Timeless Parallels: Veteran Voices & Classical Literature

Project Team

Theater in Epidarus

Project Director and Project Administrators

Julie Montione

Project Director, has been teaching Humanities at Valencia College since 2012. As the wife, daughter, and sister of veterans, she has sought to synthesize her love of classical literature with veteran studies in all her humanities courses. As a previous participant in the NEH Summer Seminar, she knows firsthand the impact of these programs -- their ability to foster intellectual growth and create a community of enthusiastic educators. Julie and Sean have worked together for the past five years to bring quality programs to the Central Florida community and are proud to create this dynamic summer program. 

Sean Lake

Sean Lake, the project administrator of this grant, is a PhD in Classics. This is the third NEH grant he has worked on with Julie Montione, all related to trauma and the practical application of the humanities. Sean has studied at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens as a Philip Lockart Fellow, and in the Summer School of the American Academy in Rome. He was the teaching fellow of the year twice as a graduate student at Fordham University, and was nominated for Professor of the Year at Seton Hall in 2010. He has published articles on Willa Cather and her reception of the Classics. In addition to Cather and tragedy, he has presented papers on Ernest Heminway’s allusions to ancient myth, Aristotle’s Poetics, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the historian Livy.

Aaron Ellis

Aaron Ellis, the project coordinator, is a theatre and religious studies scholar, educator, performing artist, and community organizer. They have an MA in Religion, Ethics & Philosophy, and a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies, both from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Aaron’s work across disciplines and institutions centers Embodiment and Radical Ethics. Aaron currently serves as Lead Coordinator for a Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) initiative at the Tallahassee-based, historical and educational theatre company, Theatre With a Mission; works as a Producer, Grant Writer, and Special Projects Coordinator at Orlando’s Latinx theatre company Descolonizarte TEATRO; and serves as a Facilitator for the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College, where Aaron also teaches Theatre and Religious Studies.

Master Teachers

Steve Ciraolo

Stephen Ciraolo is an Athey Family Master of Classics at The Hill School, where he teaches all levels of Latin and Greek and serves as the Director of the Rowing Program. He has a B.A. in economics and government from Cornell University and an M.A. in Classics from Villanova University; he was also a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, under the directorship of Steve Dyson. Prior to his appointment to The Hill, Steve served on the faculties of The Baldwin School and of Tabor Academy. At the latter, he was the 2009 recipient of the Matthew W. Houliham Foundation Award for excellence and dedication to the students of Tabor Academy. His text, Pro M. Caelio Oratio (Bolchazy-Carducci, 1997) was long the standard textbook used in the former AP Latin curriculum.

Salaam G. Dreher

K-12 Leader, served 21 years in the United States Marine Corps. After retiring, he has spent the last 21-years teaching the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for the Orange County Public Schools. As the Senior Marine Instructor, he is responsible for ensuring that the Marine Corps’ core curriculum is adhered to on all levels. He is part of a team of JROTC teachers that upgrades the End of Course assessment every summer and will work with Ms. Houvouras on the Ajax project.  

Erika Houvouras

K-12 Leader, is a language arts teacher in Central Florida who has taught most levels of secondary English, and Advanced Placement Literature and Composition during her twenty-two year teaching career. She will pilot a unit of study with her colleague Salaam Dreher (below) during the spring 2022 using modern veteran voices and live performances in the study of Ajax. They both will co-lead a session during the institute.  

Dr. Patrick Lake

Latin and Greek teacher at the Hill School, and Chair of the Classics Department. He is the primary K-12 Leader on the project, as well as the liaison to the Hill School. He will be on site and in sessions full-time during the course of the institute. He will lead one seminar and one discussion.

Ed Turner

Ed Turner is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross (B.A., Classics), and earned his M.A. in Classical Studies at Villanova. He is an advocate for the use of educational technology because of its potential to enhance student engagement and learning. Before arriving in Pottstown in August of 2016, Ed taught Latin at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School for one year. Prior to Cristo Rey, Ed spent ten years at his alma mater, St. Joseph's Prep, where, before serving as admission and summer school director, he spent several years in the classroom teaching Classics.


Scholars and Practitioners

Mark Anthony Brennan

Mark Anthony Brennan is a US Army Combat Veteran who served in the 89th Military Police Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Mark Anthony is one of our original Grant participants and started his academic journey at Valencia College. He attributes most of his successes, influences, and inspirations in part to Dr. Sean Lake. Currently, Mark Anthony is a Doctoral Candidate where he continues to focus his research efforts on the Veteran Experience within Higher Education. His current focus is looking at how veterans and service members with psychiatric disorders transition to a 4-years institution of higher-learning progress while using the accommodations provided by the college? How do they agree or disagree those accommodations meet their academic success needs?

Bassem Chaaban

Bassem Chaaban is the Director of the Peace Institute that focuses on organizing interfaith and social engagement peace events and programs in the community. He is also Executive Director for American Islam; a National organization focused on helping dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. He has spoken at different universities, colleges, public schools, religious institutions, and civic organizations throughout the United States and is a professor of World Religions at Seminole State College in Orlando, Florida for the past 12 years.  He has done research in the area of Religious History with an emphasis on Interfaith Dialogue in Turkey, Spain, Rome, Cuba and has taught a World Religions College course in China.

Bryan Doerries

Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, and translator, who currently serves as Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. A self-described evangelist for ancient stories and their relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. Doerries’ books include The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, and a collection of his translations of ancient Greek Tragedies entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. Among his awards, he has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kenyon College, and in March 2017, he was named Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) for the City of New York, a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs.

Dr. Jason Harris

Dr. Harris is an historian who specializes in Ancient Greek history, especially the relationship between human mobility and state formation during the Classical period.  He has published articles on tyranny, mercenaries, and political refugees in Ancient Greece. Currently teaching at Vanderbilt, he taught at Tulane University and have held fellowships at Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Berlin, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the American Academy in Rome.

Elizabeth Jackson

Currently the Veteran Outreach Program Specialist for the Orlando Vet Center. Elizabeth served in the Army from 2001 to 2005 as an 88 Mike (Truck Driver) and is a Veteran of the Iraq War. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with her Masters in Social Work. Ms. Jackson works within the Central Florida area to connect resources and build partnerships within the community that will help support Veterans and their families.

Dr. Peter Meineck

Dr. Meineck is Endowed Chair of Professor of Classics in the Modern World at NYU. He founded Aquila Theatre, a professional troupe that specializes in re-imaginings of classical drama, and is Director of the Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives program which received a Chairman’s Special Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010.

Dr. John Minbiole

Dr. Minbiole is a Postdoctoral Lecturer in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences. John will use his experiences teaching Rhetorics of War and Peace (CAS 373) to lead a session during the residential portion of the institute on the use of “othering” in modern war literature and its impact on veteran issues.

Dr. Patrick Owens

Professor Owens has many years of experience in both college and high school teaching. He has organized and moderated several seminars for spoken Latin and Latin pedagogy. Dr. Owens will make a presentation based on his publications in Latin pedagogy and his experiences teaching the Aeneid and Caesar.

Daniel F. Perkins, Ph.D.

Daniel F. Perkins, Ph.D., is the Principal Scientist (founder) of the Clearinghouse and is a Professor of Family and Youth Resiliency and Policy at Penn State University. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Family and Child Ecology, his M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, and his B.A. in Developmental Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Perkins’ work involves teaching, research, and outreach through the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. His scholarship integrates research and practice in three focus areas: (1) Healthy Family Development (increase resiliency through evidence-based, strength-based educational programming), (2) Implementation Science (involves mix-methods hybrid evaluations of preventions and interventions, implementation outcomes, and community-based delivery models especially in military-connected contexts), and (3) Community Collaboration (promote strategies for mobilizing communities in support of children, youth, and families.)


Artists and Performers

Joe Goodkin

Joe Goodkin is a Chicago-based singer/songwriter. He tours the country performing his one-man folk-opera interpretation of Homer's Odyssey (almost 300 performances in almost 40 US states and Canada) and for years released music under the name Paper Arrows. In 2015, he released his first solo record, Record of Life, to wide college radio play and positive press, and on February 10, 2017, he released a sequel to Record of Life, entitled Record of Loss.

Rachel Hunter

Rachel Hunter has been involved in the performing arts for over 20 years. Her theater education includes Baltimore School for the Arts and a Bachelor of the Arts in acting at the Pennsylvania State University where she also discovered a love of costume construction and design. Since then, she’s worked as a “performer who loves costumes” and as a “custumer who loves performers”- depending on the production. She has worked up and down the east coast everywhere from New York City to Miami. Internationally, Rachel played the lead role in a British production of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” in Manchester, England. Her television credits include principal roles in the dramas “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” as well as various commercials. Her costuming credits include Opera del Sol’s inaugural production, “Opera Wars.” She also designed and built the costumes for “Mozart and Marie” and “Infestation”  part of the Orlando Fringe Festival.  

Stephen Lima

Originally from Toronto Canada, Stephen is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC and was a member of their prestigious showcase Company.  Recent theater credits: O’Brien in 1984, Felix in The Odd Couple and Ernesto in Destiny of Desire (Garden Theatre) Marco in A View from the Bridge and Gil Marshall in The Royal Family (Mad Cow Theater) Lysimachus in Pericles, Sebastian in The Tempest, Grempkin / Fighting Prawn in Peter and the Starcatcher, Bedford / Bates in Henry V (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre).

Sarah Lockard

Sarah Lockard is an Orlando-based theater artist who also works as an Administrative Assistant for the Arts & Humanities Department on the Valencia College West Campus. She has been involved in the Orlando theater community since 2005 and worked with several local arts organizations including Mad Cow Theatre, Garden Theatre, Empty Spaces Theater Company, Studio Theatre at Tierra Del Sol, Icehouse Theatre, Ibex Puppetry, Voci Dance, Women Playwrights Initiative, Creative City Project, and the Orlando International Fringe Festival. She has a passion for classical theater and has performed in Oedipus the King with Empty Spaces, Antigone with the Studio Theater, and The Bacchae directed by Jeremy Seghers. She is very grateful to be involved with Dialogues of War and excited about sharing these powerful classic works with the community.