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Mary McGivern, IWA Physics teacher since 2006, poses for a picture at her first job in Baytown

Working at an all-girls high school is quite a contrast from what Physics teacher Mary McGivern calls her “former life.”  In 1975, she graduated from West Virginia University with a BS in Chemical Engineering and was the only woman in her class to major in an engineering field.  At graduation, the boys in her grade gave her an award simply “for putting up with them.”  

Shortly after graduation she moved to Baytown with Gulf Oil (she got the best job offer in her graduating class) to work at a polyethylene plant and was surprised to find that there was not a woman’s bathroom on-site.  She spent the next five years working and studying for her MBA at University of Houston at night.  She transitioned to marketing, product and business management at Chevron Headquarters from which she retired in 2001 as the General Manager of the Alpha Olefins business.   

Today, far from being the only girl in the classroom, Mary stands in front of 20 young women five times a day, teaching Physics I, II and Honors.  However Mary’s past is still very much a part of her present; she can see her old office building from her classroom window and uses it as a reminder to inspire students with real-life applications. She brings students to professional gatherings like the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Women in Energy Event.  

Mary is as inspiring in her faith as she is in the lab.  She is a lector at St. Vincent de Paul parish, and earned a Masters of Liberal Arts in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas “just for fun.”   She is a beloved teacher and her students can be assured that the feeling is mutual: “My proudest accomplishment is to have inspired young women to pursue STEM degrees and careers. Impacting the lives of students creates ripples in the water with an opportunity to change their lives and those they encounter.”  

One of the many joys for faculty and staff returning for a new school year is hearing about the experiences IWA students have sought out to enrich their personal interests over the summer.  It’s another reminder of how IWA students are committed to the pursuit of their passions! Here is a small sampling of some of the programs and organizations our students were involved with this summer.  

Isabella Altman ‘18 attended the Junior State of America Summer School at Georgetown University.  The program brings students from across the world to learn about government, politics and foreign policy.  The program hosted impressive speakers including John Lewis, Hadas Gold, and Rod J. Rosenstein. “It has truly been one of the most memorable experiences of my life!  I wanted to apply because I love JSA, politics and foreign policy, and I wanted to get a head start on AP Government. The most rewarding part was the mandatory participation in a Debate workship. We were required to speak once as the main debater and three times as a subsequent speaker.   I always get very nervous when I speak in front of people, and so I was dreading my turn!  When I started to speak my hands were shaking and my heart was racing but my preparation kicked in and after a few sentences I felt confident! JSA taught me to challenge myself, even when the task is intimidating.”

68% of IWA juniors and seniors took 252 Advanced Placement (AP) exams in May 2017.  The AP Program measures demonstrated achievement in college-level subject matter for 11th and 12th-grade students.  85% of IWA students who take an AP test earn college credit, demonstrating the rigorous preparation an IWA education provides.

In addition to college credit, the College Board acknowledges students who have earned academic distinction based on the average score of the AP Exams they have taken.  Nine juniors attained this distinction along with twenty-four seniors - more than a third of the graduating class of 2017.  Nineteen IWA students received the designation of AP Scholar, nine received AP Scholar with Honors, four received AP Scholar with Distinction, and Valedictorian Anna Winter earned National AP Scholar.    

Exams are offered at IWA in Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, French Language & Culture, Latin, Psychology, Spanish Language & Culture, Statistics, US Government & Politics, and United States History.  Hats off to all IWA students who sat for exams and special congratulations to the thirty-three IWA students who earned recognition!

Foundation Day 45 websiteAs part of The Buzz Magazine's Class of 2017 "Where are they headed" survey, two IWA students were asked about a teacher who made a difference in their lives.  We can't help but think that these two heartwarming responses sum up everything that IWA is about.  Praised be the Incarnate Word!

Mary Kate Theroux: Throughout my past two and half years at IWA there was one teacher who stood out to me: Mr. Charles Kafoglis. Mr. K (our nickname for him) teaches and organizes the multitude of leadership classes, and taught my seventh period Leading with Character class my sophomore year. I had just moved 1600 miles, had no friends in Texas, and was incredibly terrified of my new life. In this class, Mr. K taught me the values of going outside of my comfort zone & the power of leadership, and unknowingly gave me the confidence to be comfortable with myself. He's since taught me in a few other classes, and always goes out of his way to make sure everyone is smiling and confident.

Evelyn Clark: Mr. Mitchell Mooneyham was my freshman English teacher at Incarnate Word Academy and I was fortunate enough to have him for Contemporary Literature my junior year and an English seminar my senior year called World In Motion. I would say he changed my life because he pushed me to be a better person and better student. He has always has seen the best in me and gives me encouragement and support. He is one of my favorite teachers of all time!