Maggie Lopez teaches English classes in the Upper School and is a faculty moderator for National Honor Society, Model UN, and yearbook. She is teaching AP English Language and Composition, Advanced Literary Studies, and Popular Culture and Literature this school year, her second at Morgan Park Academy.
Mrs. Lopez holds a B.A. in Secondary English Education from Miami University and a Master of Teaching and Learning degree from Roosevelt University. Before coming to MPA, she taught at large, diverse, urban schools in Louisville, Kentucky, and Houston, Texas, teaching high school courses at all levels, including Advanced Placement.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
My seventh grade English teacher, Ms. Klein, was my inspiration for becoming a teacher. Her classroom environment was welcoming, and she worked hard to make connections with all students. For me, she was always able to recommend the perfect book and there to provide extra grammar help. During my senior year of high school, I was able to do an internship with her in her classroom. She really influenced my ideas of what makes a good teacher.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Mr. 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.
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.
The college admissions process is constantly evolving. It is much different than it was 10 years ago, even a few years ago. Because of this, it is more important than ever to understand college admission trends, what influences them, and how best to prepare to apply to college.
This year at MPA, we have improved our college counseling curriculum to keep pace with the ongoing demands of the college admission process and keep our students competitive in the applicant pool.
We already have begun to implement some exciting new changes. In eighth grade, we are beginning early college awareness through the use of NextTier College Counseling software. Students will receive assignments that parents and the college counselor can monitor as they progress.
College 102 is now a year-long college counseling class for juniors, while we have added College 103 as a fall semester class to help seniors complete the college application process. We plan to add College 100 and College 101 classes for freshmen and sophomores next year.
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.
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.