A St. Louis area school administrator has been named the next head of school at Mounds Park Academy (MPA) in Maplewood.

Jeff Suzik graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., with a bachelor's degree and has served as assistant head of school at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS) for five years.

He will succeed Mike Downs, who announced his resignation in September.

In a news release, Robin Brooksbank, chairwoman of the MPA board of trustees, described Suzik as an "engaging, collaborative and savvy leader who comes to us with proven business acumen and an academic vision that fits perfectly with MPA's mission to think independently, communicate effectively and act with respect and integrity in a diverse community."

Suzik said MPA's commitment to "intellectual ambition, global responsibility and the joy of learning strongly reflects my personal educational philosophy."

As assistant head of school at MICDS, Suzik worked with department chairs and division heads to align the school's curriculum across 14 grade levels, the news release said.

He is expected to begin work in July.

MPA is a pre-K-to-12th-grade independent school that draws students from the Washington County communities of Stillwater, Lake Elmo, Woodbury, Hugo, Oakdale, Mahtomedi, Afton and West Lakeland Township, among other communities.

Downs, who served as head of school for 11 years, decided to seek a new challenge and is in discussions with schools in the United States and abroad, said Natalie Waters Seum, a communications consultant for MPA.

Cottage Grove

Chamber announces 'educators of the year'

The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce selected a group of fifth-grade teachers and a team of special-education paraprofessionals as its 2012 education award recipients.

The awards, presented during the chamber's annual banquet, came after a call for nominees that required potential recipients to work at a public or private school in Cottage Grove, Newport or St. Paul Park, or at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

The fifth-grade teachers, who work at Grey Cloud Elementary School in Cottage Grove, were nominated by a community member, according to a South Washington County School District news release.

"The motivation of this team and the 'can-do' attitude regarding their students is impossible to overlook by those who witness their work," the release said.

The teachers are: Jean Broman, Sean Duncanson, Cindy Krueger and Theresa Stevens.

The special-education team is part of the high-needs program at Cottage Grove Elementary School.

According to the nomination statement: "The team does not give up on a student. They collaboratively and collectively try a variety of strategies, techniques and methods to allow the student to continue successfully through his or her day."

Members of the "support team of the year" are: Hailey Carlson, Amy Grainger, Laura Kringle, Bailey McCorkell, Mikki Mendel, Patty Metzger, Debbie Schutz, Rita Werner-O'Neil and Carol Wood.


High school teacher makes state short list

Paul Christensen, an English and math teacher at Mahtomedi High School, is one of 10 finalists for the 2013 state teacher of the year award, Education Minnesota announced earlier this month.

Other finalists include St. Paul teachers Erik Brandt, Megan Olivia Hall and David Howard.

The winner is to be announced at a banquet in Brooklyn Park on May 5.

Anthony Lonetree