Spotlight on New Teachers at Marin Catholic

Sophia Giuliano '16, Writer

This year, Marin Catholic welcomed a number of new teachers to its ranks. We at The Roar spoke to a few of them to see how their first semester at MC went and how they like wearing the Wildcat blue and white.

Sister Maria Jerome – Mathematics Department

Sr. Maria Jerome

What motivated you to become a teacher?

“I wanted to become a teacher (even before I wanted to be a sister) because it seemed like the best way to always learn new things.”

What, for you, is the best or most rewarding thing about being a teacher?

“One of the best things about being a teacher is the ‘light bulb’ moments that happen when all of the sudden, something makes sense to a student. It’s just great!”

Sister Clare Marie – Social Studies Department

Sister Clare Marie

How did you decide to become a teacher?

“I always wanted to be a teacher, but I couldn’t find a way to reconcile that with my religious vocation. Thankfully, God sorted everything out by giving me a vocation to the Dominican Sisters of Mary, where the primary focus is teaching. It’s beautiful because God always works with what we want the most!”

What is the best or most rewarding thing about being a teacher?

“The best thing about being a teacher is not so much the teaching, but the fact that I have the great privilege of getting to know my students. Every single one of them is so unique, so precious and lovable in their own way. No two of them are exactly alike, and this makes every single day an adventure in and out of the classroom.”

What is one interesting thing about you that most students at Marin Catholic wouldn’t know?

“An interesting thing about me that most students don’t know is that I love playing sports. I’ll play almost anything — with the exception of full-contact football — and when I play, I want to win! Another interesting thing about me is that my actual sister and I are constantly being mistaken for twins. We find this hilarious because there are a full seven years between us!”

Sister Teresa Benedicta – Theology Department

Sister Teresa Benedicta

What is the most rewarding part about being a teacher?

“I have two different answers for that. First, since I teach Theology a lot, I find it so rewarding when students fall deeper in love with God and come back and are excited about their faith or are able to share something that they learned. Helping them grow closer to God and making a difference in people’s lives — that is something that really excites me! But just in general or in terms of teaching, I love when an idea I had, an idea that I’m excited about, is picked up by a student and he/she gets excited about it also. Their excitement excites me!”

Ms. Gee – Academic Support Center

Karen Gee

How long have you been teaching?

“This is my first year teaching at Marin Catholic, but I have been a private tutor for about fifteen years. I mostly teach Math, English, and History. I’ve worked with a lot of Algebra students.”

What inspired you to come to Marin Catholic?

“I actually went to Novato High School, so I’m technically a Hornet, but I begged my parents to let me come to Marin Catholic, so I feel like I’ve always been a Wildcat at heart.”

Mrs. Zamacona – Library

Kate Zamacona

How long have you been a librarian?

“I graduated last December with a MLIS (Master of Information Library Science) degree.  For 2 years, while I was in school, I worked for a small museum where I processed archives.  So, this is my first position working in a school library, and I am really enjoying it.”

What is the most rewarding thing about being a librarian?

“I love being able to help people gain access to information and knowledge.  Whether the information is online or in print, I find it rewarding to guide people to credible, useful resources.”

What is one interesting thing about you that nobody else at Marin Catholic would know?

“I secretly love anything Star Wars!”

Mr. Herr – Math and Science Department

John Herr

How long have you been teaching?

“Well, in one way, shape, or form I’ve been teaching since I was sixteen or seventeen! But teaching in a Catholic high school, this is my tenth year.”

Why did you become a teacher?

“I didn’t want to get a job in the corporate world working for ‘The Man.’ That’s probably the main reason why I decided to stay in the world of academia.”

What, for you, is the best or most rewarding thing about being a teacher?

“The most rewarding thing about being a teacher is when students who have graduated come back and tell you about the impact you had on them, especially when it is a student you did not think was getting much from your class.”

Mr. Manfredi – Theology Department

John Paul Manfredi

How did you decide to become a teacher?

“I kind of fell into teaching… I didn’t set out to be a teacher. My undergrad is in acting, so I was actually teaching acting at the Catholic high school that I went to. A theology position opened up last-minute, and I applied for it and they gave it to me. As I started teaching Theology, I fell in love with it. I decided to get my masters in Theology. I’m still working on my masters right now.”

What inspired you about coming to Marin Catholic?

“I did my undergrad in the Bay Area. I went to Notre Dame de Namur. My wife and I were both living in Las Vegas after we got married — that’s where I grew up — and we both wanted to move back to the Bay Area. We love the Bay Area! I applied to a bunch of different places in the area, and Marin Catholic was the first fish to bite! Came here and interviewed with them and really fell in love with the campus and the community.”

Signora Gruenwald – Italian Department

Jeannine Gruenwald

What inspired you to work for Marin Catholic?

“My first impression of Marin Catholic was that it seemed like a really, really nice school with a nice campus. It’s a long hiring process. First, you get an interview. Then, you come and teach for a day. Next, you come and watch the other teachers teach. Every time I visited the school, it was just really welcoming, and the students were really nice.”

Have you ever taught different subjects than you are teaching currently?

“I’ve taught ESL (English as a Second Language) for a long time. I’ve worked with high school students who were exchange students in the U.S. I worked for a long time teaching adults. I’ve been a witness to people earning their citizenship into the country, which was very cool and very emotional. They work on it for so long. I think sometimes people don’t realize what a long process it is. When a person gets his/her citizenship, it totally changes what they’re able to do, where they’re able to work, and all of the opportunities they’re given.

I’ve also taught Spanish for a long time, as well as parenting classes.”

What is one interesting thing about you that most students at Marin Catholic wouldn’t know?

“I spend my summers in Italy with my son. We do a summer camp there. It’s really fun because we are in a small town and we’re the only Americans. The kids in the summer camp are all Italian, and they call my son — his name’s Micah, but it’s hard for them to pronounce — California. So whenever we walk down the streets they say to him, ‘Ciao, California!’”

Mr. O’Brien – Theology Department

Rory O'Brien

How long have you been teaching?

“This is my first year!”

What motivated you to become a teacher?

“My 8th grade teacher was my first inspiration to be a teacher. He was a huge role model for all of us, and ever since then I’ve wanted to teach and help young people learn and grow, and to help them recognize that they each have a unique gift to offer to this world.”

What is one interesting thing about you that most students at Marin Catholic wouldn’t know?

“Hmmm… Probably that when I was little, I was planning on being in the NBA, then becoming a missionary after retiring… Basketball and Jesus — I know, quite the combo!”