Fenwick Faculty Profile

8 Friars’ Teachers and/or Administrators Hold Advanced, Doctoral Degrees in Their Fields of Expertise

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Fenwick’s academic doctors (from left): Drs. Lordan, King, Woerter, Porter, Quaid, Slajchert and Peddicord. (Dr. Kleinhans is not pictured.)

In addition to Fenwick President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., who has a Ph.D. in Moral Theology from the University of Ottawa/St. Paul University, seven of his colleagues also have earned advanced, doctoral degrees:

  • Dr. Jonathan King
    Theology Teacher
    Ph.D. in Historical Theology, St. Louis University
     
  • Dr. David Kleinhans
    Science Dept. Co-Chair
    J.D. (Juris Doctor) in Intellectual Property, John Marshall Law School
  • Dr. Gerald Lordan, O.P.
    Faculty Mentor
    Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Boston College
  • Dr. Marissa Porter
    Latin Teacher
    Ph.D. in Classics, University of Texas – Austin
  • Dr. James Quaid
    Director of Student Services & Enrollment Management/Social Studies Teacher
    Ph.D., Educational leadership, Foundations and Counseling, Loyola University Chicago
  • Dr. Michael Slajchert
    Theology Teacher
    J.D., Loyola University Chicago
  • Dr./Fr. Dennis Woerter, O.P. ’86
    Director of Campus Ministry & Chaplain
    D.Min., Preaching in the Practice of Ministry, The Iliff School of Theology (Denver)

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Forever Friars: Ronald C. Smith, Class of 1951

Known as “Red Dog,” the U.S. Navy veteran and long-time teacher of the law was 84 years old.

Ronald Charles Smith, Professor Emeritus at The John Marshall Law School, died at about 2:30 a.m. on October 19, 2018, at St. Benedict’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niles, IL, where he had lived for several months while undergoing treatment. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary Ann Scherer Smith; his sons, Michael (Liv Rainey) Smith and Matthew (Carolyn Chandler) Smith; his goddaughter,  Margaret Thompson Blumberg, and his cousins Philip, Jonathan and Mark Thompson.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, December 16, 2018, between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. at Loyola University’s Piper Hall, 970 West Sheridan Road, in Chicago.  Free parking is available at the Loyola lot at Sheridan and Winthrop.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to The Ronald C. Smith Scholarship Fund at the Rickover Naval Academy High School, 5900 North Glenwood, Chicago, IL, 60660. Please make checks payable to Friends of Rickover/Smith Scholarship.  Or donations can be made on-line at www.friendsofrickover.org.  As Ron was a devoted U.S. Navy veteran and a strong supporter of the education, this would be a most fitting memorial.

Ron Smith at Fenwick (1951)

Ron Smith was born in Chicago on December 9, 1933, and grew up mostly in the Chicago area. He graduated from Fenwick High School in Oak Park in 1951, and received a B.S. in Humanities from Loyola University in 1955. In college, he earned several honors and participated in many activities, most notably debate and the student newspaper. After teaching speech at Loyola for a year, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1956 as a naval helicopter pilot and personnel officer. In 1962, he left active duty to enter law school but remained a Naval reservist until retiring as a Lieutenant-Commander in 1977. (While in the Navy, Ron, a “seadog” with bright red hair, acquired the nickname “Red dog,” which he had the rest of his life.)

Ron attended Loyola (Chicago) University Law School from 1962 to 1965, writing for the law review and taking part in law school activities. After graduation, he clerked for Justice John V. McCormick of the Illinois Appellate Court in 1965-1966. During that year, a law school friend, Janice Metros Johnston, said that her husband Gil was running the legal writing program at The John Marshall Law School and suggested Ron apply to be an adjunct.  That post began his long association with John Marshall.

After the clerkship in 1966, Ron was a legal counsel for the Santa Fe Railroad, where he learned about governmental regulation and administrative procedure. In 1968 Dean Noble W. Lee asked him to come to JMLS. Ron taught many different courses but eventually specialized in constitutional law and criminal law.

In 1968, when Illinoisans voted to hold a constitutional convention, Ron decided to run with Elmer Gertz, a lawyer who lived in Ravenswood and Albany Park area near Ron, to be delegates to the convention. Elmer, a noted civil rights lawyer, and Ron ran as a team against two “machine” candidates backed by the regular organization of the Cook County Democratic Party. When the convention met on December 8, 1969, Ron and Elmer took their seats as members of the convention allied to the “independent bloc” of about ten delegates. Ron was a member of the Committee on the Executive, where he sponsored the amendatory veto provision.

Prof. Smith’s bio photo for John Marshall Law School.

In 1972 Ron ran for the Democratic nomination for the Illinois State Senate.  The party regulars conspired to deprive him of the seat by running a candidate who would win, but then resign the nomination in favor of a replacement chosen by the party.  Ron’s lawsuit, Smith v. Cherry, 489 F.2d 1098 (1974), was a notable federal elections lawsuit until legislation changed the situation. Unwilling to leave government life, he served as a member of Governor Walker’s Ethics Board, among other appointed positions, while continuing to teach at John Marshall until 2014.

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Fenwick Hires Full-Time School Resource Officer

“The safety and security of our students always is our first and foremost priority.” – President Father Richard Peddicord, O.P.

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Fenwick has hired one of its own as a School Resource Officer. James Sperandio (pictured above), from the Friars’ Class of 1985, retired in June from the Village of Oak Park Police Department, where he served for 27 years; the last 19 as a detective.

“The safety and security of our students always is our first and foremost priority,” stated President Father Richard Peddicord, O.P. “They truly are our most valuable resource, and we need to do whatever it takes to protect them when they venture across our ‘moat and draw-bridge’ from the secular world.

“We Friars are celebrating our 90th academic year here at Fenwick in 2018-19,” Fr. Peddicord continued, “and this is the first time we will have someone in this capacity on a full-time basis.” Officer Sperandio, who nearly everyone knows as Jimmy, has worked part-time for several years at Fenwick. “His is the smiling face behind the glass at our reception window,” Peddicord said. For the past 11 years Mr. Sperandio has taught a non-credit “Street Law” class at his high school alma mater.

Get to know Fenwick’s Officer Sperandio by reading this blog from May of 2017: https://blog.fenwickfriars.com/tag/jimmy-sperandio/

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The Myth of Science vs. Religion

By Father Richard Peddicord, O.P.

Dr. Stephen Barr visited Fenwick’s Professional Development Day on Friday, September 14.

A recent Pew Research Center national poll revealed that a majority of Americans believe that science and religion are “mostly in conflict” with each other.  In light of this, people may be surprised to learn that the theorist behind the Big Bang Theory (Georges Lemaître), the founder of genetics (Gregor Mendel), the father of modern geology (Niels Stensen), and the discoverer of sunspots (Christoph Scheiner) were all Catholic priests. It’s as if the 17th century Galileo affair is taken as the norm for understanding the relationship between science and religion—when, according to Dr. Stephen Barr, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware, the Catholic Church has been one of the greatest patrons of the sciences.

Fenwick also welcomed Dr. Chris Baglow from Notre Dame.
Dr. Philip Sakimoto, also from Notre Dame.

Dr. Barr was at Fenwick High School on September 14th to engage theology and science teachers from around the Archdiocese of Chicago on the relationship between science and religion. The day-long in-service day was sponsored by the Science & Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame. It was organized by Fenwick’s Theology Department Chair, Br. Joseph Trout, O.P., and Science Department Chair, Marcus McKinley. Dr. Barr was joined by colleagues Dr. Chris Baglow (above) and Dr. Philip Sakimoto (left) — both of the University of Notre Dame.

According to Br. Trout, like Americans in general, a good number of high school students believe that science and religion are implacable enemies. Their sense is that one must choose one or the other. Moreover, many believe that science has outright disproved religious truth claims. When all is said and done, there is a sense that accepting the theory of evolution means that one must deny the existence of God.

In his presentation, Dr. Baglow admitted that some Christian groups do indeed attack and deny Darwin’s theory of evolution. They hold that it is contrary to biblical teaching. They espouse a literalist interpretation of the Book of Genesis, and deny the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on the propriety of an evolutionary account of the origins of the cosmos, life and humanity. This is a real conflict; one cannot harmonize the science of biological evolution with a literal read of the first three chapters of Genesis.

A dialog between faith and reason

His Holiness Pope Pius XII

The Catholic tradition of theological reflection, however, is not committed to a literal approach to biblical exegesis. Over 1,500 years ago, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) espoused a metaphorical and symbolic approach to interpreting the sacred text. St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-1274) argued that the Bible teaches that God created the world, but “the manner and the order according to which creation took place concerns faith only incidentally.” In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani generis paved the way for Catholics to hold that God creates through the process of evolution. Theological propositions can and do develop over time, given the growth of human knowledge and more penetrating insights into reality.

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Forever Friars: Remembering Poet Tom Clark, Class of 1959

Poet, biographer and Fenwick alumnus Tom Clark ’59 died tragically in mid-August. Mr. Clark, 77, was struck by a motorist while walking in his hometown of Berkeley, CA, on August 17th, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reported. He died of his injuries the next morning.

Clark as a Freshman Friar in 1956.

Clark was born in Oak Park in 1941. “Many Fenwick men from our class attended Ascension grammar school with Tom. I was among them,” writes Tom Maloney ’59, who resides in Chicago. Mr. Maloney remembers his classmate’s artistic abilities. “No one could draw like Tom Clark,” Maloney recalls. “He was a great artist.”

Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, as part of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s 100-year experiment, Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics is located in Boulder, Colorado,.

Writing, however, became Clark’s forte. “He is considered one of America’s finest poets,” Maloney continues. “He was an accomplished and knowledgeable baseball writer. Add to his literary achievements a biography on Jack Kerouac,” the 1950s’ Beat Generation novelist and poet (portrayed at left).

Clark was, indeed, a prolific writer, compiling two dozen collections. He once said that his literary influences came from Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, leaders of the rebellious “Imagist” poetry movement in the 20th century.

He graduated from Fenwick and went on to the University of Michigan, where he was a student of former U.S. Poet Laureate (2006-07) Donald Hall, Jr. Last year before his own death, Hall called Clark “the best student I ever had.”

During his productive writing career, Clark penned more than two dozen works, including Fractured Karma in 1990 and the controversial Great Naropa Poetry Wars 10 years earlier.

After earning his under-graduate degree in 1963, Clark became poetry editor of the Paris Review. A glowing recommendation from Hall convinced Editor-in-Chief George Plimpton to hire the then 22-year-old. Fifteen years ago Clark told poetry publication Jacket magazine that his “sole stipulated condition [at the time] was that I be allowed to send out rejection notices to all the poets who’d lately had verse accepted by my immediate predecessor, X.J. Kennedy.” Plimpton embraced the rebel in Clark, who would stay on for 10 years and bring to the Paris Review’s pages the work of so-called New York School poets, including Frank O’Hara, Barbara Guest, Amiri Baraka, singer-songwriter Lou Reed and, later, Ron Padgett.

Beatniks in England

While studying for his master’s degree in 1965 at Cambridge University under a Fulbright scholarship, Clark had a chance encounter with Allen Ginsberg. He ran into the Beat poet at a pub in Bristol, and the two men proceeded to hitch-hike to London. He then enrolled at the University of Essex for two years.

Clark in 1972

In the New York Times, peer poet Padgett has described Clark’s subtle work as “music to the ear” that always left readers feeling “elevated.” Billy Collins, another poet laureate, called Clark “the lyric imp of American poetry” in a Boulder News article. (Clark once resided in Boulder, CO.) In reviewing Clark’s 2006 poetry collection, Light & Shade, Collins wrote: “Tom Clark … has delivered many decades’ worth of goofy, melancholic, cosmic, playful and wiggy poems. I can never get enough of this wise guy leaning on the literary jukebox, this charmer who refuses to part with his lovesick teenage heart.”

From 1987-2008 Clark taught poetics at New College of California in San Francisco. More recently, he wrote regularly on a personal blog, “Beyond the Pale,” even hours up until his death.

“Tom and I were married for 50 years,” writes his widow, Angelica Heinegg. “It’s a time of shock and sorrow for me and my daughter, Juliet. But we are slowly adjusting to the new reality.” They scattered his ashes on September 9th.

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86 Years of ‘Passing the Hat’ for Friars in Need

For students who’ve lost a parent during high school, the Fenwick Fathers’ Club has always extended a helping hand.

When 91-year-old Bernard “Barney” Rodden ’39 passed away four years ago, the World War II veteran and Fenwick alumnus’ family asked that memorials be directed to Fenwick High School’s Fathers’ Club Tuition Continuation Fund. Established in 1932, the fund covers tuition for students who have lost a parent while at Fenwick.

Imagine attending high school and having your father or mother die. Sadly, such family tragedy has struck hundreds of Fenwick students over the years and, for 86 years and counting, the Fenwick Fathers’ Club has been here to help.

Senior Colleen Stephany’s mother passed away in 2016. Ms. Stephany told her story to the Fenwick picnic audience last month.

Current Fenwick senior Colleen Stephany ’19 knows firsthand the pain and tragedy of losing a parent. Her mother, Carol O’Neill, passed away two years ago at the age of 54. When Ms. Stephany spoke at the Freshman Family Picnic last month, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house:

Hi, I’m Colleen Stephany, an incoming senior. Mr. Sullivan, the president of the Fathers’ Club reached out and asked if I could share with you all how the club has impacted me. [Editor’s note: Frank Sullivan ’86 is a Fenwick Dad.] I couldn’t be happier to be standing here in front of you.

I was raised in River Forest with my three siblings, my single mom, and an abundance of extended family who were always around. My own father wasn’t really in the picture since before I started at St. Luke, so my mom began to sacrifice tremendously to keep my siblings and me in Catholic schools very early, taking jobs in the area and sacrificing her own personal luxuries to guarantee us the warm, welcoming communities [that] Catholic schools provide.

In the fall of my 5th grade year she was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, causing her to step down from her current job. My grandparents and extended family were phenomenal in helping cover our fees but tuition for four kids in grade school, high school and college was always just so difficult. As the amounts kept rising, people from all areas, especially Fenwick, swooped in to help without ever making us feel like charity or below everyone else, which I believe is one of their most valuable attributes. My mother always strived to keep our lives as normal as possible, but when she couldn’t on her own, the Fathers’ Club never failed to help her achieve that normalcy. As I got older and understood the situation we were in, and how my mother and grandparents’ health was worsening, I began to worry on where I’d end up — but my Mom was always so confident with Fenwick.

I didn’t understand because I thought it’d be more of a burden on her than a public high school, but now I can see her logic clearly. She wanted me to have support and a family as strong as Fenwick High School. She was confident the Fathers’ Club, Father Peddicord and the rest of the administration would take care of me, and she was exactly right. I will never forget the embrace I got after losing my Mom my sophomore year, and the fact that this was the first place I wanted to go afterwards. I think this speaks volumes of Fenwick. The love the Fathers’ Club, administration and school showed our family surpassed any type of financial help they could ever give.

People may just see it as a group who fund-raises to make improvements to the school or their events, but that’s not the Fathers’ Club at all. They continually work to maintain and strengthen the community and love of Fenwick for every person who walks through the doors. Parents, students, faculty and alumni are all in the minds of the Fathers’ Club and the administration, and I am eternally grateful I was able to feel the love of Fenwick. So on behalf of my Mom, my siblings and my whole family, I’d love to thank them for allowing me to have the honor of graduating from here and making me always feel at home at Fenwick.

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Summer of Service

By Grace Vomacka ’20

Juniors at Fenwick are required to complete 30 hours of service to fulfill the third year of the Christian Service Project. For freshman year, students participate in a charity initiative in their Theology classes. Sophomores spend a day visiting people in need around Chicago and its suburbs. Junior year is when our service becomes more independent. Although a list of pre-approved volunteer sites is provided, it is really up to us to decide where we want to serve.

The purpose of the Christian Service Project is to serve people who are considered poor or in need. Our ministry experiences introduce us to Christ in unexpected places. Many juniors struggle with figuring out where they want to serve.

Since the year I went into seventh grade, I have spent one or two days a week each summer at Soaring Eagle Academy, a school [in Lombard, IL] for kids with autism and related disorders, which are commonly viewed as a severe disadvantage to a child. The students often struggle with academic and social interactions. (See sidebar.) At Soaring Eagle, students develop interaction and communication skills while achieving higher levels of learning.

Many parents of children with autism decide to enroll their kids in a school such as Soaring Eagle. Therefore, a large number of my peers do not often interact with students who are affected by autism, so these students are often overlooked. Christ spoke for all people while he lived on earth, and he showed intense companionship and love to them. Christ is present in the students of Soaring Eagle in the boundless love they spread.

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Students-Turned-Teachers Help to Advance the Friars’ Mission

Why is it that such a surprisingly high number of former students return to Fenwick to teach future alumni?

By Mark Vruno

Presently, there are approximately 140 teachers, administrators and staff members at Fenwick High School, and 38 of them have walked the hallowed halls in Oak Park as students. Over the course of the school’s nine decades in existence, many more former pupils have returned to work and serve. “People come back to Fenwick because of the impact the school had on their lives,” believes Social Studies/History Department Chair Alex Holmberg ’05. “Whether that impact was inside or outside the classrooms, Fenwick leaves a powerful impression on everyone,” says Mr./Coach Holmberg, who triples as the school’s clubs/activities director and the defensive coordinator of the varsity football team.

Alex Holmberg ’05

“The opportunity to shape how future students approach the rest of their lives is incredibly powerful,” he notes, “and that potential draws so many people back into the building. Thinking about that opportunity to help prepare and motivate future Friars is what brought me back to Fenwick, and that thought is what motivates me to continue to help the school in whatever way I can.”

Principal Peter Groom, who has taught Friars since the 1980s, reports that many of the Fenwick graduates he has hired, he had in the classroom. “We get to know our students during their time here,” Mr. Groom explains. “We get to know their intelligence, their values, their passion and their work ethic. Typically, our graduates are also committed to our mission. When we hire people who are committed to our mission, we hire people who want to remain a part of our community for a long time. One of the keys to building a mission-based school is to have teachers who are committed and who demonstrate the aforementioned values.”

Roger Finnell ’59, a Fenwick mathematics instructor for more than five decades, concurs with fellow alumnus Holmberg:  “Many alumni teach here because they remember their experience at Fenwick as being something special and want to contribute towards continuing the traditions here,” reflects Mr. Finnell, who is Math Department Chair.

Roger Finnell in 1968.

“I knew I wanted to teach math when I started college,” shares Finnell, who also is the man behind the scenes of Black Friars Guild stage productions. “In my senior year at Loyola, after I finished student teaching at Lane Tech in Chicago, I heard about an opening at St. Ignatius, so I made an appointment for an interview. But then I thought I might as well also inquire at Fenwick. I did my Fenwick interview and was offered a position here, so, seeing this as a great opportunity, I quickly cancelled my St. Ignatius interview and the rest is history!”

Representing the Classes of 1959 to 2012

Kevin Roche ’05

Holmberg and math/computer science teacher Kevin Roche ’05 are two of thousands of Friars taught by Mr. Finnell over the past 55 years. “I think that there are a large amount of Friars returning because they had a great experience at the school, believe in what the school does, and want to be a part of ‘steering the ship’ for future generations,” chimes in Mr. Roche, who also coaches cross country. “We have Friars in different aspects of the school (operations, administration, faculty and development) who all had different experiences here yet all want to give back. I believe that this influx of alumni teachers is also a sign of our generation: millennials have a great desire to find meaning and purpose in their work. That is their highest motivator and education is a career that offers immense purpose and validation for the work through strong relationships.”

Grace Liliek ’08

Grace Lilek ’08, who is in her third year of teaching social studies at Fenwick, captures the sentiment of many of her colleagues who also are alumni: “I was inspired to pursue a career in education based on my experiences at Fenwick,” says Ms. Lilek, who also is a learning resource coordinator. “I think experience is the first reason so many of us have come back to Fenwick to teach. You will not meet two Fenwick graduates who had the exact same experience. You can be an athlete or a thespian or participate in academic competitions, and always find your niche. You can also take on all three of those roles and thrive. It is an honor to come back to Fenwick as a teacher and share these experiences with our students.” Lilek continues:

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Fenwick Athletes Find Success at the American Water Polo National State Challenge

It was a productive summer showing for polo-playing Friars in the pool!

By Kyle Perry ’01, Head Boys’ Varsity Water Polo Coach

For the second year in a row, the American Water Polo National State Challenge, July 12, 13, 14, and 15, was held at Fenwick High School’s state-of-the-art Dan O’Brien Natatorium.  “We were excited to return to Chicago for the 2018 National State Challenge,” stated AWP Director of Membership Damon Newman. “Last year’s tournament was a success with many competitive games played.  We are looking forward to the potential participation of teams from throughout the country.”  Teams from Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee all participated in the high school boys and high school girls tournament.

Paulina Correa ’19

On the girls’ side, the Windy City Water Polo team consisted of returning members of the Fenwick girls’ water polo team, which finished 2nd in the IHSA State Tournament last spring.  After the first four games, the team entered their championship game undefeated.  The team had outscored opponents 68 to 25 in the first four games with wins over Chicago Water Polo Club 24-7, Pittsburgh AQ 15-9, Red Hawks 12-3 and NIPC 17-6.  The championship game saw a back and forth battle between Greenwich AQ and Windy City.  Though Windy City jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, Greenwich AQ was able to get two more goals before the end of the first quarter.  The second and third quarter were much the same, ending in a 4-4 tie and then 7-7.

After five minutes of scoreless action in the 4th, Greenwich AQ found the back of the net to go up 8-7.  Two Windy City goals in the final minute of play sealed the deal and gave the 2018 National State Challenge Championship to Windy City.  The 2018 National State Challenge Champions, all returning Fenwick student athletes, were Paulina Correa, Kassy Rodriguez, Harper Daniels, Xonhane Medina, Alyssa Sayatovic, Payton Nefur, Jorie Silvis, Sam Rodriguez, Cici Jenkins, Tegwyn Hollenbach, Ellie Kaiser and Caroline Doyle.

Dan Lynch ’19

On the boys’ side, Fenwick boys found themselves on opposite teams fighting for the championship.  Windy City Water Polo, which consisted of many Fenwick student-athletes, managed its way to the championship game with victories over LAW 12-11, Cincinnati Marlines 18-6, Vulture 15-10 and Chicago Parks Green 15-6.  The Vulture win in the semi-finals was particularly satisfying as Vulture won that semi-final game last year at the National State Challenge 6-3.  Vulture, a team made up of mainly athletes from Naperville Central also bested the Fenwick team the last two years in the state tournament, including last spring’s IHSA Championship Game.  Both schools will likely be in competition for a state championship in 2019!

The Chicago Park District team also went undefeated heading into the championship game.  In the final game, the Windy City boys had many chances but could not capitalize on the numerous exclusion fouls called on the Chicago Park District.  Going two for 18 on the power play hurt the team’s chances of hoisting the championship trophy.  At the end of one, Windy City trailed 2-1.  This lead grew for the Chicago Park District, which was led by Friars Ivan Soto ’18, Ramses Flores ’19, and Alejandro Perez ’18 to 5-1 at halftime.  Each team scored twice in third period.

Chicago Park District stretched the lead to 9-4.  Two final goals by Windy City ended the game 9-6.  Windy City was led by Fenwick’s Payton Comstock ’19, Dan Lynch ’19, Nate Fisher ’19, Alex Figus ’19, Chris Magyla ’19, Manny Ruiz ’19, Jack Nettleton ’20, Dan Bajda ’20, Diego Sahagun ’20, Brian Moore ’21, Wil Gurksi ’21, Pete Buinauskas ’21, and Caden Giesdorf ’21.  Comstock was named to the All-Tournament Team.

In addition to a 2nd-place finish in the American Water Polo National State Championship, the largely Fenwick-based Windy City Water Polo club went 10-0 in the high school boys’ summer league.

Faculty Focus: Geralyn Magrady

Prior to coming to Fenwick in 2015, English Teacher Ms. Magrady taught for mentor Dr. Lordan in Forest Park 28 years ago!

Magrady_web

What is your educational background?

GM: B.A. – Dominican University; M.Ed. – Northeastern Illinois University

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

GM: The first principal to hire me right out of college (1990) was from St. Bernardine School in Forest Park; his name was Dr. Gerald Lordan. Little did I know back then how blessed I would become with the teaching profession and with that professional mentor. After St. Bernardine, I taught in the English department at Proviso East High School until I became a mom. I stayed home with my sons (Ethan ’18 and Liam ’19) while an adjunct [professor] at Wright College and substitute at Ascension School. In 2008 I returned to full-time teaching as the middle school Language Arts teacher at St. Luke School in River Forest. In 2015, Dr. Lordan welcomed me again, this time as a colleague at Fenwick High School.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

GM: I enjoy reading and writing. I am currently in research mode for my second work of Chicago historical fiction, the sequel to LINES. That novel earned me the title, 2016 Winner of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project (a self-publishing initiative sponsored by the Illinois Library Association and Reading Across Illinois Library Systems). Since receiving the award, I’ve been speaking at libraries throughout the state about my writing journey. I also dabble in poetry and essays for personal and publishing purposes. I tend to be my most focused and inspired while writing at my favorite spot called the Friendly Coffee Lounge (Berwyn). Being part of a music community (there’s a live music venue next door and a music school upstairs), I’m surrounded by another “love” (music). I’m always taking notes for a future project, a non-fiction book called Friendly Folk, to share the vibrant history of these businesses as well as the heartfelt stories of musicians and patrons who call this place “home.”

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

GM: Growing up with four brothers and a sports-fanatic father, I’ve always appreciated sports. Unfortunately, I never got much of a chance to play them because my grade school only offered cheerleading as an organized sport for girls; thus, I started cheering when I was in second grade, a tag-a-long for the 8th grade team (my dad was the basketball coach). So, that’s all for sports, but not for team/club involvement: theater, dance, speech, yearbook, student government, multicultural club, choir, church youth group… I was the Marcia Brady of the ’80s.

Which clubs/Sports/Activities do you run at Fenwick?

GM: I am the Speech Club moderator, and I also coordinate a tutoring program with St. Catherine/St. Lucy School. I enjoy both endeavors but am especially proud of the Fenwick students who tutor with me. The subject? Math!

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

GM: All Fenwick students — no matter their religion or class, nationality or race, ability level or personal interest — ALL Fenwick students come from homes that value education and service. A student’s academic progress is a priority, and we all do our part in helping others. We’ve actually talked in my classes about those characteristics, and my students agree.

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?

GM: Respect. There are plenty of rules in life, but that’s my umbrella rule in the classroom. It works. I respect my students, they respect me.

I tell them to succeed in my classroom and in life in general, before they act or speak, ask themselves two things:

  1. Will my actions/words annoy Ms. Magrady?
  2. Will my actions/words disappoint Ms. Magrady?” If the answer is yes to either question, I tell my students to avoid the action or word.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

GM: Each year at St. Luke, the graduating class truly believed they were my favorite class. And they were always right. 🙂

How do you motivate your students to become active learners in your classroom?

GM: Everyone should be ready to participate. A hand-raiser might not be the one called on in class. I also like to use group activities like Quizlet Live, GoogleDocs/Slides for presentations.

Any memorable moments?

GM: Being invited to the Fenwick Hockey Teacher Appreciation Night and accepting the St. Catherine of Alexandria Award. I am truly blessed. A very personal, memorable moment was being on the stage when my son, Ethan [’18], received his diploma. I look forward to a repeated memory this coming May with my son, Liam!

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