RENEE SONKA: Since 1998, Renee Sonka has been introducing students to art as exploration, expression and communication. She is proud to be a part of helping MPA students realize their potential and be part of the community that fosters this goal. Ms. Sonka teaches fourth grade art and a variety of courses in the Upper School. Art, she explains, is very much a core life lesson for MPA students. “In a world where change is the constant, and information is infinite, we need more than ever to be simultaneously grounded in ourselves and connected to others. Art can both foster that groundedness and be the conduit for that connectedness.” When asked what makes MPA fabulous, Ms. Sonka said: “I'm absolutely convinced that some of the most amazing adults of the future are coming from this school, and that is not a coincidence.”
JANE ANDERSON: In 1997, a chemistry teacher started at Mounds Park Academy who has quietly and consistently inspired alumni to pursue a career in science - Jane Anderson. And while inspiring, she has helped students experience chemistry in a hands-on, supportive environment. Ms. Anderson had a lot to say when asked why MPA is fabulous : “We have wonderful students, a dedicated and passionate faculty and staff, amazing facilities, and a true liberal arts curriculum, but the best aspect of MPA is the feeling of community that is pervasive when you walk in the door. I truly feel fortunate to be a part of this institution and blessed that my daughter has had the opportunity to blossom here, and as a senior this year, leaves fully prepared for whatever life brings.
DANIEL ETHIER: Since 1992 Daniel Ethier has been inspiring MPA Middle School students to excel in mathematics and firing up the cross country running teams. Together with the other middle school math teachers, Mr. Ethier has created a challenging, experience-based math program where students explore and implications of math in their world. Between Grade 5 and Grade 8, students have a chance to invest $100,000 in the Stock Market Game, participate in the MATHCOUNTS Club program or “stretch their brain” solving challenging two-step equations or factoring quadratic equations. And what does Mr. Ethier find most fabulous about Mounds Park Academy? “… the community. Students who are curious, care about learning, and are willing to work hard to get there. Students who care about and support each other. Faculty who love what they do and are willing to go the extra mile for students. It's really an environment that sweeps everyone along. The end result is more than the sum of its parts, truly a virtuous circle, a joyful learning community!”
COURTNEY NAGLE: Have you ever wondered which faculty member has the record for attending the most fieldtrips? She’s usually buzzing through the middle school – its Ms. Courtney Nagle. And she’s only been here since 2002! Ms. Nagle is dedicated to the experiential learning that makes Mounds Park Academy great. Whether you are trekking through the fields or forest, she’s one of the first to make an impromptu science or math lesson. And so many Middle School students have benefited from her passionate advising and mentoring. In fifth grade, Ms. Nagle and Mr. Madigan introduce students to SEEK – Science, Exploration, Experiments, and Knowledge - as a means to allow students to have independent study in which they share and present knowledge on their subject to their peers. Ms. Nagle finds the constant excitement and enthusiasm of teachers and students fabulous at Mounds Park Academy. Parents, alumni, students and friends – what makes Ms. Nagle fabulous? Remember, only four more days until Give to the Max Day 2012! Let’s celebrate these fabulous faculty!
BARB BRADLEY: When you think of the Theater Program faculty at Mounds Park Academy, Barb Bradley tops the list. A founding faculty member, Ms. Bradley – with the help of Mona Poehling and Melinda Moore – has created an outstanding theater program and an essential integration of the theater arts into the core of an MPA education. Ms. Bradley currently teaches grades 5, 6, 8, and 9-12 and directs the Winter Show. She loves being able to share her passion for the theatre with her students and learning from those students. “Everyday is just a little bit different from the day before,” she remarked. And what does Ms. Bradley find fabulous about Mounds Park Academy? Independent thinking. “In the end, everyone needs to be able to think, evaluate, and act on their own. In the creative arts, in particular, it is essential to nurture an independent spirit so that creation can occur.”
MITCH THOMSEN: If you have a Lower School Student, you have already probably heard about Mr. Thomsen. Mr. Thomsen teaches a legendary rocketry course during the Summer@MPA weeks in June, July and August. Middle and Upper School students are already well acquainted with his enthusiasm and hands-on learning experiences in all of his courses. As he says, “We learn science by doing science.” Whether on-going research, projects, or true experiments, Mr. Thomsen believes that his students are “future citizen-scientists involved and active in knowing about the world and helping to report its changes.” His students are his true joys. “I love to be with my students. I find them invigorating, stimulating, challenging and so full of potential. I am fortunate in that I get to see how they grow from 7th grade to 12th grade. It is really amazing to see how much so many of them change.” And what does Mr. Thomsen find fabulous about MPA? Again, it’s the students. “For me MPA has been a place where I get to develop relationships with students who are eager to learn and are excited about life.”
DAVE MCGAHA: Mr. McGaha started at Mounds Park Academy in Year 2. Ever since that year he has introduced countless students to the thrill of the athletics - whether as a coach or gym teacher, Mr. McGaha is a favorite of many. Many alumni remember their introduction to the Lower School Obstacle Course under his capable guidance, or perhaps they remember that his guidance allowed them to trounce their parents as they ran it together! Whatever your connection, you probably know that at the heart of Dave McGaha’s teaching is the core belief of MPA - that when children are educated as a whole child with a balance of arts, academics, and athletics, their educational needs are not only met but exceeded. Mr. McGaha was short and sweet when he shared what is fabulous about MPA - “MPA is a second family to me.”
JOHN HABERMANN: Joyful music is an MPA tradition which requires a passionate and committed director. Mr. John Habermann "fits the bill". Whether working with the Jazz, Chamber or Concert Choirs or helping on the Spring Musical, Mr. Habermann gets the very best out of every singer. What you might not see, if you are simply in the audience, is the multitude of lessons that happen in the classroom. Along with studying a wider variety of musics, Mr. Habermann’s students develop a singing technique, master their choral part and learn what it means to be part of an ensemble. And when asked what makes MPA fabulous, Mr. Habermann has a great answer - “MPA is a place where people use their hearts and minds to find their voice.”
KARI KUNZE: (pictured here with Maureen Conway and Evy Johnson on the Spain/Morocco tour last year). In 2000, Ms. Kunze started working at Mounds Park Academy. Whether you’ve had her as a 5/6 advisor, a speech coach or as a Spanish teacher, Ms. Kunze inspires her students to joyfully excel. At MPA, she explains, they teach such a span of ages in the language department, she gets to see real student growth, both academically and personally. “Our students at MPA are such neat human beings, people I am proud to know, that it fills me with energy and positivity for the future.”
NANCY LAGE: With the celebrations of the first MPA graduation barely finished, Nancy Lage joined the faculty at MPA as librarian. Countless students have benefited from her wisely suggested book selections. Older students have come to value her guidance on research papers. And of course, faculty rely on her to provide the perfect piece for
their lesson. Ms. Lage says it best about what makes MPA fabulous: “My favorite things about MPA are the amazing colleagues and delightful students I work with. I’m encouraged to be creative, to collaborate with teachers and to continue to learn new skills.”
ANNE DEVOUT ATCHISON: Ms. Atchison started at MPA in that first incredible year - 1982. As a founding faculty member, she’s seen a lot of changes at MPA. But the core - the independent thinking and passionate students has remained steady. As she says herself, she loves her work with the Middle School kids, calling them “passionate” and “eager to ask and explore the important questions of life.” Middle School teachers have a lot to deal with - these years can be a challenging time for many. MPA is lucky to have a 30 year veteran who loves “walking with kids through social problem solving, exploring the creative process, and discovering the difference words can make in our lives.”
KRISTINE PETERSEN: Ms. P came to MPA 24 years ago and ever since has been a passionate committed teacher shaping the start of so many in a MPA inspired life-long learning adventure. As she said: “I get to go to work every single day and be silly, creative, challenged, inspired, and experience pure joy! I get to be a part of a team that loves children and seeks out imaginative ways to help them grow and learn.” And what makes MPA amazing, Ms. P? “The joy of learning that takes place between the children and the adults!”