STMA Welcomes New Faculty for 2012-2013
St. Thomas More Academy aims to improve its educational offerings constantly and meet increased enrollment without sacrificing the intimacy of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation that defines our learning environment. We are pleased to welcome our new teachers for the 2012-13 academic year. Full bios for all faculty and staff can be found at the following link: http://stmacademy.org/about/faculty-staff/
Instructor in Mathematics
Mrs. Bello was born and raised in Vietnam and came to America during her sixth grade year. “I remember looking at my very first report card and seeing the only grade on it was an ‘A’ in math. I was sad, but it was the only subject I could understand due to the language barrier. It was then that my love for math and my thirst for learning began!” She now inspires her students to share in that love for math and passion for learning. She has taught mathematics and special education in Virginia, Florida and South Carolina and brings her unique background and experiences to the creation of a highly productive learning environment that maximize student potentials for excellence.
Mrs. Bello finished her B.A. in Foreign Affairs and M.T. in Special Education at the University of Virginia. She also holds a certificate of teaching in secondary math education from the University of North Florida. She teaches beginning and advanced mathematics.
Instructor in Humanities and Mathematics
Mr. Blanchard has Irish roots, but he professes a great love for the American south. “I grew up in North Carolina eating barbeque, going to football games, and visiting Civil War battlefields!” He was baptized in the Catholic Church while a first-year student in college and thereafter began to focus on the study of Catholic history and theology. He has since worked extensively in campus ministry and his local parish and is passionate about passing on the faith to young people in a dynamic, joyful, and faithful way. ‘I want to instill in my students a love of studying and learning from our beautiful, tragic, and hope-filled history. The Church, the Bride of Christ journeying through history, continues to hear and to heed the voice of her Divine Founder, and the story of our successes and failures is the story of our continuing Redemption.’
Mr. Blanchard earned his B.A. in Religion from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.St. in Catholic Doctrine from the University of Oxford. He teaches beginning mathematics and theology.
Instructor in Humanities
Ms. Geradts has a venerable view about the education of the young. “My father often shared his philosophy of education with my sisters and me, especially whenever we were celebrating an academic achievement in our family. He would say “non scholae sed vitae discimus”: “we learn, not for school, but for life.” Although I am not a Latin scholar, this phrase resonated with me throughout my own academic career. This spirit of living and learning for the experience of life itself means that we can glorify God with all that we do and sanctify our lives both in and out of the classroom. St. Thomas More Academy stresses our opportunity to glorify God with our entire lives, and I value teaching in a place that prizes truth and fosters Christian excellence.”
Ms. Geradts earned her B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Chapel Hill she was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and served as president of Carolina Students for Life. She teaches literature.
Instructor in Fine Arts and Humanities
Ms. Hamilton has rich interests in classical education. “I believe that true learning is best cultivated by relationships with mentors who hand down and disciple students within a tradition. Raïssa Maritain once adopted Terrence’s aphorism–“nothing human is alien”–as a new manifesto for Catholics to possess a genuinely informed doctrine concerning everything that is human. I think that the role of classical education contributes to this whole and informed imagination of the human existence. We must know our own cultural and anthropological history if we hope to understand the history of God. As Pope John Paul II said, ‘all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.’” Ms. Hamilton embraces inspirational teaching and living life itself as this kind of art.
Ms. Hamilton earned her B.A. in Great Texts from Baylor University and her M.T.S. from Duke. Her master’s thesis explored connections between the works of the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain and the Japanese artist Makoto Fujimura. Ms. Hamilton teaches history and the visual arts.
Instructor in Humanities
Mr. Kurz first fell in love with literature in his youth while reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. “I found myself enthralled by the protagonist’s struggle for justice in a fallen world. Never before had I encountered life in all of its beauty so vividly presented in the pages of a novel. My seventeen-year-old mind was stunned, but my adventures in literature had just begun. By the time I began my work at Notre Dame a year later, I knew that I would pursue a major in the Program of Liberal Studies, a course of studies based upon the core of “great books” of western civilization. These books introduced the foundations of western ideas, the foundations of the Catholic faith, and some of life’s most important questions. While studying these texts in a seminar-based format, my love for literature and intelligent discourse burgeoned into a call to the classroom as a teacher.”
Mr. Kurz thus began a career of fostering the life of the mind in young men and women. As he says, “there are few greater pleasures for a teacher than to watch a conversation that has begun in the classroom spill over into the lives of students. As an instructor of literature, I aim to foster an intellectual curiosity, a hunger for knowledge and truth, and a passion for literature. I sincerely hope that, through intellectual discourse, students will develop a sense of who they are and of their place in this world, while at the same time knowing that they live in a caring, supportive community grounded in faith.”
Mr. Kurz earned his B.A. and M.Ed. at the University of Notre Dame. He also studied at La Fundacion Ortego y Gasset in Toledo, Spain, and worked for two years with the highly esteemed Alliance for Catholic Education. He teaches literature.
Instructor in Natural Science
Mrs. Lewis sees the study of science as a cooperative furthering of God’s kingdom. “Guiding students to discover, appreciate, and apply science in everyday life is a part of who I am. I love to instruct and inspire young people to grow in scientific knowledge and interest. God’s physical, chemical, and biological world is ours to unfold and embrace with respect. The study of science can open eyes and minds to see and understand how all was created so intricately and beautifully for good. Science is not a tool for proving or disproving something, but an activity, an endeavor to accumulate and classify observable facts in order to gain knowledge about creation. It is an exciting, ongoing learning process, and a great way to expand our minds to praise and glorify God.”
Mrs. Lewis earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and B.S. in Science Education at North Carolina State University, where she received the Outstanding Senior Science Educator Award. Prior to entering teaching she worked extensively as a research molecular biologist. She teaches biology and chemistry.
Instructor in Humanities
The classical world has captivated Mr. Pell from his early teens. “I began studying Latin as a freshman in high school, and I have come to favor authors who composed history, philosophy, and poetry. Along with the general analytical skills acquired through grammar, one great thing about the study of classical languages and civilization is that it introduces students to many of the original founders and most important contributors to the numerous fields that interest them individually. I say ‘most important contributors’ because an emphasis of my teaching is that there is much that we moderns can learn from the great figures who wrote in the centuries leading up to the birth of Christ. For this reason, to invoke the words of Pope John XXIII, the Church has always held classical literature in the highest esteem, the literature ‘in which wisdom itself is cloaked in a vesture of gold.’ Just as in salvation God’s grace does not destroy or override our nature, but perfects it, so in the realm of human understanding ‘the inauguration of Christianity did not mean the obliteration of man’s past achievements. Nothing was lost that was in any way true, right, noble, and beautiful.’ So we continue to study the wisdom of the ancient world, and not merely to become better linguists, lawyers, doctors, literary critics, philosophers, and politicians, but first and foremost to become better human beings.”
Mr. Pell earned his B.A. in Classics and German Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.A. in Early Christian Studies at the University of Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame he taught courses in Greek, Latin, and classical studies and received the Kaneb Center Award for Excellence in graduate instruction. He teaches Latin and Greek.
Instructor in Humanities
Mr. Robson believes that philosophical study enables people to think clearly and rigorously about many of life’s most important questions. “Philosophy teaches us always to ask that one further question that so often is crucial to expanding our understanding of the world.” There are practical benefits as well. “One of the best ways to become a leader inside or outside the Academy,” he says, “is to learn to approach complex questions systematically, creatively, and humbly.”
Mr. Robson earned his B.S. in Economics and Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University, his A.L.M. in Government at Harvard University, and his M.A. in Philosophy at Duke University. He has co-won two international essay competitions on assisting the poor through global investment. Mr. Robson teaches philosophy and government/economics.
Dr. Richard Skirpan
Instructor in Fine Arts
“Soon after entering music school in college to study to be a composer, I realized that field would require lots of solitary effort. I was personally drawn to more human interaction in my daily work, so my career goals turned to conducting. Though a conductor’s job of preparing for each rehearsal still involves a good deal of individual study, the inherent collaboration in an ensemble’s rehearsals and performances can be one of the most selflessly exhilarating experiences for all involved. I believe this is particularly true with choral music, in which the performers are themselves the instruments and the texts we sing give focus to our effort to unite with the audience in ‘one heart and mind’ (Acts 4: 32).”
Dr. Skirpan earned his B.M. in Music Technology and Composition and his M.M. in Music Theory from Duquesne University. He finished his D.M.A. in Choral Conducting at the University of Miami. His doctoral essay, The Choral Music of Joseph Willcox Jenkins, cataloged and examined the work of the Pittsburgh composer who was one of his most influential undergraduate teachers. He has thus far conducted six musical premieres across the nation. As the Academy’s director or choral and sacred music, he leads student ensembles and teaches courses in music history and music theory.