2023 ANNUAL FUND
Faculty Spotlight Series
Monika Culjak '16
Middle School Math Teacher
3 Years at Willows Academy
Some people enjoy wonderful adventures, only to realize there really is no place quite like home. Such is the case for Monika Culjak, our Middle School Math Teacher. Ms. Culjak graduated from Willows Academy in 2016 and went on to study Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Although she was grateful for her time at Willows as a student, it wasn’t until she experienced other schools during her college fieldwork that she came to fully appreciate the value of her Willows education. And upon graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne, there wasn’t much deliberation—Ms. Culjak knew she wanted to be back at Willows!
As someone who can testify to the benefits of an all-girl education, Ms. Culjak is grateful for the opportunity to help foster the sense of community and female friendship among her students. Her love of working with children led her to study education and Ms. Culjak knows the positive impact teachers can have. Whether in math, faith, or personal development, she’s committed to investing in her students.
We’re so glad to have Ms. Culjak back at Willows. Read below for more of her thoughts on teaching at her alma mater!
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Why did you become a teacher?
I’ve always loved kids. I was a camp counselor growing up and a resident assistant in college. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but after realizing how wonderful my experience truly was at Willows Academy, I decided to come back and become a role model for young girls. My teachers had the biggest impact on me, and now I get to be that example for my students. The values and traditions at Willows Academy create a level of comfort that feels like an extension of home. It’s a great environment.
What brought you back, specifically, to Willows Academy?
There’s a lot of beauty in the female friendships and sisterhoods that are cultivated at Willows Academy. It’s a unique experience to be so close to your classmates and live out faithful Catholic friendships. The small class size really contributes to that. All the grades are so close.
The school’s mission is equal parts academic and spiritual and focuses on the whole person. All of these things transform the girls’ lives so much. Willows feels like one big family, and every member of the school is truly on fire for living out their Catholic faith. Willows is very explicit with with what we believe, what we stand for, and what values we hold.
It’s so rewarding to watch the girls grow, academically and personally, and to develop relationships with them. Working as a teacher at an all-girls school has also helped me tap into my own femininity and live out my faith in an authentic Catholic environment.