) and I wanted to be just like them,” he said when asked what inspired him to teach social studies. “I wanted to have my own students and teach the class the way they taught me—with knowledge and a passion for history.” 

Stetser is the third Mount intern Pessagno has had. “The students love having him. He just knew the right things to do. He comes to school on time, has a big smile and a great attitude. Andy is conscientious about getting his lesson plans done and he’s professional,” she said. Even St. John’s principal Annette Jones, Ph.D., inquired about his graduation status. “He’s a junior. We can’t have him yet,” Pessagno joked.  

Kidding aside, the Mount has a presence at St. John’s. Peggy Frazier, who teaches PreK-8 music, earned her degree in psychology from the Mount. Michael Fairley, technology coordinator, earned his master’s degree in teaching from the university. Alexandra Kusznir, who teaches seventh and eighth grade math, Margaret Allison, who teaches second grade, and Monica Crone, who teaches pre-kindergarten each earned her degree in elementary education from the Mount. Ellen Santucci, who teaches kindergarten, earned her master’s degree in education from the Mount. Alexandra Kay, C’21, who is finishing her degree from the Mount, is already teaching fourth grade at St. John’s, where she also interned. Her classroom is just down the hallway from Pessagno’s.  

“Our relationship with Mount St. Mary’s is important to us. The Mount is providing us with our future leaders, so we want our interns to be successful. When they succeed, we succeed,” Pessagno said.  

Stetser will complete his internship mid-May and is already learning how to teach a hybrid classroom.  “I’m grateful St. John’s gave me the opportunity to do my internship with them, especially with my great mentor teacher. She’s fantastic and has taught me so much; I can’t wait to learn more from her,”  he said.

Pessagno, who has been teaching at St. John’s for a decade, says effective teachers have to be hardworking individuals. She tells her students: “You can do this” nearly every day. Her effervescent personality is contagious—and it’s easy to imagine the excitement she brings to subjects like the American Civil War, the Crusades and Joan of Arc. “Social studies is the best thing to teach. Mr. Stetser and I are in total agreement about that.”  

In honor of his own classroom influences, Stetser says he is considering going back to teach at his high school in Gloucester City, New Jersey, or he might teach for the Department of Defense in the education sector where he can travel around the world and teach at military bases. He also is weighing graduate school. For now, he is focused “on a lot of very good kids and their success.”  

Nicole Patterson