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 nine children and are members of St. Philomena in Peoria, IL.

Mr. Patrick Deneen

Humanities & Athletics

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.

Miss Anna Berlinger

Latin & Humanities

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.

Aaron Goldsmith

Dr. Aaron Goldsmith

Math & Science

Dr. Goldsmith earned his PhD in mathematics from Texas A&M in 2015, and recent data shows that he also gravitates toward science documentaries when he is able. He taught a variety of courses in the Departments of Math and Statistics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, including History of Math and Intro Statistics. When not pondering the mysteries of God’s creation, one might find him playing board games, juggling boomerangs, or traveling by unicycle. He has a beautiful wife and daughter who have been instrumental in forming him into the man he is today.

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.


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.


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.

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. 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 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.