Dr. Joshua Russell


Dr. Joshua Russell serves as the Headmaster of Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart where he also teaches courses in history, literature, music, and writing. He previously held faculty positions at Cornell College, Bradley University, and Illinois State University where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses, supervised graduate teaching assistants, and counseled students in career development. A passionate teacher in multiple disciplines, Dr. Russell is also an FAA certified flight instructor and commercial pilot. He holds a doctorate in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa and has performed as a concert pianist and conductor throughout the United States, Europe, and Haiti. Dr. Russell and his wife, Anna, have eight children and are members of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, IL.


Mr. Alan Anderson


Alan L. Anderson worked at the parish and diocesan level in catechetics in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria for over twenty years, serving as a junior high religion teacher and Director of Religious Education at St. Mary’s of Metamora and a Regional Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Peoria. His writings appear regularly in such publications as Catholic World Report, The Catholic Thing, New Oxford Review and Homiletics and Pastoral Review. A convert to the faith, he and his wife, Joyce, have four beautiful children.

Mr. Patrick Deneen


Patrick C. Deneen teaches philosophy, history, Latin, PE, and debate at Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart as full-time humanities teacher. He also directs the forthcoming athletics program and leads the house system. He studied African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University before beginning priestly formation for the Diocese of Peoria at Mount St. Mary's Seminary. There, he began working towards a Master's of the Arts in Philosophical Studies, but left in May to resume exploring and discerning religious life and intellectual apostolate. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising and playing sports, including hurling and Gaelic football, two traditional sports from Ireland, his mother's home country.


Mr. Tyler Smith

Director of Development and Recruiting/Drama

Mr. Smith serves as the Director of Development and Recruiting, teaches the drama course, directs the semester drama production, and runs the Summer Musical Program at Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart. Smith has been involved with theatre since the age of six and has been in over sixty productions since. Smith has been seen on several stages in Central Illinois such as Peoria Players, Eastlight Theatre, Corn Stock Theatre and others throughout the area. He has played numerous roles such as Javert in Les Miserables, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tony in West Side Story and many others. He has directed productions of Father of the Bride, The Butler Did It!, The Music Man, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast with Chesterton Academy. While not onstage, he has been active as a director at St. Philomena Catholic Grade School, Metamora Township High School, and with the Metamora Thespian Society. Mr. Smith and his wife, Mary Rose are members of St. Philomena Parish in Peoria, IL.


Fr. Hugh Mary

Spiritual Direction and Seminar

Br. Hugh-Mary Garnier de Falletans, born in 1961, is a religious priest, member of the Congregation of Saint-John. Maître in Theology (S.T.L.), he teaches at the novitiate house of the Congregation in Princeville, Illinois, since October 2015. He gives retreats and spiritual talks in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and outside the state of Illinois. His previous apostolic assignments led br. Hugh-Mary to live in France, Belgium, Mexico and Philippines. He gave sessions and retreats on Religious life, Mariology, encyclicals, Trinitarian Theology, St. John’s Gospel, Book of Revelation, Ethics and First Philosophy. Teacher in philosophy and theology at John Paul II Institute (Studies on Marriage and Family), he taught classes of Natural Theology and Theology of Marriage. He prepared many young couples for the sacrament of Marriage.


Mrs. Mary Beth Knott


Mary Beth Knott received the Bachelor of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University with a major in art and a biology teaching minor. She has worked professionally doing brush lettering and commercial art layouts and has exhibited and sold paintings through juried shows, art fairs and private collections. Mrs. Knott formerly taught at Willowbrook High School, Metamora High School, and was a volunteer in the Art Form Program in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago. An advocate for classical drawing, her students have won numerous art awards throughout the years. Mrs. Knott incorporates knowledge of brain function into the learning process to allow all students to find the freedom to fulfill their creative potential. Mrs. Knott is a member of St. Luke Catholic Church in Eureka, IL, and utilizes St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of beauty as “unity, harmony, and radiance” as inspiration in guiding students to create beautiful and meaningful art.


Mrs. Kathy Harvey

Math and Science

Kathy Harvey received the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and has completed coursework for the Illinois Teaching Certificate from Bradley University. Mrs. Harvey is a staff member of the learning lab at Illinois Central College where she tutors students in chemistry, math, and physics. She previously taught at Bergen High School and Peoria Christian School and also served as a corporate training instructor for Caterpillar, Inc. She lives in Peoria with her husband Keith, and has three daughters and two grandchildren.


Mrs. Jeanne Williams


Jeanne Williams joins the Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart to teach Biology. Mrs. Williams graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Biochemistry and taught Biology, Honors Biology, and courses in Reading and Study Skills at the high school level before stepping away from the classroom to be a full-time mother of five children. She is passionate about the mission of Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart and is excited to return to teaching in an environment with this educational approach.

Erica Higgins

Mrs. Erica Higgins

Administrative Assistant

Mrs. Erica Higgins joined Chesterton Academy of the Sacred Heart in August of 2019. Previously she was a full-time mom to her two wonderful children, Clara and Connor. Mrs. Higgins, a native Ohioan, moved to Peoria in 2017 after living near Minneapolis, Minnesota for about 6 years. In Minnesota Mrs. Higgins taught band and orchestra at Eagle Ridge Academy, another Classical Education school near the twin cities. She holds her bachelors and masters degrees in music education from the University of Toledo and the University of Akron, respectively. She deeply believes in Classical Education for the power it has to teach the whole child and is thrilled to be a small part of the growth of this great school. She and her husband Tyler enjoy spending time finding new adventures for their young children and enjoy traveling. Mrs. Higgins converted to the Catholic faith after meeting her husband. She and her family attend St. Jude church in Peoria where she also sings with the choir.

Miss Anna Berlinger


Miss Berlinger is the daughter of a German father and Irish-American mother. Having heard English spoken by her mother and German from her father, she was raised bilingual. Homeschooled throughout her childhood, Anna graduated from the Seton Homeschool of Front Royal, Virginia in 2013. She graduated with her Bachelor's Degree from Bradley University in 2017 with a double major in English and History and a concentration in Creative Writing and received her Master's Degree in English at Bradley University in the spring of 2019. In 2014, Miss Berlinger self-published a 600-page fantasy novel about the legends of the Irish tradition called Antirion: The Forgotten Isle with Xlibris publishers and also had a short story accepted to the Santa Fe Writers Journal. In her spare time she enjoys training horses, reading, and honing her home-making skills: cooking, baking bread, knitting, sewing, candle making and soap making.

Mrs. Patti Fait


Mrs. Patti Fait was born and raised in Montana. She received her teaching degree in mathematics with a minor in chemistry at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Mrs. Fait taught for three years before she married her husband, Stephen and taught four more years after she married. She has a daughter, son, and two granddaughters. Mrs. Fait homeschooled both of her children from middle school to high school. In 2001, Mrs. Fait from Montana to the Peoria Area. After homeschooling her children, she accepted a part-time tutoring position at ICC and currently tutors math students. She is looking forward to teaching geometry at Chesterton Academy!

Sister Anne


Peace in Christ to all of you beautiful families who are trying to raise your children in the faith and close to God. I am so happy to be able to come once a month to Chesterton Academy and share my love of Jesus with your wonderful young ladies. I am the second of twelve children from southwestern North Dakota. I grew up in the faith and with strong Christian values, but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I felt like I met Jesus in a personal way for the first time. This experience gave me the desire to respond to His love with not only certain moments of my life, but my entire life. Despite this strong experience of His love and call, I needed time to be ready to give up my “plastic pearls”. (This references a story I shared with the girls last Thursday!) I finally entered the Community six years later after graduating with a degree in Elementary Education and teaching for two years on a Native American reservation. I entered as a postulant in Princeville and stayed here for nine months. I was then sent to France for the rest of my formation. I had the great joy of promising to follow Christ according the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the community of the Apostolic Sisters of Saint John, until death, this September 8th in the cathedral in Peoria. I am excited to be back in the States, even if I am a little ‘French Fried’. If you’ve ever wondered what a North Dakota French accent sounded like . . .! My main mission here, along with prayer, community life, and spiritual support, is vocation director for our community in America. We are also working on raising money to build a chapel and a convent, as what we are now using is a garage and a summer house. Prayers for these missions are always appreciated! This year I hope that together we will discover and become the Christian women that Christ is calling us to be, for our good and our joy, and for the good of all . . . our families, friends, the Church, the world! Prayers are appreciated for this mission, also! Thank you again for your fidelity and trust. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (Rm 15:13).

Robert Pitts

Mr. Robert Pitts


Robert Pitts serves as a theology instructor. He is a graduate from Bradley University and a convert to the faith. He teaches CCD and serves in a leadership role at Bradley’s Newman Center. He enjoys reading and playing guitar. He belongs to St. Mark Parish in Peoria, IL.


Mr. Abraham Ghantous

P.E. and Dance

Abraham Ghantous is the owner of Body Fitness, a fitness club which he founded in 1992. Since then it has grown to encompass fitness, personal training, health coaching and dance classes. They also host parties and special events. The dance component was added in 1997 when Mr. Ghantous’s passion for dance emerged. He received formal dance instruction at Salsa y Pasión Studio in San Diego and locally by Ralph & Gail Pagan and Mandy Barrett. For thirteen years he has taught Ballroom, Latin and Swing dance not only at Body Fitness but also at wedding receptions, birthday parties, fund raisers, local high schools and universities. He has performed at local dance showcases, fund raisers, on the air at WTVP and WEEK TV and competed several years at CASA Dancing with the Stars. Mr. Ghantous holds the M.S. degree in Computer Science from Bradley University.