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Gianna Kolner, Crown Staff

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This year Marian was fortunate enough to welcome back a familiar face to the Marian family! Mrs. Connell, an english teacher and the new fall play director, was eager to start working at Marian again this fall. I was given the opportunity to be able to learn more  about Marian in the past and better yet, get to know Mrs. Connell.

Q:What college did you attend and what other jobs have you held?

A: I attended Miami University (Ohio). I also did home day care for a few years, taught at St. Mary’s in Woodstock (middle school language arts and music, choir director, play and musical director), SSPP in Cary (jr. high language arts), and Montini (middle school literature).  I also choreograph for the Woodstock Children’s Summer Theatre, performed at the Woodstock Opera House.  I have also directed and choreographed for community theatre and at WHS.

Q:When did you first start teaching at Marian?

A: I taught here from 1985-1991. At that time I decided to stay home with my first child.  I taught computers and typing for five years and p.e. for one year.  During that time I also directed and choreographed the musicals, directed the fall plays, chartered the Thespian Troupe, was in charge of the drama club and dance club, with the help of other teachers I began the Variety Cabaret (variety show with dinner) which was held in the cafeteria and then the “gymnatorium”, coached the pommies, coached track, and coached freshmen girls volleyball.

Q: What made you return to Marian?

A: After many years teaching at the middle school level, I felt the calling to return back to the high school level.  I had been taking courses to complete my English and theatre endorsements and had periodically been looking at the job postings at Marian.  This past spring when I heard about the job opening, I truly took it as a sign from God that it was time to return “home”.  I am very excited to be back where I began my teaching career, teaching students that I taught in some of the feeder schools and teaching children of my former Marian students (now parents)!

Q:What do you like best about teaching at Marian?

A: What I like best about teaching at Marian is the welcoming atmosphere and the “family” Catholic community.  I like that we have high expectations of our students and that the students strive to meet these expectations.  I love that we invite Christ into our classrooms every day.  I love the spirit and love that are evident here every day.  I like that there are so many opportunities for students to get involved and to serve, and that we, as faculty, are able to be part of this special time in their lives.

Q: Have you taught any teachers at Marian?

A: I taught Mrs. Radcliffe & Mrs. Widmayer.  Mr. Liggett, both Mr. Lalors, Mr. Winkelman, and Mr. Kruse were students while I was here. I taught Mrs. Eheart at St. Mary’s and worked with Mrs. Cetera and Mrs. Radcliffe at St. Mary’s. I taught several parents that have students here now. Mr. Rome is the only teacher that is still here from my previous days here.  Deacon Rokus was also here as a teacher during that time.

Q: What about Marian has changed since you first taught? ( in particular how do you feel about how far the thespian troupe and the theater program have come)

A: Much about Marian has changed and much is still the same.  Obviously, the addition of the new wings is very exciting!  How wonderful to have a designated theatre.  “Back in the day”, the stage was in the gym.  It was quite challenging to work around the sports schedules to work in the fine arts events.  For the musical, Mrs. Mann’s (former religion teacher) husband built an extension (thrust) that we would put up each year to extend the stage.  I remember several of us going right from track practice to musical practice! It is exciting to see how the school and the theatre program have grown over the years.  I am grateful to all who kept the program going and growing.  I am also very excited that the theatre course was added and that I get the opportunity to teach it. On the other hand, the caring, “family”, Catholic community atmosphere is still here.  I have felt welcomed by faculty, staff, and students from the very first moment I stepped back into the school!

Q: What are you most excited for this year?

A: I am most excited about being back in a high school atmosphere, working with high school students.  I am excited to get to know the students, parents, and faculty better.  I am excited about reconnecting with families that I have known from previous experiences.  I am excited about helping the theatre program continue to grow.  I am excited to be able to continue to share my faith and grow in my faith in the classroom.

Q: Do you have any future plans for the Theater program?

A: As for the theatre program, it is early to say.  We already have a great set of officers with phenomenal ideas.  I am surrounded by a great support system, as Mrs. Loy and Miss Gallagher have already helped me so much.  I hope to help the program to continue to grow.  Mrs. Loy and I have spoken about some ideas, but it is too early in the process to mention them now.  For now, we will just keep the excitement building and growing and let the Lord and our creativity take us into the future!


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