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.

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Why Do Teachers Stay at Fenwick?

At the Faculty Retreat in early March, an alumnus and English Chairperson (who also teaches French and Italian and directs the fall play) shared with colleagues two reasons why he hasn’t left the Friars.

By John Schoeph ’95

One of the things for which I’m most grateful is that I work in an environment that fosters scholarship. I can recall from Dr. Lordan’s class the importance of scholasticism as a facet of Thomism, as an important component to Dominicans’ approach to education. That approach continued when I attended a Dominican university. I feel blessed to work in, of all Catholic environments, a Dominican one that prizes scholarship.

We don’t try to keep up with teaching trends. We aim to be innovative within fields our teachers know well and continue to advance in. English teachers here don’t ‘kind of’ know English; they know it. Continued learning in our fields is important to us. So a personnel of scholars has tended to abound here, and I love being in that company and in a place that embraces that.

As department chair, how blessed am I to observe other teachers and get to witness the high level of preparation through conscientious and attentive research in varied aspects of English:

Shana Wang
  • Shana Wang’s research on the reportage of Isabel Allende and its effect on her fictionalization of the televised death of Omaira Sanchez.
  • Theresa Steinmeyer’s [Class of 2012 alumna] research on revolutions throughout Central and South America as reflected through Magical Realism.
  • Kyle Perry’s [Class of 2001 alumnus] research on Said’s Orientalism, its reactions, and observations of both in art and literature.
Kyle Perry ’01

This is an environment I want to be in.​

At Fenwick, I can teach up! At Fenwick, I have to be on my A-game; I wouldn’t want to be at a place where I can get away with winging it, where students wouldn’t be sharp enough or smart enough to call me out on a misspeak or a gap in knowledge. My primary goal here is not to motivate students because, by and large, they come to class excited and willing to learn.

I can recall a group of students who used to spend their lunch period in my class so that they could take notes on my lessons when I wasn’t their teacher that year; I can recall discussing a picture book on words that have no translation in other languages, or at least no direct translation to English, and three students stopping after class to ask me for the title and author of the book so that they could buy their own; one of my talking points at Open House is the time the football team called me over to their lunch table to weigh in on whether or not I thought Willie Loman was a tragic hero in Death of a Salesman because they were duking it out — at lunch!

I can recall when Mr. Finnell assigned me A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my directorial debut [in 2009] after eight years paying my dues as his assistant director. After working with the students on Shakespearean language, delivery and pacing, sitting through the first off-book rehearsal, which was all of Shakespeare’s ACT I — unabridged — I was smiling from ear to ear because no one called for a line — not even once. They had worked that hard on it. 

Best students in the land

And let’s face it, whether they’re the brightest scholar or lover of academics or not, they’re the best students in the land. I have many friends who are teachers at many schools, and when I’m out with them, it’s inevitable that I will run into my students. Every time I do, my friends are flabbergasted by my students’ comportment and interaction with me. Every time, my students run over to me and greet me, excited to see me.

One time, I walked into Chipotle where about 12 Fenwick students, juniors at the time, had formed one long table. I had taught only one of them as a freshman and didn’t know the others. I got my food and was heading to the counter when they waved me over to join them. I didn’t want to intrude, but they all immediately made room for me, welcomed me, and brought me over to eat — again, I had taught only one of them.

Another time, I was with my friends at the Oak Brook Mall when a group of students ran up to me. My friends were blown away that my students didn’t see me and walk the other way. Instead, they respectfully greeted my friends, chatted with me, and then suddenly darted away —because across the mall, they spotted Mrs. Megall and wanted to go say hi to her! And I know the same goes for so many of you. We could take this for granted — the academic caliber of our gifted and talented students, and the welcoming and warmth of our kind-hearted students — but knowing what other teachers experience helps me realize this gift. And I haven’t even talked about how great our students’ families are!

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Faculty Focus: Spanish Teacher Dee Megall


Spanish Teacher Mrs. Megall celebrated her 26th year at Fenwick in 2017-18, after migrating from Trinity H.S. in River Forest.

What is your educational background?

DM: I have a B.A. in Spanish from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and an M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Loyola University in Chicago. I have also studied in Guadalajara, Mexico, through Arizona State University and took classes at the University of Madrid.

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

DM: I began my teaching career at Trinity High School in River Forest in 1970. I am a Trinity graduate and four years later I was back there teaching. I was on the faculty for six years until the birth of the first of our three sons. I stayed home raising the boys for 16 years. I was working on my Master’s degree when I started at FHS in 1992. I have taught the mothers of many of my Fenwick students due to my early years working at Trinity.

To what teams did you belong as a student?

DM: Trinity only had intramural volleyball and basketball teams when I was a student. I was on the volleyball team all four years. The game was completely different from what it is now. We just kept hitting the ball back and forth until someone missed. Only one girl in the school would spike the ball and we all just thought she was being rude!

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

DM: I love to read. My next book is The Bridge at Andau, which is about the Hungarian Revolution. I am very interested in this topic due to family history. In 1956, when my husband was eight years old, his third cousin escaped from Hungary during the revolution and came over and lived with the Megalls from age 18 to 28. We just celebrated his 80th birthday, which was a wonderful family occasion. I also enjoy doing needlepoint and knitting in my spare time.

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FACULTY FOCUS

Spanish Teacher Mrs. Denise “Dee” Megall celebrates her 25th year at Fenwick in 2017-18. ​

180328_Dee_Megall_0004_web

What is your educational background?

DM: I have a B.A. in Spanish from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and an M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Loyola University in Chicago. I have also studied in Guadalajara, Mexico, through Arizona State University and took classes at the University of Madrid.

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

DM: I began my teaching career at Trinity High School in River Forest in 1970. I am a Trinity graduate and four years later I was back there teaching. I was on the faculty for six years until the birth of the first of our three sons. I stayed home raising the boys for 16 years. I was working on my Master’s degree when I started at FHS in 1992. I have taught the mothers of many of my Fenwick students due to my early years working at Trinity.

To what teams did you belong as a student?

DM: Trinity only had intramural volleyball and basketball teams when I was a student. I was on the volleyball team all four years. The game was completely different from what it is now. We just kept hitting the ball back and forth until someone missed. Only one girl in the school would spike the ball and we all just thought she was being rude!

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

DM: I love to read. My next book is The Bridge at Andau, which is about the Hungarian Revolution. I am very interested in this topic due to family history. In 1956, when my husband was eight years old, his third cousin escaped from Hungary during the revolution and came over and lived with the Megalls from age 18 to 28. We just celebrated his 80th birthday, which was a wonderful family occasion. I also enjoy doing needlepoint and knitting in my spare time.

What activity do you run?

DM: I schedule the group photos for the yearbook. We start in mid-October and finish the majority of the pictures by November. This year is the 26th year that I have coordinated the organization of the yearbook club pictures.

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

DM: Until I had to answer this question I had forgotten that one of my favorite games as a child was “Go to the Head of the Class.” It was a game that showed desks on the board and you had to move cardboard students up the row as they answered questions correctly. Little did I know it was a foreshadowing of my future! I kept getting good grades in Spanish and developed a love for the language. My early success in school motivated me to pursue a major in Spanish at the collegiate level. I originally intended to go into business, but my mother suggested that I take some education classes and student teach. I student taught at a school very much like Fenwick, and the minute I stepped in front of the first class and started teaching, I loved it! The students make it so much fun! When I tell them that I have been in my classroom for their entire lives they can’t believe it and they always ask me why I don’t get bored. It is because of them. Every day is different and every class is different. They are the ones that make it fun and exciting for us.

What personal strengths do you find helpful in your teaching?

DM: I am organized and I try to make my expectations as clear as possible. I try to be fair and I admit when I have made a mistake. I give homework geared to help the students practice what they have just learned in class. I try to correct their tests and quizzes as quickly as possible and return them just as quickly because I know they are anxious to find out how they have done. Language learning is a cumulative process and everything the students learn builds upon itself, so it is important they understand it and can use it correctly each step of the way.

What is the greatest challenge facing students today?

DM: I think the greatest challenge facing students today is the ability to control their use of technology. Every time my students have written an essay regarding their computer/iPad/iPhone use they acknowledge the time wasted looking at pictures, playing games, scrolling through Instagram and numerous other distractions they have available to them at all times. The majority of my students say the same thing – that if they turned off the technology they would get more sleep, have better grades, do their homework, study more, and spend more time with their family members. I hope our students learn to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities technology has to offer while still allowing for positive life experiences outside of “screen time.”

What is your greatest success?

DM: I love it when students I taught the previous year stop by my room to tell me how well they are doing. They are so excited and proud of themselves. It is also so heartwarming to hear from former students who are majoring or minoring in Spanish or who are now spending a semester in a Spanish-speaking country. I cherish hearing about all of their wonderful experiences and their success in using the language outside of the classroom. In addition, some of my proudest moments are hearing from past students who are now teachers who have written to me to say thank you, as they now realize firsthand what it takes to be a teacher.