Astrophysics Researcher and Mathematician Joins MMS Faculty

Astrophysics, mathematics, scientific research and teaching are all strong passions for Melinda Soares, a highly-qualified teacher who recently joined the faculty at Mount Madonna School (MMS).

Soares grew up on a dairy farm in Gilroy. She attended Gavilan College, receiving an A.A. in Liberal Studies, before transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and earning a B.S. in Physics. As an undergraduate, Soares was awarded honors for her research presentations, including the Ron Ruby Excellence in Teaching Award in Physical and Biological Sciences.

 Her research and undergraduate work included a study of the remnants of exploding stars with theoretical astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. She also worked with physicist David Williams, utilizing data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the VERITAS telescope array to study high-energy gamma-ray emissions.

Soares won first place honors for an oral presentation of her research on supernova remnants at the 2012 Emerging Researchers National Conference, hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

At MMS, Soares teaches high school physics, AP physics and calculus classes. Her previous teaching experience includes preschool through introductory college-level courses.

“I have a creative teaching approach and drive to make science and mathematics accessible to all students,” notes Soares. “I am known to personally demonstrate physics principles, such as illustrating momentum conservation using a spinning stool or utilizing a Van Der Graaf generator to make my hair stand on end in an effort to drive home the concept of static charge.

“Many of my math lessons are accompanied with a visual component to balance what is sometimes seen as an abstract topic with a more intuitive perspective on the material. It is my goal that students feel inspired to deeply explore concepts in a manner that resonates with their personal learning style.

“I enjoy teaching physics and mathematics because I love learning. I believe that individuals truly master a subject once they have taught it, and teaching it to an engaged group of bright students makes the process infinitely better!

My passion is sparked by building new relationships. I learn so much from my students and that really inspires me. The students of MMS have reminded me how much fun learning can be when you show up to class with focus, a playful attitude, and the drive to learn.”

Soares’ other interests include “salsa dancing, photography, cuddling my two chldren and learning. I’m sincerely a life-long learner. My son is a science-loving boy with a passion for mixed martial arts, piano, and soccer. My daughter loves the outdoors and playing with just about anything electronic.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Media & Public Relations,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.