Morgan Park Academy


Exploration of the independent schools in my new city is always a pleasure. I had the opportunity a while back to visit with new Head of School Mercedes Sheppard at Morgan Park Academy on the south side of Chicago. The visit included a delightful student-led tour and a spirited governance workshop for the Board of Trustees.

MPA-studentsFounded in 1873 as Mt. Vernon Military & Classical Academy, Morgan Park Academy is one of the older schools in the ISACS membership. The school had several iterations over the years: as Morgan Park Military Academy, Illinois Military Academy, and Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago before becoming Morgan Park Academy. The Academy became an ISACS member in 1964.

Photos courtesy of Morgan Park Academy

Today, Morgan Park Academy  is a co-educational, PK-12 day school serving approximately 430 students with a mission to engage the whole child, inspire the independent learner, and prepare the global leader of tomorrow to make a positive difference in the world.

What about Morgan Park Academy would Mercedes Sheppard most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? Mercedes points to the school’s global perspective, reflected in their curriculum, pedagogy, and international school community.

Topeka Collegiate School

DSC_0019From Kansas City, Missouri, I headed west along the Kansas River into Kansas for a visit to Topeka Collegiate School. It was a pleasure to reconnect with Head of School Mary Beth Marchiony, having met at the ISACS Leadership Academy in June, and to facilitate a governance workshop for the Board of Trustees.

Founded thirty years ago, Topeka Collegiate serves 179 students, age three through eighth grade. The school describes itself as “offering a superior education in a nurturing environment where all students are safe, understood, and loved” with a focus on “academic excellence for the 21st century, with emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, communication, character, and creativity.”

What aspect of Topeka Collegiate would Mary Beth Marchiony most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? Says Mary Beth:

Topeka Collegiate is the only independent school in the city. Throughout a child’s years at the school, the experiential education, including yearly class assemblies , a Rain Forest created by the 3rd grade, a Coffee House where the 8th graders recite original poetry and the 8th grade trip to Sea Camp in the Florida Keys, distinguishes Topeka Collegiate from other schools in the city. 

This 6-minute video, “Nell and Ryan’s Story,” features an introduction to Topeka Collegiate  from the student perspective.


Saint Paul’s Episcopal Day School


Westward ho —  to my first visit, ever, to Kansas City. Here (on the Missouri side of the river), I would meet new head of school Andrew Myler at St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School.

DSC_0011St. Paul’s, founded in 1963, moved to its current campus in 1992. The school serves 473 students in early childhood through grade 8. Its mission is  to help each student reach his or her highest academic, moral, social and creative potential by providing a comprehensive program of education in a loving, faith-based community. Our walk through the campus highlighted thematic curriculum, hands-on learning, and character development.

DSC_0010What aspect of St. Paul’s would Andrew Myler most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues? Says he: We hope our graduates will be active learners, ethical leaders, and engaged citizens. To help us achieve our vision, we intentionally teach life skills, stress moral and ethical development, and emphasize service. As an Episcopal school, we start every morning with chapel meetings. Our daily meetings reflect the tremendous value we place on community and help our students learn concern for others