Meet Our Lead Instructors
Jennifer Keating Roca – Artistic and Executive Director
Jennifer began acting when she enrolled in “The Peter Pan Players” of Worcester at age 7. For the next 10 years, she received specialized musical theatre, dance and improvisation training with the popular group, and performed in over 50 productions, as well as being in a touring company.
At the age of 15, she began choreographing and ultimately directing the theatre company at her high school. She graduated with a degree in theatre from UMass Amherst, all the while still directing at her high school. She then traveled with professional touring companies, did summer stock productions, and eventually landed in NYC, where she worked for Disney Theatricals (“The Lion King”) and MTV during the day, while she continued her acting career in the evening.
Roles that she has played (many of them multiple times) are Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Luisa in “The Fantasticks,” Kim MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” Esther in “Meet Me In St. Louis,” The Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” and Luna in Columbia University’s Short Film “Luna,” among many others! A few of her favorite shows she has directed and/or choreographed are “The Wiz,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “42nd Street,” “Anything Goes,” “Noises Off!” “Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Narnia,” “Alice in Wonderland,” among many others! She has directed MainStage productions at UMass Dartmouth, and was the drama teacher at Good Company Tutorials for five years- which is where she was introduced to the wonderful world of homeschoolers! AWIP is a dream come true for her. While living in NYC, her life changed… and she found herself singing in the choir of Times Square Church, which meets in an old Broadway Theatre. Only fitting that she would find herself there. She would love to tell you the whole story! She recently appeared in a music video for Kelce Mclernon’s single, “Mirrors,” and was selected as a national spokesperson for Noom.
She is grateful to her three kids for being patient with her as she has moments of ‘creative outbursts’ from time to time at home, resulting in a half-hour choreography lesson or script-writing session, or some other dramatic endeavor 🙂 Her children are only happy to take part in these moments, and are budding performers themselves.
Nicole Cannella – Creative Arts and Acting Dept. Instructor
Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Theatre from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She has worked as an actor and teacher and looked forward to becoming a writer of children’s books to combine her passion for the arts and education – which culminated in her first book being published, called “The Ribbit Exhibit.” She has taught acting and theatre at the YMCA, with Drama Kids International Academy, and her own Freeze Pop Productions, which is an all-girls course combining theatre arts with history, poetry, and more. She has also taught master classes at John Robert Powers. She has acted in many professional productions, including “Steel Magnolias,” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” “Dancing at Lughnasa” and many more. Her film experience includes “Me, Myself and Irene,” “Strikingly Single,” and “The Union,” as well as many commercials (Harley Davidson, Countrywide Bank, Dunkin Donuts, and Cinemax to name a few). She most recently co-wrote the acclaimed “Leaving a Mark” children’s book with Dorian Murray, also known as #DStrong. Her most valued role is that of mother of three children; Nicholas, Olivia and Noelle. Raising them with her husband Jay has been one of her life’s greatest accomplishments.
Melissa Lamb – Stage Manager and Tech Dept. Instructor
Melissa Lamb is a graduate of WPI with a degree in Chemistry and Theatre Technology. While at WPI, she worked in every aspect of technical theatre, with a concentration in stage management. She was also a member of Lens and Lights, which provided sound, lighting, and projection for concerts and other on campus performances.
Since leaving WPI, Melissa has worked with a variety of community theatre groups, including an assistant management position at The Vineyard Playhouse, a professional theatre company located on Martha’s Vineyard. She also worked with The Gazebo Players of Medfield where she was the stage manger for Helen Keller and Brighton Beach Memoirs, and worked as the Producer for their annual outdoor Shakespeare summer shows.
This is Melissa’s fifth year with illuminate, and is excited to be sharing her love of theatre with the next generation.
Michelle McWilliams – Dance Instructor and Choreographer
Michelle is a graduate of Dean College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. She began her training at a local dance school at a very young age, and was a competitive dancer until she graduated high school.
She also began teaching at her dance school in her late teen years, and choreographed pieces for the annual recitals. Through her dance school, she had the experience of dancing in Disney World, Carnegie Hall, and attended countless master classes. She furthered her dance education at Dean College, where she became part of the dance company her senior year. She performed as part of the hip hop and tap company. During college she also choreographed her former high school’s musicals, and still taught classes at her former dance school. After graduating, she began teaching at another local dance school where she taught ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, and tap. In 2013 she stepped aside from teaching dance to begin homeschooling her four children alongside her husband Kevin.
This is Michelle’s second year being on staff at AWIP. She’s thankful for the opportunity to share her passion and joy for dance with the AWIP community.
Cassie Hanudel – Music Dept. Instructor
Cassandra Hanudel earned her B.M in music education from Gordon College in 2004 and her M.M.Ed. in music education from the University of Hartford in 2010.
She taught music in the Needham Public Schools for 10 years, directing choirs and teaching general music, and was the choral director at Pollard Middle School for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade choruses as well as the award winning Treble Choir. Under Mrs. Hanudel’s direction the Treble Choir traveled and performed everywhere from Washington D.C. to New York City, won numerous gold medals at state festivals, and was invited to perform at Symphony Hall, Mechanics Hall, and the 2009 NAfME Eastern Division Conference in Providence, RI.
During her time at Gordon, Mrs. Hanudel studied voice and vocal pedagogy and sang with the College Choir and various other chamber ensembles. She has also performed with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and has taught voice privately for 15 years. Since 2014 Mrs. Hanudel has been home with her children and has maintained an active voice studio, focusing on vocal pedagogy and performance techniques with high school students.
She is presently Assistant Conductor of the Community Children’s Choir at Gordon College.
Jason Lamb – Tech Director and Tech Dept Instructor
Jason Lamb, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was introduced to theater production his freshman year and has been involved ever since.
During his time at WPI he was the President of Lens and Lights, WPI’s lighting, sound and projection club. He has worked on numerous productions as the Master Electrician, Lighting Designer, Master Carpenter and Technical Director. Jason actively participated in and served as the President for The Gazebo Players of Medfield. Jason has recently joined AWIP and is delighted be running Master Classes in Lighting and Set Construction. While not working on productions Jason finds himself immersed in the activities of his four busy children and his career as an IT Director.
Raymond Santos – Music Department Instructor
More about Ray coming soon!
Joy Capodanno – High School Art Instructor
Joy was born into an artistic family and focused on art at an early age. Her first drawing lessons began at the kitchen table and has never truly ended.
She was recognized nationally during her senior year of high school for her watercolor self portrait. She went on to study art education at UMass-Dartmouth where she logged hundreds of hours of drawing, painting and other art classes. Joy and her husband have five children and have been homeschooling for three years and has been teaching art to homeschoolers for two years. Most recently, she has been creating custom watercolor paintings with a focus on architectural subjects and enjoys making something that will be both beautiful and meaningful for families. She also paints whimsically when the mood strikes her. Joy is passionate about helping students develop skills and discover their unique artistic talents.
Catherine Aday – Music Department Instructor
As a piano instructor for over 20 years, Catherine Aday focuses on developing in her students strong technical skills, music theory foundations, and artistic expressions. Mastering these fundamentals, no matter the instrument, enables students to be lifelong musicians and music enthusiasts.
Catherine holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree from James Madison University, in Virginia, where she studied piano under Dr. Eric Ruple and piano pedagogy under Dr. Patricia Brady, and took more music theory classes than she can count. She is also a member of the Music Teachers National Association.
As a performer, she has experience serving as an accompanist to student vocalists, instrumentalists, and choirs.
She absolutely loves sharing the beauty of music with her students and providing them with the skills to reach their goals.
Linda Smith – Joyful Noise Instructor for ages 4-6
Linda graduated from Meredith College with a BS in Child Development and an elementary teaching degree.
She taught 2.5 to 5 year olds in a high school child care program for 7 years in New Jersey. Since 2013 , Linda has been teaching the preschool class for the Koinonia Homeschool Cooperative.
Linda is married to Kevin and they have 2 sets of twins. She has been homeschooling for 13 years.
Linda loves teaching young children and is excited to begin working with the kids of illuminate.
Brian Keith Arnold – Photography Instructor/Coach
After a year and a half of cinema and video production school, Brian decided to switch directions and focus more on still photos. Since graduating from Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2012, he’s been an “I shoot everything” kind of photographer, dabbling into portraiture, products, family, pets, and much more.
Brian’s background in videography allows him to evenly split his work between videography and still photography. He absolutely loves being able to serve his clients with photography and video, occasionally providing both for the same event. www.briankeithmedia.com
Sandy Churchill – “Picassos” Art Instructor
Sandy Churchill is a mom of three and homeschooler of her son Tim. She has designed and taught over 40 enrichment classes for community, homeschool, and public school environments, spanning acrylic painting, charcoal drawing, mixed media, hand sewing, and myriad writing, craft and science classes.
She has taught enrichment classes for the past 19 years and directed her town’s elementary school enrichment program for the past 9 years. She teaches “paint night” events for teens, adults and seniors, as well as library and birthday paint parties for children. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and Communications from Stonehill College and her M.A. in Professional Writing and Publishing from Emerson College. She worked as a part-time journalist for over 25 years, and her most recent project is a quarantine comfort children’s book, And the Peepers Peep On, available from the author and on Amazon.
Daniel Latham – Salt+Light Coach
Daniel Latham has had extensive training and experience in theater, music, public speaking, ministry training and development, and group involvement. He has been playing music since the age of 6, with lessons in drums, piano, guitar and vocals, including 5 years in an a cappella group and 8 years in musical theater.
He attended a 1 year ministry training/leadership school and studied bible doctrine and worship music. He currently serves in his local church as the drummer and as a worship leader assistant.
Daniel loves helping people find out more about themselves and reaching their potential in every area.
Cole Paul – Media Department Instructor/Coach
More about Cole soon!
Meet Our Student Instructors
Meghan Lamb – Dance Department Instructor
Meghan has been studying dance since she was two years old. She started as a dancer at New England Dance Academy in North Attleboro, where she was a member of their elite competition team. She then switched her focus to the study of classical ballet under the direction of Patricia Dubois at Heritage Ballet.
She most recently attended Nutmeg Conservatory as a pre-professional student. She enjoys working with young students and helping them find the joy in dancing.
Cara Sherrod – Creative Arts Department Instructor
Cara is the oldest of 5 kids, all of whom are homeschooled. She first came to AWIP/illuminate in the fall of 2018, with a passion for the arts. Her first day there, she jumped right in and started interning for Joyful Noise.
She started on the backstage crew for Newsies and has since been in two dramatic presentations and was in last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast. She has also interned for two junior productions, first as assistant stage manager, and then as an acting coach. She has gained a passion for teaching young kids through helping with her younger siblings and assisting with children’s ministry at her church. She loves all parts of the arts, and one of her dreams is to pass on that same love to younger kids. She can’t wait to do that with illuminate students!
Luke Smith – Picasso Jr Instructor
Luke Smith is a sophomore in high school and loves painting, woodworking, and helping others. Luke joined AWIP’s set construction class and the backstage crew in 2016 during Mary Poppins.
Since then, he has been working backstage in A White Christmas, Newsies, and Beauty and the Beast. Luke has been taking art classes for nearly a decade, and for the past four semesters he has interned in the Picasso art class. Last year he took AWIP’s high school intensive art class. He is looking forward to teaching at illuminate this semester.
Meet Our Staff
Stephanie LaFond, Costume Designer, Costume Instructor, and Bookkeeper
Stephanie is a graduate of WPI and of the UWisconsin at Madison with a BS/MS in Civil Engineering as well as a licensed Professional Engineer.
After college she worked in her field for many years, before taking time to homeschool her 4 children, who range in age from 6 to 12. Her children are all very active in the AWIP community taking classes, working on and in productions and interning. She joined the AWIP staff as our bookkeeper, last year. Stephanie is also very active with her church, teaching Sunday School and as a member of the Ladies Philanthropic Society. Always a huge fan of musical theater and singing throughout her life, she has been involved with many productions, choral groups and choir in her younger days, but prefers the behind the scenes work to center stage. The granddaughter of two professional seamstresses, she is a predominantly self-taught sewer who loves creating elaborate Halloween costumes for her family. She created original costume designs for her first production with AWIP (now illuminate): Beauty & the Beast 2019. She is looking forward to sharing her love of costume design with the AWIP community.
Colleen Sutcliffe, Production Manager
More on Colleen coming soon!
Lynn Dubeau, Building Supervisor and Volunteer Administrator
More on Lynn coming soon!
Katherine Sherrod, Administrative Assistant
Katherine has always loved music. She grew up taking piano lessons and singing, as well as learning a few other instruments as a child. She was in chorus, performed in musicals and served as a cantor and song leader for kids at her church during high school.
She received a BS in Spanish and Elementary Education from Regis College, where she was an active member of the Glee Club. They even toured in Greece and France during her time there. She went on to earn a Masters in Special Education from Simmons College and spent years working with children with autism both in classroom and home settings before staying home with her own kids. She would much rather be in the background supporting others now than in the spotlight!
Katherine is mom to 5 kids, ranging in age from 2-16! She has homeschooled for over 10 years now. She was very excited to find our company in 2018 after her oldest expressed an interest in drama and music. The 4 older kids immediately found classes and productions and loved being part of them! The following year, Katherine joined the team as a bookkeeping assistant. She is excited to use her organizational and office skills to further the mission of the company this year as Administrative Assistant.