Category Archives: Middle School

Meet Our Teachers: Lesley Jorge

Lesley Jorge teaches French in Upper School and Middle School, having joined the Morgan Park Academy faculty this fall after 13 years in a similar role at a K-12 school in Evanston.

She holds a B.A. in English and French from Butler University and a Master’s in curriculum and instructional design from Wichita State University.


What do you enjoy most about teaching?

For me it’s all about the kids. I feel so lucky to have found a profession where I get to interact in an important and meaningful way with teenagers. I love being around these young ladies and gentlemen. Their passions, perspectives, and voices have so much to offer the world. Plus, they keep me young!

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Meet Our Teachers: Tara Gorry

Tara Gorry teaches Spanish in the Upper School and Middle School, having joined Morgan Park Academy this fall from Montrose School, an independent school in suburban Boston.

She holds a B.A. in Spanish and English from Colgate University and an M.A. in Hispanic Studies from Boston College.


Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?

In addition to being an excellent school with strong academics, MPA attracted me with its culture of inclusion, sense of community, and focus on thinking internationally. While it is important to celebrate where we come from and what ties us together, as a language teacher, it is so important to me that a school looks outside of itself to explore other countries, meet other people, and learn to respect different ways of life.

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Meet Our Teachers: Jeanne Pagliaro

Jeanne Pagliaro teaches seventh-grade physical science and eighth-grade life science.

Ms. Pagliaro began her career in middle school, but she also taught high school courses for many years in both public and private schools. She joined Morgan Park Academy this fall after being the STEM division chair and AP biology and biomedical sciences teacher at Queen of Peace High School, where she collaborated with other high schools, universities, professional organizations and alumnae, working with them to inspire more students to pursue engineering fields after high school.

She holds a B.S. in secondary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Education degree from the University of St. Francis.


How would you describe your ideal student?

This student has a sense of humor and is also willing to take risks; is not afraid to be wrong. I believe we learn a great deal from our mistakes, and I do my best to provide a classroom that encourages risk-taking and self-discovery along with laughter and joy. As a student, I was terrified to be wrong, and so I do not want my own students to have the same experience.

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Meet Our Teachers: Shavonne Terry

Shavonne Terry is Morgan Park Academy’s educational technology coordinator, a role that encompasses classroom instruction across all school divisions as well as supporting the school’s information technology needs.

Ms.​ ​Terry holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Illinois Institute of Art, where she focused on media arts and animation, and a Master of Education degree from DePaul University.


What​ ​does​ ​the​ educational​ technology​ coordinator​ ​do​ ​at​ ​MPA?

​I​ ​work​ ​closely​ ​with​ ​leadership​ ​and​ ​teachers​ ​in​ ​developing​ ​an​ ​innovative program​ ​of​ ​instructional​ ​technology​ ​that​ ​enriches​ ​and​ ​supports​ ​MPA’s​ curriculum.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​provide​ ​instructional​ ​design​ ​support​ ​and​ ​training​ ​for​ ​the​ ​integration​ ​of technology​ ​into​ ​the​ ​classroom,​ ​1:1​ ​device​ ​implementation,​ ​learning​ ​management support​, ​and​ ​daily​ ​tech​ ​assistance​ ​for​ ​students​ ​and​ ​teachers. ​Also,​ ​I​ ​teach​ ​technology and​ ​computer​ ​science​ ​classes​ ​throughout​ all divisions ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​working​ ​with​ ​the summer​ ​enrichment​ ​programs.


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Reinventing the Student Notebook

Three years ago, during my first year at Morgan Park Academy, I had to improvise part of a lesson after I was left without one of the handouts I planned to use.

I tried a slightly different way to get my seventh-grade English students to engage with the classic Robert Frost poem “The Road Less Traveled.”

I had them take out a piece of notebook paper and draw their understanding of the poem. Think about what the poem represents. What do you think it means? What images are most prominent? What colors come into your mind when you read it?


The students loved this approach. Some of them drew compelling images from their interpretations of the poem. When asked to explain their images and how they connected to the poem, they had clear, analytical answers that showed their understanding and a higher level reading of the poem.

This success got me thinking: How can I do more of this in my classroom?

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Meet Our Teachers: Jessica Stephens

Please help us welcome Jessica Stephens, who joins the Morgan Park Academy faculty as a sixth-grade math and science teacher and sixth-grade advisor.

Mrs. Stephens has taught at both the middle school and high school level, teaching algebra, chemistry, biology, and seventh- and eighth-grade science.

She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, where she majored in psychology as a pre-medicine student.


What is the most important life lesson you want students to learn in your class?

I appreciate George Bernard Shaw’s quote that what is most important is seeing “the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” I desire most that students learn the value of knowledge and the importance of pursuing truth. This life lesson will transform students into individual persons who set the intent to educate the self rather than passively awaiting another to dispense knowledge — only to be tempted to either instill such knowledge or carelessly discard it upon its false evaluation of its worth. Therefore, my hope is that in understanding the worth of knowledge and the pursuit of truth, one’s perspective will be the impetus in doing the former rather than the latter.

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Summer Adventure at the Grand Canyon: Our Top 5 Moments


An important part of each student’s experience at Morgan Park Academy is tied to our mission to prepare the global leaders of tomorrow and our belief that learning can and should take place outside the classroom. This comes to life most vividly in our school-wide Global Week each March, our immersive world languages program with optional international trips — and most recently, our travel opportunity for middle school students each summer.

This summer, a dozen sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders joined my fellow Humanities teacher Sandra Burgess and me to explore the Grand Canyon and the wondrous state and national parks of Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.


We experienced so much in five days! As Ms. Burgess put it, “You know you’re on a great trip when every day your students say, ‘I changed my mind; today has been my favorite day.'”

Somehow, though, we managed to pick five experiences that stood out as the top highlights from our trip! Continue reading