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Brothers enjoy once-in-a-lifetime vacation

For the three oldest Harper brothers, finding time to spend together is rare. Tony ’02 is a data engineering manager at Facebook living in Foster City, Calif., Paul ’07 is a reconnaissance system trainer for Raytheon in Honolulu, Hawaii, after recently leaving a six-year career in the U.S. Air Force – most recently as an imagery intelligence analyst stationed at Osan Air Base near Seoul, South Korea – and Stephen ’13 is an English teacher at a private academy in Seoul. This past spring as Paul was considering leaving the military, Tony decided it was a good time to travel to Asia and see the sites with his brothers as his guides. They spent a week traveling, sightseeing, and enjoying time with each other, and all three treasure the experience.

“It’s sometimes difficult to get together, and we never know when our next chance will be, so I’m happy we had the opportunity,” Stephen said.

Stephen and Paul also enjoyed sharing their love of Seoul with their brother. They took Tony to the main tourist sites, from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and the Korean War Museum to the Lotte World Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and Olympic Park, home to the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Tony said he enjoyed the sights, meeting Stephen’s friends, taking photos around the city, and eating at many different restaurants.

“One of my favorite experiences was walking into an off-the-beaten path restaurant and the owner asking Paul and me if we were twins,” Tony said. “He was so amused to have three American brothers in his store and was amazed that Stephen spoke Korean so well!”

Stephen and Paul said they love Seoul because despite its size and population of 11 million people, the city is safe, the people are polite, and transportation is affordable and efficient, allowing them to easily travel from one area of the city to another. They also enjoy the metropolitan feel, which offers a varieties of cultures, food, and people.

“One of the best parts of living in Seoul is the food,” Paul said. “You can get anything ranging from Outback Steakhouse all the way to grilled squid the length of your arm from a street vendor, all of which is very delicious, although the more exotic dishes can be a little shocking for the uninitiated.”

Stephen said he likes meeting people from many cultures.

Stephen Harper ’13 teaches English in Seoul, South Korea, which gave him the chance to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Aside from all the Korean friends that I’ve made here, I’ve also had the chance to meet and work with people from all over Europe, and through some of my Korean classes, I’ve been able to meet people from Vietnam, Myanmar, Russia, China, Mongolia, and even North Korea,” Stephen said. “Seoul is a hub for a lot of East Asian business and immigration, and the pop culture pulls a lot of exchange students and tourists who I get to meet sometimes.”

For the past two years, he has taught English as a foreign language (EFL), working in an English academy that the students attend for three to four hours a day after their regular school day, a job he really enjoys, he said. The South Korean school system is more intense than the traditional American system, and the students attend such academies several days a week, whether the English academy to improve their conversational skills or ones that offer math, computer coding, Chinese, and science.

“My job isn’t so much to teach them as it is to try and get them to talk, help them with their pronunciation and word usage, and most importantly get them to feel comfortable speaking English,” Stephen said. “A lot of them are very shy.”

He does share some of the same struggles that American teachers have in trying to interest his middle-school aged students in learning a foreign language.

“For the most part though, they’re very sweet and excited to be talking to someone from a different country, and they’re amazingly smart and talented,” Stephen said. “It’s truly amazing that I can have a near fluent conversation in English with a 12-year-old Korean student. They work very hard, and it definitely shows. They’re some of the smartest kids I’ve ever met.”

Stephen himself is a student of language, having been taking classes on how to speak Korean, giving him an insight into his students’ experience with him – and bringing amusement to his students when he practices on them.

“It’s fun to see myself going through the same mistakes and difficulties as my students go through while learning English, even though their English is way better than my Korean,” Stephen said. “Sometimes I’ll try to speak Korean to them, and they either laugh at me because of my accent or are totally amazed to hear a foreigner speaking their language. They’re also amazed that American students don’t have to go to after school academies every day and they’re very jealous.”

Stephen and Paul will miss living an hour away and being able to visit once a month, but Paul is glad to be back living in the United States if just for the option of being able to drive a car.

“Military personnel for the most part are not allowed to drive cars in Korea,” Paul said. “I missed the ability to jump in my car and go anywhere I want instead of having to wait for a train and stand amongst hundreds of people to get where I need to go.”

Paul Harper ’07 is returning to work in Hawaii, this time as a civilian.

For Paul, moving to Hawaii and leaving the military brings mixed feelings. As an officer, he had a sense of security knowing that his health insurance, housing, and ability to support himself were covered. He won’t have to miss the sense of community, though. Before his most recent stint in South Korea, he was stationed in Hawaii and worked at Hickam Air Force Base at Pearl Harbor, where he will now work as a civilian.

“Many of my old friends and co-workers will be once again working with me,” Paul said. “The biggest difference will be that I will be wearing a Hawaiian shirt on Friday’s instead of my military uniform.”

The people of Hawaii also have a sense of community that Paul felt a part of while he lived there previously. The awe of the beauty of the island may wear off over time, but the real reason to love living there does not, he said.

“What truly made me fall in love with Hawaii is the ‘Ohana’ culture,” Paul said. “Once you are welcomed into a community here, you are family. Life in Hawaii can be challenging, but people reach out to support each other with everything they have, even if they themselves don’t have very much to offer. This is a true definition of community, and it has captured my heart.”

Tony Harper ’02 and his wife, Anastasia, enjoy the sites in San Francisco, having moved to California after he was recruited to work for Facebook.

Tony is back in California with his wife, Anastasia. He moved to California last year, having been recruited by Facebook via LinkedIn. He previously served as data engineer for Humana in Louisville for 11 years, including modernizing its analytics systems. During that time, he had built up a network in Silicon Valley while learning a lot about software engineering and data warehousing practices, he said.

He likes the Facebook corporate culture, which encourages innovation, and is inspired by the opportunity to “work to solve problems that affect billions of people,” he said. The mild, sunny weather is great too, and he appreciates the abundance of opportunities in the STEM fields, but living in the San Francisco area where so many people have transferred in from somewhere he hasn’t quite found what Paul has in Hawaii.

“I still miss home a lot,” Tony said, noting that he’s able to visit about two or three times a year. “There’s something to be said for the close-knit community that I grew up in.”

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Teachers, staff travel the globe over summer break

Many of our teachers and staff traveled to interesting locations over the summer, from Kenya to Greece to New Zealand. Here’s a round up of where they went:

IT Manager Jack Riddle and his son spent a week at Camp Crooked Creek in early August his son’s first Scouts, BSA summer camp. Earlier in the year, Tyler joined Troop 380 chartered by Saint Patrick in Louisville, and Mr. Riddle became the assistant scoutmaster/patrol advisor for the new scouts.

“At camp, I really enjoyed seeing the scouts show their leadership, especially the older scouts working with the younger scouts,” Mr. Riddle said. “I also ran into current and former PHS students as participants and staff.”


Poaching is a problem in East Africa, and the Sweetwater Conservancy has a rhino conservation mission, where Baraka (which means “blessing”), a rescued blind rhino, lives. Dr. Jacobi’s friend Masolo is also in the picture.

English teacher Kathryn Jacobi and her husband, Jerry ’73, visited Kenya and their Kenyan friends, University of Louisville professor Dismas Masolo and his wife, Christine, who bilocate between Louisville and their home in western Kenya.

“After staying a few days in their traditional Luo village and experiencing African hospitality — including a goat, slaughtered in our honor, which we had for dinner on our second night —  we started our adventure and visited six game parks including the famous Masai Mara, where we saw many beautiful animals and visited a traditional Masai village,” Dr. Jacobi said. “We spent several days in Nairobi and then finished our trip visiting the old Swahili city of Mombasa — on the east coast on the Indian Ocean. During the course of our trip we also visited several museums, archeological sites, and two animal preserves. We saw so many beautiful animals and met many wonderful people. We look forward to visiting the Masolos again and seeing more of this amazing part of the world.”


President Steve Williamson and his wife traveled throughout Greece and made a day trip to Ephesus, Turkey.

“While I enjoyed the rich history of the ancient Greeks and Mycenaeans, the visit to Our Lady’s house in Ephesus was especially moving,” Mr. Williamson said. “Three different popes have visited Our Lady’s shrine in Ephesus where she and John the Evangelist lived after leaving the Holy Land. A modest shrine is built over the first-century foundation of the home reported to have been Mary’s. To think that I may have walked the same path that Our Lady had walked remains an inspiration for me.” 


Math teacher Stephanie (Mayfield) Mauk ’99 traveled with friends on a girls’ trip to Charleston with eight fellow 1999 alumnae plus one wife of an alumnus. She and her husband also cheered on their son, Lucas, and his baseball teams. His travel baseball team, The Ironmen, won the Global World Series Tournament in Destin, Fla., and his New Albany Little League 11U team won state in Decatur. 


Assistant to the President Debbie Fackler took a “sister trip” to Tybee Island, Ga., to celebrate her sister, Angie’s, birthday on the beach.

“We made the trip in her convertible Mustang and ate fresh seafood at a different restaurant every day,” Ms. Fackler said, adding that they also drove 20 miles to Savannah and explored the city by trolley. “The best part? Spending six days traveling and laughing with my little sister!”


Technical theatre teacher Ronnie Breedlove spent the summer producing and directing on the Jeffersonville RiverStage, something he has done for the past five years since teaming up with Jeff Parks to create the RiverPops Orchestra. He produces a Broadway musical production for the city each summer, and this year’s company of over 65 cast, crew, and musicians presented All Shook Up. Among the cast were junior Victor Beeler and Andrew Bittenbender ’18.

“I look forward to this outdoor theater experience every year,” Mr. Breedlove said. “It is definitely my summer highlight!”


Business officer Julie (Dattilo) Harper ’80 and her family visited Washington, D.C., including visits to Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, the war memorials, several Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, the U.S. Capital, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the St. John Paul II National Shrine, and other sites.

“We stayed in beautiful, historic Alexandria, Virginia, and visited family in Purcellville, Virginia,” Mrs. Harper said. “In spite of the 97 degree heat all week, we had a wonderful time!” 


French teacher Katie Aebersold traveled to Walt Disney World with her parents and her sister’s family, a favorite destination of hers.

“It was my first time going there with my niece, Emma, who is 2 years old, so that was very fun and exciting,” Miss Aebersold said. “I also got a chance to visit Epcot by myself for a morning and enjoyed my time traveling through World Showcase at my own pace. I especially enjoyed getting to converse in French with many of the cast members in the France pavilion!”


English teacher Elizabeth Bentley and her husband traveled through Australia and New Zealand.

“Our favorite place was Cairns, Australia, because of the tropical climate and scenery and above all, because of the Great Barrier Reef. It was truly one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” Mrs. Bentley said. “In the much colder climate of New Zealand, a cruise through the Fiordland National Park was a memory to last a lifetime. There is so much beauty in the fjords and waterfalls.”


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Dr. Jacobi loves to learn and to teach

It might seem odd that an English teacher is the chairperson of the Theology Department, but Dr. Kathryn Jacobi said it actually makes perfect sense. When she was named chairperson a few years ago, there was not a theology teacher able to take on the role since several of the teachers were new. Dr. Jacobi has been able to help the department by offering advice with critical reading and lesson plans, common teaching approaches in both disciplines.

Taking on new roles and adapting to changes in curriculum and other areas are things Dr. Jacobi has become adept at after more than 25 years teaching at Providence. In the past few years, she has switched from teaching ACP English 12 to AP Language and AP Literature and Composition. Several years ago, she was the IGNITE chairperson to assist with the school moving to the anticipated move to the Common Core Standards.

She now teaches Honors English 9, English 12, and the two AP courses. As the English curriculum has moved to offering AP (which offers college credit when students pass a national year-end assessment) instead of ACP (which offers dual credit through Indiana University Bloomington) courses, Dr. Jacobi said the courses continue to challenge students to develop higher level learning, with the AP Literature & Language providing another AP offering for juniors to meet the Honors Diploma Standards, and AP Language will prepare seniors for writing in college.

“I like the challenge level I can bring to the kids” in AP courses,” Dr. Jacobi said. “”Our kids have so much potential. It’s always very gratifying to see them respond to higher level work.”

The AP courses involve more class discussion, and Dr. Jacobi said she continues to be intrigued by students’ responses to the literature.

“It’s interesting to hear them respond,” she said. “I like challenging them.”

Dr. Jacobi has seen many other changes in education since she first began teaching English in 1991. In recent years, the biggest change has been the introduction of the iPads. She said one drawback of the devices and ready access to information online is students’ using online information as a crutch rather than finding the answer themselves.

“They tend to think they can find the answers online,” she said. “The challenge is getting them to think for themselves.”

Another challenge is keeping students attentive. In the past, students would daydream or read a book instead of paying attention. Now, they are tempted to play games, use social media, or message each other on their devices, so classroom discipline has changed, and like many teachers, she has students put their phones in the back of the room. She also has learned to differentiate between students’ reading the literature on their iPad and being off task.

Dr. Jacobi continues to enjoy teaching at Providence. Since coming to Providence, she said, she has been committed to Catholic education because of the community, the higher standards to which students are held, and their shared Catholic faith. The size of the school allows her to know her fellow teachers, and over the years, watch their children grow up – and even teach some of them.

She has also taught a Medical Humanities class for a few semesters at IU Southeast and enjoyed the course’s focus on “illness narratives.” She said she enjoyed the class and might teach it again in the future. For now, she is enjoying gardening, walking in downtown Jeffersonville near her home, and traveling. She and her husband, Jerry ’73, are planning a trip to Kenya this summer. It will be their first time to Africa, and they are looking forward to it, she said.

Her favorite place to visit, however, is her birthplace, Cornwall, England, where they have visited several times.

“I just love St. Ives,” Dr. Jacobi said. “it’s just beautiful there. The Cornish coast is our favorite.”

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Seniors enjoy ‘trip of a lifetime’

For seniors Joe Gryboski and Tyler Upton, applying for the annual Indiana Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was one of their best decisions as juniors. Both were accepted to represent their county – Tyler is from Clark County and Joe from Harrison County – and spent more than a week over the summer traveling with students from around the state to tour Gettysburg, Penn., and our nation’s capital.

Both students were impressed by the chance to get to meet with and speak to some of Indiana’s U.S. Representatives and its two Senators, they said. Joe said he enjoyed learning about the roles and responsibilities of our nationally elected officials.

They also liked touring the Smithsonian museums, but the most impactful stop for Tyler as the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Tyler said he has long aspired to join the military, and visiting the site made him take even more pride in the military and solidified his desire to enlist.

“It brought pride to look through that museum,” Tyler said.

As much as they enjoyed the sites, both also liked the chance to meet teens from around the state and all over the country, especially at the youth rally. They were able to meet many people there thanks to an activity in which they tried to trade pins with someone from each of the 50 states.

“My favorite part was the 2018 Youth Rally, where students from around the country all come together to learn about REMCs, and then had a party to celebrate,” Joe said. “Getting to meet people from around the USA was awesome. I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat. I highly recommend that anyone who is eligible should apply to go next year.”

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Teachers and staff learn, travel over summer break

Teachers and staff learn, travel over summer break

Our teachers have been busy this summer. Some were learning or training, including Mrs. Maria (Cochran) Harritt ’10, who took classes to teach AP history courses. Some traveled, including Mrs. Sharon Mooney, who toured the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. And Mr. Alan Mathews ’88 got married! Click here to read more about the adventures of our faculty and staff over the last few weeks.

Mrs. Stephanie (Mayfield) Mauk ’99, math teacher, spent time traveling and cheering on her son. Her son Lucas’s 10U All-Star baseball team won district and will now be going to Fort Wayne for the state tournament today through next Tuesday. She took a six-day trip to Amsterdam with her husband, Tony. Highlights included viewing the “beautiful architecture” from a cruise of the canals, a “360 view of the city” from a lookout tower, visiting the large park Vondelpark. and attending an orchestra concert featuring music by Mozart, she said.

“We did a lot of walking around and shopping and looking at everything,” Mrs. Mauk said. “Everything was so different from here. There were so many people from every country everywhere you went!”

Mrs. Ronda (Miller) Stumler ’83, director of special events and alumni relations, took a girls trip to Los Angeles and Hollywood with her daughter, Avery, a junior, and her friends and their moms, including junior Stephanie Koopman and mom Angie (Grantz) Koopman ’83. Highlights included eating at In-N-Out Burger, window shopping on Rodeo Drive, hiking up to the Hollywood sign, touring Warner Brothers Studios, attending a “hilarious taping” of Family Feud with Steve Harvey, and more.

“On the first day, our girls were star-struck while at our pool at the Beverly Hills Hilton (when) they realized they were sitting beside Rico Rodriguez, known for his role as Manny Delgado in the ABC sitcom Modern Family, and his sister Raini Rodriguez, who plays Trish De La Rosa in Austin & Ally on the Disney Channel,” Mrs. Stumler said. “Of course, they took a pic with them and we all got to meet them. What a whirlwind vacation we had!”

Principal Dr. Mindy (Lankert) Ernstberger ’74 and her husband, Jerry ’75, attended a conference and then visited Ireland together. They attended the Latino Enrollment Institute at the University of Notre Dame, “a three-day conference focusing on the growth of Latino families in the Church and how to be more welcoming to them in our Catholic schools.” Then it was time to visit their daughter, Leah ’08, in Dublin, Ireland. Highlights included touring the northern and western coasts, from Dingle in County Kerry through Galway, Connemara, and then County Donegal; visiting with the family of Leah’s boyfriend, fishing for salmon, attending the Irish Open, and staying at Ballynahinch Castle.

“We enjoyed absolutely admiring the beautiful and charming scenery,” Dr. Ernstberger said. “The trip was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, which is in August.”

Mrs. Emily Losey, guidance counselor, attended the Independent Colleges of Indiana Counselor Tour, visiting seven Indiana college campuses: Ancilla College (a junior college in Donaldson), Goshen College (a private college near South Bend), Bethel College (a Christian college in Mishawaka), Valparaiso University (a private university in northern Indiana), and Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College, and University of Notre Dame (three Catholic colleges in South Bend).

“It was a wonderful experience to tour each of these unique private colleges in Indiana to learn more about the opportunities and degree programs available as well as to view the campuses and learn more about student life at each college,” Mrs. Losey said.

Mrs. Losey also was featured in a story in the News and Tribune about her volunteer efforts for Brandon’s House in New Albany.

Mr. Brad Burden, Spanish/P.E. teacher, and Mrs. Donna Burden, art teacher, and their daughter did some sightseeing in Northern Indiana while also traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for medical tests for Mrs. Burden. The family enjoyed visits to Mall of America Aquarium, the University of Notre Dame, Michigan City Beach, and Indiana Beach.

English teacher Dr. Kathryn Jacobi and her husband, Jerry ’73, traveled to England. Highlights included visiting family in Yorkshire and London and sightseeing in Scarborough, Chartwell (Churchill’s country home), Blenheim Palace (Churchill’s birthplace), the medieval town of Wells (home to several “spectacular cathedrals”), and Canterbury on the way to the southwest coast in Cornwall.

“But the part of England that is so close to our hearts is Cornwall. We stayed again in St. Ives, just a few miles from the town where I was born,” Dr. Jacobi said. “We had many adventures, met wonderful people, and hiked through lovely, sweeping landscapes and visited large and small gardens—one of our favorite things to do. Cornwall is so beautiful.”

Mrs. Laura Swessel visits the U.S. Capitol while serving as senior faculty advisor for WYSE.

Mrs. Laura Swessel, science and math teacher, led several weeks of STEM Camps at Providence and then traveled to George Mason University to be a senior faculty advisor at the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE). The conference is for rising juniors and seniors from around the world to focus on environmental concerns and “their role in preventing/solving these issues.” Junior Regan Elias attended the event and was featured in a video on the dangers of microplastics and reusable straws.

Mrs. Swessel said she enjoyed the summit, which included various speakers, such as Ralph Nader, a simulation activity on drafting legislation, and field trips to the National Aquarium, National Zoo, Smithsonian museums, U.S. Capitol, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), Friends of the Rappahannock, NASA Goddard, Noman Cole Pollution Control Plant, National Geographic Headquarters and Museum, and various George Mason School of Environmental Studies laboratories.

As a senior faculty advisor, Mrs. Swessel led a group of 23 students through the activities and led a simulation activity and a breakout session on renewable energy

“It was an amazing experience to not only take part in the various activities, but to build relationships with the other senior faculty advisors, the JFAs, and (of course) the 23 kids in my group,” she said. “The contacts I made are also going to come in handy as I incorporate some of the material into my PHS classes.”

Mrs. Swessel also helped run the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue and visited friends and family along the East Coast.

Mrs. Elizabeth Bentley, English teacher, and her husband traveled through the Netherlands, Africa, and France before returning to the United States and spending time with family in Naples, Fla.

“The best part of the trip was Victoria Falls, Africa,” Mrs. Bentley said. “It’s like being a few steps from heaven.”



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