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MUSEUMS & INSTITUTIONS
Museums & Cultural Institutions
Follow MHS students and their projects at the Institutions at University Circle.
ONLINE PAYMENT OPTIONS
  
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Nathaniel McDonald, Head of School

nathanielmcdonald (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Nate McDonald is honored and privileged to serve as Head of School, leaving his post on the Board of Directors and returning to Montessori education after a career as a lawyer. Nate was raised on a farm in Chardon, Ohio and his family has deep roots in Cleveland. He is a graduate of Kenyon College, where he double majored in English and History and played varsity baseball. After earning his Montessori Elementary Teacher’s Diploma in Bergamo, Italy, Nate was a member of the founding faculty at the Hershey Montessori School Adolescent Program on the Farm. He developed curricula and taught humanities, geometry, occupations, and music; shared his passion for music and sports with the students; and enjoyed working with adolescent boarding students as a member of the residential faculty. The experience as part of the learning community on the Farm inspired Nate to go to law school, where he graduated first in his class at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. After law school, Nate worked as an Associate at a large business litigation firm and as a Judicial Law Clerk for Federal Judge Kathleen M. O’Malley. Most recently, Nate worked as an Assistant Public Defender in the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office, representing indigent criminal defendants before Cuyahoga County courts and in the Ohio Supreme Court. While deeply committed to indigent defense as a critical component of social justice, Nate believes education is the most important social issue of our time and views his work against the backdrop of Maria Montessori’s unifying insight: the ultimate goal of education is peace. Nate lives in South Euclid with his wife, Karen, and their three young children—Meadow, Rosemarie, and Dylan. His daughters let him play in their ukulele band (“Daddy and the Chicken Hawks”), and he sings and plays banjo, upright bass, and guitar with his extended family in the Cleveland oldtime music scene. Nate also enjoys playing morning basketball, coaching T-ball, following Cleveland baseball, spending time at his parents’ farm, being at home with family, and daydreaming about finding time to read for pleasure.

Faculty & Staff

Geoff Bigler, Mathematics Faculty
geoffbigler (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Geoffrey Bigler was born and raised in Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelors of Science in Architecture and worked in both Columbus and Chicago. Finding the profession unfulfilling, Geoff went back to Kent State to complete a Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics. During this time, he taught a class at the University and completed his student teaching at Ravenna High School. Last year Geoff taught 8th grade in Canton City Schools. He recently completed NAMTA's Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies and is excited to work alongside Mike Waski. He plans on getting involved with the MHS soccer team and is also fond of playing volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and chess.



Tina Booth, Humanities Faculty
tinabooth (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
An interest in history and attraction to hands-on exploration (sown by her experience as a Montessori child) motivates Tina both professionally and personally.  She has studied and worked as a field archeologist and museum collections specialist in Central America, New England, the Rocky Mountains, Arizona and Texas.  Working as a site interpreter and educator at Elden Pueblo Archeology Project allowed her to teach hands-on history to a range of learners, from Elementary children to Elder Hostel adults.  For the past ten years, Tina has worked as a Humanities teacher in Montessori Adolescent programs in California and Massachusetts.  She holds a B.A. in Archaeological Studies (Boston University), an M.A. in Anthropology (Northern Arizona University), the AMI Elementary Diploma (Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani) and the NAMTA Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies. 
Tina spends her free time traveling, hiking, reading and cooking with her daughter and husband.   

Regina Feldman, Humanities Faculty, IB Extended Essay Coordinator
reginafeldman (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Regina grew up in Öblarn in the Austrian Alps. She earned her M.A. in ethnology at the University of Vienna, Austria, and her Ph.D. in anthropology as a Fulbright scholar at Case Western Reserve University. She also completed NAMTA's Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies. Regina taught anthropology at CWRU, published a series of academic articles on German post-war history and identity, and worked as an editor. While raising her daughter, Regina discovered her passion for educating children. She has volunteered extensively at Roxboro Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, tutoring in math and reading, and managing all aspects of a grant awarded to offer fresh fruit and vegetables to students every day of school. In 2007, she lived in China and currently continues her Mandarin studies. Regina brings a strong background in the social sciences and history, extensive language skills, and a true love for educating young people to both teaching and curriculum development at Montessori High School. She is an avid traveler, cook, yoga practitioner, and lover of the outdoors. Regina shares her life in Cleveland with her husband, daughter, and their dog Timber.

Marten Frazier, Humanities Faculty
mfrazier (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Marten (Marty) graduated from Oberlin College in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and subsequently joined Teach for America in New York City. As a middle school teacher, Marty taught humanities and science in special education settings and earned his Master’s from Pace University. Prior to joining MHS, Marty had the privilege of working with the Breakthrough Charter School network in Cleveland and is looking forward to continuing this partnership through the MHS tutoring program at Citizens Academy. Marty completed the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies this summer and is excited about putting Montessori theory into practice in his English classroom this year. Outside the classroom, Marty loves reading contemporary fiction, watching films at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Cinematheque, jogging through Tremont and Ohio City, and spending weekends in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with his partner Josh and their dog Oliver. 


Erin Gill, Residential Guide
egill (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org 
Erin received her B.A. in Theatre from Illinois State University in Normal, IL and her Masters in Social Science Administration, with a focus in Community and Social Development, from Case Western Reserve University. During her time at MSASS, she focused her research and field experience on adolescent development and youth organizing. Erin currently works for MHS's close neighbor and partner, University Circle Inc, as the program manager for the Future Connections Summer Internship Program. Erin loves the University Circe neighborhood and is excited to share it with the MHS boarding students.




Patrick Gill, Residential Guide
pgill (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org 
Patrick was born in Pittsburg and grew up in Alliance, OH. He received his bachelors degree in Bible and Theology from Malone University, where he was an RA. He served 7 years in the Army as a diesel generator mechanic and in addition, he is a trained bicycle and automobile mechanic. In his free time Patrick, enjoys wood working, cycling and pick up games of ultimate frisbee. He is excited to get to know the students at MHS this year.






Bonnie Konopinski (Hair), Director of Admissions & Marketing
bkonopinski (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Bonnie Konopinski comes all the way from the "Aloha State" Honolulu, Hawaii.  She attended Mercyhurst University (Erie,PA) on a dance scholarship, where she earned a B.A. in Dance along with a concentration in teaching & choreography.  Along with earning her degree she also held the position as head Ballet Instructor for 4 years with Erie Bayfront Dance. She worked with inner-city youth to help spread the arts into the community.  Along with her extensive experience in the arts, Bonnie has many years of administrative experience.  She has had the pleasure to work with various businesses and admissions departments in both academic and non-academic institutions.  Bonnie enjoys working with youth and families alike and looks forward to her sixth year with Montessori High School at University Circle.


Diane Haughney, Spanish & Chinese Faculty
dianehaughney (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Diane is a native Clevelander, with a B.A. and M.A. in Spanish from Vassar College and Middlebury College’s Graduate School in Madrid, Spain. She worked for 15 years at Blair Academy in New Jersey, teaching Spanish and history, coaching tennis, j.v. swimming, cross country and distance running, and working as a residential advisor. She also took an Oun a Fulbright fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Chiletward Bound wilderness course for adults in the service professions and a National Outdoor Leadership Course (N.O.L.S.) for outdoor educators. While at Blair, Diane pursued a doctorate in political science at the City University of New York and won indigenous peoples’ demands for rights. She remained in Chile for eight years, working closely with indigenous organizations. In breaks from her dissertation, she assisted field research by Chilean and U.S. biologists in the Chilean Andes on the endangered mountain deer, the huemul. Following her return to the U.S., Diane taught at Johns Hopkins University, Bates College, Xavier University, Bucknell University, and American University. She has published Neoliberal Economics, Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands for Rights in Chile (University Press of Florida 2006) and several articles. She is looking forward to instilling a love for Spanish language and culture at Montessori High School.




Vicki Helsing, Academic Support Specialist
vickihelsing (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org

Vicki Helsing has her degrees in Elementary Education grades 1-8, Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders grades K-12, as well as a Masters and Licensure in Educational Administration specializing in Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development.  She has spent the past 15 years homeschooling her four children along with periodically teaching writing, literature and speech to 5th - 8th grade students.  On her free time she enjoys spending much needed quality time with her family and friends.   





Judy Holmes, Outreach Consultant
jholmes (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org 
Judy graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in History and began her professional career in a public relations firm in Chicago. After finding her success and interest in running a Speaker's Bureau and assisting clients with placement on non-profit boards, Judy moved to the non-profit sector. Ever since, she has been active in this sector both professionally and as a volunteer. As Assistant Development Director at Jane Addams Hull House Association in Chicago, Judy was responsible for working with a 28-member Board of Directors and the Annual Fund. She also assisted with special fund-raising events. Judy has been working on similar projects at MHS for two years and looks forward to her role in assisting with the growth of its Development program.


Rachel Huffman Yunker, Dance instructor
ryunker (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org

Rachel grew up in the small town of Woodsfield, located in southeast Ohio. After developing a passion for dance and the arts, Rachel moved north to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in Dance at The University of Akron. After earning her degree, she developed a modern dance program at Martell School of Dance in Akron, OH. Her administrative experience ranges from that of small local businesses to collegiate administrative offices. Rachel enjoys working with students of all ages. In her spare time, she loves to instruct dance, choreograph, and spend time with her family. Rachel truly enjoys working with the Staff and Students of MHS and is delighted to be a part of University Circle!




Valerie Katz, Science Faculty
valeriekatz (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Valerie grew up in Cleveland and earned her B.S. degree in Nutritional Science from Cornell University. After completing a professional program at Cleveland State University, she practiced for several years as a pediatric physical therapist. An interest in nature, ecology and science education motivated her to enroll at Ursuline College where she obtained her Masters of Arts degree in AYA Life Sciences. Valerie taught biology and environmental science at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights from 2005 to 2010. She has completed professional development coursework in evolutionary biology, oceanography, and ecosystems science. In the classroom, she is most enthusiastic about issues related to biodiversity and ecological preservation.


Leah Kozlowski, International Baccalaureate Coordinator & Spanish Faculty
lkozlowski (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Leah Kozlowski grew up in North Royalton, Ohio. She attended Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania, where she earned degrees in Dance and World Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish. Leah traveled extensively in Spain, completing the majority of her studies at Pablo de Olavide University and the University of Seville. During her time in Spain, she also received certification to teach English as a foreign language.  During her free time, Leah enjoys dancing, traveling, and cooking.  She is looking forward to another year at MHS. 

 



Michael Larsen, English Language Arts Faculty
michaellarsen (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Mike graduated from Ohio University in 2008 with a Bachelor's Degree in English. He completed the Teacher Certification Program at Cleveland State University in 2009 with a concentration in Adolescent/Young Adult English and Language Arts. Mike spent three years teaching in the Shaker Heights City School District where he was the assistant head coach for both the High School and Middle School varsity Swimming and Diving Teams. Mike came to Montessori High School in January 2011 and completed the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies in the summer of 2013. He currently lives in Lakewood, he enjoys swimming, going to concerts, and the Cleveland Indians. Currently Mike is pursuing his Master's Degree in Education from Notre Dame College with a concentration in Reading Diagnostics and Intervention. He is excited to share his passion for writing and literature with the students of Montessori High School.

 

Whitney Lloyd, Director of College Guidance
wlloyd (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Whitney has been the Director of College Guidance at MHS since 2008. Whitney has been immersed in the college application process for over 35 years, as Director of College Guidance at University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio from 1988 to 2007, responsible for approximately 100 boys annually, while teaching American History and coaching JV tennis, earlier at St. Louis Country Day in the same capacity. Whitney has always appreciated students with a Montessori background, independent thinkers and learners, and integrated curricula with the global perspective, having previously taught British History in Scotland. American History is a passion; he is currently teaching history and literature in the CASE Continuing Education program. He has two degrees in American History, a B.A. from Harvard and an M.A. from New York University.

Meg O'Halloran, Coordinator of Institutional Advancement
mohalloran (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org 
Meg grew up moving between Shaker Heights, OH and Minneapolis/ Saint Paul, MN, however, Cleveland has always been "home". She has a dual degree in Geography and Environmental Studies with a concentration in Urban Studies from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. Meg has experience in grassroots organizing, writing, and community development. She is excited to be a part of the Montessori High School (MHS) community as well as the place-based learning curriculum here in University Circle. Meg also works for Montessori Development Partnerships. In her free time, Meg enjoys singing opera, improvisational comedy, and organic gardening. Meg looks forward to her first year at Montessori High School at University Circle!



Elizabeth Panhorst, Coordinator of Community Partnerships & Entrepreneurial Studies
epanhorst (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org 
Libby Panhorst holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a minor in English from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She was Programs Coordinator at The Kenyon Review for three years, where she administered summer writing programs to high school students, college students, and adults. She has worked in a residential capacity for the arts- and writing-based educational programs of, respectively, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Kenyon Review. She loves cats and enjoys working with her hands, especially knitting, drawing, and book arts. In June 2013, she received the Peter Taylor Fellowship in Literary Hybrid/Book Arts to The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, where she wrote, created books, and facilitated course instruction. As Montessori High School’s first Resident Intern, Libby looks forward to providing support to the administration, the residential community, and the academic faculty.


Ellen Rooney, Theater Faculty
erooney (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Ellen grew up in the Cleveland area, attended Culver Academies, and then Denison University as a Vail Scholar in Dance. She earned MFA in Dance and MA in Performance Studies from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and more recently, a PhD in Theater from Bowling Green State University. Currently, she serves on the Ohio Arts Council’s Project Support Committee. She performs with Women in History and directed and/or choreographed at theaters such as Cleveland Public Theater, Near West, Berea Grindstone Players, and Geauga Lyric Theater. She acted in films and commercials around Cleveland; and in LA, worked at Theater West, Universal Studios, Fox Studios, The Fredrick Pierce Company in association with the Disney Channel, and Magar Pictures. Ellen enjoys golf, gardening, jigsaw puzzles, and sharing two Labradors, Jesse and Darcie, with family.


Nancy Smekal, French Faculty
nsmekal (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
Nancy combines her heartland roots from Columbus, Ohio with a passion for all things French. She earned her BA and MA in French at Miami University of Ohio and Middlebury’s Graduate School in Paris, France. She has taught French from the kindergarten to the college level in many different academic settings. Nancy and her family recently returned to Ohio from living in Oregon where they loved to ski, sail and hike. Nancy looks forward to an exciting year with all the Montessori students, to the joy of the University Circle advantage and to spreading the French language and culture!




Jeffrey Sutker, Technology Director

Bio coming soon







 


David Waski, Visual Arts Faculty
davidwaski (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
David grew up in Bedford, Ohio, where he spent much of his time exploring the vast Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. After completing his foundation years at The Cleveland Institute of Art, David attained his B.A. in Art Education from Cleveland State University. David has also completed NAMTA’s Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies. David taught art, music, drama, journalism, and served as the basketball coach at The Grove School, a public Montessori charter high school in Redlands, California. David enjoys exploration via Frisbee, composing music, and contributing to the local arts community. He is interested in unifying the arts and is excited about helping adolescents reach their full potential.

Mike Waski, Mathematics Faculty
michaelwaski (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org
A native of Ohio, Mike attended Trinity High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, before completing his B.S. in Elementary Education with concentrations in Music and Mathematics at Kent State University. He also holds an M.A. in Educational Administration and is working towards an M.A. in Mathematics from Cal State San Bernardino. He has completed NAMTA’s Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies, where he is currently a faculty member. He has also completed the 47th Advanced (Elementary) Montessori Training Course at the International Centre for Montessori Studies Foundation in Bergamo, Italy.  Mike has been teaching for twelve years, having taught math to students ranging from second grade to high school calculus. In addition to his years teaching, he has also served as basketball coach, assistant head of school, and head of school at The Grove School, a Montessori charter high school in Redlands, California. He has also been an instructor for geometry and algebra institutes for teacher trainees through Cal State and UC Riverside.  In his free time, Mike enjoys playing trumpet and studying number theory and theoretical physics.

Montessori High School at University Circle
info (at) montessorihighschool (dot) org • Tel.: 216.421.3033 • Fax: 216.421.1874 • 11025 Magnolia Drive Cleveland, OH 44106