This Just In: Mr. Jaeger Now Permanent Director of Upper School

From building relationships with teachers to greeting people in the hallways, Mr. Kurt Jaeger, now permanent Director of the Providence Academy Upper School, made a great first impression in his first semester as the interim head of Upper School. Jaeger’s short term position was meant to be a bridge between Mrs. Harrington, former Director of Upper School, and a future face in the office, but Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders announced in his “Headmaster’s Blog” on December 6, 2021, Jaeger’s position will now be permanent. 

Each day, Jaeger can be found talking with students in the atrium between classes and reading school announcements.

“Mr. Jaeger is such a great guy,” glowed Mrs. Kate Gregg, Upper School Administrative Assistant. “I have known him for years and have always had great respect for him. I was very excited to hear that he is now permanent.”

Jaeger could not be more qualified for his new role, given his long history at PA. He served as the Athletic Director for thirteen years and has taught in every division at the school. Jaeger has seen Providence through all of its changes and growth and even his family is deeply ingrained in the community. His children have studied at PA, and his wife, Mrs. Danette Jaeger, teaches third grade in the Lower School. 

“One of the best things about coming back to PA is reuniting past relationships as well as getting to know new faces,” exclaimed Jaeger. 

Jaeger is using his qualifications to make positive changes throughout the Upper School.  In his first semester as the Director, he began checking in with students in the hallways, talking to them at lunch, and communicating more with teachers. 

Mr. Jaeger stands with his 2001-2002 second grade class.

“My favorite aspect of Mr. Jaeger is his friendliness,” stated Olivia Menzel ‘22. “He always makes a point to ask me how my day is going.”

Jaeger’s important position at the school does not come without challenges. The spectrum of his responsibilities – from managing students and teachers to letting parents know that PA will be closing early due to snow – can seem daunting. But Jaeger accomplishes the tasks set before him with ease and compassion, and he cannot wait to see where his new job will take him. 

The PA community is very excited to see where Jaeger leads the Upper School; but one thing is for sure, it is in very good hands and its future is bright.

A Day in the Life of Mr. Jones

“From his energy to his cheerfulness, Mr. Jones is the best,” explained Macallister Clark ‘22, Providence Academy tuba player.

This sentiment is shared by many in the Providence community. Cheerful, caring, and highly competent are three ways to describe the Upper School Band Director, Thomas Jones. 

Mr. Jones assists Ms. Catherine Ratelle with the Upper School Choir during light blue period.

Since he started teaching at Providence nine years ago, Jones has had many different roles. Last year, he served as Middle School Band Assistant, as COVID spacing regulations required the band to be split in half. As a result, Jones taught half of the Middle Schoolers each day, while Middle School Band Director, Mrs. Nicole Clark taught the rest. Jones is also Upper School Choir Assistant this year, helping keep choir students engaged in the songs. He even teaches Lower Schoolers, giving individual lessons to fifth grade brass players on Wednesdays. 

In addition to these many responsibilities, Jones’s day is also filled with either lessons, monthly Aviation Club meetings, or weekly Upper School Jazz Band. In the afternoon, he will supervise his Upper School House Xi or Activity group depending on the day.  And after the 3:15 bell officially ends the school day, Mr. Jones will continue administering lessons or attending meetings. 

The bulk of Jones’s day consists of the individual music lessons. Every band student has the opportunity to meet with him for ten minutes a week. Because of this, Jones will administer anywhere from around nineteen to twenty-five lessons per day. Throughout the week he will teach at least ninety-five lessons. 

“I love working with each student individually,” glowed Jones. “It is so fun to see where each student is at in their musical journey and then be able to take that and comprise it into a band. It is the best part of my job.”

In between all the lessons, Jones gets to fulfill his main role of directing the Upper Symphonic Band for an hour. 

Mr. Jones teaches Gretta Martin ’22 a lesson after school.

“I love being a part of the Upper School Band,” articulated Gretta Martin ‘22, clarinet player. “Mr. Jones always has a positive attitude and makes every rehearsal memorable.”

Despite having an already full schedule, Jones still wants to do more. He likes working with the Symphonic Band so much he wishes he could have longer class periods. He also is advocating for a music course in which students could learn about all the different aspects of music as well as how it developed in different time periods.

No matter whether Jones is working with a student in a music lesson, conducting the band, or running the Aviation Club, the community can be sure that Jones will be on it with his usual energy and enthusiasm. 

Farewell Mrs. Harrington

Teacher, Coach, Director, Mother. Mrs. Kelly Harrington has assumed all those roles throughout her seventeen years at PA. And now, Harrington will embark on a new journey as Director of grades 6-12 at Hill-Murray School in St. Paul. Though she will be deeply missed, Harrington takes beautiful memories with her while she leaves an incredible legacy with all she has accomplished during her time within the ‘yellow walls.’ 

Harrington made the decision to move to Hill-Murray School on behalf of her family. For multiple years now, her three children have been at three different schools and it has become increasingly difficult to manage everyone’s schedule. 

“I really wish I could stay at PA,” articulated Harrington, “I love it here, and it is so hard for me to leave. This is a decision I had to make for my family and it is truly what was best for all of us.”  

Harrington has taught in all three divisions at PA–Lower, Middle, and Upper school–and has loved every part of it. She started her career at PA in the Lower School as a fourth grade instructor.

A warm memory from a cold day, Harrington recalled a funny present from Mr. John Wagner in her fourth grade classroom.  Wagner delivered a real snowman in her room while she was out. (PAW Photo credit, Kelly Harrington)

“She has always been my right hand,” commented Mrs. Nancy Galgano, Lower School Director. “She never stopped working, even when she was on her maternity leaves. I had to remind her what a leave was! She just cared so much about her job as well as her students.”

Harrington then coordinated pre-K for a year before moving to the Middle School wing, where she served as Director and history teacher. Her most recent title will be the last she holds at PA as Upper School Director.

Though known for her dedication to PA’s faculty and administration, Harrington has also made significant contributions to athletic programs, a natural outlet, given her passionate involvement in student life.  She has coached softball and volleyball in the course of her tenure at PA. 

In 2004, Harrington took the position of JV Volleyball coach with Physical Education teacher, Mrs. Colleen Carron, who began teaching at PA the same year as Harrington. They coached volleyball together for two years and then, in the spring of 2006, Harrington started the softball program while Carron was her JV team coach. Carron and Harrington have coached a total of five years together and become very close friends.

 “Though this is not the end of our relationship, what I will miss most about being around her often is her ability to make me laugh and her support through life’s ups and downs,” lamented Carron. “I will also miss her passion for students and their education; they have always been her priority.” 

Carron and Harrington have experienced a number of milestones in their lives throughout their friendship:  not only have they started two sports teams and a chapter of their teaching career together, they have also endured pregnancy at the same time.

Carron and Harrington (center) pose for a picture with their 2005-2006 Volleyball team. (PAW Photo credit, Kelly Harrington)

With children only fourteen days apart, Harrington and Carron have enjoyed sharing stories and experiences as they have journeyed through motherhood together while still investing in the lives of their students and their own professional development.

Carron recalled a funny story that neither she nor Harrington will ever forget. During a fire drill, then fourth grade teacher Harrington told her students not to talk. What she didn’t know was that there was a snake on her foot. Her obedient pupils did not tell her about the overly friendly reptile. Carron can still recall the expression on Harrington’s face when she saw her new companion.

A woman who has worn many hats, Harrington will be greatly missed by everyone in the Providence community. As she begins a new chapter, students and faculty alike wish her the best of luck in her next adventure at Hill-Murray. 

Field Day Festivities

Egg in spoon races, potato sack hops, and obstacle courses can only mean one thing: Field Day in the Lower School! An annual favorite for kindergarten through 5th grade students, a sunny but windy day set the stage for a fun-filled Field Day last Friday May 28. 

Mr. Tim Subialka, Lower School physical education teacher, organizes this full day event, and ensures that there are enough parent volunteers to help run the stations on the football field, where Field Day takes place. In past years, all participating grades were out on the field at the same time. This year, due to COVID-19 protocol, third, fourth, and fifth graders participated during the morning, while kindergarten, first, and second graders participated in the afternoon. 

Some Field Day activities, including the obstacle course, potato sack race, 50 yard dash, hurdles, and egg balancing race, were conducted in heats, boys against boys and girls against girls. Girl and boy heats ended in a final round to determine winners. The other activities consisted of the long jump, egg toss, shoe kick, and softball throw. Students practice these events in PE class in anticipation of Field Day to prepare students for full participation in the day’s events. 

Second graders Gunnar Bassett, Nolan Hubbard, and Calvin Connelly enthusiastically jump over hurdles as a part of Field Day festivities last Friday on the PA track. (PAW photo credit: Mrs. Rachel Hope)

Though the day is full of unique activities and competitions, some students are still most excited for traditional foot races. Second grader Calvin Connelly commented, “My favorite activity for Field Day was the 50 yard dash.” In this activity, students simply had to stay in their own lane until the finish line. The winners of each round faced each other in the final race. 

Fourth grade teacher and PA track coach Mrs. Amy Hohenecker reflected on the student favorites, “Students tend to like the ones where they’re competing simultaneously.” 

Field day cultivates a competitive spirit which also teaches students important lessons regarding teamwork and good sportsmanship. Hohenecker elaborated, “It’s a big team building event that teaches kids to be okay if something doesn’t go the way they want it to.” 

First graders Jack Illies and Rey Sharma approach the halfway point in the potato sack race on the football field during Field Day. (PAW photo credit: Mrs. Rachel Hope)

Mrs. Becky Connelly, a parent volunteer, assisted at the softball throw station, where students threw a softball twice, recording their best score. At the end of the activity, the top four scores for boys and girls were recorded. Connelly reflected on her experience with the students, “The kids were adorable, good little listeners.”

Subialka commented on the purpose behind Field Day, “Mrs. Galgano (the Lower School Director) and I both agree that Field Day is all about the classes having a fun class experience.” He added, “The fun comes from sharing the day with your classmates.”

Teachers Tell the Truth about High School: Mrs. Claypool Takes a Trip Down Memory Lane

“Idyllic,” said PA Middle School Dean of Students and Literature teacher Mrs. Teresa Claypool when asked what word comes to mind when she thinks of high school.

“Pretty much what you picture when you think of high school,” Claypool added candidly.

PA Middle School Dean and Literature Teacher Mrs. Teresa Claypool poses confidently in 1995. She recalls this time in high school saying, “I was a little quirky.”

In keeping with her straightforward nature, Claypool confessed that she skipped study hall one day to get breakfast with friends. Who would’ve thought a future Dean of Students would have to be escorted back to school by her police officer father dressed in full uniform?

This candidness is characteristic of Claypool. Anyone can attest to her frank, but lighthearted approach to life, so it’s not surprising she’d have this perspective when speaking of high school as well. 

Similar to other much-loved PA teachers, Claypool wanted to teach by the time she graduated high school. Her instructors instilled her with confidence which motivated her to make the same impact on others.

Mrs. Teresa Claypool smiles for senior pictures in 1995. “Be your authentic self,” she advises students, based on her own experience in high school.

Claypool expressed that teaching Middle School perfectly aligns with her personality. She admittedly didn’t enjoy Middle School much herself, so she values having the ability to help students through these years that many consider awkward. 

“It’s a time when you’re caught between blending in and being true to yourself, which is difficult to navigate,” she expressed compassionately. 

Throughout high school, however, Claypool became more comfortable in her skin, leading her to pursue a career that allowed her to help others achieve the same. With this understanding, Claypool believes building relationships with students is of the utmost importance, and that as a result, teaching becomes more compelling and effective. 

“All my students–former and current–know my door is always open. And I mean that,” Claypool shared.

While she feels at home in the Middle School wing, she loves maintaining connections as students move through the Upper School.  

Mrs. Teresa Claypool cheers for her high school as their mascot, the coyote, during her junior year in 1995.

“That’s why I love teaching here. I get to see everyone transition into beautiful adults,” reflected Claypool. 

Her humor and candor draw Upper Schoolers back to the Middle School to visit their beloved former teacher. Who would’ve thought students could be so eager to “head to the Dean’s office”? 

“The fact that she’s still invested in my life even though I haven’t had her as a teacher for four years is so meaningful. You don’t find that with many teachers,” reflected Adriana Azarian ‘22, one of Claypool’s former students. 

Mrs. Teresa Claypool shows off her cap and gown after graduating from Williston High School in North Dakota in 1996.

Claypool has impacted the lives of so many by simply being herself. 

Ms. Bridget Taylor, Claypool’s friend of eleven years and Middle School Assistant fondly remembers her first encounter with Claypool: “She was running across the field to save a student who had just fallen during a softball game…while [Claypool] was eight months pregnant! I remember thinking to myself, ‘Who is this teacher?!’ It was a die hard moment.”

As a PA parent herself, Taylor also remembers her first parent-teacher conference with Claypool. She recalled thinking, “This is why my child goes to Providence. This teacher makes my daughter feel like she’s the only student in the building.”

It took only minutes in a room with Claypool for Taylor to know exactly why her daughter loved her so much.

Mr. Daniel Hickel, PA Science Teacher and Claypool’s friend of five years, was also touched by Claypool’s magic upon joining the staff himself in 2016.

“When I started working at PA, she was one of the first people to reach out and get to know me,” Hickel enthused. 

Whether it’s a student, parent, softball player, or colleague, Claypool has a way of making everyone feel valued, and that rare gift encapsulates part of what makes Providence Academy “a school like no other.