May Term

May Term reflects MKA’s highest aspirations for each graduating class: it offers them some of the freedom they will experience in the future, encourages them to pursue a passion, asks them to take responsibility for their own learning, and implores them to engage with the world.

Some students use May Term to try out a possible career path or to explore an area of interest related to their projected college major. Some use the time to work in an area of expertise on which they could not fully focus during the busy high school years. For others, it's a chance to give back to a community or a cause, to contribute meaningfully to a local organization, or to return to MKA’s Brookside campus as a teacher’s assistant.


This self contained program will encourage a team of students to use design-thinking methodology...

Seniors interested in community engagement may apply to participate in a project of their own design...

Opportunities for interning at either MKA's Primary or Middle School campuses...

May Term 2019


Take a closer look at each project students are focusing on this May Term. 


Alicia Cuccolo

Ms. Cuccolo, who runs the May Term trip to Europe, came to MKA in 1999 after working as an educator and artist. She teaches Sculpture 1 and 2 and Art Appreciation, and she serves as a faculty representative for the Honor Council. May Term allows her to share with students her passion for art, architecture, history, travel, people, culture, and food. According to Cuccolo, “This kind of hands-on, engaging experience expands students' perspectives and helps them connect their learning to the world.” As a working artist, Ms. Cuccolo has participated in group and solo art exhibitions in New York City, New Jersey, and Italy. Her work was most recently included in an exhibition at New York University. In 2013 she was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Jentel Artist Residency Program.

Cindy Darling

Ms. Darling, who runs the May Term Teaching Internship program, came to MKA from the Hackley School in 2005. She teaches English classes ranging from American Literature of Diversity to sophomore English, and she serves on the Admissions and Faculty committees. She sees May Term as one of the benefits of an MKA education: “When educators entrust students with this complex task of proposing and carrying out their idea for May Term . . . the results [can be] transformative.” As advisor for the May Term Teaching Internships, Ms. Darling is thrilled to see students forming relationships with Primary and Middle School students. “Many times,” she adds, “MKA seniors discover another side of themselves: their capacity for leadership, their ability to mentor, and their joy in helping younger students grow.” Ms. Darling recently attended the Southern Louisiana Writing Project in New Orleans, where she engaged in a writing marathon for three consecutive days, writing in and around the cafes and sights of New Orleans.

David Hessler

Mr. Hessler, who runs the May Term trip to China, first began working at MKA in 1994. Though he wears many hats at MKA -- as a full-time teacher in the History Department, the faculty advisor to the Judo Club, and Director of the Hemmeter Lecture Series -- running the May Term trip to China is one of his favorite activities. This trip is set up specifically for MKA students, and according to Hessler, “Students will find it difficult to ever go on a trip like this again. They go to a cooking school, practice Tai Chi with a master, and visit people living in cave dwellings unique to China.” Mr. Hessler has studied the history of China for the last 22 years; most recently, he attended the Third International Taoist Forum at Dragon Tiger Mountain near Yingtan city in Jianxi Province, China. While there, he delivered a well received paper entitled, "Teaching With the Tao," which is an effort to integrate ideas from the Tao te Ching into the art of classroom teaching.

Dennis Hu

Mr. Hu, who runs the May Term trip to China every other year, came to MKA in 2006. Prior to that, he taught math at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, and before that, math at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore. In addition to teaching math, he is the Upper School Diversity & Inclusion coordinator, and he also serves on the US Admissions committee. For Hu the China May Term trip “is a unique opportunity for MKA students to truly expand their horizons far away from home. The trip has been crafted as an immersive experience that provides a small, but authentic taste of the history and culture of both ancient and modern China.” While students are often drawn to the once-in-a-lifetime appeal of a trip to the other side of the globe, the China May Term trip has already been the catalyst for further academic study and subsequent trips by several MKA alumni. Additionally, according to Hu, “one of the best ways to better understand what it means to be an American is to spend time outside this country, appreciating and gaining a global perspective.”

John Jacobs

Dr. Jacobs, who runs May Term Academic Endeavors, came to MKA during the 2010-2011 school year. Before MKA, he taught at Yale as a graduate student instructor and at Seton Hall as an instructor. His core responsibilities at MKA include teaching Latin at all levels, advising, serving as the Junior Dean, serving as a Bradley House advisor, and serving as a club (Junior Classical League) and a CSI (Global 20/20) advisor. Dr. Jacobs loves his May Term niche because it reminds him of some of his best years in graduate school. He adds: “I think that doing academic research is an experience like no other, both for the students engaged in it and for the teachers supervising and guiding those students: from the heart-pounding thrill of intellectual creativity and discovery to the rewarding and fulfilling process of explaining your ideas, your work, and your results.” At MKA he continues to pursue his own research agenda, including work on manuscripts and on speech patterns in Latin poetry. He is a frequent presenter at the Classical Association of the Atlantic States conferences.

Jill Maza

Ms. Maza, who runs the May Term Creative Endeavor and Internship programs, came to MKA in 2010 after working as a librarian at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, CT. She is Head of Libraries, Upper School Librarian, a Global Citizenship teacher, and runs a variety of clubs. As someone deeply invested in inquiry and project-based learning throughout students’ experience at the Upper School, Ms. Maza is thrilled to bookend her global work in 9th grade with the culminating experience of May Term. According to Maza, “whether deciding if an author has successfully connected to children when I review books for School Library Journal or previously leading the Board at my son’s cooperative, play-based preschool, my work focuses on the importance of making meaning through choice and relevance. May Term exemplifies this recipe to me.”

Reshan Richards

Dr. Reshan Richards is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Math, Science, and Technology department at Teachers College, Columbia University and Chief Learning Officer at Explain Everything, which he co-founded. Reshan is also the co-author of Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, in press). An Apple Distinguished Educator and member of Mensa, Reshan has an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Media from Teachers College, Columbia University, an Ed.M in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Music from Columbia University.

Steve Valentine

Mr. Valentine, who directs and coordinates the May Term programs, has been at MKA since 2002. Prior to his arrival here, Mr. Valentine worked at an independent school in Florida and for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. He serves as Assistant Head of the Upper School, Tri-campus Director of Academic Leadership, English teacher, and Stylus (literary magazine) advisor. He joined the May Term program “to explore the possibilities of education outside the classroom, to help students connect with their passions and interests before they leave for college, and to continue to feed the innovation engine at MKA.” He writes and speaks frequently about education and leadership, and he has published several books and articles. Additionally, he serves as the coordinating editor of Klingbrief, a widely read publication of The Klingenstein Center of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Kerry Verrone

Ms. Verrone, who oversees May Term’s Community Engagement program, came to MKA in 2004. Prior to that, she was in graduate school at Yale, completing a Master’s Degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is the Upper School's Dean of Student Life and Tri-Campus Chair of Integrated Ethics, and she also co-teaches the Global Citizenship and Ethics and Leadership courses and teaches the Holocaust and Genocide course. For Ms. Verrone, “May Term is an opportunity for students to discover or explore a passion, to connect with the community, and to grow as individuals. Offering students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on their projects is a unique experience that prepares students for college, graduate school, and beyond.” Ms. Verrone ensures that service during May Term allows students to give back to the community and to consider how a commitment to service can become a part of their adult lives.