The Central Catholic community is excited to welcome our newest group of dedicated educators and staff members as we begin the 2022-2023 Academic Year.
Above photo, Front row, left to right: Mrs. Brenda Lyons, Ms. Kimberly Valente, Ms. Kaiya A. Paula '18, Mrs. Rebekah Miner, Bro. James Vagan, Mr. Bruce Denmead; Middle row, left to right: Ms. Jamie Tompkins, Mrs. Sarah Downs, Ms. Heather A. Angell '00, Ms. Jennifer Gaudette '15, Mrs. Theresa (Black '00) Taft; Back row, left to right: Mr. Joel (Boutin '96) Emerson, Mr. William “Billy” Benson '11
New faculty members attended a New Faculty & Staff Orientation in August and are prepared to hit the ground running when the entire faculty and staff return on Tuesday, September 7.
They participated in various training programs, workshops and meetings, in addition to tours of the Central Catholic campus.
They also embarked on a bus tour and history of the City of Lawrence led by two faculty members: Mr. Mark Svendsen, who sits on the Board of Directors and is treasurer of the Lawrence History Center, and Mr. Matthew Joyal '08, who developed a course at CCHS entitled, American City: Rise, Fall, & Rebirth, that focuses in particular on the history of the City of Lawrence.
Our new teachers will also be participating in a year-long New Teacher Induction Program to provide them with ongoing support and the necessary models, tools, and guidance to put themselves and their students in the best position to succeed.
Welcome to all of our new faculty and staff!
- Ms. Heather A. Angell '00, Religious Studies Teacher
- Mr. William A. Benson '11, Religious Studies Teacher
- Mr. Bruce Denmead, Music Teacher & Band Director
- Mrs. Sarah Downs, Director of Library & Information Services
- Mr. Joel L. (Boutin '96) Emerson, Religious Studies Teacher
- Ms. Jennifer Gaudette '15, English Teacher
- Mrs. Brenda Lyons, Administrative Assistant for Admissions
- Ms. Rachel Massanga, Spanish Teacher
- Mrs. Rebekah Miner, English Teacher
- Ms. Kaiya A. Paula '18, Math Teacher
- Mrs. Joelle Sader, Advancement Assistant
- Mrs. Theresa (Black '00) Taft, Alumni Engagement Associate
- Ms. Jamie Tompkins, School & College Counselor
- Bro. James Vagan, FMS, Spanish Teacher
- Ms. Kimberly Valente, Administrative Assistant to Administration
They are excited to be welcoming our students on Thursday, September 8, and Friday, September 9, as we begin our 88th year.
Meet our new Faculty & Staff
Ms. Heather A. Angell '00, Religious Studies Teacher
Ms. Heather Angell '00 is excited to return to campus as a Religious Studies Teacher this fall!
As a CCHS Class of 2000 graduate, Ms. Angell is looking forward to giving back to the Central Catholic community, sharing the compassion and support that she received as a student.
"Central Catholic has always had a place in my heart," said Ms. Angell. "I am excited for the incredible Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) work that is happening on campus and the commitment to social justice and community."
"Being in Lawrence and being connected to the larger community is a model for the community that CCHS has become. I haven’t been a student here in over twenty years, but I feel welcomed as if I never left. I would not be where I am today without the teachers and staff at CCHS, college and graduate school."
Ms. Angell previously served as Chaplain for Merrimack Valley Hospice and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and didn’t anticipate becoming a teacher.
"I was not planning on teaching, but the Holy Spirit had other plans," said Ms. Angell, who is looking forward to participating in Campus Ministry activities and cheering on Raider athletes.
"Throughout my career, I have sought to walk with people on their journeys. Education is an opportunity for growth, learning and discovering who you are and how you want to place those gifts at the service of the world. What a joy to walk with and learn from young people on this path."
She is a loyal community servant as a member of her parish’s (St. Cecilia) Racial and Social Justice Ministry, which gives her a chance to build solidarity in Boston and beyond.
In her free time, Ms. Angell is an avid reader and lover of cities and farms.
"I enjoy tending my community garden plot, riding my bike, and spending time with my family and hound dog. During the pandemic, I became a (very) amateur ukulele player," said Ms. Angell.
Ms. Angell earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology from Loyola University (Chicago) and a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Ministries from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry.
Her poetry has been published in several small journals and America Magazine (2011).
She has recognized for her faith and service with the St. John’s Preparatory School "No One Walks Alone" (2017) and Central Catholic High School’s St. Marcellin Champagnat "Witness to Faith" Award (2022).
After college, Ms. Angell spent a year living in Portland, Oregon as a Holy Cross Associate volunteer and worked full-time at a drop-in center for people experiencing homelessness.
The following year, she lived at Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia where she helped run service weeks for visiting schools who did home repair for low-income individuals and learned about sustainability.
She has also traveled to Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador and Haiti. She is also a train enthusiast and has spent over 50 nights on Amtrak trains.
Ms. Angell is part of a strong Raider legacy including her brother Daniel Angell '95 and sisters Sarah (Angell '00) Pond and Amanda (Angell '03) Broderick.
Mr. William A. Benson '11, Religious Studies Teacher
Mr. William Benson, a 2011 CCHS graduate, is excited to begin teaching Religious Studies at Central Catholic starting this fall!
He was inspired to return to campus to teach by the example set by his teachers when he was a student at CCHS.
"My teachers helped instill a passion for learning in me," said Mr. Benson. "I hope to pass on that example and inspire my own students to become lifelong learners. I find such joy in helping guide my students on their path as they chart their course and discover who they are and who they want to be."
From the moment he decided to become a teacher, Mr. Benson knew that he would one day want to return to CCHS and join the talented faculty here.
"The CCHS community helped shape my life, and I feel blessed to be able to give back now," said Mr. Benson. "My graduating class voted me 'Most Likely to Teach at CCHS,' and I'm excited to say that that prediction is now coming true! Central Catholic's sense of community is unparalleled and is an important part of the holistic education that prepares graduates so well for life."
Mr. Benson also looks forward to hopefully getting involved on campus outside of the classroom in Theatre Guild and moderating other student clubs and activities.
He has also volunteered his time since "CCHS demonstrated the value and meaningfulness of serving my community and that has inspired me to take on opportunities whenever possible."
He enjoyed serving with My Brothers Keeper (Brockton, MA) while in college and was struck by how they truly live out the message of caring for the least favored and those in need. In 2019, he chaperoned a school service trip to Costa Rica, where we helped build a retaining wall for a church in a small community in the mountains.
"This was an incredible experience for not only the students, but the adults involved as well," said Mr. Benson. "Both groups were able to learn about another culture and help them with an important community project, too."
When not teaching, Mr. Benson has worked as a tour guide on the Freedom Trail in Boston for the last decade. "I love being able to share my passion for history and showing tourists around the city."
Mr. Benson earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Theatre Education with a minor in Secondary Education from Stonehill College and a Master of Arts Degree in History (American Concentration) and the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) from Providence College.
Mr. Benson is part of a Raider legacy with his fiancée Jennifer A. Gaudette '15 (who is also starting at CCHS this Fall in the English Department!), brother Matthew J. Benson '14, and his soon-to-be sister-in-law Emily E. Gaudette '19.
Mr. Bruce Denmead, Music Teacher & Band Director
Mr. Bruce Denmead has taught in many places, but at Central Catholic he found a place that felt like family and would support his young family as well.
"CCHS has a breadth of opportunities for students and teachers," said Mr. Denmead, who plans to become involved in Liturgical Band. "In addition, Central Catholic has supported my value of family both immediate and worldly. I get a strong sense of community when I walk the halls.”
Mr. Denmead really enjoys helping people of all ages make discoveries about themselves and about the world around them.
"Education is a great way for me to fulfill that goal and music is in every aspect of life throughout the world that it is truly something that can be a bond between people. It brings great joy to me watching people develop their ability to express themselves through music and I have a lot of fun doing it."
In addition to his time in the classroom, he has also volunteered as a coach in the past for high school track (Specialized in Pole vault) and for various youth sports and music programs. He is the Former Director for Phillipsburg Summer Youth Theatre.
He also finds time to pursue some activities and hobbies such as hiking and camping which he loves to share with his children. Music is a career and a hobby, as he enjoys learning new instruments especially of different cultures. He is also working at developing his skills as a woodcarver, and loves playing video games.
Mr. Denmead, who is originally from New Jersey and has taught in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, also traveled to China in 2000 to participate in an international teacher exchange program.
He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from West Chester University, a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Boston University, and has completed graduate-level course work at Duquesne University to earn a Claus Noble Teacher of Distinction Level 1 Certificate in Technology in Music Education (TI:ME).
Mrs. Sarah Downs, Director of Library & Information Services
Mrs. Sarah Downs joined the Central Catholic family this summer as Director of Library & Information Services for the Library & Media Center.
Previously a journalist for nearly 10 years, Mrs. Downs started substitute teaching (her mom is a retired middle school librarian), and she found that she really enjoyed working with kids.
"It is also a job that is different every day and where you meet and get to know lots of people,"said Mrs. Downs. "I have worked in elementary and middle schools, but I am thrilled to 'graduate' up to high school where I can really make an impact in helping students pursue their passions and prepare for their future."
"I love books and learning and am a voracious reader of young adult literature. Getting young people excited about reading and finding connections to themselves and opening up new windows to other worlds, cultures and experiences makes every day rewarding."
After 11 years of teaching, Mrs. Downs was ready to take on an administrative role where she can help build a culture and community of reading in a school.
"Central Catholic felt right," said Mrs. Downs. "The campus community sets expectations and standards that are clear, where students are held accountable for working hard, being a good person and helping others."
Outside of the library, Mrs. Downs loves to read, garden, and enjoy the outdoors.
"I grow vegetables but also have extensive perennial gardens. I also enjoy watching home renovation shows and doing projects around my house. I have two small children so most of my free time is spent playing with them."
Mrs. Downs, who has an identical twin, has lived in a number of cities and towns across Massachusetts, but the most interesting place she’s lived is Ecuador.
She also finds time to serve the community through volunteer experiences that involve the outdoors, events like the Out of the Darkness Walk. She also enjoys donating and assisting families with supplies, clothing and toys for children whether locally or for people in other places in the world.
Mrs. Downs earned a Bachelor of Science from Boston University, a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Services, and a Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy from the University of Rhode Island.
Mr. Joel L. (Boutin '96) Emerson, Religious Studies Teacher
Mr. Joel Emerson is returning to campus as a new addition to the Religious Studies teaching team. He previously worked at CCHS as a Campus Minister (2002-03) and a Religious Studies Teacher (2003-04).
Mr. Emerson views education as “planting seeds for future harvest!” and made the decision to return home to campus after a long time exploring the wider world.
“The history, Marist family, traditions and community makes Central Catholic a special place,” said Mr. Emerson.
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Emerson has a variety of hobbies including languages, psychology, Permaculture, and the Tiny House movement.
“I lived in a Tiny house in Tanzania where I lived for four years and became fluent in Swahili,” said Mr. Emerson, who appeared in Season 2 of the series Tiny House Hunters (HGTV).
That wasn’t his first trip to Tanzania - Mr. Emerson served in the Peace Corps in Tanzania (2000-02) and returned from 2006-08 to work in a Residential Center for Street Children in Moshi, Tanzania.
After graduating from CCHS in 1996, Mr. Emerson earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and Spanish and a degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health.
Ms. Jennifer Gaudette '15, English Teacher
Ms. Jennifer Gaudette '15 fully believes in the power of education to transform lives.
"I feel called to make a difference in the world through teaching," said Ms. Gaudette, a 2015 CCHS graduate. "My teachers made such an impact in my own life, and ultimately, this pushed me towards the path of education."
Since Central Catholic is her alma mater, it has always felt like home.
"I simply could not wait to return and become a member of the CCHS family once again! The connections that you make with your classmates, teachers, and alumni that you meet later on after graduating are so special and unique to the Central family, and it’s a sense of familiarity and belonging that lasts beyond the four years you are a student at Central."
Ms. Gaudette learned the importance of Community Service while a student at CCHS and that passion continues. "I would love to chaperone a service trip with CCHS in the future."
She looks forward to getting involved in a number of activities on campus. In past teaching positions, she has moderated BOLD Club and Rest and Relaxation Club.
Off campus, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, taking walks with her dog Brody, staying active, and spending time with friends and family.
Ms. Gaudette earned a Bachelor of Art Degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education from Stonehill College and a Master of Education Degree with a concentration in Moderate Disabilities from Merrimack College.
She is part of a strong Raider legacy with fiancé William Benson '15 (also joining CCHS as a Religious Studies Teacher this Fall), sister Emily E. Gaudette '19, cousins Julie A. Parsons '06 (Science Teacher at CCHS) and Allison L. Hillner '10, and her future brother-in-law Matthew J. Benson '14.
Mrs. Brenda Lyons, Administrative Assistant for Admissions
Mrs. Brenda Lyons recently joined the Central Catholic Admissions Team as the Administrative Assistant!
Mrs. Lyons has worked in education for over 15 years at all different levels.
"I started working in a private daycare in 2006 and found I really enjoyed being a teacher and helping children learn," said Mrs. Lyons. "I have since held different staff positions in two of the Catholic Elementary Schools in the Lowell, MA area. Central Catholic is my first time working at the high school level."
With her three daughters and a husband being Raiders, Mrs. Lyons is aware of the special community CCHS offers.
"I love the sense of community, school spirit and values, and how well they were prepared for the future when they graduate," said Mrs. Lyons. "When an opportunity arose to work on staff, I was excited to pursue my career at Central Catholic and become a Raider!"
Outside of the office, Mrs. Lyons has volunteered her time with Team Walk for Cancer at Lowell General Hospital, and she served on the SJA Summer Basketball League Program board for many years.
In her free time, she loves to read, travel with her family (especially to Disney), go to spin classes, go on long walks with her dog, and go to the beach.
Mrs. Lyons earned a Marketing and Business Degree from Middlesex Community College.
She is now an official Raider alongside husband Stephen J. Lyons '84 and daughters Rebecca T. Lyons '16, Amelia C. Lyons '19, and current CCHS student Milena A. Lyons '23.
Mrs. Rebekah Miner, English Teacher
Mrs. Rebekah Miner will be joining the CCHS community as an English Teacher this Fall!
In 2019, she served as a temporary English Teacher while Mrs. Christine Thompson was on maternity leave.
Mrs. Miner believes that Literature and philosophy is best experienced in dialogue, and when we read and examine the ideas of others, we can better understand our own experiences.
“I have always found dialogue around important ideas to be one of the most fulfilling experiences, and teaching literature allows me the opportunity to engage in these discussions daily,” said Mrs. Miner. “I am also passionate about writing acuity, as I believe strongly that when we can communicate clearly in written argument, then we both understand our own reasoning and are able to contribute to social discourse in a substantive way.”
After experiencing the CCHS community for a short time in 2019, Mrs. Miner knew she wanted to come back to campus as soon as possible.
“The caring and respectful environment at Central Catholic make teaching a dream,” said Mrs. Miner. “The students and staff at CCHS are exceptionally respectful and friendly toward each other. I was often impressed by how students treated each other, making for a generative and collaborate learning environment.”
“My greatest hope for my students is for them to become dedicated thinkers,” said Mrs. Miner. "Once we start thinking deeply about the meaning of our experiences and how our actions affect others and the world around us, we can start to live more rewarding and fulfilling lives where our choices reflect our considered understanding."
Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Miner is a pianist, working with chamber music groups and accompanying choirs and soloists. She uses her skills to volunteer as an organist and pianist at her local church. "I particularly love those days when I get to accompany the little kids."
She also loves running "so much so that in the wintertime when I can't get my run in during the daylight hours I put on a headlamp and reflective gear," said Mrs. Miner.
Mrs. Miner earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature with French as the Second Language (Summa Cum Laude) at Brooklyn College, and her Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of Utah. She earned awards including the Tanner Writing Fellowship and the Barbara Gerber Scholarship in Comparative Literature.
"My master’s thesis was at the intersection of philosophy of science and epistemology (the study of knowledge) in which I argued for the epistemic necessity of the freedom of scientific inquiry," said Mrs. Miner. "If you want to know more about this or anything philosophy related, I am always eager to engage!"
Mrs. Miner has four daughters (ages 25, 22, 18, and 14), and her husband is a family physician who loves trail running and ultra-racing.
Ms. Kaiya A. Paula '18, Math Teacher
The CCHS family welcomes Ms. Kaiya Paula '18 back to campus as a Math Teacher!
Ms. Paula always enjoyed being a student and wanted to make meaningful connections with her teachers.
"As an adult, I want to foster those same relationships with my students by educating them and empowering them," said Ms. Paula. "An important part of growing up is learning to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, and I want to help students grow both academically and personally."
Ms. Paula decided to return to campus to pursue those connections once again.
"Everyone at Central Catholic is so welcoming and friendly,” said Ms. Paula. "I feel that those around me wish to see me succeed, and I want to emulate the same thing to my students and peers. CCHS is special because they go a step further than I think is required from a school, but it’s something intangible that makes you feel very comfortable and supported. I think it’s mostly attributable to the people who work here and the students that attend. Everyone’s willingness to help one another and get involved speaks volumes to what this school means for people."
After graduating from CCHS in 2018, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and continued on to earn a Master’s of Science Degree.
Outside of the classroom, Ms. Paula enjoys listening to podcasts, baking, trying new coffee shops, and going for walks.
Ms. Paula’s sister, Jordan O. Paula '20, is a fellow Raider.
Photo above: Mrs. Joelle Sader with Mr. David DeFillippo '66 at the 2022 Raider Golf Classic.
Mrs. Joelle Sader, Advancement Assistant
Mrs. Joelle Sader joined the Office of Institutional Advancement (IA) as Advancement Assistant this past Spring.
In addition to her role in the IA Office, Mrs. Sader is a Raider parent with her daughter Serena Sader '25 beginning her sophomore year.
"I love the Central Catholic family as a parent," said Mrs. Sader. "l'm so fortunate to be part of the faculty and staff and to experience the enthusiasm and the love that each one shows to others and to the school."
Outside of the office, Mrs. Sader enjoys planting and creating flower arrangements.
Mrs. Sader earned a Master’s Degree in Interior Architect from the Lebanese University Faculty of Fine Arts.
Mrs. Theresa (Black ’00) Taft, Alumni Engagement Associate
Mrs. Theresa (Black ’00) Taft recently joined the CCHS family as the new Alumni Engagement Associate in the Office of Institutional Advancement.
In this role, Mrs. Taft will be working directly with Central Catholic alumni on reunions, special events and initiatives, including Central Connects (an exciting new online networking platform specifically for the CCHS community), the Career Exploration Speaker Series, and much more.
"I am so excited to be back on campus feeling the same amazing energy that was here when I attended," said Mrs. Taft. "Being part of the CCHS community means you are a part of this community for life."
"I look forward to working with fellow alumni, hearing all about their accomplishments, and developing ways for them to stay connected, or reconnect, with the school."
As Alumni Engagement Associate, some of Mrs. Taft's main priorities will include keeping alumni engaged through various events and activities, primarily alumni that have graduated in the last 10 to 15 years.
"When one graduates from Central Catholic, there is a huge sense of pride and belonging. Then moving onto college, sometimes priorities change and shift. My goal is to keep everyone connected and engaged to the school we all keep so close to our hearts."
Mrs. Taft graduated from Simmons College (Boston, MA) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Relations and Marketing Communications.
She is also part of a strong Raider legacy with her mother Mrs. June (Lynch '70PMA) Black, husband Dr. Drew Taft '98, sister Ms. April S. Black '03, and brother-in-law Mr. Bryce A. Taft '04.
Ms. Jamie Tompkins, School & College Counselor
Ms. Jamie Tompkins is joining the Central Catholic Family as the newest member of the School & College Counseling Team!
She believes in today's adolescents and their ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful way, in the future definitely, but also right now.
"I am always learning from my students' passion for learning and determination to succeed, and I love being committed to continually fostering that!" said Ms. Tompkins.
Ms. Tompkins chose to join Central Catholic specifically based on the school climate that she says "just felt different to me…"
"Central Catholic feels like a place where students and faculty could genuinely grow and thrive over time," said Ms. Tompkins. "With so many alumni returning to invest in the school, it really does feel like a familial setting to work. There is so much pride from faculty and students alike! People are excited to work here, as am I!"
Outside of the office, Ms. Tompkins has given much of her time to Life Teen over the past few years, a relational and Sacramentally focused Catholic youth group for teenagers.
For fun, she also loves experimenting with baking and reading about the lives of the Saints.
"I have made two pilgrimages to St. Thérèse of Lisieux's hometown in France, and I am pumped that she is one of the patronesses of the school!"
Ms. Tompkins earned a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Psychology and Public Health from the University of Florida, and she is currently pursuing a Master's of Science Degree in School Counseling from Boston College.
Bro. James Vagan, FMS, Spanish Teacher
After being inspired by numerous teachers including Marist Brothers, Bro. James Vagan, FMS, decided to continue his 47-year teaching career at Central Catholic as a Spanish Teacher this Fall!
Bro. James is looking forward to joining the campus community!
"My initial impression is one of a friendly, family atmosphere that is very Marist in origin."
Over four decades, Bro. James has served as a teacher, coach, and school bookstore manager. He has lived, worked and served in a variety of locations such as New York, New Jersey, and Hidalgo, Mexico.
"I also served as a simultaneous translator for the Marist General Chapter in Rome, Italy."
Bro. James makes time to serve the community, especially as a volunteer at Camp Marist (NH) for 51 summers.
In his free time, he spends his summers canoeing and hiking, and he is an avid fan of both the NY Mets and NY Rangers.
Bro. James earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish and History at Lafayette College.
Ms. Kimberly Valente, Administrative Assistant to Administration
The Central Catholic community welcomes Ms. Kimberly Valente as the new Administrative Assistant to Administration!
Ms. Valente, who will be assisting members of the Central Catholic Administration with a variety of projects, is excited to be back in a private school atmosphere.
She is especially grateful that Central Catholic has a "family feel."
Outside of the office, Ms. Valente enjoys running.
Embracing New & Additional Roles
The following members of the CCHS Family are taking on new or additional roles within the Faculty & Staff.
- Mrs. Diana Chase, appointed Religious Studies Department Chair
- Mr. Timothy Hart '85, Campus Minister (as well as Religious Studies Teacher)
- Mr. Matthew Joyal '08, Assistant Director of Student Activities (in addition to teaching),
- Mrs. Jessica (Dick '09) LaBrie - Freshman Experience Coordinator/Grade Nine Student Success Coordinator (in addition to teaching)
- Mrs. Lauren Roeser, appointed Fine & Performing Arts Department Chair
- Mrs. Earline Tweedie, Religious Studies Teacher (as well as Campus Minister)