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UPrep Leaders to Learn From: Mikayla Patella-Buckley, Science Teacher

We are excited to share the second blog in our new series, UPrep Leaders to Learn From, featuring a conversation with Mikayla Patella-Buckley, an Upper School chemistry teacher.

By Mary Beth Lambert, Director of Marketing and Communications

We are excited to share the second blog in our new series, UPrep Leaders to Learn From, featuring a conversation with Mikayla Patella-Buckley, an Upper School chemistry teacher. In Dare to Lead, leadership guru Brené Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” At UPrep, each of us, no matter our role, has the opportunity to be a leader. We hope this new series will introduce you to some of the amazing leaders who walk our halls.

The teaching profession runs deep in Mikayla’s family. As a Snohomish High School student, Mikayla accompanied her aunt, Sue Patella (one of the original UPrep faculty members), to school and assisted with the 6th grade Shake Hands with Shakespeare production. Now in her 13th year teaching at UPrep, Mikayla teaches Chemistry courses, serves as the Dean for the Class of 2021, and leads community fitness classes.

Did you always know that you would be a teacher?

Teaching is definitely in my blood. My dad and two aunts are educators. So is my husband. My mom says she always knew that I would be a teacher. When I was 3, I would sit my grandma down and quiz her on the letters of the alphabet. When she got it right, I would praise her by saying, “Very good, Pat.” It cracked my family up.

What have been some of your favorite UPrep moments so far this year?

During the October assembly planned by the Upper School Community Ethics and Culture Committee (CECC), a few students shared their experience and perspectives through their social identities. The students were brave, honest, and vulnerable.  

Who is a leader you admire? Why?

My dad. He has taught everything from pre-school to graduate school. From him, I’ve learned what it means to be in service to others. He taught me that as educators, we have a responsibility to look out for others and help others shine.

UPrep recently rolled out a new communications framework that amplifies our mission based on three key words: Include, Invent, and Inspire. How have you seen these words come to life during your time at UPrep?

As a high school teacher, it is a rare gift to get to walk alongside someone in their journey of “becoming.” High school is the long game and students are in the process of inventing themselves. Sometimes that process is sloppy and it takes time. My role is to be patient, respectful of the process, and offer guidance when needed.

I’ve seen inspiration through the three Global Link trips that I’ve led -- in 2009 to Hyderabad, India and 2017 and 2018 to Nangi, Nepal. Each of these trips offered an amazing opportunity to watch students become inspired and step outside of themselves as leaders. I saw students recognize that the role that they hold in the world is so much bigger than what they initially thought.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

For the past 17 years, I’ve taught fitness classes -- everything from cycling and Pilates to dance fitness and barre -- at the Dale Turner and Northshore YMCAs. I also sing and play the ukulele, which I taught myself. I’m a big hit at family birthdays!

Read more Leaders to Learn From articles. 

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