Meet our Faculty & Staff
Rev. Cory A. Mayer, Ph.B, S.T.L, S.T.Dc
Pastor of Ave Maria
Fr. Cory A. Mayer began his philosophy studies in Rome, Italy in 2001. After his philosophical formation, he went on to complete his Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology and is currently completing a doctorate at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy. After serving at the cathedral of the Diocese of Venice, he was appointed administrator then pastor of Ave Maria Parish by Bishop Frank Dewane. Since 2013, Fr. Mayer has enjoyed watching the children here at Donahue Academy grow in their academic and spiritual life.
Dr. Dan Guernsey, Ed. D.
Dr. Guernsey holds a B.A. in English from University of San Francisco; a M.A. in English from University of California Berkeley; a M.Ed. in Administration & Supervision from California State University, and an Ed.D. in Education from Eastern Michigan University. He has worked with various entities associated with Tom Monaghan’s Ave Maria projects for more than 17 years as a consultant, and college level associate professor, department chair, dean, and President. He is the founding principal of the Donahue Academy, and an experienced principal and high school teacher. He also serves as Director of the Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 Programs and is a Board Member of the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools.
Mark Jahnke, M.A.
Vice Principal; Latin 8
Mr. Jahnke graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Philosophy and in Catholic Studies as well as an M.A. in Catholic Studies. He has taught humanities, Latin, algebra and held various administrative positions over the past several years both in Minneapolis and here at Donahue Catholic. He is grateful for the blessing of leading such an excellent school where students joyfully pursue Truth, Beauty and Goodness through Catholic classical education. Mr. Jahnke, his wife and six children reside in Ave Maria and are blessed to send the eldest four to Donahue Catholic.
Melody Curtis, M.Ed.
Mrs. Curtis recently moved from the Midwest to Ave Maria in June 2016 with her husband, Michael. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Childhood Education from Lourdes University. Teaching, leading and serving is her passion, as previous experiences and accomplishments in Catholic school administration and teacher-leadership roles have been fueled by witness to the faith and a firm belief in the power of Catholic education for almost 20 years.
Dr. Ryan J. Brady, Ph.D.
Latin 7; Freshman Theology and Latin II; Sophomore Medieval Humanities; Junior Spanish I
Dr. Brady graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia with a B.A. in Religion. He subsequently received a Masters degree in Systematic Theology from Christendom Graduate School, where he was the valedictorian. This past year, he graduated from Ave Maria University’s doctoral program Magna Cum Laude after defending his doctoral dissertation “Aquinas on the Respective Roles of Prudence and Synderesis vis-à-vis the Ends of the Moral Virtues” with distinction. In addition to guiding a variety of catechetical classes for the parish, he has taught classes at the university level – including Moral Theology, Introductory and Intermediate Latin, ‘Aristotle’s Natural Theology,’ and ‘Christ and His Church.’ He is excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the lofty ideals of Donahue Academy by encouraging his students to cultivate an ever greater love of God’s wisdom and love in all aspects of their lives.
Matthew J. Byrne, J.D.
Mathematics 6; Study Skills 6; Humanities 7; Freshman Logic; Junior Civics
Mr. Byrne graduated from Manhattan College with a B.A. in Government and Politics with a minor in History, and from Pace University Law School where he earned his Juris Doctorate. He also engaged in graduate course work at the Archdiocese of New York’s Institute of Religious Studies while teaching religious education in his local parish. Mr. Byrne has had a 20 plus year legal career as the managing partner in his own law firm, as a senior attorney in county government, and as a municipal attorney and prosecutor. He was an elected Judge in New York for 16 years and completed his elected public service as a Trustee in local government. For more than 16 years, Mr. Byrne was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Manhattan College, The College of Mount Saint Vincent, Iona College and Dominican College where he taught courses in American Government, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, and Business Law, among others. He also was instrumental in helping develop a new curriculum in Criminal Justice at Dominican College where he taught the first courses offered in Criminal Law, Criminal Justice and Mental Health Law. He and his wife Maribet and their sons, Matt and Jack have relocated to Ave Maria from New York and are thrilled to be a part of the Donahue Academy family.
Mary Claire Dant, M.L.S.
Mrs. Dant has lived in Florida since she was two years old. She has her B.A. degree from Barry University and her M.L.S. from the University of South Florida. She thought she would retire after 25 years with the Collier County School system, but then decided she loved children too much to stay away. So she is now at the Donahue Academy on a part-time basis as Media Specialist. She is the mother of three and grandmother of 5.
Janet DeLiso, B.A.
Athletic Director, Admissions Coordinator
Mrs. DeLiso earned a Bachelor of Arts from Governor’s State University in the Chicago area where she grew up. She was a Technical Sergeant in the Illinois Air National Guard for nine years working as an electronics mechanic. Mrs. DeLiso is a Florida Master Gardener and enjoys working with the students in our school garden. She and her husband Vito have lived in Florida since 1994, and three of their four children have graduated from Donahue Academy.
Clara Diodati, B.A.
Freshman Latin I; Sophomore Latin II
My name is Clara Diodati, and my family and I have been blessed to be part of the Ave Maria community for 5 years now. I grew up in Georgia with my six siblings and then attended Thomas Aquinas College in California, where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and studied the Great Books with seminar-style classes. This past year I have been in the Master’s Theology program at Ave Maria University and will be starting the second year of the program this Fall. Having been privileged to receive Catholic education all my life, I am very passionate about trying to give that back to future generations of students. I have always wanted to teach and am so excited and grateful to be joining the Donahue Academy family this year as one of the Latin teachers!
Kathleen Dittus, B.A.
Mrs. Dittus graduated from the College of New Rochelle with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Secondary Education. Following graduation, she worked as an actuarial assistant in Insurance Services Office in New York City. She taught music at Pinecrest Academy in Georgia during the 1993-1994 school year. Mrs. Dittus homeschooled her 6 children for 18 years and has been with Donahue Academy since 2008.She is currently certified in Florida for grades 5-9 in Mathematics. Teaching at Donahue and singing with the children in class and for liturgies has brought her much joy. Whether teaching music or math, she hopes to lead her students to see the beauty and wonder of learning. She has participated in many liturgical groups in parishes and has led children’s choirs and contemporary groups in several parishes. She has enjoyed sharing her love for children and music in Vacation Bible Schools and Children’s Liturgy of the Word. She enjoys singing, playing guitar and composing music. Her song “Come to Me” is featured on a CD of the Messages of Medjugorje produced by the Mary our Mother Foundation.
Lacey Fairchild B.S.
Mrs. Fairchild graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from the Florida State University College of Business. After college, she worked in the sales industry as a pharmaceutical sales representative. A native Floridian, she grew up in Fort Myers and has lived in Florida her entire life. She moved to Ave Maria in 2016 with her husband, Quentin, and their 4 children so that her children could attend Donahue. She is so excited to be a part of Donahue Academy!
Dr. Dianne Fabii, Ph.D., NCC, MCC, LPC
Dianne Fabii comes to the diocese with a unique background in both providing counseling services and coordinating advancement programs. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in special education from LaSalle University and master’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s University. After spending a year teaching in England, she moved to New Jersey and completed requirements to obtain several certifications in counseling, where she conducted a private counseling practice for over 15 years. Dianne also has worked in K-8 schools, colleges and the non-profit sector providing counseling and career development services. A committed life-long learner, Dianne completed her Ph.D. at Rutgers University in 2017 in the field of Childhood Studies, the first program of its kind in the United States.
She has traveled extensively throughout southern India on many mission trips to assess needs and to determine sources to raise funds for building construction, school materials and education programs. She led advancement efforts through a parish twinning program and grant writing which resulted in numerous improvements to several missions in India.
Dianne relocated to southwest Florida in 2015, and now is thrilled to combine her passions for helping children reach their greatest potential and raising funds to support Catholic education in her new dual position of Counselor at Donahue Academy, and Counselor/Director of Advancement at St. Elizabeth Seton School.
Linda Fox, B.A.
Mrs. Fox graduated from Ohio Dominican College Summa Cum Laude with majors in English, Theology, and Education. She has 16 years of teaching experience in Catholic high schools and grammar schools, and over 30 years of teaching experience. She and her family were among the founding families of Donahue Academy. Her three oldest children graduated from the Academy, and are now practicing engineering, in law school, and in nursing school. She has a passion for teaching, especially the young, and introducing them to the love of Christ and His Church.
Amy Gawron, B.A.
Mrs. Amy Gawron graduated from Franciscan University with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After having a family, she was blessed to be able to homeschool her six children for many years. Eventually, she came to love a beautiful Catholic school in Providence, RI and entrusted the kids to the care of the Nashville Dominican sisters. During this time she was still blessed to stay home with her little ones while volunteering extensively in the school. One highlight from this time was writing and directing a play of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the students, teaching them to commit to memory the words of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego, “Do not fear any illness, anxiety, or pain. Am I not here who is your mother? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”
In 2016, she moved to Ave Maria with her family and a large group of extended family that included her mom and two siblings! Her six kids all entered Donahue Academy, the youngest in Kindergarten and the oldest as a senior in high school. Amy signed up to help substitute teach and was soon asked to assist in first grade as a co-teacher. When Donahue added a pre-k program the following year, Amy was invited to be the head teacher. She finds great joy in welcoming the littlest ones into the Donahue family.
Angélica M González, M.B.A.
Information Technology Director
Mrs. Gonzalez graduated with a Bachelors degree in Engineering Computer Science and Telecommunications and subsequently a Masters in Business Administration. Her broad working experience of over 25 years includes a variety of industries. She and her family have been part of the Donahue Catholic family since 2007 when she moved to Ave Maria with her husband Alex and their three children: two of them graduated from Donahue Academy, and the other is current Donahue Academy student. She sees her job at the Academy as an opportunity to contribute to evangelize the youth.
Robert Gotschall B.A.
Theology 8; Freshman Composition; Junior Renaissance Humanities; Junior and Senior Shakespeare
Hailing from the foot hills of the Appalachian Mountains, Mr. Gotschall began living in Florida when he enrolled at Ave Maria University, where he completed studies for a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Liberal Studies. He has had two years of experience teaching Literature and Liberal Arts. At his previous school, he co-founded a Shakespeare Club for interested students and was met with great response from the community. He is tremendously excited to head up the Shakespeare program at Donahue and work with students eager to take up Elizabethan practice.
At university he developed a still-growing desire to seek God’s truth in all things. He found a strong affinity for and became involved with the Shakespeare in Performance Program, where he has to date performed in four roles across four plays. Recently he took up a minor role offered by the AMU Music Department in a production of an operetta written by Mozart. He enjoys finding time to stay involved with such artistic endeavors because he believes that as a teacher of the liberal arts and in particular as the head of Donahue’s Shakespeare program, honing his own technique and joyfully participating in art benefits the growth of his students; seeing their teacher take to heart the same lessons he enjoins on them emphasizes the importance of good art and practicing it well.
Mr. Gotschall believes that truth, goodness, and beauty are necessary for human life. Without these transcendentals, we have nothing to point us to our Creator, in whom we live, move, and have our being. Mr. Gotschall hopes that his time at Donahue can be spent growing in greater love of the good, the true, and the beautiful alongside his students.
Cassie Graham, M.A.
Pre-Algebra 7; Sophomore Pre-Calculus; Junior Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry; Senior Statistics
Mrs. Cassie Graham holds a B.A. in mathematics from Carleton College in Minnesota and a M.A. in mathematics from the University of Washington. She has taught everything from pre-algebra to calculus in various settings, including a public high school, college classrooms, and a boarding school in Wisconsin where she lived prior to moving to Ave Maria and where she first discovered the joy of teaching statistics.
Preparing students for the AP Statistics exam gave her a newfound respect for the field of statistics and she has since had a passion for this field in particular. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach statistics as an elective to seniors this year and is excited to begin integrating her AP Statistics background into the Catholic classical model. She is also ecstatic to be able to bring her passion for teaching to the school that four of her six children now attend.
Ethan Graham, M.Th.
Freshman Ancient Humanities; Junior Calculus and Theology; Senior Modern Humanities
Mr. Graham graduated in 1995 from Stanford University with an honors degree in humanities, earnings from tutoring calculus to pre-meds, and a baptismal certificate from his conversion to the Catholic faith. Thus, he is thrilled to be putting these things to good use, teaching both humanities and math in a great Catholic school. Moreover, his religious studies master’s degree at Syracuse University (which focused on the work of René Girard) and his Ave Maria University Pastoral Theology Master’s Degree (which engaged the rich Catholic tradition within a Thomistic perspective) have cemented a key aspect of his educational philosophy: Truth is naturally desirable, but teachers are important models of desire for the Truth. Another key element of his philosophy is that authentic teaching must imitate the Divine pedagogy: Truth is revealed in stages, respecting the fact that “what is received is received according to the mode of the receiver.” Thus, the Catholic classical mission of Donahue (which respects the grammar, logic, and rhetoric “stages” of learning) is magnificently in line with what he sees as an ideal school. Mr. Graham has been a high school teacher for 15 years and has had articles published on St. Augustine, Durkheim, St. John Paul the Great, and high school pedagogy (all exploring the ramifications of the Girardian hermeneutic). At the end of the day, though, his greatest happiness lies in prayer and fulfilling his vocation to family life with his wife, Cassie, and six children: Catherine, Andrew, Lucy, Emily, Matthew and Veronica.
Lisa Guernsey, R.N.
Mrs. Guernsey graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BA in Philosophy and BSN in Nursing. She moved from Ann Arbor, MI to Ave Maria in 2007 with her 6 children and husband Dan who started up the Donahue Academy. In addition to her time here as a school nurse, she has experience in medical/surgical nursing, wound care and currently works part time in home health care. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and sports.
Jeremy Johnston, B.A.
Sophomore Medieval Humanities
Mr. Johnston graduated from Ave Maria University in 2011 with a B.A. in Theology. He is currently in graduate studies at the same institution and is expected to graduate on May 9, 2015 with an M.A. in Theology. In the fall of 2015 he will be entering Ave Maria University’s Ph.D. program with a concentration in Moral Theology. He has worked with various youth organizations including the Salesians of Don Bosco and taken leadership roles in several national and international mission trips. Mr. Johnston is a convert to Catholicism with a zeal for teaching the Catholic faith. He currently lives in Ave Maria with his wife Lily and their two sons.
Craig Kadlec, B.S.
Mr. Kadlec graduated with a B.S in Accounting from West Chester University. After college, he became a small business owner, operating his own copy, print and shipping business. In addition to owning and operating that business, he also became the V.P. of Finance for a warehousing & fulfillment company. He, his wife, Beth, and their 4 children moved to Ave Maria in 2014. All of their children attend the Donahue Academy and Mr. Kadlec is extremely excited to be a part of the Donahue Academy staff and to be working in the school his children attend!
Jennifer Klucinec, B.A.
Miss Klucinec received certification in K-6 Elementary Education, and has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Magdalen College. She has been in Catholic education for over 20 years, with a specific love for teaching Grammar and History. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA, but grew up in Dallas, TX. She has also lived in Wisconsin, Illinois and New Hampshire. She enjoys playing musical instruments, golfing, softball, cooking, and watching sports. Go Steelers!
Daniel Lendman, M.Th.
Sophomore Latin III and Theology; Senior Theology
Mr. Lendman, STL, MA Theol., MA Phil, is married and a father of three young children. He has worked in a variety of fields, but most recently he taught high school at Santa Clara Catholic High School in Oxnard, California. Before that, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts at Thomas Aquinas College, and his Master of Arts degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. In between his time teaching high school and coming to Ave Maria, Mr. Lendman obtained in Master’s degree and his Licentiate in Theology at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. Mr. Lendman is a current PhD student in the Graduate Theology Program at Ave Maria University, and his overjoyed to have the opportunity to teach, which has long been his passion.
Conner McCormick B.S.
Mr. McCormick graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.S. in Forensic Science in December 2016. Before this he was a senior in UCF’s Civil Engineering program when he decided to change his focus. While attending college, he also served as a Life-teen Missionary, where he ministered to middle school aged youth in the United States. Teaching at Donahue is an excellent opportunity to follow God’s obvious call to serve middle school youth and to show them how science and faith complement one another. He married his wife, Jasmine, in July 2015 and they have two daughters: Lily and Violet.
Jasmine McCormick, B.A.
Freshman Biology; Sophomore Chemistry; Junior Advanced Scientific Topics; Senior Physics
Mrs. McCormick graduated from Ave Maria University with a B.A. in Biology in May 2016. While studying at AMU, she worked as the Director of Youth Ministries but science and medicine has always been her true passion. Teaching at Donahue offers an amazing opportunity to teach students about the beautiful relationship between God and science, she is excited to start this chapter in her life. She married her husband Conner in July 2015 and welcomed their first daughter, Lily, in April 2016. She enjoys spending time with family, walking her two (crazy) dogs, listening to music, reading, and cooking.
Mr. Morris moved to Ave Maria in 2008 from Illinois where, after spending 2 years in the seminary and desiring to continue studies, he sought out a Catholic University and found himself enrolling at Ave Maria University. Liking the Florida weather, he decided to start working for AMU’s facilities department, allowing him to remain in his new found home. He met his wife at AMU where she is a professor. They have one daughter so far. Six years later, he earned his Florida Community Association Manager’s license and began managing many of the associations in the town of Ave Maria. With his previous experience of maintaining the school when he worked for AMU, he was excited to come back and manage the facilities for Ave Maria Parish and the Donahue Academy.
Susan Nutt, B.S.
Mrs. Nutt holds a B.S. in Mental Health with a minor in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has served in the Church in various capacities, including missionary work with NET Ministries and three years on the staff in the Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican City). Prior to joining Donahue Academy she worked in higher education administration at both Aquinas College (Nashville) and Ave Maria University. She has lived in Ave Maria with her family since 2007.
Michael O’Donnell, B.A.
Theology 7; Algebra 8; Freshman Geometry; Sophomore Algebra II; Senior Statistics
Mr. O’Donnell was raised in Aurora, IL and when it came time to pick a college Michael was more than happy to leave the freezing winters of Illinois for the sunshine of Ave Maria, Florida. In his senior year at the University, Michael was happy to be a part-time teacher at Donahue Academy. Michael graduates with a B.A in mathematics and minor in education. Mr. O’Donnell enjoys exploring the beauty and order of mathematics and delights in sharing these discovers with his students.
“Mathematics is the Language in which God has written the Universe” – Galileo Galilei
Lisa Rochefort, M.S.
Theology 6; Humanities 6,8; Writing Program K-8
A native Floridian, Ms. Rochefort began undergraduate studies with Gannon University in Erie, PA and Christendom College in Front Royal, VA, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL and a Master of Science in English Education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She embarked upon her vocation as a homeschooling mother until God led her into the Diocese of Palm Beach as a Florida-certified instructor teaching in grades PK3 – 8 in addition to serving at various times as Media Specialist, Director of Religious Education, and Director of Family Life Ministry. Additional teaching experience outside the Diocese includes public and private schools grades 6-12, private tutoring, and volunteering as an adult literacy tutor. She remains passionate about teaching and learning while continuing to enjoy the blessings of her six adult children, scuba diving, and target practice. She loves being at Donahue Academy to walk with and guide her students in the pursuit of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
Dene’ Rosser B.A.
Dene’ Rosser graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education. She most recently served as the Director of Religious Education for Holy Spirit Parish in Montgomery, Alabama. Prior to that role, she and her husband, Tyler, served four years as missionaries with FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, helping college students grow in their Catholic faith and evangelize their peers. Dene’s passion is working with children and she is excited to be a part of the Donahue Academy. Dene’ and Tyler reside in Ave Maria with their two sons, James (3) and John (1).
Joshua Small, B.A.
Assistant Athletic Director; Physical Education K-10
Mr. Joshua Small was raised in Evansville, IN, where he attended Catholic School throughout his schooling years. After graduation, he continued his education at Aquinas College in Nashville, TN. While at Aquinas, he received his Bachelor of Science in History with a Secondary Education minor. In 2017, he married his high school sweetheart, Hannah. Newly married, he moved to Ave Maria, FL to begin work at the Academy. “I am so happy to be here working for Donahue. I look forward to all of the different experiences during my time here.”
Anne Thelen, B.A.
Art K-8; Sophomore and Senior Art appreciation; Junior and Senior Art elective
Ms. Thelen graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD with a B.A. in Fine Art. There, she was a member of the Varsity Women’s Swimming program, earning many points for the squad in her four years. For the last three years, she has served as a campus missionary with FOCUS, the Fellowship Of Catholic University Students, inspiring and equipping college students to love the Lord and teach their peers to do the same. She is very excited to introduce students to the goodness, truth and beauty in art history, theory and practice.
Diane Thomas, M.Ed.
Mrs. Diane Thomas grew up in Middlebury, Vermont where she enjoyed downhill skiing, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, field hockey, and the annual Christmas pageant at church. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelors degree where she met her husband, John who was beginning Medical School.
They raised their family, a son John, and daughter, Kathleen, in Kinderhook, New York, where Diane completed her Master’s degree in Reading Literacy from the State University of New York in Albany. In New York, she taught for eighteen years at both Elementary and Middle, High School and Community College levels. In addition, she taught Sunday school, became involved with the Cursillo outreach, and worked with several community Youth Group Productions of GodSpell before moving to Florida to help her widowed mother in Bonita Springs, Florida.
In Florida, she has taught at both Middle school and Elementary levels for the past seven years and served as public programs specialist at Tne Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel. Over 4000 Lee and Collier County students attended the Museum Field trip programs, summer camps, Junior Docent programs annually along with many other visitors from around the world touring the museum. Mrs. Thomas attended St. John the Evangelist Church in Naples, where she sang in the choir directed by Paul Todd and Todd Peterson, and completed her RCA classes. Now, she is proud to be a grandmother, as seen in the family Easter and Baptism pictures. She is looking forward to teaching at Donahue Academy and growing in her Faith.
Mary-Ruth Traver B.A.
Mary-Ruth Traver is a 2011 graduate of Donahue Academy. Before attending college, she did a year of mission work with N.E.T. Ministries. Then she attended Benedictine College where she received her B.A. in Secondary Education and Social Sciences. After teaching for a year in Kansas, she has returned to Ave Maria where she is excited to explore with her students all that is true, beautiful, and good.