Thanks for the Memories
We say farewell to the below faculty and staff members, whose dedication and service to USM have helped to make the school such a special place to learn and work.
Priscilla Woods, 16 years
Spending 16 of her 30 years as an art teacher at USM was, according to Priscilla Woods, a highlight of her career. During her time at USM, Woods was instrumental in creating both the AP Art program and the ceramics program, and she once accompanied a student to New York City to collect the Scholastic American Vision award. “Connecting with the students and watching them grow into artists is nothing I ever took for granted,” said Woods.
Her students also inspired her to create art in her free time, something she hopes to do more of during retirement when she and her husband, Jeremy, relocate to North Carolina. “We’re building an art studio on our property in the mountains so that I can dedicate all my time to making art. Onto my next adventure!”
Robin Fatla, 18 years
After driving school buses for 35 years, 18 of them at USM, Robin Fatla is excited to explore the United States and drive the open road on her own terms. “It has been a pleasure and privilege to work at USM,” said Fatla. “I’ve had awesome teammates and I’ve met many amazing and talented young people on their journeys to becoming amazing and talented adults."
"I want to thank the families and students for the trust they put in me to transport them to and from school safely. The notes and gifts of appreciation over the years have touched my heart, and I will smile when I remember my time at University School of Milwaukee.”
Margaret MacKedon Browne, 40 years
For the past 40 years, Margaret “Muffie” MacKedon Browne—known to many simply as "Mrs. MacKie"—has been a pillar in USM’s Preschool, guiding and caring for generations of prekindergarten children. “To have taught so many children over the years, and in some cases, the children of former students as well, has been something that I will hold near and dear to my heart forever,” she said.
During her time at USM she participated in many professional development opportunities, including workshops, seminars, conferences, a site visit to Reggio Emilia in Italy, and even earning her master’s degree. She helped to launch USM’s After School program and served as the first Girls on the Run coach for two seasons.
“The last 40 years have been an honor, and I look forward to the continued mark our school’s legacy will bring to future generations of students,” she said. “This life is less about what we’ve earned and gathered, but more about who we loved and who we leave when we end one chapter and begin another. You have all meant so much to me, and I thank you for everything.” She is looking forward to spending time at her family’s cottage, spending time with her parents, and traveling. “Now I will finally have time to sit down and write that book that so many parents have been asking for!” Turn to page 40 for a collection of memories shared by MacKedon Browne’s former students.
Jeff Ballentine, 25 years
Some people are happy to leave their middle school years behind, but for Middle School Spanish Teacher Jeff Ballentine, it’s one of the things he will miss the most in retirement. “I will certainly miss being with students,” he said. “One thing that makes a great middle school teacher is that a part of them never left middle school. I will miss their energy, excitement, and enthusiasm.”
During his many years at USM, Ballentine has grown both professionally and personally. He led students on trips to Europe eight separate times, and became a certified master naturalist as part of an outdoor education class that he taught at USM. “The faculty is dedicated, smart, and eager to share their expertise with others,” he said. “Never complacent, my colleagues are always on the lookout for better ways to engage our students.”
Ballentine is looking forward to spending more time with family, including his parents and two granddaughters who live nearby. “I will definitely enjoy time with them, and I already have some travel plans. I’m looking forward to visiting parts of the world that I have not seen before.”
Todd Schlenker, 27 years
Initially, what attracted Todd Schlenker to USM in 1996 was the school’s commitment to teaching world languages in the Lower School and Middle School. What kept him here for 27 years, however, are some of the things he will miss the most. “I will miss my talented and passionate colleagues, whom I respect immensely,” he said. “Of course, I will miss the students, who have always entertained me and kept me on my toes. Finally, I will miss the energy that comes from starting each and every school year with the aspirational quest to improve.”
Schlenker participated in professional development opportunities in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain, and chaperoned student trips to Washington, D.C., Costa Rica, and Europe. He held leadership roles in various professional organizations and became a nationally board-certified teacher in 2011. He served as a long-time Middle School cross country coach and track coach, and enjoyed playing Thursday-morning basketball with faculty, students, alumni, and parents for more than 20 years.
In retirement, he is looking forward to enjoying being a grandpa and traveling more with his wife, Susan Bolly (see below). “I will find satisfaction in doing small projects and staying active. More than anything, I leave here with a tremendous sense of gratitude, feeling humbled and honored. Gracias por todo, USM.”
Susan Bolly, 4 years
Susan Bolly joined USM in 2019 as the assistant head of Upper School, after teaching at Nicolet High School for more than 30 years. Although she has earned many accolades, one of things she’s most proud of is how the USM community persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic and safely implemented in-person teaching and learning, extracurriculars, and sports. “I am very proud of the work we all did to make this happen for the students and families,” she said.
There are many things Bolly loved about working at USM, including the camaraderie of her Upper School administrative team, visiting teachers’ classrooms to see their magic in action, collaborating with colleagues, engaging with young people, and enjoying the wonderful food. “However, the dedicated, professional, and caring people who have a sense of mission are at the heart of what I will miss most.”
Bolly, who is married to Todd Schlenker (see above), is looking forward to a different pace of life, spending quality time with Todd, her children, grandchildren, and other people she loves; traveling, reading, and gardening; and getting a dog—"but please don’t tell Todd about the dog!"
- On Campus