Our Upper School teachers blend a passion for teaching with disciplinary expertise and a genuine compassion and affection for the young adults who are their students. Upper School students largely view their teachers as subject experts and mentors rather than authoritarian figures, a view that makes the ultimate transition to college much smoother.
80% of our Upper School teachers hold advanced degrees in addition to the baccalaureate degree, and almost half of those teachers hold a doctorate or terminal degree in their field of study.
Ph.D. Physics, University of Minnesota
Dr. Steve Heilig teaches Space Science, Physics, Honors Physics and Honors Physics with Calculus in the Upper School, and is a coach for the Science Olympiad team. Known for finding fun ways to convey complex ideas, Dr. Heilig treasures “the change in the faces of students when they move from confusion to understanding.” Such moments are achieved through student-motivated projects, collaborative work, and an emphasis on critical thinking. Dr. Heilig holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota, where he did experimental work in particle physics. He has worked as an assistant professor of physics at Macalester College and Grinnell College, done physics research at Argonne National Lab, taught math at St. Thomas Academy, and consulted in material science for 3M. Now in his tenth year at SPA, Dr. Heilig holds the Frederick Weyerhaeuser Chair in Science and has received two Wark grants. He is a a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Minnesota Science Teachers Association. His academic interests include astronomy, math, and Native American technology. Dr. Heilig claims that his athletic accomplishments consist of “running at or near the speed of light for physics demonstrations,” and he very much enjoys the outdoors and is an avid hiker, biker, and camper. A recent makeover by a student group’s version of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” has Dr. Heilig looking spiffier than ever, and he continues to look forward to seeing his students’ excitement as they head off for college each year.