New Teachers Bring a Variety of Backgrounds to NDA Staff


Cassi Garrison, Staff Writer

Another year is in swing at Notre Dame Academy, and a few new faces have joined the staff as classroom teachers: Ms. Joan Cinotto; Frater Gregory Johnson, O. Praem; Ms. Molly Quakkelar; and Mrs. Tonja Gerondale.

These teachers have diverse backgrounds and bring with them fresh perspectives and experiences. 

Cinotto, for example, attended Benedictine College in Kansas, majoring in Theology and Political science.

After graduating, she earned her Masters in Theology from the Augustine Institute in Colorado. 

“I want to have a class environment where students can ask questions and have discussions,” Cinotto shared. “I really do enjoy creative assignments that make you think outside the box.”

Cinotto also added that she “loves the Catholic faith” and is very passionate about teaching theology.

Ms. Joan Cinotto

She says she has had a “really positive experience at NDA so far” and looks forward to teaching Morality next semester because “it’s so applicable to real-life situations.”

Gerondale attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and has taught science at various schools in Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin. 

On her first impression of NDA, the biology/chemistry teacher said that she “loves it.” 

“I love science and seeing the students go through the process of learning,” Gerondale shared. “The process of thinking and learning is more important than memorizing facts.”

She said she chose to work at NDA because of its focus on educating the whole person, and what she wants students to know about her class is that she is approachable and wants to make sure they fully understand the material. 

Frater Greg Johnson, who attended St. Norbert College and double majored in both Theology and Philosophy and Religious Studies, is originally from Antigo, Wisconsin.

“I want my students to know that I care about their entire development as persons, and I care that they learn how to think critically and ask questions,” Johnson shared. 

Johnson, who is teaching theology at NDA as a part of his priestly formation, said that it’s “okay to not have all the answers.”

“I want my students to remain curious and pursue the truth wherever it leads them,” he said. “That’s the attitude I hope to foster in my classroom.”

Johnson also shared that his first impression of NDA is “incredibly positive” and that he’s looking forward to discussions about the Bible in his theology classes, as biblical studies are his main forte. 

“I love being able to ‘nerd out’ in the classroom about the Bible,” he said. “I’m also always looking for new ways to deepen my prayer life, so being able to teach students about the spiritual life and learn from them about their own practices of prayer is such an enriching experience.”

Quakellar, who has recently relocated to Green Bay from Milwaukee, is excited to be teaching Chemistry and Algebra II this year. 

Quakellar, whom students call ‘Ms. Q,’ attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and majored in Chemistry.

“Chemistry I love because we study matter down to the smallest of particles,” she shared. “When you start to learn about and understand why atoms behave the way they do, you really start to learn and understand more about the world around you.”

Quakellar also said that she enjoys algebra because it’s like solving a puzzle, especially when factoring quadratic equations. 

The chemistry teacher encourages students to be able to ask for help and added that she loves incorporating visual examples and demonstrations into her lesson plan. 

On why she chose NDA, she said, “I love and value being able to talk about Jesus in school, especially when it comes to science! To me, being able to pray with and for my students made the decision really easy for me.”