Tag Archives: faculty and staff

Meet Our Teachers: Beth Ferguson

First-grade teacher Beth Ferguson has been a member of our Early Childhood faculty for nearly two decades, teaching students from Pre-Kindergarten through second grade.

Mrs. Ferguson holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Trinity International University and an M.A. in Curriculum Development from National Louis University, plus 15 additional hours of Special Education courses.

In her time at Morgan Park Academy, she also has served as Dean of Early Childhood and directed our Summer Camps and ABC programs.

Q&A

Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?

I began teaching at the Academy fresh out of college. I taught second grade for eight years, loving the time I had with Kathy Keelan as a teaching partner! Then I taught at a CPS alternative school for children with behavior disorders. I learned a great deal about myself and my teaching philosophy during that time.

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Meet Our Staff: Nerissa Conley

Nerissa Conley, RN, PEL-CSN, is our full-time School Nurse.

conleyNurse Conley worked as a nurse clinician on the medical surgical-oncology floor at Advocate South Suburban Hospital before returning to school to become a licensed school nurse. She worked as a school nurse in the Blue Island School District for several years and then as a nurse supervisor in a Chicago Public Schools specialized services school before coming to Morgan Park Academy in 2015.

Nurse Conley holds a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Science degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, a B.S. in Nursing from Purdue University, and a Professional Educator’s License as a Certified School Nurse from the State of Illinois.

Q&A

What do you enjoy most about Nursing?

Helping others. I love helping people feel better and supporting people in their time of need. Everyone has a moment in life when they struggle with something (physically, emotionally, etc.). It is very rewarding to feel like I might have helped someone overcome a challenge in some way.

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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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Meet Our Teachers: Betsey Donohue

Pre-Kindergarten teacher Betsey Donohue joined the Morgan Park Academy faculty in 2015 after three years teaching Early Childhood in the Boston area. She teaches Pre-K 4-year-olds and also coaches varsity girls tennis.

Mrs. Donohue holds a B.A. in communication from DePauw University and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston College.

Q&A

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love teaching 4- and 5-year-olds. Students at this age are excited to be at school, eager to learn, and are so curious about what is going on around them. I feel the most important part of my job is to instill a love of school and learning at this young age!

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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.

Q&A

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: James Goehmann

James Goehmann brought more than four decades of teaching experience, including nearly three decades as math department chair, when he joined the Upper School faculty at Morgan Park Academy this fall.

goehmannMr. Goehmann teaches AP Calculus AB, honors pre-calculus, and honors geometry; leads an advisory group; sits on the Upper School’s Honor Council; and is a faculty moderator for our Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) competition team.

He studied at the University of Chicago, where he earned a B.A. in mathematics and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

Q&A

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy it when students succeed in mathematics beyond the level they thought they could achieve. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that students get when they overcome difficult math topics, especially if they were anxious about their ability to handle those topics.

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Meet Our Teachers: Paula Cuadros

After graduating from Morgan Park Academy, kindergarten teacher Paula Cuadros ’87 earned an undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies at Carleton College, an M.A. in social science at the University of Chicago, and an M.S. in Elementary Education at Northwestern University.

paula-cuadrosMrs. Cuadros taught kindergarten for nine years in the Chicago Public Schools before working as a stay-at-home parent. Upon resuming her teaching career, she taught 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds and worked as a school librarian before joining the MPA faculty this fall.

Q&A

Why did you choose to return to MPA as a teacher?

Once my youngest child was settled in school and I was ready to return to teaching full-time, I knew that MPA would be a great place to do that. The small class sizes mean teachers have a better opportunity to connect to students. The ability to create a true relationship with students and families is essential to teaching and learning.

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