ABOUT

Our Faculty and Staff

Lumen Verum Academy is blessed to offer our students an exceptional faculty, who are each first and foremost fervent followers of Jesus Christ and His Church. Additionally, our faculty’s diversity of gifts, talents, passions and areas of expertise inspire and guide our students to respond to God’s call for them to be true lights in the world.

A Conversation With Our Educators

Joaquim Brooks

Math Faculty
A.B. Economics, Princeton University

I grew up in the Washington D.C. metro area and went to Princeton where I studied Economics. I spent the last year after my graduation working at the Witherspoon Institute, a think tank in Princeton, New Jersey, leading seminars for high school and college students. I’m so excited to begin at Lumen Verum because of the great experience I had at my own Catholic high school and middle school, on account of which I decided soon after graduating to devote myself to Catholic education.

Karen Celano

Co-Principal of Academics
B.A. History, Johns Hopkins University
M.T.S. Theology, University of Notre Dame

My childhood was spent in Atlanta and I went to Catholic schools from first through twelfth grade. As a lifelong Catholic, I know the importance of a Catholic education in shaping and nurturing a child’s faith. In college and graduate school, I studied the history of Catholicism in the United States. After attaining my master’s degree, I began my teaching career at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in New York City. I also continued my graduate theology studies at Yale University. I have taught at the college and graduate school levels, served as an elementary level, high school, and adult catechist in my parish, and worked as a staff member in parochial schools. I had the honor of teaching theology at Boston College High School for three years before being appointed Director of Instruction at St. Paul’s Choir School. Now, I am thrilled to be joining Lumen Verum because of its wholehearted embrace of the beauty and wisdom of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

I have a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Thomas More, St. Benedict, and St. John Henry Newman. At various times in my life these saints have been my lodestars as I have pursued wisdom and virtue in my own imperfect way. In my spare time I enjoy reading (especially 19th-century British literature and anything about Catholic liberal arts education), hiking with my family, and visiting monasteries.

Hayden Guy Cowart

Science Faculty
B.S.A. Neuroscience, Certificate in Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin
M.T.S. Theology and Ministry, Boston College

As a young man in high school, my fascination with the mind eventually led me to the cognitive sciences, particularly neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. My awe at God’s designs has only deepened with my explorations in these disciplines, as has my assurance that the Catholic understanding of the human person is unsurpassably beautiful and true. I have a special devotion to Sts. Paul the Apostle, Basil the Great, and Francis Xavier because these men subordinated their erudition to a more foundational desire to live and proclaim the Gospel. My hope as a science teacher at Lumen Verum Academy is to pass along a wonder for creation and a love for empirical observation, both of which nourish robust theology.

Craig Timothy Dyke

Co-Principal of Faith Formation & Student Life
B.A. Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
M.A. Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics Specialization, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Growing up in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, I developed a love for the outdoors at a young age. During my youth, I also drew close to the richness of the Catholic traditions of our Faith. Inspired by my studies of St. John Paul II’s writings on evangelization, catechesis, marriage, and family life, I have spent more than 20 years of ministry experience with youth, young adults, and families, including: marriage preparation and enrichment, and catechizing youth and adults, as well as organizing and leading youth participation in the March for Life, Steubenville Youth Conferences, retreats, sports, and service activities.

I previously served as Director of Family Life for the Archdiocese of Boston, as well as prior appointments as the Director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life for the Diocese of Peoria in Illinois, the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Rapid City in South Dakota, and most recently, the Director of the Family Life Office in the Archdiocese of Omaha in Nebraska.

My wife, Amy, and I met while studying together at Franciscan University. We have been married for over 20 years and have five daughters. Our college-aged children attend Ave Maria University and Franciscan University. In addition to my love for my Faith and family, I enjoy good books, camping and hiking, woodworking, athletics, and strapping on my guitar to play music with my daughters.

Jacob Nolan

Assistant Principal of Faith Formation & Student Life, Theology
B.S. Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
M.A. Theology and Christian Ministry, Franciscan University of Steubenville

What makes Catholic Education truly unique is the conviction that the truth students seek and discover in their education is not an idea or a system, but a person—Jesus Christ. Catholic schools should not only teach about Christ, but help students come to know, love, and follow Him.

While in Steubenville, I was privileged to work with Dr. Scott Hahn as a teaching assistant and I have taught various elements of Catholic theology for 2 years at the high school level. I am excited to be a part of Lumen Verum Academy and its role in the broader renewal of Catholic Education.

I am blessed to be a husband to my wonderful wife Megan and a father to my energetic son Ambrose. I deeply enjoy reading great literature, listening to music and teaching myself to play piano, lifting weights, and discussing theology, philosophy, etc. Important saints in my life include first and foremost the Blessed Mother Mary, as well as St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Philip Neri.

Jennie Richer

English Faculty
B.A. Political Science, U.C. Berkeley
M.A. Education, St. Mary’s College of California

I have seven years teaching experience in California, Massachusetts, and New York. As an avid reader, I aim to share my love of Literature with my students. Together, we will traverse the realms of classic stories to learn about the complexities of human nature and the pervasiveness of natural law. Middle school is such a formative time for young people, and I enjoy fostering student growth, both academically and spiritually. I am excited to join the LVA community because of my devotion to academic excellence and to the Catholic faith. I find inspiration from the words of St. John Bosco who once said, “education is a matter of heart.”

When I am not reading, I can often be found spending time with my husband and children. I also enjoy hiking, running, and baking desserts.

Emily Schwartz

Humanities / English Faculty
B.A. English, B.A. Communications & Media Studies, Tufts University

I fell in love with reading and writing at a very young age, but it was in middle school, upon encountering classic poetry for the first time, that literature began to unlock the door to a deeper understanding of the world around me. Every aspect of studying English excites me. I cannot wait to study grammar, vocabulary, writing, and literary themes alongside middle schoolers! If I accomplish my mission as a teacher, every student will leave my class with a sense of joy and wonder about the world of literature.

Outside the classroom, I love to paint portraits, sing, explore New England farms, get lost on long bike rides, and practice Lectio Divina. My house rabbit, Chester, might be the only creature on Earth that loves fruits and veggies more than I do! I have a special devotion to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. For reasons unbeknownst to me at the time, she chose me at my confirmation as my patron saint. She ultimately gave me the push I needed to answer the call to teach in a Catholic school.

I felt called to join LVA because I believe in educating the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. A Lumen Verum education promotes this holistic mindset while keeping what’s most important at the center: Jesus Christ. I loved middle school. Now I never have to leave!

Daniel Simard

Assistant Principal of Student Life and Faith Formation
B.A. Southern New Hampshire University
Coursework completed at St. John’s Seminary

I am a passionate and driven disciple with a desire to lead others to Jesus Christ. My family and I live in Litchfield, NH, where I have spent most of my life. After college, I worked for two years in the health insurance business. It was in this role that I felt a strong draw to the priestly vocation.

After a year of discernment, the draw to the priesthood led me further onto the road towards priesthood. In response to this draw, I entered the St. John’s Seminary on behalf of the Diocese of Manchester. It was in this place of intense formation that I was transfigured closer to the heart of Jesus Christ. During my time at the seminary, a stronger devotion to St. Joseph took form. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, I was able to properly discern my vocation.

With eyes set on Christ, I left the seminary full of faith, hope, and love for the future.

I was assigned as an Apprentice Principal for the Archdiocese of Boston in 2020. After a year as an Apprentice Principal, I accepted the amazing opportunity to serve on the student life and faith formation team Lumen Verum Academy. I am inspired by Lumen Verum’s goal to provide an authentic, well rounded, and affordable Catholic education for youth disciples! It is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Rita Shann

School Nurse
B.S. Exercise Physiology, Ball State University
M.S. Cardiac Rehabilitation, East Stroudsburg University
A.S. Nursing, New Hampshire Technical Institute

I grew up in Northern Virginia and was blessed to be raised by parents who devoutly lived their Catholic faith. They passed their love for Jesus on to me by virtue of example. When I received my Confirmation, I developed a sincere devotion to the Holy Spirit who has guided my life in amazing ways. At Ball State University, I served as vice-president of the Newman Center and was also very active in Students For Life. During my time there I began studying scripture and theology so that I could defend the faith and help evangelize many of my college friends who were either luke-warm Catholics or Evangelical Christians. I have been involved with catechesis ever since, and consider it my life-long calling. I have a special affection for St. Peter the Apostle, who is my confirmation namesake.

I acquired my Master’s Degree in Cardiac Rehabilitation and worked in that field for a number of years, but returned to school for my nursing degree because I realized how much I loved taking care of patients. My nursing career began at Catholic Medical Center in New Hampshire where I worked in the Intensive Care Unit. Later, our family moved to Connecticut where I worked as a cardiac nurse at Danbury Hospital. After giving birth to my fifth child, my husband, Kenny and I decided I would stay home to raise our children. As any parent can appreciate, nursing experience is very useful as a mother.

I am thrilled to be working with your children as the Registered Nurse at Lumen Verum Academy because I will be able to integrate my two passions–teaching and nursing. Keeping our children healthy requires an understanding that there are multiple dimensions of a child’s wellness, including the physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social aspects. I recognize the fact that health is a great focus and priority of our time, so I will work hard to advocate for a balanced approach in keeping our students and teachers healthy.

Heidi Masso

Director of Admissions
B.A. in Psychology, ECSU

I grew up all over the country and spent several years in England as my father served in the military. I developed a love for Christ at an early age and always wanted to share that love with others. I was given the amazing gift of a faith-filled husband and have fully embraced my vocation as a mother to our seven children.

After graduating from college, I taught at a specialized school for children with autism and then made a giant career shift into the pharmaceutical industry. I spent 10 years growing market share, leading sales initiatives and training field reps. After the birth of my second child, I decided to leave my career and be home with my children. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years and homeschooled for the last year. My kids would say my main focus is their souls but I also love to cook, bake, run, and read. I have a special connection to Saint Catherine of Siena. She was so full of joy.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”

St. Catherine of Siena