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Academic Departments

The Upper School's strong, balanced, college preparatory curriculum includes numerous AP courses; a choice of Chinese, French, Latin or Spanish; and a variety of electives—from women's studies to computer programming.

THE ARTS Visual art courses include drawing, painting, mixed media, printmaking, digital art, photography and ceramics. Performing arts options include ballet, theater, Bel Canto and Chamber choirs, string orchestra, concert band and jazz band.

THE HUMANITIES The humanities are the bedrock of a Visitation education. The influence of our strong humanities subjects, as taught by our devoted faculty members over the decades, has resulted in countless graduates who have combined their education with their innate gifts to become talented writers, teachers, artists, linguists, public servants, theologians, attorneys and more.

STEM We offer a strong STEM focus, featuring inquiry-based math, science and engineering; the integration of learning technology with a 1:1 laptop program; and extracurricular options such as robotics and math teams.

What We Believe

Reflecting the philosophy of the school, the Upper School English curriculum awakens and fosters students’ understanding of themselves and their relationships with God, the Visitation community and the world through directed study of the language arts that is rooted in literature, grammar, composition, vocabulary, and public speaking.

What Students Learn

Through their English classes, students will

  • Study works of sound literary merit — both classic and contemporary — to develop a greater understanding of the human condition and an appreciation for artistic genres and literary techniques.
  • Hone critical thinking and comprehension skills through close reading, analysis of literary techniques, and targeted critical writing assignments.
  • Learn to express themselves well in expository writing: paragraphs, essays, critical papers and research papers.
  • Develop an understanding of the structure and components of the English language.
  • Have opportunities to pursue creative writing through a creative writing elective.
  • Increase leadership skills and poise through speech and oral presentation units.

English Department Faculty

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Full Faculty & Staff Directory

Steve Dornbach

Teacher
Upper School

Louis McLaughlin

Teacher
Upper School

Jackie Milbrandt

Upper School English
Upper School

Claire Prescott

Middle School

Nicole Sutton

Teacher
Upper School

What we believe

Mathematics is a fundamental tool for analyzing and understanding a complex world. Our goal is to foster an awareness of and appreciation for the mathematical principles on which nature’s laws are based and in terms of which the members of our society live and interact.

What students gain

  • Precise computational skills.
  • Strong critical-thinking skills.
  • An understanding of the basic concepts of statistics.
  • Appropriate use of technology.
  • An appreciation for the role mathematics plays in a well-rounded education.
  • A lifelong ability to effectively use mathematics in their own lives.

Math Department Faculty

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Full Faculty & Staff Directory

LivAnda Asplund

Teacher, Department Chair
Upper School

Gretchen Breyen

Teacher
Upper School

Katherine Fennema

Teacher
Upper School

Melissa Murray

Teacher
Upper School

Cheryl Torborg

Middle School Math Teacher
Middle School

What we believe

Our curriculum – encompassing theater, instrumental and choral music, and ballet – allows student musicians, singers and dancers to collaborate, perform and be immersed in a creative and supportive environment. Concerts, masses and shows in our surrounding communities and around the country provide ample opportunities for our students to showcase their talents, which have been honed through individual instruction and group lessons.

What students gain

  • A comprehensive understanding of musical language and terminology.
  • A thorough training in ballet techniques, including barre and floor work.
  • Exposure to a great variety of genres, creative styles and cultural backgrounds.
  • Opportunities to polish performance skills at numerous public and school functions.
  • Occasions for collaboration with other choirs, orchestras, bands and dance companies.
  • An appreciation for the benefits and rewards of practice and rehearsal time, such as self-discipline.
  • A lifelong love of the performing arts and a desire to support the creative efforts of others.

Performing Arts Faculty

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Full Faculty & Staff Directory

Marius Andahazy

Ballet Teacher
Upper School, Middle School, Lower School

Ross Bell

Lower and Middle School Music Teacher
Middle School, Lower School

John Bina

Director of Marching Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band - STA faculty
Upper School

Elliott Hays

Technical Director, VISTA Productions, STAND Student Advisor
Upper School

Jennifer McGuire

Orchestra Teacher
Lower School

Meghan McGuire

Orchestra Teacher
Upper School, Middle School, Lower School

Patty McPherson

Piano Instructor
All School

Randi Rexroth

Music Teacher, Department Chair
Upper School

Wendy Short-Hays

Performing Arts Director, Theater Teacher, VISTA Productions
Upper School

What we believe

The health curriculum gives students the knowledge, skills and confidence to maintain lifelong health. By engaging students as critical thinkers on the subject of health education, we support our school motto “Non Scholae, Sed Vitae.” Students are educated on strategies to reduce risky health-related behaviors, given the tools to make positive lifestyle choices, and encouraged to discover techniques to prevent health problems and diseases through consideration about their health and health options. Using the National Health Standards as a springboard, we assist students in developing and maintaining good health ideals, habits, awareness and values. Opportunities to develop self-esteem, critical thinking skills and personal and social awareness are embedded throughout the curriculum, which encompasses physical, mental, emotional and social health needs. Through group projects, individual research, class discussions and guest speakers, students are provided with diverse opportunities for growth.

What students will learn

  • Concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention in order to enhance their health.
  • Skills for thinking and communicating effectively.
  • Good health ideals, habits, awareness and values.
  • Skills, behaviors and confidence needed for lifelong health.
  • Positive and challenging learning experiences that will prompt future learning.
  • A solid foundation of basic health information.
  • Multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding of healthy practices.

Phy Ed/Health Faculty

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Martha Conners

Lower School Physical Education Teacher
Lower School

Laura Dolan

Teacher, Department Co-Chair
Middle School

Katie Fenlon

Teacher
Upper School

What we believe

Rooted in the Catholic faith tradition and strengthened by the vision of the Visitation founders, St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, the mission of the Visitation religion department is to make Jesus Christ known, loved and served in the student’s life, so that in collaboration with her family, the student may do the same in her own life and relationships.

What students will gain

  • Formation, not mere training, in the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.
  • Ability to navigate the Bible via a cultural, historical and literary lens.
  • Recognition of Scripture as God’s Word to His people and a vehicle for prayer.
  • Education in ecclesiology and the sacraments.
  • Immersion in the culture of Salesian Spirituality and Salesian Leadership.
  • Opportunities for service within our K-12 environment, with our Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis and in the Twin Cities community.
  • Global awareness of world religions and discussions in ecumenism and evangelization.

Religion Faculty

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Kathleen Daniewicz

Teacher, Religion Teacher
All School, Upper School

Carolyn Horttor

Teacher, Religion Teacher
Middle School

Claire Kranz

Teacher, Softball Coach, Basketball Coach, Volleyball Coach, Junior Class Advisor
Athletics

Theresa Matelski

Teacher, Department Chair
Upper School

Kathy Miley

Teacher
Upper School

What we believe

Throughout their lives, our students will encounter vast amounts of sensory input and ever-increasing stores of information. Scientific instruction helps students gain the cognitive and interpretive skills, as well as the self-discipline, they need to creatively explore their world and effectively solve problems.

What students gain

  • Mastery of time-tested methods of scientific inquiry.
  • The ability to collect, measure, organize and analyze data in order to draw logical conclusions.
  • An understanding of proper experimental design, including observation, prediction, data collection and analysis.
  • Skills to safely handle, construct and manipulate materials, equipment and technology.
  • Curiosity about natural and human-made phenomena.
  • An appreciation for the contributions science has made to daily life.

Science Faculty

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Caroline Little

Middle School Science
Middle School

Erin Miller

Teacher
Upper School

Kristen Piehl

Teacher
Upper School

Michael Volpe

Teacher, 8th Grade Volleyball Coach
Upper School, Athletics

What we believe

We prepare students with the skills and cultural literacy they will need to serve as leaders in our 21st century pluralistic society. Students learn to read widely and critically, write and speak coherently, and develop intellectual curiosity as well as a lifelong love of learning. Good citizenship, social responsibility and service to others are key components of our curriculum.

What students gain

  • Academic training in history, political science, anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics and geography.
  • Analytical skills, including multiple causation, argumentation and critical thinking.
  • The capability to closely evaluate source materials, including assessment of audience, purpose, point-of-view, context, inferences, conclusions and limitations.
  • The ability to synthesize multiple historical interpretations of the same event.
  • The application of Catholic Social Teaching and Salesian Spirituality to local and global issues and initiatives.
  • An awareness of how local and global events can be interconnected.
  • A sense of their own obligation to contribute to the improvement of society.

Social Studies Faculty

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Brett Horttor

Teacher
Upper School

Carolyn Horttor

Teacher, Religion Teacher
Middle School

Christine Malovrh

Teacher
Upper School

Brittany Rawson Haeg

Middle School Social Studies
Middle School

Brian Traxler

Teacher, Department Chair, Student Council Advisor
Upper School

What we believe

A lifelong pursuit of beauty, art appreciation and art production can promote the knowledge, acceptance and celebration of diverse forms of expression, and develop our understanding of the human spirit. Immersion in the visual arts – drawing, painting, pottery, mixed media, printmaking and digital arts – fosters individual aesthetic growth and encourages students to discern their own beliefs and values for making personal and artistic decisions.

What students gain

  • Exposure to a variety of media and techniques.
  • An ability to incorporate design elements and principles into their artwork.
  • Opportunities to create with a wide range of materials, subject matter, symbols and ideas.
  • Critical skills to assess the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.
  • An understanding of the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.
  • The capability to make connections between visual arts and other disciplines.

Art Faculty

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Full Faculty & Staff Directory

Marius Andahazy

Ballet Teacher
Upper School, Middle School, Lower School

Ronna Baca

Art Teacher, Educational Technology
Lower School

Anita Burg

Art Teacher, Department Chair, Asst Nordic Ski Coach
Upper School, Middle School, Athletics

Charlotte Cleveland

Art Teacher
Upper School

Elliott Hays

Technical Director, VISTA Productions, STAND Student Advisor
Upper School

Meghan McGuire

Orchestra Teacher
Upper School, Middle School, Lower School

Randi Rexroth

Music Teacher, Department Chair
Upper School

Wendy Short-Hays

Performing Arts Director, Theater Teacher, VISTA Productions
Upper School

What we believe

Visitation’s World Language Department supports the mission of the school by providing a multi-lingual, multi-cultural learning environment and a rich academic curriculum in Chinese, French and Spanish that prepares students for success in college and in life, thus underscoring the school’s motto: Non Scholae, Sed Vitae. The program in Montessori preschool through 12th grade systematically builds skills in the interpretive, interpersonal and presentational modes, while creating a road map to guide learners to communicate effectively and interact with cultural competence in multilingual local and global communities.

What students will learn and experience

  • Communication: Students will acquire the skills, behaviors and confidence needed to communicate effectively and with cultural competence in the target language.
  • Culture: Students will be guided to discover their own place in a multi-lingual, multi-cultural world.
  • Connections: Students will be given opportunities to connect their world language experience with experiences across disciplines, across divisions and across the globe.
  • Comparisons: Students will foster an appreciation for alternative perspectives by comparing the target language and culture to their own.
  • Communities: Students will be immersed in positive and stimulating experiences that will inspire lifelong learning.

World Language Faculty

Click on each teacher's name for a full profile, including a link to Learning pages.
Full Faculty & Staff Directory

Victoria De la Torre

Middle School Spanish
Middle School, Lower School

Johanna Huang

Chinese Teacher
Upper School, Middle School

Ilse Norris

French Teacher
Upper School

Amanda Rosas

Spanish Teacher, STAND Student Advisor
Upper School

Viviana Sanabria Toro

Upper School Spanish
Upper School

Alice Tassart

French Teacher
All School, Upper School, Middle School, Lower School

Philip Thornberry

Spanish Teacher
Upper School

Priscilla Van Sloun

Chinese Teacher - Upper and Lower Schools
Upper School, Lower School