Faculty Focus

Faculty Focus: September 2021

Alumna Theresa Steinmeyer ’12, now English Dept. Chair, is in her fourth year of teaching at Fenwick. She also moderates The Wick student newspaper as well as the Write Place — and helps first-year students to assimilate!
What is your educational background?
TS: I grew up in La Grange, attended Park Jr. High and graduated from Fenwick in 2012. Afterwards, I completed a B.A. in English at Yale University and an M.Ed. at the University of Notre Dame. I am currently pursuing an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership at National Louis University.

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
TS: Before moving back to Chicago to teach at Fenwick, I taught at Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Florida, as an Alliance for Catholic Education Teaching Fellow. I’ve also done a bit of work in journalism and communications.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
TS: The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
TS: I enjoy running, playing the violin, participating in my church community, and spending time with friends and family. And, of course, reading!
For fun this summer, I took beginner improv classes — this was a little bit terrifying but also a great way to laugh and recharge for the school year. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, I am appreciating the wisdom in facing the unexpected with “Yes, And!”

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
TS: As a Fenwick student, I ran cross country, helped edit Touchstone [student literary magazine], competed on the Math Team, and volunteered as a Write Place tutor.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
TS: I moderate The Wick, Fenwick’s student newspaper. We have a wonderful team of contributing writers, photographers, illustrators and editors who collaborate to publish the paper each month, and new students are always encouraged to get involved! 
I also serve as assistant moderator for the Write Place, Fenwick’s peer writing center, and as an adult leader for the Shield freshman mentoring program.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
TS: Fenwick students are joyful. They are brilliant and creative and driven, but they’re also so kind to one another and always looking for opportunities to use their learning to make the world a better place. 

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
TS: I grew up in a family that loved literature. We read together every evening, and often out loud when a book was too good to read alone.
I was lucky to have so many incredible teachers as a young person, including my Fenwick English teachers, Mr. SullivanMs. Marcotte and Ms. Sjostrom. And I was inspired by my mom, who began teaching elementary school full-time during my freshman year at Fenwick — she is so creative and passionate in her work with students and in education.
I never really chose to be an English teacher — I just eventually listened to what I had been wanting to do for a long time.

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
TS: I’m upbeat and energetic, and I fiercely believe in each of my students.

What are your favorite classes to teach?
TS: They are all my favorites! I have most often taught world and American literature at Fenwick, and I have also enjoyed teaching AP Language and Composition and a couple of classes in the Theology Department.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
TS: The best moments are when my students take pride in their own voices as readers and writers, and when they carry what they’ve learned beyond the classroom to realize their own dreams and serve others.

What challenges face students today?
TS: I think that students are craving real, meaningful connections with others — connections that have been harder to build during COVID. Technology cannot replace authentic time spent together. This year, I am excited for our students to have the opportunity to be more present to one another.
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