Our Faculty and Staff
Saint John Paul II Catholic School (SPJII) is firmly committed to recruiting the most qualified professionals available to be members of our faculty and staff. An interested, enthusiastic, and devoted faculty is an integral part of providing the finest education possible. Our teachers are our most important resource. As dedicated and talented professionals, they strive to reach every student. Saint John Paul II Catholic School is proud to have an impressive, innovative, creative, and concerned staff.
About Mr. John Donohue III
A graduate of Magdalen College, Bedford, New Hampshire, Mr. Donohue holds advanced degrees from Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also studied in the doctoral program in education administration at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Mr. Donohue began his career teaching history, literature, and theology at Seton High School, Manassas, Virginia, and political philosophy and Catholic social teaching at Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia, followed by twenty years teaching and in director positions at his alma mater, Magdalen College. He then was headmaster, taught, and coached soccer and basketball at Mount Royal Academy, Sunapee, New Hampshire, where he was director and co-founder of the academy's high school. Mr. Donohue later accepted the position of principal of St. Egbert Catholic School in Morehead City, North Carolina, before serving as principal of John Paul II High School in Greenville.
About Jen Edwards
About Deborah Lawson
It is with an open heart, open ears, and an open mind, that Mrs. Lawson comes to St. John Paul II School each day! With love of children, learning, and education, Mrs. Lawson can be seen snapping photos of your beautiful children, giving tours to new prospective families, or touring benefactors around the campus. Mrs. Lawson has been involved with St. John Paul II School since its inception and is somewhat of a school historian.
In addition, Mrs. Lawson’s responsibilities include admissions, advertising and public relations, major gifts, donor coordination and retention, and fundraising. Among her other activities, Mrs. Lawson is currently president of the Board of Directors of Life Care Pregnancy Center in Carthage, NC. She is a NC licensed real estate agent, which she has held for over 20 years. She is a member of, and participates in church activities at St. Anthony of Padua in Southern Pines.
Mrs. Lawson resides in Southern Pines with her husband Jim, son Christopher (SJPII class of 2016), and daughter Meghan (SJPII class of 2021). She is a proud hockey and lacrosse mom, as well as a horse-girl mom, who enjoys traveling and watching her children grow in their education and outside endeavors!
Our Faculty Members
About Ms. Kristen Holton
About Ms. Tara Pellasce
In the past, Ms. Pellasce has taught students all over the world. She began her teaching journey in Otavalo, Ecuador. There, she taught English as a second language. Soon after, Ms. Pellasce taught ESL in Accra, Ghana. Previously, she has taught special education in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and second grade and kindergarten in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Ms. Pellasce is new to the region and is looking forward to spending time with her dog and fiance outside, in God’s nature.
Ms. Pellasce is excited to be a part of a school family that has the opportunity to come together in prayer each day. It is a blessing that God has given her the beautiful vocation of teacher. She truly believes that the SJP2 has many opportunities to grow each child in his/her faith.
About Mrs. Kirsten Hilpert
About Mrs. Lori D'Argenio
About Ms. Jessica Foley
Mrs. Foley currently resides in Whispering Pines with her husband, Patrick, their one-year-old son, Thomas, and their dog, Scout. In November, they’ll be welcoming a baby girl to the family. Both Jessica and Patrick grew up in the Bay Area, more specifically, the garlic capital of the world, Gilroy, California. However, Patrick’s career in the military has led them to places near and far: Missouri, South Korea, Colorado, and now, North Carolina.
After spending 13 years in Catholic education as a student, Mrs. Foley continued her education with the Jesuits at the University of San Francisco. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in criminal justice in 2009. Her original plans of attending law school were overturned when she realized in her senior year of college that her true passion was in education. She then earned her teaching credential from Santa Clara University (more Catholic education!).
About Mrs. Pamela Francis
About Mrs. Lori Haley
About Ms. Abbey Flores
About Mrs. Magdelena Posada
About Mrs. Valarie Mahmud
About Ms. Meredith Richard
Stop by our second grade classroom and you will find teaching assistant Meredith Richard helping our second graders with their reading, writing, and math, or perhaps tying shoes or checking homework folders or turning the jump rope on the playground. Before joining our staff in 2016, Mrs. Richard was a stay-at-home mom to her five children, four of whom graduated from SJP2 and one who is currently a fifth grade student. Mrs. Richard volunteered in the school library for several years before joining our staff in 2016 and she continues to share her love of reading with her students.
About Ms. Kendra Tranel
Mrs. Tranel resides in Whispering Pines with her husband Dan, sons Keaton (SJPII alumni class of 2015), Broderick (SJPII class of 2019), and Taylon (SJPII class of 2022), and daughter Nyah (SJPII class of 2024). Outside of school, Mrs. Tranel’s family keeps her very busy with a variety of sports and activities, including football, soccer, swimming, and music.
Before making their move to North Carolina, Mrs. Tranel and her family made their home in Iowa. Mrs. Tranel graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice. Mrs. Tranel also holds a certificate in paralegal studies and worked for many years as a paralegal in Iowa before moving to the Sandhills and seizing the opportunity to spend more time with her family.