Welcome to the new members of our faculty and staff who have joined the MPA community for the 2021-2022 school year!


Kristin Brennan, Kindergarten
Mrs. Brennan completed her undergraduate degree in elementary education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned a Master’s degree in bilingual bicultural education at DePaul University. She has taught preschool through eighth grade for more than 10 years, most recently teaching kindergarten at Cassell Elementary School. Her time teaching in Vienna, Austria, and Chicago’s Chinatown developed her passion for helping students expand their language skills. She also enjoys learning along with her students as they discover the world around them.

Erika Brown, Third Grade
Mrs. Brown completed her undergraduate degree in early childhood education at Kendall College in Chicago. She also holds a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University. She has been teaching for 20 years in an early childhood setting. Most recently, she taught kindergarten at Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care. She loves spending time with her family, doing crafts, and traveling.

Hannah Chonkan-Urow, Upper School Math
Ms. Chonkan-Urow is excited to return to her native Chicagoland after teaching middle school math in St. Paul, Minnesota, and teaching college students in calculus and linear algebra. She holds a B.A. in mathematics from Macalester College and also served as educational director at Camp Tavor in Michigan. She finds inspiration and joy in youth leadership, the beauty of math, and crossword puzzles.

Cashmere Johnson, Physical Education
Coach C is a proud HBCU graduate who obtained her B.S in kinesiology with a minor in journalism at Lincoln University of Missouri. She has been teaching the fundamentals of sports, fitness, and healthy eating for eight years, and more recently also is coaching girls club volleyball with private training sessions. She finds peace in cooking, water activities, exploring the world, and trying new things.

Em Joseph, College Counseling
Ms. Joseph has more than two decades of experience in college admissions and counseling, both advising high school students through the college search process and working at various colleges and universities — small and large, public and private — including the University of Wisconsin and DePaul University. She believes in being an advocate for her students and takes pride in being student-centered and solution-focused, taking a personal approach when working with students and making use of a vast network of professional colleagues at various institutions throughout the country. A native of the Virgin Islands, she holds a Master’s degree from DePaul University in counseling and a Professional Educator License from the state of Illinois.

Marymargaret Mineff, Middle & Upper School Social Studies
Driven by a passion for teaching, Ms. Mineff holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in education from the University of Dayton. She worked as an educator in her native Cleveland for the past several years. She is excited for all the opportunities that await her at MPA — including a new role as varsity tennis coach.

Gunther Poth, Fourth Grade
Mr. Poth is looking forward to creating memorable experiences for his fourth-grade students this year. He completed his degree in education with a minor in business at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After five years of teaching third grade in Chicago, Mr. Poth is excited for the next chapter in his teaching career. He loves music, cooking, and sports, but most importantly, the Chicago Bears!

Jill Shultz, PreK-3 Assistant Teacher
Mrs. Shultz’s career in education includes previous experience teaching at the preschool and high school levels as well as 15 years running her own home daycare.

Jing Wang, Upper School Mathematics
Ms. Wang received her B.S. in Optics from Nankai University and her M.S. in Physics from University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She enjoys showing the beauty of mathematics to her students and being a motivator and facilitator in their journeys of learning. Outside of teaching, Ms. Wang likes to travel with her family and try different types of food. She loves rock wall climbing and kayaking.

Elizabeth Young, Lower & Middle School Art
Mrs. Young is a dedicated artist with experience in all mediums, a long-time fine arts teacher working in independent schools, and a director of World Travelers Art Studio. Her passion is creating art programming for all ages that focuses on artists and art forms from throughout history and around the globe. Mrs. Young’s curriculum provides a beautiful opportunity for students to “travel,” learn, and express themselves artistically. She holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and post-bachelor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in sculpture and paint.

Please also help us welcome to new roles this year:

Nicholas Blankenship, Physical Education and Assistant Athletics Director

Sandra Burgess, Middle School Humanities, English Curriculum Leader, Middle School Assistant Principal

Heather Cleveland, Fifth Grade and Director of Lower School Global Studies

Paula Etheridge, Upper School Social Studies

Sarena Marwah-Blanke, Physical Education and P.E. Curriculum Leader

Kendall Okner, Fifth Grade

Michael Villanueva, Upper School Science

April Williams, First Grade

Vinson Williams, Director of Athletics