Tag Archives: arts

Meet Our Teachers: Scott Sowinski

Scott Sowinski teaches physics and forensic science in our Upper School and leads the development of our science curriculum. He also teaches drama, directs drama productions, and moderates the Arts Council.

Before joining the Morgan Park Academy faculty in 2016, Mr. Sowinski worked in educational consulting and school administration, and also did integrative programming with the Chicago Public Schools in technology and hybrid learning models. He was the head of curriculum and instruction on the North Side before coming home to the South Side. He also ran a private homeschooling program in New York City for more than a decade.

Mr. Sowinski is a voracious lifelong learner, working now on a Ph.D. in education policy after earning an undergraduate degree in multiple sciences and secondary education, a conservatory degree in opera, and two Master’s degrees: one in curriculum and instruction and another in education policy and organizational leadership and administration.

Q&A

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

Ultimately, my goal is to shape people, not content. What they learn will matter very little if it does not serve to better them. I want students to recognize the importance of failure, find acceptance in error, and assert the courage to rise up and become more than when they started. I want them to think deeper and relay every effort to serve our global community in whatever path they choose. There is no “most important” lesson. Rather, I strive to teach them that every opportunity ignites the potential for greater change.

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The Hidden Benefits of Singing in the Chorus

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Each school year, when a new crop of chorus students shows up for their first rehearsal, I ask them to answer three questions:

  1. What do you like to sing?
  2. Where do you like to sing?
  3. Why are you here?

The third question usually gets some interesting replies — including “my parents made me” or “I needed an Arts credit” — but without fail, every person in the room, whether new to group singing or not, is easily able to answer the first two questions.

Everyone sings. Some people, sadly, only sing in the privacy of their home or the relative privacy of their vehicle, but everyone sings.

I have been involved with choral singing since I was quite little. It wasn’t until I started teaching chorus, however, that I began to really consider its benefits, whether my students go on to be lifelong singers or not.

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Meet Our Teachers: Peggy Bergin

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Peggy Bergin teaches Middle School and Upper School drama classes and fifth-grade English, directs our fall play and spring musical, and moderates our student Arts Council. She is our Director of the Arts and Curriculum Leader for the Fine Arts department.

She holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Q&A

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

Last summer, my fifth-graders read a novel called Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. In it there is a precept (or a “rule about a really important thing”) that states: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” This idea, attributed to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, is a lesson I hope students take away from all of my classes.

What are your favorite moments with a student?

Without a doubt, my favorite moments are watching student theatrical performances after weeks of rehearsals. I find myself very moved by the commitment, creativity, and talents of the students here at Morgan Park Academy, such that by the end of our final performance, I’m wishing that I could watch it again.

How do you keep current with the subject areas you cover?

I try to see as much theatre and art as possible — and I will truly see anything. We are fortunate that we live in a world-class theatrical city, and I enjoy venturing downtown to the major theaters to see what they’re doing. But I also enjoy watching other schools’ productions and community theatre as well. For me, there is inspiration everywhere.

What traits do you look for in your “ideal” student?

My ideal student possesses a fierce sense of integrity, a willingness to try new things, and willingness to succeed and to fail at those things. My ideal student is supportive of the ideas, successes, and failures of his or her peers and — perhaps most importantly — has a sense of humor.