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Plenty of New Faces at Start of Donahue Academy School Year

rda-Mark-Jahnke-250The Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in Ave Maria opened its doors for its ninth year Monday with many new faces among its faculty and staff.

Among those in new jobs is interim Headmaster Mark Jahnke (right), who taught Humanities and Math in his first year at Donahue last year and now finds himself in the top job. The previous headmaster, Regina Code, resigned after one year on the job. She had replaced the school's founding headmaster, Dr. Dan Guernsey, who now heads the Education department at Ave Maria Unviersity.

"My main challenge at this point is to stabilize the school – we've had three headmasters in the last three years," Mr. Jahnke said. "Then I want to build on the school's very strong foundation, moving from 'pioneer mode' to a strong school."

Mr. Jahnke, who had taught for many years at Catholic schools in Minnesota and was dean of a junior high school there before coming to Donahue, said he's thrilled to see "so many young people excited, who love learning for its own sake."

rda-Mrs-Fox-and-her-2nd-Gr-Class-350Since moving to Ave Maria a year ago to escape the bitter northern winters, Mr. Jahnke said the Ave Maria community has turned out to be everything he and his wife had wanted for themselves and their five children, three of whom are attending the Donahue Academy. "I love the closeness of the community, and being able to ride my bike to work every day from my home in Maple Ridge," he said.

It was also the first day of school yesterday for many new to Donahue Academy, whose ranks include two recent highly-honored graduates of Ave Maria Unviersity – Ben Houde, the 2015 valedictorian, who will teach Latin and Humanities, and Peter Atkinson, the 2015 winner of the President's Award, who will teach Latin, Humanities, Logic and a Shakespeare elective. (Above left, Linda Fox with her 2nd grade class. Below, members of the Allan family of Maple Ridge ready for the first day of school.)

Other teachers who are either new or in new roles this year include:

Jim Carletta, returning as the school's Athletic Director; Sr. Mary Fatima, teaching fifth grade; Sr. Mary Magdalene, teaching high school theology; Dr. Jeff Froula, teaching science; Dr. David Peterson, teaching math and science; Gretel Smith, returning to teach seventh grade science; Cassie Graham, teaching a course in statistics; and Mary Towey, teaching an elective theology course on the spirituality of Mother Teresa.

Donahue families and staff will have a chance to get better acquainted Saturday morning at a "welcome back" party at the Ave Maria waterpark from 11 to 2 p.m. Admission is $25 a family, free for waterpark members, and food will be available for purchase.

Photos of Mr. Jahnke and Mrs. Fox's class by Mary Stuller. Photo of Allan family by Chelsea Allan.

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