Faculty Focus: August 2020

Alumnus Mr. Raymond Kotty ’85 begins his 28th year teaching math at Fenwick.

What is your educational background?

RK: I attended grammar school at St. Barbara’s in Brookfield and then Fenwick, followed by:

  • University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) – B.S. (psychology) & M.S. (teaching of mathematics)
  • Illinois Institute of Technology – Post-graduate work (math and science education)
  • Northeastern Illinois University – Teaching License Endorsement (Computer Science)
  • Illinois State University – Teaching License Endorsement (Computer Science)

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

RK: After graduating with my B.S. degree in psychology, I was accepted into the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great as a novice. After a period of discernment, I left and returned to the University to obtain my Illinois teaching license and an M.S. degree in mathematics education.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

RK: I go though phases of genre in my recreational reading. Currently, I am reading books that require slow and careful reading with a lot of opportunity for independent contemplation. Right now, there are two books that I’m involved in. The first is Computability and Logic by George Boolos et alia. It has many well thought out problems that need to be worked out by the reader. It’s quite satisfying to be engaged with a book in this way. The second is Infinity and the Mind by Rudy Rucker. Maybe a quote from the introduction can explain this one: “The first time I met [proof theorist] Takeuti, I asked him what set theory was all about. ‘We are trying to get an exact description of thoughts of infinite mind,’ he said. And then he laughed, as if filled with happiness by this impossible task.”

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

RK: Last year, I had my 25th anniversary of practicing the martial art of Aikido.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

RK: I don’t have my yearbook with me at the moment. I guess the highlights list would be four years on the math team, editor-in-chief of the yearbook and computer club (yea, TRS-80!).

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

RK: I am co-moderator of the Student Council.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

RK: It’s a big deal that this question was written with singular nouns. I’m going to assume that wasn’t a typo and you are looking for a single characteristic. I’m going to go back to my own experience to answer this. Somewhere in my life, I don’t know if it was as a Fenwick student or a Dominican novice, someone told me that the goal of a Dominican education was to discover Christ in all things. That’s a pretty deep and philosophical undertaking. Here is my practical interpretation. Fenwick seeks to produce a person who can discern the truth in all things independent of outside agendas (other gods) and emotionally held opinions (human weaknesses).

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

RK: “For in spite of his lonely past, Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself.” – Richard Bach

Continue reading “Faculty Focus: August 2020”

Collegiate Friars: August 2020

Catching up with recent college graduates and 2016 Fenwick classmates Bridget Corcoran and Brendan Jones.

BRIDGET CORCORAN

Fenwick Graduation: 2016
Hometown: Elmhurst, IL
Grade School: Visitation
College: Saint Louis University
Major: Investigative and Medical Sciences (IMS)

Internship: My sophomore year at SLU I accepted a position at St. Louis Children’s hospital as a phlebotomist and laboratory assistant. I had the opportunity to work with the greatest kids, exercise the diagnostic laboratory science I learned at SLU, and collaborate with some of the most prestigious pediatric medical professionals.

Career aspirations: I am applying to Physician Assistant (PA) schools all across the country. I have three interview offers already and cannot wait to see where I end up!

Fenwick achievements/activities: Some of my activities at Fenwick included: 4 years on the Poms team, 3 years on the soccer team, Banua, Write Place tutor, Friar Mentor, Latin Club, Illinois State Scholar and Student Council.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Although it is almost impossible to pick just one, I would have to say Mr. Trankina. Taking Anatomy with Mr. Trankina my senior year was my first didactic medical experience and really got me excited about pursuing a career as a PA. He also went out of his way to help tutor me in AP Chemistry during my study hall, which really showed his dedication to his students and their success.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Besides Anatomy, a close second in my most influential Fenwick classes would have to be AP Language and Composition (APLAC) with Mrs. Visteen and Mr. O’Connor. It was my first purely discussion-based class on such a wide variety of topics that it undoubtedly prepared me the best for college classes.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: I would easily choose to relive my Poms performances at the homecoming pep rallies every year. During these performances, I felt so much pride in being a Friar and loved every minute of energizing the crowd with a dance we put so much hard work into. I can definitely still remember the choreography for these dances four years later!

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: My four years participating as an Irish dancer in Banua taught me so much about supporting my classmates, appreciating our talent diversity, and working hard to put on the best show. The love and support I felt from the Fenwick community during Banua season was undeniable and showed me how lucky I was to attend a high school with such an uplifting environment.

BRENDAN JONES

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 9.10.42 PM

Fenwick Graduation: 2016
Hometown: Riverside, IL
Grade School: St. Mary’s
College: Marquette University
Major: Economics

Post-graduate plans: After graduating from Marquette University in May, I was fortunate enough to accept a position as an Operations Assistant at Guaranteed Rate in Chicago. I help mortgage brokers and their clients throughout the lending process. During these hard times, it is rewarding to help people make their dreams of buying a home come true.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: August 2020”

Lucky 7: New Courses Coming for Fenwick’s 92nd Academic Year

Four advanced computer science classes, one advanced theatre class, Mandarin and yoga headline exciting curriculum additions for Friar students and teachers!

By Mark Vruno

The Fenwick administration and faculty are excited to offer several new courses to students this coming school year. A series of four Advanced Computer Topics (ACT) classes as well as a new World Language course (Mandarin), an Advanced Theatre class and a new Physical-education class (yoga).

Dave Kleinhans

In discussing the new Advanced Computer courses, “Close to 30% of Fenwick’s graduates pursue a degree in STEM [science, technology, engineering or mathematics],” reports Computer Science & Physics Dept. Co-chair Dave Kleinhans. “Our investment in courses and physical spaces must match this interest.” The school’s new Computer Science Engineering & 3D Printing Lab, which debuted in the fall of 2019, will support four new advanced Computer Science (CS) classes: Data Structures & Algorithms, Introduction to Robotics, 3D Printing and IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity.

The four, half-credit “ACT” classes are designed for students interested in diving deeper into the so-called computer sciences. They will have the opportunity to explore specific topics beyond the College Board’s AP Curriculum in an online format during scheduled CS class time. Each course has a programming or computer-aided design (CAD) requirement and is taught via an online, education-software platform.

Don Nelson joined Fenwick’s faculty in the 2019-20 school year.

“These topics represent areas that provide valuable preparation to students interested in pursuing technical disciplines — and those that are hot in today’s computing market,” adds CS/Physics Teacher Don Nelson. He should know. Mr. Nelson spent 30 years as a business person/nuclear engineer before embarking on a second career in education. (Prior to coming to Fenwick in 2019, Nelson taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology and DePaul Prep, formerly Gordon Tech.)

“Each of the classes offers students with experience and advanced knowledge of CS through two primary activities,” Nelson explains:

  • The online format is offered through Coursera and more than 100 partner universities (e.g., University of Illinois, Northwestern) and private corporations (e.g., IBM).
  • A capstone project complements the online format with a hands-on application of the concepts presented.

Upon successful completion, the student will receive a digital certificate and hands-on experience valued by universities and prospective employers. “With Don and our five other engineers serving as teachers here, combined with our recent physical space and course investments,” Mr. Kleinhans continues, “Fenwick is uniquely positioned in the high-school arena to serve students interested in STEM.” (See sidebar for additional course details.)

 

“If you want to talk to someone, speak in your language. But if you want to connect with someone, speak in theirs.”

– Nelson Mandela

 

Mandarin I (1.0 credit)

“The sixth language offered by Fenwick will be Mandarin [Chinese],” reports Principal Peter Groom. It is the language of government and education of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan (with the notable exceptions of Hong Kong and Macau, where a local dialect of Chinese called Cantonese is more often used.) Mandarin is one of five major regional languages of China.

At admissions-sponsored events over the past two years or so, “we have heard repeatedly from families that this is an area we needed to seriously consider,” Mr. Groom continues. “We have a current freshman student with some background in Mandarin.” He adds that the language fits within the wheelhouse of faculty member Shana Wang, who offered to teach it as a pilot program this school year.

Shana Wang

Last year, incoming Friar prospect Dylan Zorovich ’23 “was looking for a language but could not find it at Fenwick,” recounts Ms. Wang, who describes the free-thinking freshman from Elmhurst, IL, as both “diligent and delightful.” In true Dominican fashion, mentor and student set out on a journey this past August. “Our quest? To find a common language,” says Wang, who has taught in China.

Principal Peter Groom

The full-fledged course next school year seeks to provide a lively and challenging introduction to the basics of reading, writing, speaking and listening in Mandarin. Students will aim to identify at least 300 Chinese characters by the end of the year and write at least 150 Chinese characters using the correct stroke order. These characters are used to construct simple sentences while employing the proper grammatical conventions. In addition to learning Chinese characters, students will partake in continuous speaking and listening practice. They will watch videos, listen to dialogues and make presentations about important historical figures and events in China, Taiwan and Singapore. There will also be a focus on various Chinese cultures and their specific contributions to the global society.

Theatre II  (0.5 credit)

Caleb Faille

This course is geared toward musical theatre, performance and design, building on the student experiences learned in Theatre I (which is a prerequisite). Students will engage in activities including music and text analysis, staging, scene analysis, choreography, theatre tech, lighting design, stage management and production. The course will culminate with a musical revue including solo and group numbers. The skills learned will not only enhance students’ musical theatre experience but also expose them to careers off the stage. 

“Theatre I is for students with no theatre background,” Mr. Groom notes. “This second-level addition will attract those who do have some background in theatre.” Therefore, previous experience is required, as is approval from Theatre Teacher Mr. Caleb Faille, whose responsibilities within Fenwick’s Expressive Arts Dept. gradually have been increasing. “Mr. Faille now is in charge of our spring musicals,” Groom reports. An additional benefit is that Blackfriars Guild members can study their craft during the school day, he adds.

 

“Yoga is like music; the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”

 – B.K.S. Iyengar

 

Yoga (0.5 credit)

Also coming to the Fenwick curriculum in 2020-21 is a yoga course, “which can fulfill the P.E. [physical education] requirement, for sophomores,” Groom says. Expressive Arts Chairperson Rizelle Capito will teach the course. She has conducted yoga instruction for Fenwick faculty as well as for the varsity football team.

Rizelle Capito

Ms. Capito says, “Studies and research have shown that yoga and mindfulness exercises not only promote physical health, but also mental health. Our students are under a lot of pressure and stress and we need to provide them with healthy ways of dealing with their stress. The class will include the physical practice of yoga to build physical strength and flexibility, meditation and mindfulness exercises. The hope is that the students will take these tools and incorporate them into their daily lives as a means of staying both physically and mentally healthy.”

Sophomores have the option to choose a regular PE class or yoga as their physical-education credit. (Placement is not guaranteed and is dependent on period availability and scheduling.) The course is designed to introduce students, safely and accessibly, to the basic postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation methods of yoga.  Areas of focus will be on low-impact activities to improve overall flexibility, strength, core and cardiovascular endurance.

Find complete course descriptions in Fenwick’s 2020-21 Course Selection Guide.

Continue reading “Lucky 7: New Courses Coming for Fenwick’s 92nd Academic Year”

Collegiate Friars: July 2020

Catching up with 2019 classmates Laura Durkin and Samuel Saunders at the University of Illinois and Syracuse University, respectively.

LAURA DURKIN

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: Riverside, IL
Grade School: St. Mary’s
Current School: University of Illinois (Gies College of Business)
Major: Finance and Information Systems

Summer Internship: A summer internship I am currently pursuing is branching off of the Venture Capital Association club that I participated in my freshman year at U of I. This internship involves working with private equity firms across the United States to provide financial analytics and exit-strategy consulting. This summer I will be continuing research and performing quantitative due diligence to identify potential target investments for a private equity firm that I have been on a project with since the beginning of my second semester. This internship will be paired with an internship through COVID-19 Business Fellowship Program where I will help small businesses throughout the Chicago area to reimagine and redefine how they reach customers, achieve business objectives, and help them to adapt to the new normal by mobilizing in the face of adversity.

Career aspirations: I will be a sophomore in the Gies College of Business, still mainly exploring my career options and aspirations. I am looking into a career potentially involving computer science and finance.

Fenwick achievements/
activities: National Honors Society, Latin Club Dictator, Cross Country 4 years, Track 3 years, Cross Country and Track captain 2019, Freshman soccer; Varsity soccer sophomore year, Girls Bowling record holder, Kairos Leader November 2019.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: I was taught AP physics by Mr. Kleinhans and AP Econ by Mr. Gallo. A mixture of both the enthusiastic, heartfelt, and informational lessons I learned that apply both in and out of the classroom by these two teachers is what has been guiding me to find my interests and career aspirations so far in college. I was also blessed to be taught by Mr. Rodde, Mr. Roche and many more influential teachers while at Fenwick High School.

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Moral Theology my junior year with Mr. Slajchert and Dominican Spirituality my senior year with Fr. Peddicord. I was lucky enough to have Mr. Slajchert my freshman and junior year. By the time I had him for moral theology my junior, I was very comfortable with his teaching style, and I was able to explore the material of moral theology with his guidance and see the importance of the theology class at Fenwick first hand. My senior Dominican Spirituality class, led by Fenwick President Fr. Peddicord was influential because it was a perfect conclusion to my time at Fenwick learning of the history, pillars, and virtues of what living as a Dominican truly means.

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: I was recently reflecting on this answer this past weekend as I was updated with my one year memories on snapchat of my senior track state and senior prom weekend. I would relive this Fenwick experience in an instant surrounded by teammates, coaches, friends, and family celebrating the culmination of my four years of training and closing out my highschool experience with a sunny weekend out of a fairytale book.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most: My participation on the cross country team changed me the most through my four years at Fenwick. I had never run before high school, but before my first day of classes even began I had already met a group of driven, talented, compassionate, beautiful girls that would be my best friends even after graduation. I learned innumerable hard lessons and built a strong character and culminated my highschool running career by qualifying for state individually. I am now taking the love for the sport that was formed and developed through highschool and currently training for the Chicago Marathon in the fall.

SAMUEL SAUNDERS

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: Wheaton, IL
Grade School: St. Petronille
Current School: Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
Double Major: Finance & Entrepreneurship

Involvement on campus: I’m currently a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, NYA chapter where I’m on the Finance Committee. This is a great experience because I get the opportunity to manage a $100,000 budget. Last year, I was elected to be the RHA (BBB) Director of Administration and Finance where my role was to govern student life for the 730 students in my hall and oversee Syracuse’s housing budget. I’m also an active member in Cuse’s Entrepreneurship Club where we bring in prosperous entrepreneurs such as Kenneth Langone Sr. — investor, philanthropist, and co-founder of Home Depot — to guest speak at our business school.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: July 2020”

Faculty Focus: July 2020

Math Teacher Mrs. Toni Dactilidis, who recently completed her 12th year at Fenwick, is entering her 23rd year as an educator.

What is your educational background?

TD: I was educated in the City of Steel and Stone: Joliet, Illinois. From preschool at the Little Red Schoolhouse to my Master’s Degree at the University of St. Francis, I feel so fortunate that I grew up in a diverse city with valuable lessons surrounding me at every turn. I am reminded of a beautiful quote from the Greek philosopher Diogenes that I saw every day in high school proudly displayed in the building, ‘the foundation of every state is the education of its youth.’  I love my hometown and, as I grow older, I search for ways to give back to show appreciation for all the education I received in that city. I relish all the lessons learned – from sports to dance, music to the Greek language – my education began at a very young age thanks to my mother, Mary Ann, and all the resources she found for me in Joliet.  

If you have never visited Joliet, please do! My high school alma mater, Joliet Central, is one of the most beautiful schools I have ever seen – Forever the Steelmen! I tell my students that the reason I teach high school students is because I loved my high school experience so much. Thank you to all my teachers, both in the classroom and beyond, in Joliet throughout the years! 

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

TD: I will begin my 23rd year of teaching in August. Next month will definitely look different than other school year beginnings; but, I am excited to connect with a new group of Friars. I started teaching young people right out of college. I have taught students from the grade school level up to the college level for the past 22 years at Gompers Junior High School to Joliet Junior College. I completed my student teaching at Joliet Catholic Academy, where I truly witnessed the power of a Catholic high school education for young people. Prior to Fenwick, I taught at Rich Central High School [Olympia Fields, IL], where I really fell in love with teaching high school students. As a novice teacher, I was surrounded by amazing mentors who supported and guided me. My students there were wonderful, strong, smart young people that worked hard toward all their goals. I loved my time at Rich Central. But my experience at JCA inspired me to teach at a Catholic institution one day; luckily, I found Fenwick in 2008 in search of an AP Statistics teacher and a crew moderator for theater productions, all of which, I had experience with at Rich Central. Needless to say, the stars aligned for me perfectly. 

As I reflect back on my 22 years in education, I think about all the wonderful mentors from whom I have learned. Anna White, the Gompers principal, comes to mind. She taught me so many great lessons on being an effective educator. She created a school climate where students felt loved and had a safe environment to learn. Ms. White showed me daily that loving your students must still involve having good structure and discipline – a priceless lesson indeed! I thoroughly believe love is the foundation of every classroom where learning and supporting each other will then fill the room. From the very beginning of the year, I show my students that I love and care for them as people with hopes, desires, dreams and ambitions. I start the year with a project no matter what the class is and incorporate our mathematical concepts into the project. My students feel loved and appreciated right from the onset because I create a supportive environment where we all feel comfortable to learn together. The ‘T-Shirt’ project is one of my favorites – come by my room during the year; I love to hang the “T-Shirts” up so we are reminded each day of the strong community we have together.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?  

TD: Shout out to my book club – we just finished reading and then discussing Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips: a beautifully written book with themes and experiences that speak to all of us in America even though the book’s setting is the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. I have wonderful colleagues at Fenwick that are dear friends and we share a passion for reading and continuing to learn and grow in all we do. We love to gather as well: community! 

I am currently reading Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning; I enjoy reading about history, and this book is challenging me to think so very differently from the historical stories I usually read. Next on my list is Talking To Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell; this has been on my reading list since Dr. Tracy Gau recommended it to me in January. Gladwell’s books have always been favorites of mine. 

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

Ms. Dactilidis likes to travel the world, too.

TD: I have so many interests and now [summer] is the time when I can really enjoy so many of them. I love being outside all year round but the summertime allows me to do that more than ever. In the summer, one will usually find me around the yard playing in the dirt. I have a big garden filled with delicious vegetables – lettuce, spinach, onions, beets, herbs, peas and beans are some of the veggies that I have enjoyed up to this point in the summer. My zucchini are close to harvest and then cucumbers will be coming in. I cannot wait for the peppers and tomatoes to start exploding as well! My husband and I start everything from seed and it is truly a labor of love to tend to a thriving garden. Each year, I become more enamored with my perennial flowers – I love the ability to transplant them and separate them to expand my garden or share with family and friends. I relish the quiet time in my veggie or flower garden in the morning as the warmth of the summer sun rises over me. It is precious quiet time that is so appreciated after a long school year. It is a time to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. 

Besides my yard, another favorite location of mine is Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. I enjoy hiking, biking and cross country skiing through the preserve, which is a short walk from my backyard – nature at your doorstep! 

My family jokes that I sponsor ‘Camp Toni’ at my house as well during the summer. I teach my youngest family members how to swim, explore nature and be active just as kids are meant to be! These are some of my favorite summertime endeavors. Time is the most meaningful thing we can give one another. I love that I am able to spend so much time with them during the summer. 

Continue reading “Faculty Focus: July 2020”

Collegiate Friars: June 2020

Catching up with future coach Keshaun Smith ’14 (with son, Kameron) and future teacher Laura Kelly ’19.

KESHAUN SMITH

Fenwick Graduation: 2014
Hometown: Maywood, IL
Grade School: Irving Elementary
College: Illinois State University (Normal, IL)
Major: Recreational Management
Internship: Crossfit Iron Flag and Athletic Performance

Career aspirations: To train children and teenagers to become drastically better at whatever sport they are playing. Eventually, I will begin coaching football or basketball. Now that I’ve graduated from college [last month], I am taking over my dad’s furniture-moving business (Smith Furniture Service).

Fenwick achievements/activities: three-year varsity basketball starter; two-year varsity football starter.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Ms. Carraher/Megall

Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: Spanish III with Ms. Megall

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: Coming in early in the morning before my second-period class freshman year to tutor for Spanish. I had never been taught Spanish before high school, unlike all of my classmates. I struggled the first semester, until I began tutoring with Ms. Carraher. This turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done because it made me comfortable speaking with my professors [in college], especially when I needed extra help.

Fenwick experience that changed you the most: My junior year. I remember driving to Ms. Megall’s house to get tutoring in Spanish III. I realized how tough her class was early in the semester and I made sure I was going to pass Spanish III. This changed me because instead of ignoring my struggles as I did first semester freshman year, I took action and actually passed Spanish III. I was afraid of Ms. Megall’s class because I heard about how hard it was and how ‘mean’ she was. As I began to get to know Ms. Megall, I realized something and this is what changed me: I realized Ms. Megall was actually a very sweet woman and I would never listen to anyone else’s opinion about another teacher again until I see for myself. Ms. Megall’s class is challenging but if you put in the work, I guarantee you will succeed.

Keshaun is the proud father of Kameron.

Note: Before transferring to ISU, Keshaun played football at Loras College in Dubuque, IA, then basketball at Dominican University in River Forest, IL.






LAURA KELLY

Fenwick Graduation: 2019
Hometown: Western Springs, IL
Grade School: St. John of the Cross
Current School:  Fordham University (New York City)
Major: Digital Technology & Emerging Media with minors in Italian and Theatre Performance

Summer internship: Unfortunately, my opportunity to be a counselor at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan for the entire summer was postponed. However, I just accepted a position as the Arts Administration Apprentice at BAM Theatre in Hinsdale. I have worked at this program for several years as an intern and assistant director, but now that arts education is occurring in a virtual format, I am able to take on a new position and can explore how teaching and performing can still happen remotely!

Career aspirations:  In eighth grade, I was voted “Most Likely to be a Teacher,” but I never really understood why … until I came to Fenwick and met Ms. Lamoureux and Ms. Hennessey. At some point in my life, I would love to be a secondary educator and theatre director so I can work with young people and shape their lives just as my favorite teachers have shaped mine. Using the major I am pursuing at Fordham, I am also very interested in working in media management for entertainment companies like Netflix or Spotify.

While at Fenwick, Laura participated in BFG, band and tennis (among other activities).

Fenwick achievements/activities: Middle America Regional Champion in the Optimist Club Oratorical Contest with Mr. Arellano, National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, nine productions in the Blackfriars Guild, Honors Chamber Choir, girls’ tennis team, contributor and Diversions editor for The Wick, Write Place tutor, Kairos leader and rector.

Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Ms. Hennessey was my Italian teacher for four years, and I am extremely blessed for that. I decided to take Italian on a whim, not knowing anything about the language, and it ended up being my favorite class for four consecutive years. She is more than an amazing educator, she is also a wonderful mentor. While she taught me about Italian grammar and culture, she also helped me through some difficult times in my life.

Continue reading “Collegiate Friars: June 2020”

Faculty Focus: June 2020

Math Teacher and Coach Matt Barabasz will begin his fourth school year at Fenwick in August.

What is your educational background?

MB: I graduated in 2014 with a BS from Illinois State University in Secondary Mathematics with a Middle Level Education Endorsement. In 2019 I earned my MA from Concordia University (River Forest) in Educational Leadership Program. Right now, I am looking to begin a Doctorate Program in Educational Leadership; currently looking into Lewis University.

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

MB: Upon graduation from college I took my first teaching job at Saint Patrick High School. During my first year teaching, I also coached the sophomore football team and both varsity/JV track. The following year I was named the head sophomore football coach and head varsity track coach, which I continued to hold until I made my move to Fenwick.

During my time teaching and coaching, I also gave presentations on different educational philosophies and skills that I have been learning and using within my years as a new teacher. In 2015, I presented “Brain Breaks” at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) Conference, and in 2017 I presented “The Use of iPads to Create an Engaging Classroom” at the Mathematics Teacher Association of Chicago (MTA) dinner. (Roger Finnell has been on the board of this committee since 1968.)

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

MB: I am reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, which is a tribute to teachers everywhere. I was given this book from my then great mentor and now friend, Chad Cluver. Chad was my corresponding teacher while I was a student teacher at Moroa-Forsyth [near Bloomington, IL]. During the year I spent there, I learned and grew an incredible amount due to Chad and the amount he continued to push and support me. He is currently doing amazing things both in and out of the classroom. I am truly blessed to have a great friend to continually provide me advice and guidance.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

MB: I have many interests that take up my time outside of the classroom. Aside from continuing my education through completing various grants and courses, I also coach football for Fenwick. Away from Fenwick, still working within education, I am a member of AdvancED, which is an organization that conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of a variety of educational institutions and systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential.

On a more personal level, I compete in many intramural leagues, football and softball, across the different neighborhoods in Chicago. I love animals and the outdoors. From sixth grade until I accepted my first teaching job, I volunteered and worked at the Park Ridge Park District Nature Center. When I was younger, I would volunteer every Saturday at the Nature Center. Once I turned 16 I took on many roles there. I was hired as a manager to oversee the volunteer staff, run nature birthday parties, run campfires, run outdoor skills courses, and for six years I ran one of their nature summer camps.

Animals have been and are a huge part of my life.  In the summer of 2018 I adopted my dog, Bella, and she takes up a lot of my time. Each day we go on a lot of walks and adventures around the city. Also, almost every summer morning I will drop my kayak into the Chicago River and spend a few hours paddling. 

When I have time I love to get out my old charcoal and graphite supplies to draw. Art has always been a big passion of mine as well. At Illinois State University, my original plan was to double major in Mathematics and Art; however, the scheduling did not work within the four-year constraint I wanted to complete it in.

Lastly, I am a huge Chicago sports fan. If there is a Bears, Cubs or Blackhawks game on, if I am not there I am watching it.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

MB: Going back to when I was in high school I was a member of Student Council, Art Club, Football and Track.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

MB:

  • Sophomore Football Coach: 2017-19
  • Freshman Football Coach: 2020 – current
  • Sailing Club Moderator: 2019 – current
  • PAWS Club Moderator: 2019 – current

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

MB: The two biggest qualities I see in all the students I teach are determination and self-advocacy. Each year I am continually surprised by how much I can educationally push these students and what they can achieve. Also, I am continually impressed by how much they will speak up for their learning and themselves. It is amazing to see this skill being engrained with so many of our students. So many people are okay being passive and not speaking up for themselves; however, at Fenwick the students advocate for themselves and their learning and will not settle for anything but the best.

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

MB: There are two distinct things that have paved my path. I remember sitting in my sophomore Geometry class, thinking, “What the heck are we learning?” This is a typical thought that runs through most sophomores’ heads as they are trying to grasp the brand new concept of Geometry. Mathematics was a subject that I was always okay in. I didn’t hate going to class, but most of the time, like most students, I felt lost and confused. It was in the Sophomore Geometry class where I started to realize [that] everyone is just as confused as I am! Once that reality clicked, I started to put more time into studying with friends and concepts started to click. As we would work together and learn, I gained a feeling of great accomplishment. When something finally makes sense to someone else, there’s this little look that always happens. It is that look and that feeling of accomplishment that partially drove me to the field education.

The second was my grandfather. As a child, I only had one pair of grandparents (my father’s parents both passed when he was a teenager). My grandfather was a man I cannot even begin to describe. Anytime there was something wrong, he was right there with me. He sparked my passion into the arts, being an incredible artist himself, and was always someone I needed by my side. When I was younger, I was always spending my weekends with my grandpa. My grandfather made a huge impact within the educational world. He was a teacher for many years, but then made his way to being the president of a Chicago school. To this day, my grandma shows me articles of the amazing things he had accomplished and all the recognition he gained for his hard work and dedication to the students and families. If I can become half the teacher and man that he was, I will have a very successful career and life. [Note: Matt’s grandfather, the late Dr. Allen Zak, retired in 1991 as superintendent of School District 102 in La Grange Park, IL. He also was a former superintendent of schools in West Northfield District 31 in Northbrook, IL.] 

Continue reading “Faculty Focus: June 2020”

Forty-Niners Reminisce about the Dominicans of Fenwick

With extra time on their hands during the COVID-19 health crisis,
10 members from Fenwick’s Class of ’49 trade memories via e-mail.

“I keep looking for something more or less productive to do,” writes Fenwick alumnus Tom Morsch ’49. “While watching a Zoom presentation on Thomas Aquinas, I noticed that his treatise on the Gospel of John was translated from Latin to English by someone named Fabian Larcher, O.P. I said to myself, I know that guy; he taught me algebra. To be sure, I went online to check ‘Order of Preachers, Province of St. Albert the Great.’ There I found that this was, in fact, our Fr. Larcher (and lots of other interesting stuff).”

Classmate Bob Lee responded, “I had Fr. Larcher for algebra also. He was a clean-desk guy. Remember? The only book on your desk was the algebra book, all others below your desk. And he walked around the class every day and enforced the law. He was one of my best teachers at Fenwick. You always had to be prepared for his quick tests. I had the feeling he was interested that I got it.” Fr. Larcher went on to teach at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, MN, from 1949-53. He passed away in 1981 at age 77 (see list below).

Tom Morsch in 1948-49.

“I agree with you, Bob. I loved the guy!” replied Morsch, who also reminisced about Father James Dempsey. “My first day in Fr. Dempsey’s English class, he asked: ‘Are there any of you who did not go to a Catholic school? If so, raise your hand’” recalls Mr. Morsch. “I did so, along with two or three others. My hand was about as high as the top of my ear.

“Dempsey said: ‘Morsch, stand up and recite the Our Father,’” he continues. “I stood up. I was terribly embarrassed, and mumbled something like, ‘Mumble, mumble, Our Father, mumble, ugh, er, mumble.’ I knew the Our Father but was too scared to say it. With disgust Dempsey said, ‘Sit down, Morsch.’ That was that. But I loved the guy!”

Classmate Jack Spatafora notes: “Fr. Dempsey let me be a columnist for The Wick. All went well until I got writer’s block. I decided to ‘borrow’ some ideas from the Chicago Public Library stacks … [and] found a clever piece on golf and adapted it. Later, I discovered that my source was a well-known New York author who was all too familiar to Dempsey — as he later advised me with a contemptuous scowl! Still, I think I’d prefer THOSE innocent days to THESE!”

Tom McCormick ’49 adds: “Freshman year we … had Fr. Larcher for Algebra, Dempsey (a good friend of Red Sox catcher and manager Birdie Tebbets) for English, Lawton for General Science, maybe Donlan or Morganthaler for Religion, Shortie Connolly for Speech, aka ‘Show and Tell,’ I don’t remember who for Latin, but I do remember fun-loving Br. Schoffman being overseer of JUG …

“An anecdote, perhaps you recall, involving Fr. Dempsey: Bill Finnegan knew I had the book Barefoot Boy with Cheek and asked to borrow it. I said okay, gave it to him before English class, and admonished him not to read it during class. Naturally, he couldn’t resist a peek, started giggling, and prompted Fr. Dempsey to ask ‘What do you have there?’ The first words out of Finnegan’s mouth were, ‘It’s McCormick’s.’ So Dempsey confiscates the book. Three weeks later he gives it back to me with a lecture on why I shouldn’t be reading things like that. I’m sure it made the rounds at the Priory during the three weeks. As a result, I wouldn’t let Finnegan read my father’s copy of Forever Amber.”

Fr. Dempsey and Fr. Lawton left Fenwick to join the Dominican mission in Nigeria. Fr. Lawton was invested as Bishop of Sokto in 1964. He died of a heart attack in 1966 while riding in an automobile and is buried in Nigeria. Fr. Dempsey succeeded him as Bishop of Sokoto in 1967 and eventually returned to the United States, where he died in 1996.

’49 TRIVIA

Father Malone
  1. What were the nicknames of Fr. Conley and Fr. Malone?
  2. Nickname of Fr. Scannell?
  3. What bet was made by astronaut Joe Kerwin in September 1945?
  4. How many freshman boys hailed from northwest suburban Park Ridge, IL?
  5. Who won the Scholar-Athlete Award at the 1949 graduation?
  6. What model car did Tony Nashaar drive to school?
  7. What was the rather remarkable thing that Jack McMahon did after graduating?
  8. Who was the fourth member of the one-mile relay team that won the Daily News Relays title beside Jack Kelly, Jack Regan and Bill Carmody?
Nashaar’s mystery car.

Answers

  1. Little Caesar & Butch
  2. Skipper because he was moderator of sea scouts.
  3. Chicago Cubs to whip Detroit Tigers in World Series, and he gave odds!
  4. Nine (A. Jenks, Sorquist, O’Brien, Frainey, Jolie, Normandt, Barczykowski, Gleason, Georgen)
  5. Jim Strojny
  6. Nash
  7. Robbed a bank and went to jail.
  8. George Remus

Order of Preachers – Province of St. Albert the Great – Necrology (Date of Death)

Teachers

John Murtaugh – 1947
James Quinn – 1961
Edward Lawton – 1966
John Simones – 1967
Michael McNicholas – 1968
Chester Myers – 1968
Andrew Henry – 1971
George Conway – 1972
Anselm Townsend – 1972
Joseph Reardon – 1977
Fabian Larcher – 1981
Cyril Fisher – 1982
George Conway – 1984
Victor Feltrop – 1984
Walter van Rooy – 1985
John Malone – 1993
James Dempsey – 1996
James Regan – 1996
Gordon Walter – 1996
Louis Nugent – 1998
Raymond Ashenbrenner – 2003
Walter Soleta – 2003
John Morgenthaler – 2004
Thomas Donlon
Albert Niesser

Teachers not O.P.

Fr. Leonard Puisis – 2013
Tony Lawless – 1976
Dan O’Brien ’34 – 2003
Br. Schaufman               

3 Alumnae Siblings Share High-speed Internet (and Precious Time)

The Lombard sisters — one law-school student, one med-school student and one undergrad — returned home to Western Springs, IL, for eStudy this spring.

The trio of Lombard sisters came home to Western Spring, IL, this after college campuses shut down earlier this spring. “We haven’t all lived together or studied together for almost 10 years, so it’s been really memorable,” says Lauren, the family’s “baby” and a 2017 graduate of Fenwick.

Elizabeth, the eldest, adds, “In many ways, in sharing homework space, fighting for Wi-Fi capacity and complaining about exams and tough assignments together, it truly reminded all of us of our Fenwick days.”

Elizabeth Lombard ’11 (University of Notre Dame ’15 – Double Major: Accountancy and English) was a Friar cheerleader and earned a varsity letter at Notre Dame as Senior Football Manager. She worked for two years as a certified public accountant at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Chicago), then returned to ND. Earlier this month, she graduated with an accelerated joint degree: a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) in law and Master of Business Administration. Elizabeth soon will head to New York City to take a job in the corporate practice division of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Here are her and her sisters’ “quarantine” stories:

Elizabeth Lombard ’11

I just completed my third degree at the University of Notre Dame. My last semester certainly did not go as planned with the onset of eLearning. However, I felt lucky to have my family by my side throughout all of the chaos, to tackle this challenge together. We have not all been together, living in our family home in Western Springs, since I graduated Fenwick in 2011.

This semester I was enrolled in Trust and Estates Law, Intercollegiate Athletics Law, an Intercollegiate Athletics Externship, a Venture Capital and IPO Law Seminar, and a Law and the Entrepreneur Seminar. Most of my professors decided to still hold live, discussion-based Zoom meetings in lieu of our in-person classes. I loved these live Zoom meetings, as it made me feel like I was still in the classroom (minus being able to stare at the Golden Dome through the windows).

In addition to complications with moving the actual classroom learning online, I also faced graduation celebration planning complications. This year, I served as the 3L Class Representative for my law-school class on our Student Bar Association (similar to a Student Council). A vital part of my job was planning ‘3L Week’ celebrations, for the week prior to graduation — including a Chicago Cubs game, a winery tour and a massive banquet with our entire class. Obviously, when school was canceled, these opportunities to celebrate our achievements as a class were eliminated. I decided that we still needed to celebrate in some capacity digitally. I created a virtual ‘banquet’ for my class — complete with a digital congratulatory video from our professors and administration and a ‘Class Slideshow,’ with a slide for each student showing their favorite law-school photo, moment, class, as well as a senior superlative. It was very rewarding for me to put this together and know that my classmates felt loved and celebrated. Additionally, I coordinated a “Professor Send-Off” where five beloved professors gave our class some words of wisdom and congratulations. Notre Dame has rescheduled our official graduation for May 2021.

Fenwick has prepared me and my sisters well for our various career paths. I would particularly like to thank Ms. Logas for inspiring my interest in the law from her AP Government class; Mrs. Macaluso for inspiring my passion for writing and analysis in AP Literature; and Blackfriars Guild (BFG) for giving me confidence in my public speaking abilities. My time at Fenwick cultivated in me a hunger for learning and diligent work ethic, without which I would not have been able to excel during the demanding JD/MBA program. I look forward to joining Fenwick’s network of attorneys and continuing to grow my Fenwick family in the future.

Rachel Lombard ’13
Notre Dame ’17

Rachel Lombard completed a degree in Science Business at the University of Notre Dame in 2017. A few weeks ago, she began her fourth year of medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago (Class of ’21). She is the recipient of the Medical Student Council’s Tom C. Reeves Memorial Award, which recognizes a third-year med student who exhibits outstanding leadership, volunteerism and character.

Rachel Lombard ’13

Before the pandemic hit, I had spent my entire third year of medical school completing clinical rotations in the different fields of medicine such as OBGYN, Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. While on my Surgical Rotation, the attending physician I worked with was also a Fenwick graduate and we bonded over our time at Fenwick. We both agreed that Mr. Farran was one of the best teachers we ever had and inspired both of us to pursue a career in medicine. It is really amazing how the Fenwick connections can always be found. Clinical rotations have by far been the best part of medical school, so far, because I finally got to work with actual patients and really feel like a part of the medical team.

 I was just about to start my final rotation of my third year in Family Medicine when the pandemic intensified. My medical school, along with almost all other medical schools in the United States, decided to pull all medical students from in-person clinical rotations to help do our part in minimizing the spread of the virus and conserve the already very limited amount of personal protective equipment. Like so many others, my life drastically changed overnight. I went from learning medicine from real-life patient encounters to learning from virtual online patient cases. Additionally, I had online lectures over Zoom from our clinical professors. Some of my clinical professors had just come off treating patients in the COVID unit and would teach us about their experiences firsthand fighting the virus, which was quite interesting.

Continue reading “3 Alumnae Siblings Share High-speed Internet (and Precious Time)”