People of Prairie

During this Season of Thanks, Join Us as We Celebrate

During this Season of Thanks, Join Us as We Celebrate

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TPS is a one-of-a-kind community. A place filled with wisdom seekers and problem solvers, fearless creatives and compassionate supporters.

More than its architecture and its natural beauty, more than academic ingenuity and athletic prowess, Prairie’s super power has always emanated from one place.

Its people.

As 2022 draws to a close, we want to recognize the people who have proven pivotal in your life. Tell us about your favorite teacher, coach, or mentor. Tell us about the connections and interactions and stories that still linger, all these years later.

Whether sharing a memory, making a gift in honor of the teacher who impacted your life, or both, join us this December as we celebrate the people of Prairie.

Pat Badger

Advisor to the Head of School for Arts and Equity, Multicultural Club Advisor & Former Teacher

"When the name Pat Badger is spoken, people cannot help but produce a genuine smile. These smiles are immediately followed by thoughtful stories or a heartfelt notes of appreciation detailing the ways in which Pat has impacted their lives, has truly noticed them, helped them, supported them, and valued them for who they are. Pat fosters genuine connection with others and she beautifully builds community. I believe that because she deeply cares about others, she in turn, inspires others to grow and strive to become better. A sincere thank you to Pat Badger who continues to inspire me and has made a forever footprint on my heart."

- Mari Grobschmidt

"Ms. Badger supported and encouraged my musical interests, giving me guidance and a space to work on my instrument (electric bass) and develop as a player. In addition to her nurturing attitude, her direction of the jazz band and school musicals was invaluable to my musical development. I went on to play in several bands in Madison and then in the Washington, DC area (lots and lots of gigs, and a few CDs), and I credit Ms. Badger for helping create a strong foundation for one of the most important areas of my life - music! Thank you, Pat! Truly a gift to last a lifetime."

- Christopher Dean '84

Marcia Wilks

1st Grade Teacher

"Mrs. Wilks is the best teacher ever. I love her so much because she does so many fun things with our class. I especially love all of the math games she teaches us."

- Emersyn Brzezinski '34

Liza Davis

Upper School Academic Dean & Upper School English Teacher

"Liza Davis was my advisor during my time as an Upper School student at Prairie. She was extremely valuable to my development into a young adult. I have always admired how she can balance seriousness with lighthearted fun. One of the first things I did when I came back to campus after graduating was checking to see if she still had her Legolas cardboard cut out in her room. I am happy to say it's still there! I will always be thankful that she was my advisor, as I have carried the lessons she taught me through the years. I am so proud to now call her a colleague."

- Trista Deuster '16

Rebecca Greasby

Former Theatre Teacher & Theatre Director

"Ms. Greasby was often the reason I came to school everyday. She had such a kind and warm approach and had such a passion for theatre. She helped me fall in love with musical theatre and always made me aspire to keep working on to improve my craft. I’ll never forget going on the London trip with her and gaining such a new perspective of the world. She still inspires me to this day to keep my passion alive for live theatre and knowing that if I just work hard enough, I can achieve any goal."

- Steph Kaser '16

Bonnie Benes

Former Head of Middle School & Teacher

"There aren't many educators I can think of that balance "tough love" with humor and seemingly endless support and encouragement like Mrs. B. When I think about my time as a "lifer" at Prairie, she's one of the very first people who come to mind. Who else would think of "meggly weggly bubble bath" as a nickname? Prairie certainly wouldn't be Prairie without Mrs. B."

- Megan Rowland McGuire '02

Jennifer Twist

4th Grade Teacher

"OK… I don’t know what kind of magic spells Mrs. Twist has in her classroom (other than her sweet disposition like Mary Poppins), but my son’s Achilles’ heel has always been writing. He has had no problem telling stories, but you would think we were punishing him for life if he needed to write a paper. Not anymore! What…just… happened?!"

- Rebecca Byrne

Kathy McCombs

Former Art Teacher

"Kathy McCombs went above and beyond fostering my love of art. She was supportive and loving. She would let me spend recess in the art room, creating a haven and safety in art that would last a lifetime. After leaving Prairie, I continued to take her summer Make a Table class and they are a beautiful reminder of her unending kindness."

- Lara Vagenius '07

David Reske '16

4th Grade Teacher

"Also, you mention STEM and he runs—despite being so good with math. But when I asked him this morning what he was most looking forward to, he answered, “science class because we get to design and make things!” Thanks, Mr Reske!! Such good trickery going on in these two rooms—it’s amazing!!"

- Rebecca Byrne

Kevin Pearson

Former Art Teacher

"I loved all of my teachers at Prairie, but Mr. Pearson was truly one of a kind. I can still hear him telling me how great my future will be when "you're an art major at St. Olaf," before I had even applied. He encouraged me as I explored art outside of class, helped me set up my shadowing experiences, and was a friendly face I could always rely on. I remember when he assigned a drawing of a still life, with the catch of needing to use up all the ink in the pen. I never realized how much ink is in a simple pen! Thanks to him, I was an art major at St. Olaf, I have my art teaching license, and I see the beauty in the world around me. Thank you, Mr. Pearson. You are so missed. Cheers!"

- Justina Stern '10

Lynne Santalucia

Compass Team - Math Learning Specialist

"Because of Mrs. Santalucia both of my girls not only passed math but no longer feared it or thought they couldn’t do it. Her patience and kindness is remarkable."

- Carly Larson-Rondeau

Everett McKinney

Former Head of Upper School and Teacher

"Monsieur McKinney was an integral part of my success during my time at Prairie. His commitment to excellence was contagious - always pushing his students to embrace their purpose and pursue their passion. The emphasis he placed on nontraditional items, such as proper manners and spoken grammar, made a lasting impact. I can still hear him say - 'A turkey is done! You, my dear, are finished.'"

- Kimberly Rybicki Olesen '05

"Twenty-five of us graduated together in the warm Spring air of early June 1976, the flowers of immigrant diaspora, after Prairie taught us so well. For me, first period Physics and Chemistry was Peter Benson; English was Thomas “Strife” Streifender and Alan Wallace; Math was Katie Betts; Anthro was Ron Roy; and French was Madame Peacock, a French ex-pat who married her American G.I. sweetheart at the end of World War II - what a love story! I remember each and everyone of these teachers from almost 50 years ago like it was yesterday. Every single one helped prep me for post-Prairie life."

- Mark Hennick '76

"Thank you for all the good memories we have at Prairie School and for all the teachers and staff."

- Reem Jandali

"To all my teachers from 1993-2009 Thank You!

Being a lifer from Prairie, picking just one teacher or memory is next to impossible. From Mrs. Rodgers and Mrs. McCarthy all the way through my senior year teachers, I have found memories of all.

To this day I still suffer from separation anxiety, and bless Mrs. Rodgers and Mrs. McCarthy and Uncle Harvey for putting up with my crying and anxiety attacks EVERY morning. They are angels! I loved our nature walk collecting materials for our caterpillar books. I still have all our crafts. To Mr. and Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. McCombs, art class was where I felt I could fit in and they always made me feel so special. Even allowing me after hours or on weekends to come and work on projects or hang out helping in the studies. To Mrs. Bennis, from pre school gym teacher to middle school dean, she always had my back and helped me thrive. To Mrs. Zeromski for pushing me to always be my best. To Carol and Steve who, out of all the children they served on a daily basis, always remembered my name and would go out of their way to make my day special. To Mrs. Douglas and Mrs. Wheeler who gave me the gift of writing and falling in love with books. To Mr. Brown for being an amazing Geometry teacher. I never thought I could love math, but to this day, I still smile while I play pool as I flash back to math class and the beginning use of the epic "smart board."

I owe a big thank you to all my teachers and prairie staff. I think of you all often. Thank you for helping me become who I am today. I am so blessed and lucky to have had the experiences and opportunities you provided. My only wish would be for a time machine, so that way I could go back and enjoy it all over again. Thank you to all!"

- Ashley Woelbing '09