Upper School math teacher Sharon Smith is a long-time member of the NSU University School community. Her immersion into our community first began as the daughter of an NSU alumna and sibling of a USchool graduate. Fast forward to today, Smith has been an advocate of our programs, mission, and students as both a USchool educator for the past 35 years and parent to two Lifers, also known as students who begin their journey at USchool in Preschool and remain with the school for 13+ consecutive years.
NSU University School teachers are passionate and well-qualified educators who facilitate collaboration, active learning, and personalized instruction in each of their classrooms. They develop deep, enduring connections with their students and support them in the classroom, on stage, and on the athletic fields.
A Personalized Approach
USchool teachers ignite a genuine love of learning within their students and use proven teaching strategies tailored to meet their individual needs. Our personalized approach and small class sizes ensure that teachers get to know each child’s unique interests, strengths, goals, and learning style. As a result, our students become confident and self-driven, both traits admired in college and beyond.
Committed to Best Practices
NSU University School is a fully accredited, private school, and as such, our teachers are held to the highest teaching standards. They model innovative teaching methods and understand the importance of continuously developing and refining their own best practices in teaching. They pursue advanced degrees, attend local and national conferences, and also collaborate regularly to share learning strategies, which results in an educational experience that is transformative, innovative, and unique.
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Teachers inspire their students in many ways, and for Shannon Dickey-Bridgman, her decision to pursue a career in education was fueled by her fifth grade teacher who served as her mentor and fostered a positive learning environment and sense of belonging. Being raised by a hard-working single mom only furthered her commitment to give back and inspire future generations of leaders through education. As the first student to get to school and the last to leave, she had more time to spend with her teachers building strong, meaningful relationships. She even had the opportunity to experience firsthand the responsibilities of teachers once students leave for the day. From helping build bulletin boards to preparing the next day’s lessons, Dickey-Bridgman was offered a glimpse into the world of teaching at an early age.
Dr. Edwardo Johnson is a 26-year veteran Spanish teacher at NSU University School. His days are spent building Upper School students’ Spanish fluency and language skills and educating them about the culture and customs of Spanish-speaking countries, whether that be through engaging project-based activities or immersive experiences. Over the years, Dr. Johnson has become well known for surprising his students with a pop-up restaurant. Donning a chef’s uniform, he prepares traditional Hispanic dishes such as quesadillas, tostones, guacamole, and tropical fruit punches for students to experience the diversity of Hispanic cuisine.
“Find the best in U” is our motto here at NSU University School, and Middle School teacher Janet Schroeder is a prime example of an educator who embodies that motto. Schroeder has loaned her time and expertise to USchool for more than 41 years, helping students reach their full potential in the classroom, on the court, and in life. Over the years, she has held coaching roles for our varsity volleyball, softball, and tennis programs. In her current position as a physical education teacher, Schroeder supports Middle School students with their health and wellness, encouraging them to establish healthy behaviors, exercise, and make positive choices.
The heart of a school is its teachers, and we are fortunate to have some of the greatest educators at NSU University School – one of which being long-serving kindergarten teacher Robin Mendelson. With more than 41 years of teaching under her belt, Mendelson is a valued member of our school community whose passion and commitment to her students and their education has made a world of difference in the lives of many. When walking into her classroom, one thing is certain – you will always find energetic, engaged students exploring all there is to learn in an environment where ideas and contributions are valued.
Middle School teacher Maria Taravella has devoted 45 years of her life to inspiring a passion and appreciation for the Spanish language and culture in students, developing their global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Taravella has felt a strong love for teaching for as long as she can remember. Eager to have a classroom and students of her own, she arranged a large blackboard and desks in the basement of her home where she instructed imaginary students at the age of eight. The encouragement and mentorship she received from passionate educators, including her aunt, as she navigated her way through school drove her to follow her dream of becoming a teacher.
Longtime Spanish teacher Jonathan Moreno has been making a difference in the lives of students at NSU University School for the past 14 years, helping Lower School students achieve language proficiency while gaining an appreciation for the Hispanic culture. His passion for education extends beyond foreign language and includes a universal form of expression – music. He shares this love with his students by integrating music and art into his lessons, making them more engaging and improving students’ attitude when learning another language.
Inspired by his elementary school teachers, Andrew Stephens felt drawn to the teaching profession ever since the third grade. However, it was not until recently that he decided to pursue the calling. After his mother passed away in 2014, he received a letter from her that expressed how her life had been deeply enriched by all the fascinating things he had taught her and how she believed he was born to teach and hoped he would one day. These last words from his mom gave him the final push to transition from his former position in international higher education to his current role as an Upper School AP and honors psychology teacher.
Since moving to Florida in 1988, Preschool teacher Monica Polanin has spent the past 35 years paving the way for the next generation of leaders. Her commitment to her students’ well-being and overall academic and social-emotional development has positively influenced countless lives and helped children ages two to four build a strong foundation for future academic success.
From leading a class of imaginary students as a child to now having 20 years of experience in the education space, Micaile Smith knew from a young age that she was called to teach. Her love for children and helping them learn was evident as she was growing up, which led her to pursue a career in teaching. As a Middle School science teacher, Smith instills a love of learning in her students by helping them connect the material to their own lives and by creating a safe and comfortable environment. This way, students are interested and motivated to learn more, apply their understandings, and give their best effort.