Get To Know Our Staff
Nicholas is thrilled to join the John XXIII community and to continue to serve Our Lord in Catholic education. “God has prepared me for this opportunity throughout the course of my spiritual and professional life.” Most recently, he served as the Director of Leadership Development for Cana Family Institute, responsible for the leadership formation of hundreds of leaders throughout the nation. Prior to this work, he led a Minnesota Catholic parochial school’s transition from the traditional model of education to the Montessori method. At a pivotal moment in the school’s history, he spent years building a family-focused, joyful community of children, parents, and staff.
Nearly two decades ago, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s Degree in Great Books in which he studied the seminal works of Western philosophical, theological, scientific, and literary thought. Following college, he lived and worked in a Catholic orphanage for two years in Honduras, where he encountered Christ in the poorest of the poor. Soon after, he experienced a clear call to serve God through His Catholic schools. Nicholas served as a high school teacher and campus minister before pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Washington, DC. He then joined a team of educators led by the Nashville Dominican sisters, which founded Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, where he served as a religion teacher and the Dean of Instruction & Student Life. During this time, he earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Notre Dame. In June of 2016, he received a phone call, inviting him to be the principal of the Catholic school in Minnesota, and now, four years later, he is very happy to return to Virginia. “The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to lead John XXIII, and my wife, three children, and I are thoroughly excited to call John XXIII and Front Royal our home.”
Head of Catechesis, Elementary Program Level II & Level III Catechist, Sacramental Program Coordinator
A Montessori child herself, Laura believes deeply in the Montessori way of life as foundational to assisting each child to discover his/her unique place in God’s plan. After receiving a B.A. in Religion from the University of Virginia, she and her husband Mark incorporated Montessori principles in the home education of their nine children. Since being introduced to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program in 2000, Laura has received CGS certification in Levels I, II, III and Infant-Toddler, and is additionally recognized as a CGS National Formation Leader for Levels I and II. Laura is coordinator with St. John’s parish for John XXIII’s Sacramental preparation, volunteers with the parish’s Religious Education program, and is a founding Board member of John XXIII. A proud Nana, she is delighted that seven of her grandchildren attend at the Center. For the past 30 years Laura & Mark have operated Briarmead Farm, a “beyond organic” grass-fed farm producing beef and lamb; a Slow Food DC “Snail of Approval Award” recipient.
Elementary Lead Guide
Eileen Janaro graduated with a Masters in English from the University of Dallas. She has been teaching for 24 years, inspired by Montessori principles for the last 21 years, and has been the Center’s Montessori Elementary Directress since 2009. Eileen completed her AMI Elementary certification as well as a Master’s degree in Montessori Elementary Education at The Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University of Maryland. Eileen and her husband, John, have been blessed with five children.
Primary Program Lead Guide & Catechist
Michelle Castellan has a B.A. in Theology from Christendom College and a M.T.S. from John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and the Family. Michelle is certified in Levels I and II of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She has been a catechist with John XXIII Montessori Children’s Center since 2005, serving as the Three Morning Program Level I Lead Catechist and as a Lead Catechist in a Level II Atrium. Recently completing her Early Childhood Diploma, Michelle is the Primary Guide in our Three Morning Program. Michelle and her husband, Bill, have five children, all of whom have attended John XXIII.
Toddler Guide, Mommy & Me Catechist, Monday Level I Catechist, Primary Spanish Immersion Guide
Bio coming soon!
Tuesday Level I Catechist, Primary Atrium Assistant.
Jessica received her B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Virginia. After a life-altering encounter with God’s mercy at age 23, she fell passionately in love with Jesus and was baptized into His Catholic Church. Jessica has received her Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Certification, and has also begun Level II, which she looks forward to completing in Summer 2021. Jessica remains in awe of the loving relationship between the Good Shepherd and the child, and feels blessed to share in the work of nurturing the child’s deep faith through the gift of CGS. She served in a parish Atrium in the Richmond Diocese before moving to Front Royal. Jessica and her husband have four children, and are immensely grateful for the beautiful formation for life in the Kingdom that John XXIII provides.
Tuesday Level III and Friday Level II Atrium Catechist
Emilia Benyo resides in Rappahannock County and attended Marymount and Northern Virginia Community College. She earned her Master Catechist Certification from the Arlington Diocese in 2013. When her youngest son attended John XXIII, she was introduced to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and her love with the Good Shepherd began.
In 2015 and 2016, she received her formation and certification in Level I and Level II, respectively. As the catechist for the traditional 2nd grade Sacramental preparation using the faith formation program at St. Peter Catholic Church, Washington, VA, she transitioned the program into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This year she is the Catechist for Thursday and Friday Level II Atrium session. Her husband, Bob, is a Permanent Deacon in the Arlington Diocese and they have two boys.
Assistant Sacramental Prep Coordinator, Level II Tuesday Catechist, Level III Friday Catechist
Susan graduated from Christendom College in 1990 with a BA in English. She began her CGS training and assisting at John XXIII in 2006. Certified in all three levels of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Susan says that CGS training is a beautiful personal retreat with the Good Shepherd and feels extremely blessed to be able to share this work with children in the beautiful Atrium environment. Susan and her husband Chip have 13 children and one grandchild and live in Bentonville, VA.
Lead Adolescent Guide, White Oaks Middle School & White Oaks High School
Sarah graduated with a B.A. in history from Christendom College and has taught humanities, language arts, SAT prep and math at the middle and high school level since 2007. She began educating herself in the Montessori method the following year upon the birth of her first child, and has incorporated Montessori both at home and in the classroom ever since. With two children on the Autism Spectrum, she intimately recognizes the value of Montessori’s individual and communal approach to learning. Sarah joined White Oaks Middle School in its maiden year and continues to teach history and language arts. She also volunteers as a 7th grade catechist at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Sarah’s children attend John XXIII Montessori Children’s Center.
Friday Level I Atrium Catechist, White Oaks Catechist
Jessica graduated with a BA in Philosophy from Christendom College where she was introduced to the work of both Maria Montessori and Sophia Cavelletti. She completed her Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training in 2012 and was an Assistant in the Atrium for 2 years. Jessica is lead catechist in the Level I Atrium on Friday mornings. Jessica and her husband, Jacob have been blessed with four children: Rose Marie, Samuel, Benjamin and Grace.
White Oaks Catechist
Bio and Photo coming soon!