Teacher Feature: PA welcomes Coach Cos to the community!

This year has been full of changes for everyone, especially for Mr. Brian Cosgriff, the new gym teacher at Providence Academy, who left the district that he had been part of for over 30 years. Cosgriff, known by many as “Coach Cos”, was part of the Hopkins School District, teaching physical education at the elementary school and coaching the girls’ basketball team, leading the team to numerous successful seasons and state winnings. Cosgriff reflected, “Leaving the Hopkins District was a difficult decision, but I always stand by the fact that if you are entering a new chapter you must be done reading the first one.”

Coach Cos in action as he instructs the Upper School Phy Ed class in a competitive game on the turf.

Cosgriff is ready for his new position as the PA gym teacher and all the challenges that come with it. He wants gym class to be a fun environment and something that kids look forward to. School-age children have always been part of Cosgriff’s life. He shared, “I enjoy the relationships that are grown. I want fitness to be something students do for their whole life, as it is so important to remain healthy.”

Coach Cos came to PA to scout a basketball game, which sparked his interest in the school. He immediately felt that the community created within PA is something very special, and something he wanted to be a part of. Cosgriff added, “I have already noticed the respect that students have towards their teachers. They say thank you and are appreciative, which stands out to me because that is not something that is easy to come by in many schools.” Welcome to the PA community, Coach Cos!

New “Hunter” in Town

When Barbara Hunter was looking for a great faith-filled school for her four sons, she did not expect to find a teaching job herself.  But, it seems that’s what Providence–or at least Providence Academy–had in store for the Hunters in the summer of 2020.

PA’s award-winning architecture and well-kept campus often impress visitors, but, looking at the school online, Hunter says it was the website that impressed her.  She added, “It was so nice to see the importance of faith, the high regard of academics looking at colleges, challenging courses, and extracurriculars outside of school.” Those same factors prompted her decision to teach here. Hunter and her sons all were at the same school together last year in Illinois. “It was perfect timing,” Hunter said, as a new math position had just opened up. 

Hunter going through a factoring worksheet with her students

Being new to both the online learning option and Providence itself, Hunter anticipated certain difficulties. Though the PA community has avoided a mass quarantine and continued to teach in-person, some challenges, like navigating unfamiliar systems such as Moodle and Infinite Campus, have already arisen. Hunter taught during the online phase last year and admitted it was pretty difficult, but with each week of experience, it got better as new ideas came about. With starting off the year having some students learning from home, Hunter agreed it was tough to interact with the students on SimulClass. But Hunter’s love for math, especially the puzzle-like critical thinking and the absolute answers, is able to reach the students and help them love it too. 

Minnesota in general is new to the Hunter family, but because of the ongoing pandemic, the only thing they really have come to know here is Providence. Hunter says, “It has been a little tough, and we miss being in a university city, but everyone here is so welcoming.” The welcoming spirit they’ve encountered is helping both Mrs. Hunter and her family get adjusted to Minnesota.

Hunter answering student questions at her podium


Teacher Feature: Welcoming Mrs. Mundahl

With a new school year, comes new teachers. The PA community is welcoming Mrs. Mundahl, the new FACS and Foods and Nutrition teacher. 

Mundahl first discovered Providence during its founding days, driving past PA during the building’s construction. She became interested in teaching at the school while searching for job opportunities. She was the Middle School after-school care proctor last year, and is continuing that role this school year.

Mundahl started teaching FACS classes because they encompass skills that are important for adulthood, such as personal finance, child development, and family relationships.  Mundahl noted that the PA FACS curriculum, which includes Middle School FACS and Upper School Foods and Nutrition,  focuses on foods and food sciences.

Mrs. Mundahl teaching her Foods and Nutrition 1 class about cookies that they recently baked.

Mundahl teaches three classes at Providence- Middle School FACS, and Upper School Foods and Nutrition 1 and 2. FACS is a class open to seventh and grade students. Mundahl likes teaching the FACS course because it encompasses a variety of skill-building activities. She reflected, “From two sewing projects to cooking with their friends, the students can use and taste their accomplishments!” Mundahl also remarked on the Upper School students she teaches, “The Upper School students are so willing to try new foods and the variety of recipes they make.”

Baked goods, including cookies, that the Foods and Nutrition 1 Class made.

Mundahl has taught middle and high school family and consumer science classes in public school districts across Central Minnesota. Providence Academy is the first private school that she’s taught at. Mundahl reflected, “My impression of  private schools is very different after teaching here.” She elaborated, “PA is very peaceful and students are very attentive and committed to their studies.”

Mundahl mentioned that she’s most excited to get to know her students this year. She also noted that she’s newer to the Catholic faith, “I’m looking forward to teaching in a place where I can learn more about my faith.” From baking to faith life, Mundahl is finding a new home in the PA community.


Simon Says Hello PA

Mrs. Simon stands smiling, outside her new classroom of 4th graders.

The beginning of a new school year always comes with excitement and changes for everyone. This fall, in particular, is very exciting for Mrs. Lisa Simon, who has joined the Providence Academy community as a 4th grade teacher. This opportunity is special for Simon because teaching at Providence has been a dream of hers for some time. Having known Lower School Director Mrs. Galgano and French teacher Mrs. Woodbury, she has heard so many great things about the school and couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to join the community.

Before coming to Providence, Simon worked at other local Catholic schools, teaching 3rd and 4th grade. She reflected saying, “I am really drawn to the deep faith component and how the faith is integrated in the classroom.” When Simon arrived at Providence, she noticed the same commitment to faith and was impressed by the positive atmosphere. She noted, “The sense of excellence that permeates the culture here; the expectation of excellence in academics, social interactions, and living out the faith makes me feel called to do the best that I can.”

Mrs. Simon in action as she teaches her 4th grade students in the classroom and through SimulClass. 

Simon is looking forward to deepening her relationships with her students, parents, and other faculty members. She commented, “I am impressed by how lovely the students are: so kind, polite, smart, and generous with each other.” She has felt warmly welcomed into the PA community by the helpful and patient faculty members and parents. Simon strives to inspire and instill confidence in her students just as her teachers did for her when she was little. She is excited and prepared to overcome any challenges that arise this school year with a positive attitude.

Spreading Music Far and Wide

The whole world is facing challenging times right now, and the PA Fine Arts Department is not exempt. They are doing all they can to fulfill the social distancing guidelines to keep both the students and the teachers safe. For example, students must sit or stand at least six feet apart and also wear a mask at all times.

However, the strangest addition to the Fine Arts Department is Simulcast. Simulcast allows students who are quarantining the ability to see the band and participate.

Simulcast students wait patiently while Mrs. Nicole Clark takes attendance.

“Although Simulcast band was a great simulation of normal band, it was not the same. It was hard to see the conductor and play along,” reviewed Adriana Azarian ’22 as she thought about her experience with Simulcast.

The choir is experiencing similar issues. They have to sing with masks on at all times and can only practice for thirty minutes out of the fifty minute class period. They are also split into two different groups and are not allowed to practice altogether until the social distancing guidelines are loosened.

Helen Foley ‘22 reflected on the changes the choir is facing. “We are doing our best to stay safe so that we can stay in school.” She continued, “It has been rough not being able to face each other and practice in sectionals to learn our parts.” 

Although students are having trouble with “the new kind of school,” teachers are having an even harder time. Teachers not only have to clean everything in between their lessons and scheduled class periods, but they also have to make sure that everybody is wearing a mask at all times. 

Mrs. Clark conducts the Upper School Band woodwind sectionals.

Mrs. Nicole Clark, the Middle School Band Director, can definitely attest to the difficulties of the new changes. She not only had to adjust to the new way of teaching this year but, shortly after school started, she had to spend two weeks on Simulcast. She had to learn to teach and conduct through a Google Meet. 

The biggest difference between being on Simulcast and being in a normal band was the fact that I couldn’t conduct due to the video delay,” stated Clark. 

Even though this year is hard, Mrs. Clark has some good advice to help with getting through it. She states, “This time is challenging, but I know with the Lord we will get through it and make it work.”