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St. John's Episcopal School

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Learning Support, Counseling, Chaplains

At St. John’s, we meet students where they are and take them as far as they can go. To help us on the journey, we have a Student Formation Team (SFT) focused on students’ learning, social and emotional, and spiritual needs. Each division has an SFT consisting of the Director of Student Formation and counselor, learning specialist, and division head. The chaplains, dean of students, and nursing staff may also consult with the SFT. When teachers or parents have concerns about a student, they can make a referral to the SFT. A member of the team will typically observe the student, and the team will meet with the referring teacher to determine the best course of action. The outcome may be a parent meeting, a recommendation for a psychoeducational assessment, tutoring, counseling, a behavior plan or checklist, or simply monitoring the student closely. The SFT also presents and coordinates outside professionals to speak to teachers and parents on social, emotional, and learning topics.

Mary Odom
Dean of Student Formation

Jake Minton
Assistant Dean of Students for Primary and Lower School

Shannon Newsom
Lower School Chaplain

David Ray
School Counselor

Marthe Turlington
Lower School Learning Specialist

Andrew Wermelskirchen
Middle School Chaplain

Director of Student Formation and Dean of Students

Our Director of Student Formation and Dean of Students Mary Odom helps us maintain a healthy social and emotional environment at School. Her role includes student support, crisis intervention, providing classroom guidance lessons, and coordinating social emotional learning and wellness events for students. Mary participates in both the Lower and Middle School student support team. She acts as a resource for faculty members and parents by providing guidance on managing students’ particular issues of behavior, emotions, and mental health. She functions as a liaison between the School, our Counselor Dave Ray, and any mental health professional, and she serves as a referral source for outside professionals. Additionally, Mary serves as the Dean of Students focusing on Middle School students' needs and works with Jake Minton, Assistant Dean of Students for Primary and Lower School, who supports our students in preschool through grade four.


Responsible for the social and emotional support of Primary, Lower, and Middle School students, our Counselor Dave Ray is a key collaborator on the Student Formation Team, which leads St. John’s approach to whole-child development in a Christian environment. Chapel and spiritual formation, social, emotional, and physical wellness, behavior and discipline, and academic learning support reside under his purview and the Student Formation umbrella.  

Learning Support

St. John’s enrolls diverse learners, including some with diagnosed learning differences. Our Student Support Team supports these students and others who may need extra academic support. Our Learning Specialist Marthe Turlington focuses on helping faculty identify Lower School students at-risk for learning differences and ensure Middle School students with documented learning differences receive the in-class accommodations they need to be most successful. She participates in divisional student support teams, assist families with accessing appropriate support systems, coordinating on-campus tutors and therapists, and providing support and information to teachers. 


Chaplains Newsom and Wermelskirchen guide us in the fulfillment of our spiritual mission to educate students in a Christian, Episcopal environment. We worship together as a community (first through eighth grade) each Monday and Wednesday. On Wednesdays and Fridays, Mrs. Newsom leads chapel for our early childhood students. On their non-chapel days, students work with their homeroom teachers (Lower School) or advisors (Middle School) on small-group social emotional learning lessons that focus on character development.

Through their work, Chaplain Newsom and Chaplain Werm embody the five tenets of Episcopal education to which we, as a school, are committed:

  • Academic excellence
  • Corporate worship (Episcopal/Christian chapel)
  • Religious studies based on basic Biblical content
  • Meaningful and integrated community service and service-learning projects
  • An inclusive community where the dignity of every human being is respected.