What is your educational background?
PM: BA in Philosophy from Catholic University of America (Washington DC), 1986; MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, Loyola University (Chicago), 1996; Type 75 Administrative Certification, Loyola University.
What did you do prior to teaching at Fenwick?
PM: I taught for 10 years at three different schools. For six years prior to coming to Fenwick (1990-1996), I taught Math and Theology at Archbishop Quigley Prep in downtown Chicago. I also held several administrative positions, including Theology Chair, Athletic Director, and Admissions Director at the school.
What are you currently reading?
PM: I am slowly working my way through two books: The Art of Living, by Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, and The Doomsday Machine (Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner), by Daniel Ellsberg.
What are your interests outside the classroom?
PM: Watching my kids and students grow up and get launched into their adult lives; reading, attending lectures; and learning more about interreligious dialogue, economics, history and politics. I also love swimming and food.
What were you involved in during high school?
PM: I swam (butterfly) and played baseball (right field and pitcher) for four years. I also ran cross country freshman year and played golf for three years.
What sports/clubs are you involved in at Fenwick?
PM: I have coached boys swimming for a total of 14 years and was the head sophomore baseball coach for 12 years. I have also coached boys and girls cross country, boys water polo and girls swimming in my 22 years at Fenwick. Most importantly, I drive a bus!
What qualities do you see in Fenwick students?
PM: Polite, driven and, unfortunately, under a lot of stress.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
PM: I grew up on the South Side of Chicago raised by a single mother with a Chicago Public High School education. She cleaned houses to support me and my older brother. I went to Quigley South High School, where I was so blessed to encounter so many excellent role models in the teachers, coaches and priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago. They truly cared for us as people. This was especially important for me growing up without a father. These teachers, priests and coaches modeled values and strengths that I wanted to emulate, so I became a teacher.
What are your personal strengths?
PM: I’m organized and goal-oriented.
What do you like most about teaching?
PM: What I value most are the relationships that I have been privileged to have with both the students and athletes in my 32 year career as a teacher, coach and administrator.
What is your philosophy of education?
Dr. Lordan wrote an excellent article on Thomistic education
recently. This approach emphasizes the human person as being gifted by God for the purpose of building up His Kingdom. At Quigley we used to have the acronym “PIES,” which stands for striving to develop our physical, intellectual
gifts, which are all built on this spiritual
foundation which recognizes God as the source.
When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I am a teacher, the next question invariably is, “What do you teach?” I respond that I teach kids. We teach people first, and only secondarily a content area or athletic skills. Whether I am teaching Theology, math, coaching swimming or baseball, or driving a bus, I am first and foremost a teacher of students.
What has been your greatest success?
PM: The privilege and honor of walking with thousands of adolescents for a part of their journey at a very pivotal and often confusing time of life. Also, I have been honored to work with a number of outstanding colleagues who were totally dedicated to Catholic education.
What do you see as the greatest challenge?
PM: The relentless pace of modern life. We just keep adding more and more expectations to students, and I see it taking an unacceptable toll on their well-being. There doesn’t seem to be any time to be a kid anymore.
How do you try to motivate students?
PM: You have to be passionate about what you do. I think my students would describe me that way. You also have to realize that what you are doing is not going to be on the top ten list in the life of any student you are teaching. Our job is to sow the seed. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, some of that seed will produce a rich harvest. We may never see it. In that regard we are like Moses at Mt. Nebo who can see the Promised Land but cannot take the people there.
I hope I convey to my students that I care about them as people. As the old adage goes, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” I hope my students leave here knowing that they are loved more than they can possibly imagine and have been called by God to greatness, which consists of bringing a little more love and spiritual wisdom into a world that needs it more than ever at this moment in history.
Any memorable moments?
PM: Hindu Temple/Indian Restaurant field trips, Rabbi Bob visits and meditations in the Chapel.