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Faculty Focus: November 2021

November 1, 2021

Meet Spanish Teacher and Fenwick alumna Marianne Palmer Carrozza ’96, who is in her third year back at Fenwick!

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What is your educational background?

MC: I grew up in Western Springs, IL, and attended public grammar and middle school. I had the opportunity to attend Fenwick and help pioneer the first class of girls. After graduating Fenwick, I attended St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame. I also have my master’s in education from Dominican University [River Forest].

I fell in love with the Spanish language and culture my second semester at St. Mary’s. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain. It was then I decided I had to share this beautiful language and culture. When I graduated from St. Mary’s, I returned to Sevilla and taught English to the Sevillanos. I lived and worked in Sevilla for about a year before returning home.

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

MC: Before Fenwick, I taught at Seton Academy in South Holland. Sadly, the school has since closed. At Seton, I was World Language Department Chair, part of the discipline board, co-directed the plays and musicals, and moderated the Spanish Club.

When I left Seton, my husband and I decided it was best for my family to stay home with our two daughters. Though I was busy being a mom, I tutored high school students; many of them were Fenwick students!

When my daughters were a little older, I filled in at St. Luke [River Forest] as a full-time substitute teacher for Spanish. Though the school is fantastic, high school teaching is my joy. The opportunity arose to return to Fenwick, and I was excited to restart my teaching career. Walking into Fenwick everyday gives me great joy.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

MC: Outside the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband and I have two daughters, one in 7th grade and the other in 3rd grade. Their activities keep me very busy. I also enjoy traveling. I usually have the opportunity to travel to Spain every three to four years. Hopefully this summer I will be able to visit.

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

MC: When I was a student at Fenwick, I swam and played water polo. I was the shallow end goalie for our team. If you look hard enough in the Digital Resource Room, there is a picture of me with the girls’ swim team and with our coaches, Coach Perry and Coach Caliendo.

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

Though I am not currently a moderator, I try to attend at least one sporting event as well as the plays and musicals as well as other student events.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

MC: There is something special and unique about a Fenwick student, and I can tell right away the student comes from Fenwick. Fenwick students are true Friars: Yhey are studious; they care about their work; they are kind. They are also caring and polite. Once a student graduates from Fenwick, there is something that stays inside you for life -- whether it's your Kairos experience, classmates, or a teacher that made an impact on your life. We instill a drive in our students that makes us truly unique and prepared to be a positive force in the world. Once a Friar, always a Friar.

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

MC: I decided to teach because of my love of the Spanish language and culture. I love to study the language, the words, and different ways to pronounce words with different accents and dialects. I also love Spanish culture as well as lifestyle. I feel like I can spread this love and passion in the classroom to my students. I have always loved teaching. As a little girl, I would make a pretend classroom in my basement. I would “correct” papers and have my students (dolls) write on the chalkboard. 

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

MC: I am a very organized person. I plan out everything and write everything down. In my classroom, there are no surprises. Everything is clear and direct.

What are your favorite classes to teach?

MC: I love all my classes. Each class gives a different element to the level of Spanish the students are learning. For example, I love to see the Spanish 1 students making small connections with the grammar and vocabulary -- pointing out to them where they started and showing them how much they have learned. My Advanced Placement class is also amazing. The entire class is usually all in Spanish. The students are outstanding, and we have some great conversations in Spanish about well-known Hispanic authors, painters and culture. One of my favorite moments in AP is when we study Jorge Luis Borges. There is always an aha moment when students realize the “secret” to the story of El otro.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

MC: Though I have been nominated for a few teaching accolades, including The Golden Apple, my greatest success is when I see or reconnect with former students. Sometimes I never realize how much impact I have had in someone’s life. Students have told me that because of me, they studied Spanish, or fell in love with the language and culture. This gift right there brings me great joy that I can share my gift.

What challenges face students today?

MC: I feel like students today have everything they need right in front of them all the time with the Internet, phones, iPads. Everything is immediate. In my classroom, I tend to be more “old fashioned” in the sense that students are to hand-write notes and homework. I even encourage students to use a paper dictionary!

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