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.
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.
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.
Matthew McDowell teaches AP Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, and world history in the Upper School, coaches Middle School cross country, and serves as faculty moderator for Morgan Park Academy’s Model UN and Diversity Council.
Mr. McDowell holds a B.A. from Saint Xavier University and an M.S.Ed. degree from DePaul University.
What is the most important life lesson you want students to learn in your class?
That failure is part of life and a learning experience, not a crutch or low point on which to cling. Failure teaches us how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, learn, and move forward. You may not ever be the smartest, the fastest, the most talented or most popular. But if you are kind and you try to always do your best, you will go far in life.
We are pleased to welcome Lynsey Bochenek-Robertson ’06 back to Morgan Park Academy this fall to teach Upper School science. This year, she is teaching chemistry and genetics, plus coaching tennis and soccer.
Ms. Bochenek attended Murray State University on a full tennis scholarship, earning an undergraduate degree in pre-med biology and chemistry and a graduate degree in biochemistry while conducting research in renal physiology. After teaching human anatomy and human physiology as a grad student, she entered the profession by teaching chemistry at Butler College Prep.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I teach because I believe it is my calling. I am always aiming to help each student unravel his or her uniqueness. I also want to install a love of learning in students, so they will always have a desire to grow and develop into the best version of themselves.
Kindergarten teacher Erin McDuffie joins Morgan Park Academy this fall after teaching in public schools in both Chicago and Boston and working as an ESL teacher in a public charter school for refugee and immigrant children in Columbus, Ohio.
In 2011, she received the Rochelle Lee Boundless Readers Individual Award, and the following year, she participated in the Fulbright Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Sustainable Development.
She holds a B.A. in sociology and political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Education degree in elementary education from Boston College.
Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?
Initially I came to MPA as a prospective parent. I fell in love with the small class sizes, the student body diversity, the child-centered, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and the strong sense of community. During my admissions tour, I kept thinking, “What a wonderful place to learn!” When I saw the job posting for what became my position, I thought, “What an even better place to teach!” I feel so lucky to be joining the MPA community as both a parent and a teacher.
Second-grade teacher Aileen Halvorsen joins Morgan Park Academy this fall after 17 years teaching in Urbana, Evanston, Burbank, and Chicago, most recently at Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center in Mount Greenwood. She has taught kindergarten through fourth grade, including multi-age classes.
Along with teaching second grade at Keller last year, Mrs. Halvorsen was selected as a Learning Leader through the CPS Office of Early Childhood Education and also served on their Instructional Leadership Team.
She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at National Louis University.
How do you inspire students to enjoy learning?
If you walk by my classroom, you might hear a lot of singing and wonder what is going on in there. You might see students all over the room instead of sitting at their desks.
I use music and movement to enhance our lessons and to help with transitions. Children retain new information better by singing or acting it out.