This school year, Morgan Park Academy students enrolled in our Middle School technology course explored computer science through the Python programming language.
We also completed a unit on design and engineering. In this unit, students worked collaboratively through the procedural design process to build a functional pinball machine (pictured below) or contraption. At the start of this project, students researched various resources to use as a reference throughout their design phase. Supplies for this project included recyclables, 3D-printed objects, and LED lights.
Next school year, Middle School technology classes will be able to delve deeper into the design and engineering process with the construction of our new maker space, from robotics to 3D printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and more. Students will continue to explore computer science through game and app design.
Last Friday, students around the world were silent in order to have their voices heard. This is GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Day of Silence. The Day of Silence was first organized in 1996 to bring awareness to the harassment and bullying LGBTQ+ students encounter. Bullying is unacceptable, and no one should be subjected to it anywhere, anytime.
We are proud to be part of the majority of Morgan Park Academy’s Middle and Upper School students who enthusiastically take part in this student-led movement. On this day, we dress in black and do not speak (except during class time). We are silent to remind ourselves and others that even though we want to use our voices and have ourselves heard, we cannot. This is how victims of bullying feel. They are afraid that if they speak out against what is happening to them, they will face more of the same treatment, or worse.
Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, including a seventh-grade trip to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.
Sunday we had our near 13-hour bus ride to Perryville, Arkansas. It was a day consumed by our electronic devices, which will not happen again until Friday. The entire time I was anxious and eager to get to the ranch, which was inevitably in the middle of nowhere. The bus drive was slightly boring, but I got to witness the transition from the city to the rural fields. It was nice to escape my bubble in Chicago, in which everything is busy and chaotic, and transition into the serene, calm, and peaceful environment.
Although the bus ride was tiring, it was nice to be able to to rest up knowing what was in store for us tomorrow. I was very excited to finally be able to somewhat understand the things going on in the world and to be “off the grid” for a few days, while some people need to do it their whole lives.
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!
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.
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?