News Details

Peter Musso

Peter Musso is a dedicated Upper School teacher who has spent the last 20 years looking at each new day as an opportunity to make a positive impact on his students at NSU University School. What brings him the greatest satisfaction is witnessing his students' development, their ability to achieve their aspirations, and encounter authentic happiness along their educational journey.

Musso's choice to teach at USchool stemmed from his desire for a teaching environment that aligned with his educational philosophy and values. This decision came after spending many years in the public school system and the birth of his eldest daughter, Julia, which prompted him to reevaluate his career path in search of a better fit for his family.

Two decades later, Musso's commitment to USchool remains steadfast, as both of his daughters have graduated as Lifers, and he continues to share his 33 years of teaching expertise by instructing in the fields of Sports Medicine and Human Anatomy/Physiology. Additionally, Musso expresses gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside his wife, Allison, at the school, emphasizing the strong familial and professional connections that have enriched his life.

Musso believes that fostering a love for learning involves teaching with unwavering passion, practicing openness and honesty, serving as a model of success, demonstrating character, instilling confidence, actively listening, deeply caring, inspiring students, and maintaining a strong belief in their potential.

Get to know Musso:  

What are some words of wisdom you would share with future educators?

Be flexible, as change is an inevitable part of the profession. Engage with students on a personal level and demonstrate a sincere interest in who they are as unique individuals. Prepare every class in such a way that students leave feeling empowered and with the desire to learn more. Lead by example... young people are very impressionable and always need positive role models. A positive attitude is contagious and limitless in what it can accomplish.

How has being a teacher impacted or changed your life?  

Outside of my family, teaching is the most important aspect of who I am. It truly defines me. Knowing that I can positively influence young people is an incredible responsibility which I take very seriously.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at NSU University School?     

I'm incredibly fortunate to be at a school where I feel respected, appreciated for my hard work, and given the freedom to teach my subject(s) in such a way that students benefit the most. I cannot imagine being treated any better... whether it be by administration, colleagues, parents, students, and the community. Who could ask for more?

What do you think makes our students at NSU University School stand out from the rest?       

The overwhelming majority of our students are driven to succeed and are highly motivated to improve themselves, both as learners and as productive members of society. They come to us with the "hardware" of curiosity, ambition, and potential... and we provide the "software" for their personal growth.

What moment in your time teaching at NSU University School stands out as the most memorable?    

No single moment stands alone, but each time I witness a student accomplish something extraordinary (and this happens many times each school year) or gain a deeper understanding of who they are as human beings, it fills me with great joy. In my opinion, having a purpose is the best part of being alive. We give our students incredible opportunities to discover themselves and I believe it is quite possibly our greatest strength.

Jenine Mas

It takes a big heart to shape little minds, and no words ring more true for our outstanding Lower School art teacher, Jenine Mas. From as early as she can remember, Mas knew that she wanted to be an educator. As a young child, she dressed up as a teacher for the beloved Career Day, emulating her own fourth grade teacher who was her inspiration and mentor. Summers were spent volunteering in her classroom and assisting on teacher workdays. She gathered an abundance of experience and guidance, and over the years Mas’ love for the classroom grew even deeper. When she started college, there was no question about what she wanted to do with her future… teach. 

Mas’ drive and passion as an educator led her to NSU University School in 2010. In addition to her current position as one of our Lower School art teachers, she is also the team leader for her department, and founded the fifth grade legacy gift project, producing beautiful student-led works of art around the school for years to come. Mas instills a love of art into all students by creating projects that encompass ideas students can relate to or enjoy. She finds the students' interests and encourages them to find their creativity in what brings them joy. She breaks projects down into the smallest of parts, fostering confidence for even the most skeptical of artists to find success. Her students learn to believe in themselves as artists and feel empowered by their abilities. 

Mas has made a difference in the lives of so many children, one of the greatest impacts she could make in her field. She speaks to her students as if they are her own children and encourages them to take up art as an extracurricular or even just as a calming leisure activity, which makes her feel great about what she does. Mas sees her role as an educator reflected in many areas of her life... always teaching and always learning. In her spare time, Mas enjoys drawing, crafting, and creating art for family and friends. However, her favorite way to spend time is with her family. 

Get to know Mas:

Describe your teaching style.

I like to think that I am an advocate of differentiating for my students. My teaching approach is to learn each student’s unique style and use it to drive instruction.  I am able to mold myself to meet each child’s needs as best as possible. I like to encourage students by finding their strengths and helping them work through learning hurdles.

So far in your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 

One of my greatest achievements is when students come back to visit and tell me what they remember most about art class. I can feel an impact was made when they remembered something I said to them or something I taught them years prior. It makes me realize; they are always truly listening and learning. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

I love when students finish a piece of artwork and are beaming with pride! Also, when students tell me that years later their artwork is still hanging in the playroom or family room, it makes my heart feel so full! I enjoy helping coworkers with big projects and beautifying bare walls as well. 

What moment in your time teaching at NSU University School stands out as the most memorable? 

Creating a fifth grade legacy gift project has made me challenge myself as an artist and an educator. The students create a collaborative piece of work that is displayed for years to come, providing a wonderful sense of community within our school family. Fifth grade students and coworkers always look forward to seeing what will come next! Students can come back to the Lower School to reminisce about their fifth grade works of art. Additionally, I would say that I have extremely fond memories of going back into the classroom to teach second grade during the COVID-19 pandemic – it was a time that I will never forget. That class of students will always hold a special place in my heart. 

What is your favorite thing about teaching at NSU University School? 

My favorite thing about teaching at USchool is that everyone grows together in our community. You get to know the families and you build relationships alongside them. We have so many events throughout the year that allow for family participation and it’s a great time to get to know each other. At USchool, each student is a valued and important part of our school community. Teachers work hard to instill core values in our students, along with a love of learning that will help their future successes. 


Melissa (Metzger) Finkelstein ’04 Publishes Two Children's Books

Melissa (Metzger) Finkelstein (’04) has published two children’s books, Picky the Panda and the Tickly Tail and Bobby the Snake and the Broken TV. Picky the Panda highlights the importance of leading with empathy and slowing down to recharge when life feels overwhelming. Bobby the Snake shares the story of a highly sensitive snake who learns to “unplug” through nature, movement, and taking a deep breath. 

Liam Asayag ’20 Featured on Cover of UC Santa Cruz’s Magazine for Relief Work in Ukraine

Liam Asayag (’20) was featured on the cover of UC Santa Cruz’s magazine for his relief work in Ukraine. After visiting the war-torn area, Asayag learned that many Ukrainians were unable to receive medical equipment and other supplies in part because drones (costing between $50,000 and $100,000) were frequently shot down. With the help of his professor, Asayag built a more cost-effective drone to assist in humanitarian efforts.