female student portrait from private high schoolCassie Kemmler

Elgin Academy 2015
Smith College 2019

Cassie Kemmler ‘15 is Elgin Academy! She is a “lifer,” having started her educational journey in our Early Childhood program and concluding her Elgin Academy education as valedictorian of her class. Cassie was recognized at the Academy for leadership, academic prowess, and service to school and community. At Commencement, she was the recipient of one of two of the Academy’s highest honors, the Mother-Daughter Award.

Cassie is currently a senior at Smith College where she is majoring in biology. She is part of a group study at Smith that is researching forebrain development in zebrafish, specifically investigating the role of slit proteins and their robo receptors in the formation of the post optic commissure. (Zebrafish are a popular model for studying genetics and developmental biology.) Cassie tries to simplify this for us by explaining that basically, she is “looking at attractant and repellant proteins that direct axon growth to cross the brain at a specific location during neural development.” Her senior honors thesis will examine Slit proteins and their role in axon guidance during forebrain development using the zebrafish model system.

In summer 2018, Cassie did an internship with Professor Emily Bates' lab at the University of Colorado, Anschutz where she studied tubulinopathies (mutations in cytoskeletal proteins inside a cell) and also worked to characterize a mutation in a tubulin related protein in a teenage patient with neurodegeneration.  

Very impressive, Cassie!


I spent 14 years of my education at Elgin Academy, and, as surprising and almost impossible as it may seem, I really did love every minute of it. The day I got to Elgin Academy I met two other little girls. I grew up with these two girls and I threw my cap into the air with them at Commencement in May 2015. At EA I went from spending recess playing our invented game “rock-homes” to canoeing and portaging across the Boundary Waters in Canada to flying to Nicaragua to teach English to children. At Elgin Academy, I fell in love with theater, biology, field hockey, and community service.


EA is where I figured out who I am. I learned that I can always write when I need to sort out my thoughts, I learned that even if you have gone to school with someone for 15 years you can always find them changing and evolving, and I learned that asking for help and taking risks is the best way to get the most out of your education. EA is where I learned how to succeed, and, even more importantly, how to fail. Elgin Academy will always be my home. It helped me become ready to leave, but it was also very sad to have to say goodbye.”

Cassie Kemmler ‘15


elementary and high school students from private children's learning academy