Mount Madonna Teacher and Student Recognized with Writing Awards in International Competition

Mount Madonna School faculty member Lisa Catterall and high school senior Grace Timan were recognized with Silver awards, through entries submitted by Growing Up in Santa Cruz publisher Brad Kava for an international writing competition sponsored by the Parent Media Association, a trade group reaching six million family and parent magazine readers each month in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The competition was judged by the journalism department of the University of Missouri.

Catterall writes a groundbreaking series, “Behind the Teacher’s Desk” for the monthly Growing Up in Santa Cruz magazine. The series addresses a variety of topics in an authentic and personal voice, and examines her experiences teaching at Mount Madonna School.

“This series gave families and community members a glimpse into the life and challenges of an educator,” shared the competition judges. “Each article in the series shed light on a different topic – from creating a place of joy in a classroom, to coaching a student in a math competition, Catterall engaged readers with a behind-the-scenes view of what it means to be a teacher.”

Timan was awarded for her article, written when she was in eleventh grade, “Climbing Mountains” in the category of “Youth Writer on the Pandemic.”

“Written by a high school junior, this essay provides fascinating insight into the painful experience of going to school during the pandemic,” observed the competition judges. “But this piece is more than a unique perspective; it also delivers strong, descriptive writing, with the assured style of a natural storyteller.”

“It’s impressive to me that two Mount Madonna writers received these awards,” commented Kava. “There were 100 or more publications in this competition, and I was told at the event that first-timers like Growing Up rarely receive any recognition. Lisa’s writing voice is distinct and authentic, and pulls from her experiences as an educator to share stories and highlight issues that we all can relate to. She really takes us ‘backstage’ into a teacher’s life.

“Grace’s reflection was so well-written, and offered a personal glimpse into what life was like for a student going through the pandemic, he continued. “She writes so eloquently.”

In addition to the two awards for the Mount Madonna writers, Growing Up in Santa Cruz also took top honors for humor, for a monthly cartoon by Patty Benson, and designer and managing editor Christy Shults was recognized for her layout skills in the publication’s Table of Contents.

Read “Climbing Mountains” by Grace Timan

Read “The Apple Container,” Lisa Catterall’s current column in the December 2021 issue of Growing Up in Santa Cruz.


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.