Head of School
Levels I, II and III Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Catechist
Dian Schmiedicke grew up in the coastal community of Santa Cruz, California, the eldest daughter of Austrian and German immigrant parents. Raised as an evangelical Christian, she discovered and entered the Catholic Church while attending college in Asheville, North Carolina. After graduating, Dian took a position in international development with Human Life International in Front Royal, Virginia where she met her husband, Michael. She discovered Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as a new mother searching for truth and beauty in parenting and began to study.
Dian holds a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry from Warren Wilson College, an Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma from The Washington Montessori Institute, and a Masters Degree in Education from Loyola University. Dian also holds Levels I, II and III Certifications from The Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She founded Divinum Auxilium Academy in 2012 after running a small, community Atrium for two years and is the mother of four children, all having attended the school.
Upper School Coordinator
Karen grew up in Florida and New Jersey and graduated from Rosemont college in Pennsylvania with a BA in Political Science. She was an active member and leader in her parish youth group in high school, worked at a children’s day camp, and taught youth swimming while on breaks throughout her college years. While working in the corporate world after graduating from college, she began to realize that she had really loved working with, and teaching children in the past, so decided to change her career focus. She went on to complete the K-8 teacher certification program at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and taught first grade at a public school there until her first child was born. In 1991 she moved to Front Royal with her husband, Brian, to be a part of the homeschooling Catholic community. Karen home schooled her nine children and has taught high school level science, English, and writing for the past 15 years. Her previous work experience includes business management and event coordination. Karen has recently been certified in Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED by The American Red Cross.
She enjoys running destination races, and spending time outdoors; especially at the beach.
Grammar Class Master Teacher
Joel was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, the son of two classical teachers. His father taught Latin, Political Philosophy, and Ancient History at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, and his mother home schooled Joel and his 4 sisters. Joel grew up mostly climbing trees, but he loved reading and developed a passion for history and the classics.
Joel completed his Army service in 2013, after which he worked as self-employed carpenter and then as diplomatic security specialist for the US Embassies in Iraq and South Sudan. He and his amazing wife Lydia live south of Strasburg with their 5 sons and 2 daughters. Joel is completing his degree in Theology from St. Joseph’s College of Maine in the fall, while working towards his teaching certification, and he spends the rest of his time indulging his love of Medievalism with calligraphy, manuscript illumination, Gothic bookbinding, and traditional joinery.
Pre-Grammar Class Master Teacher
A Virginia native and life-long Catholic, Jane attended Christendom College, graduating with a degree in history and a goal of pursuing a career in archaeology. Along the way, her life took a turn towards working with more recently alive humans.
Working as an individual tutor for English language and essay writing students, Jane discovered how deeply satisfying and rewarding teaching can be. After several years as a distance education tutor, she moved into working with children at a public library, appreciating the ability of this role to help children grow holistically and educate parents and caregivers on the current discoveries from neuroscience and psychology about how children learn.
After discovering the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd through her son, she grew to love the Montessori method’s deep respect for the child and its approach to educating the child as a whole person: fostering social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth.
Jane’s hobbies include gardening, hiking, canoeing, native plant and tree identification, and single-handedly attempting to bring hats back in fashion with her extensive vintage hat collection.
Montessori Lower Elementary Directress
Levels I and II Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Catechist
Guiding, instructing, inspiring – Amy has always loved teaching. She began teaching Sunday school when she was in middle school and went on to earn a BS in Elementary Education from Taylor University. She has taught in public and private schools, Christian and secular, including The American School of Yaounde, in Cameroon, where she started an art program for nursery through high school students.
While serving as a Protestant missionary in Cameroon, Amy found her home in the Catholic Church, met and married her husband, and gave birth to their first child. Back in the US, Amy homeschooled their children and taught art in their weekly co-op. Through homeschooling, Amy discovered the richness of the Montessori emphasis on hands-on work and leading children to independence. In 2013, the Schumann family moved from DC to Front Royal and Amy began teaching at Divinum Auxilium. In 2015 she earned her Lower Elementary Montessori Diploma from North American Montessori Center. She also holds Level I and Level II Certification from The Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Amy enjoys working with each child, guiding them to grow in their strengths and to improve their weaknesses, in the unique setting of Divinum Auxilium, where students and staff are joined in a community imbued with our Catholic faith.
Montessori Primary Directress
Montessori Lower Elementary Assistant
Christin grew up in San Diego, California. Her parents, originally from Wisconsin, relocated to sunny, warm, Southern California before she was born. She and her ten brothers and sisters were raised with the Catholic faith being an integral part of their daily family life. Her parents’ financial sacrifice to send her and all her siblings to Catholic schools throughout their school years made a deep impression on her, and she is grateful for the excellent education she received. When she began her own family, she felt compelled to homeschool her children with the goal of integrating the Catholic faith in their education, as well. All four of her children are graduates of Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Christin is a Certified QuickBooks Desktop User and has an Administrative Assistant Certificate, from Madera Community College. Her background includes homeschooling her children, and her previous work experience includes working as an elementary school aide, both in mainstream and special needs classrooms. Additionally, she has worked as a school office assistant. She and her husband, Doug, recently moved from the Central Valley of California to Front Royal to live near their children and grandchildren.
She enjoys celebrating life with her children and grandchildren, reading, and walking in the beautiful surroundings of Virginia.
Montessori Primary Assistant
Levels I and II Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Catechist
Life is a journey for this midwestern gal. Mary was born and raised in a Catholic home in Sioux City, Iowa. She is the fourth of six children in her family. She graduated from Christendom College with a major in history and minor in theology. She has spent time as a missionary religious sister with the Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an order founded in the Philippines. She has traveled to the Philippines, Australia, parts of Europe, and Canada. She has worked with families, youth and children teaching and doing a variety of activities and events.
Throughout the years the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd kept popping up in her life. She was enthralled when she was assigned to attend the training and received her certification as a Level I Catechist. She loved working in the atrium and witnessed firsthand how receptive the children were to the Montessori method and how they vibrantly expressed their deep wonder and love for God at such a young age. She worked in a parish and at a parochial school in the South when she completed her level II training for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Her love for this work continued to grow!
Called back to Virginia Mary is looking forward to being a part of the Divinum Auxilium Academy! She loves to travel, play sports, be outdoors, do arts and crafts and spend time with family and friends.
Grammar Class Math Teacher
Although not a native, James Rice is a local, having moved here to the valley when he was two. After being “raised in the woods” so he knew every tree, he earned his B. A. at Christendom College, graduating magna cum laude in 2000 with a major in English literature and language, and minors in classical language, math and science, and Spanish. In 2001 he hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but he is not through hiking yet. In 2006 he passed the Fundamentals of Land Surveying exam to become a Land Surveyor in Training. Following that, he went back to study mathematics at George Mason University where he earned an M. S. in mathematics in 2017.
James loves the outdoors and spends as much of his free time as possible hiking, running, biking, canoeing, and cross country skiing. He also maintains a section of the Tuscarora Trail as a member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
Advanced Latin Teacher
A native of Front Royal, Kira has been teaching and tutoring in homeschool and private school settings for 5 years. She loves helping families educate their children and working closely with them to achieve their academic goals.
Latin is one of Kira’s favorite subjects to teach. She tutors Latin at a variety of levels, in addition to running classes for homeschoolers. She joined Divinum Auxilium last year to help prepare the upper level students for the National Latin Exam. She loves introducing students to Latin and helping them grow in their understanding and mastery of the language.
In her spare time, Kira enjoys bike riding, hiking, and creative writing. She is an avid poet and makes time for her own writing, in addition to leading a teen writers’ club and serving as an associate editor for a local poetry journal.