St. John’s Social Studies Department, through a wide variety of academic disciplines, strengthens students’ knowledge of the past and their understanding of their place in the world today. Whether studying human behavior through psychology and economics, gaining an appreciation for art and music or studying the history of the world from the earliest civilizations to current political debates, students observe, analyze and evaluate the many connections across time, place and subject matter, both in and outside of the classroom. 

Students develop strong critical-thinking skills and the ability to express their ideas in a variety of ways. From informal class discussions to individual and group presentations, essay writing and research papers, students are expected to articulate their interpretations of the historical past and the modern world around them. 

Course Offerings

  • World History and Geography 1
  • World History and Geography 2 
  • US History 
  • US Government
  • Economics 
  • Global Studies 
  • AP Art History
  • AP World History
  • AP U.S. History 
  • AP European History 
  • AP Psychology 
  • AP US Government and Politics 
  • History of American Music
  • History and Principles of Journalism
  • The American Experience: 1900 to Today
  • Introduction to Psychology 
  • Introduction to Sociology

Course Requirements

Students must complete three credits of social studies to graduate. Geography and Human Interactions, World History and U.S. History are required. More than 80% of seniors complete a fourth social studies elective.

Typical Course of Study
  • 9th Grade: World History and Geography 1
  • 10th Grade: World History and Geography 2 or AP World History 
  • 11th Grade: US History or AP US History
  • 12th Grade: Optional elective year 

Extracurricular Opportunities

  • Model UN: Students research and debate current or theoretical issues facing the UN from the perspective of one or several particular nations involved. Club members are expected to conduct research regarding these issues and develop position papers that detail the specific position their nation might take on those issues. St. John's participates in conferences at St. Anselm’s, George C. Marshall High School, Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, Columbia University and Georgetown University. 
  • Girl Up: An innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up gives American girls the opportunity to become global leaders and channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. 
  • Debate Team: Speech and debate are consistently recognized as fundamental activities in promoting student leadership, raising standardized test scores and distinguishing applicants to elite universities. This club focuses on policy debate and student congress. Events that emphasize knowledge of governmental policy and action on both the domestic and international levels are also hot topics.

Social Studies Faculty

List of 16 members.

  • Photo of Jason Smith

    Jason Smith 

    Department Chair, Social Studies; AP World History, History and Principles of Journalism
    202-363-2316 x1962
    University of Mississippi - B.A.
    Christian Brothers University, Memphis - M.A.
  • Thomas Ballenger 

    Benilde Teacher; AP US History
    202-363-2316 x1921
    University of Maryland, Baltimore - B.A.
  • Joshua Baum 

    AP Psychology, Introduction to Psychology
    202-363-2316 x1970
    Catholic University - B.A.
    Southern New Hampshire University - M.A.
  • Photo of Patrick Behan

    Patrick Behan 

    Head Boys' Basketball Coach; World History and Geography 1
    202-363-2316 x1094
    Bucknell University - B.A.
  • Tara Cameron 

    World History and Geography 2, Global Studies
    202-363-2316 x1968
    American University - B.A.
  • Photo of Colin Crawford

    Colin Crawford 

    AP Government, Contemporary Thought and Political Issues, American Experience: 1900-Today; Jazz Inst
    202-363-2316 x1969
    University of Scranton - B.A.
    Manhattanville College - M.A.T.
  • Photo of Jay Egan

    Jay Egan 

    AP US History, World History and Geography 1
    202-363-2316 x1966
    State University of New York, Cortland - B.A.
    Touro College - M.S.
  • Photo of Anna Garland

    Anna Garland 

    Dean of Academic Services; Introduction to Sociology; College Counseling
    202-363-2316 x1095
    Baylor University - B.B.A.
    Baylor University - M.A.
    Baylor University - Ph.D.
  • Trey Halstead 

    Lehigh University - B.S.
    University of Wisconsin - M.S.
  • Photo of Stephen Harlan

    Stephen Harlan 

    AP US History, Spanish 1
    202-363-2316 x1934
    Villanova University - B.A.
  • Photo of Kristen Logan

    Kristen Logan 

    Director of the De La Salle Scholars Program; World History and Geography 1
    202-363-2316 x1092
    Harvard College - B.A.
    Johns Hopkins University - M.S.
  • Photo of Chris Maloney

    Chris Maloney 

    World History and Geography 2, Justice in America
    202-363-2316 x1933
    Purdue University - B.A.
    College of William and Mary - M.A.
    American University - M.A.T.
  • Photo of Joseph Petraiuolo

    Joseph Petraiuolo 

    World History and Geography 1, World History and Geography 2, United States History
    202-363-2316 x1916
    University of Dayton - B.A.
    Johns Hopkins University - M.Ed.
  • Jacob Plott 

    AP World History, World History and Geography 1
    202-363-2316 x1109
    University of Richmond - B.A.
  • Photo of Kellie Prendiville

    Kellie Prendiville 

    AP World History, World History and Geography 1
    202-363-2316 x1971
    University of Maryland - B.A.
  • Photo of Matthew Zacher

    Matthew Zacher 

    AP European History, US History
    202-363-2316 x1965
    University of Florida - B.A.
    University of Florida - M.Ed.