The 4th Floor of Notre Dame experienced a big void this summer when Madame Mary Chamberlain retired after 40 years of teaching French. Fortunately, before she departed, Mdme. helped to hire a 2009 STA Alumna to slip into her very big (figuratively-speaking) shoes.
Jessica Lennon joined our World Language Department this year and we couldn’t be more delighted. Having wanted to teach French for years, Ms. Lennon had been looking but found it difficult to find a local opening, until one day she noticed STA’s Facebook post about Mrs. Chamberlain’s retirement. The rest is, as they say, histoire.
Ms. Lennon has an upbeat, sunny disposition which is reflected in her preferential taste for sunrises, dogs, and fresh fruit. Her hobbies of dancing (tap and jazz), playing guitar, and teasing her new Weimaraner puppy, "Goose", also suggest that this French aficianado is going to add more than just French culture to STA!
Hailing from Raymond, NH, Ms. Lennon and her longtime boyfriend enjoy raising his 7-year-old son who, she says, “has very much become a part of my life. My wish for him is to always find the good in the world and always find joy in the little things in life.”
Supporting STA students’ dreams of travel will be easy for Ms. Lennon since she herself pursued similar dreams years ago. “I moved to Quebec City by myself at only 19-years-old. It was my first time living away from my parents, I knew no one, and I was in a city where not many people spoke English. It was absolutely terrifying but I got through it and I matured so much through that experience.”
In order to really “meet and greet” Ms. Lennon, we asked her some personal questions. Her answers give us a wonderful glimpse into the person and teacher we have been blessed to welcome home.
What do you think of when you think about God?
If you had the ability to resolve one problem in the world, what would it be?
Does your first or middle name have any special significance? Do you know why your parents selected that name for you?
I am named Jessica because a week before I was born my mother got a magazine in the mail which featured a porcelain doll named Jessica on the cover. She bought the doll and named me after it. My middle name, Lee, runs in the family.
Of all the places you’ve traveled, which one is your favorite?
Quebec City. It feels like home and I also love the culture there. If you have never been to Europe, I recommend taking the six hour drive up to old Quebec City. It has a very European feel to it. I love it!
What is your favorite book of all time?
Lord of the Flies. I’ve probably read it 3 or 4 times in my life and I have a new perspective on the boys’ situation every time.
What is the most memorable gift you’ve ever received and why did it make such an impact?
When I was leaving my first job as a waitress after four years, one of the regulars- a petite, older lady- gave me a rosary and a prayer book as a goodbye gift. She knew I was Catholic because we’d spoken about it a few times in the past, although it was not a common conversation between us. Her gift is memorable to me because she didn’t know at the time that I was struggling with my faith and with going to Mass. She didn’t know that this prayer book got me back on my faith path.
What do you consider your greatest strength?
I would say my greatest strength is patience.
What would your closest friend say is your greatest strength?
Generosity. I think my closest friend would I say I go out of my way to do anything for someone else.
What is your fondest memory of your STA high school experience?
I really loved my time doing the fall plays and spring musicals.
Who was your favorite teacher back in the day?
Madame Chamberlain and Mr. McCafferty (among others as well). I feel they were probably the hardest, strictest teachers I ever had, but they had such a passion for what they were teaching that I gained so much respect for them and really look up to them.
If you could choose just one word to reflect that which you feel is most important in life, what word would you choose?
Family. The unconditional love that family can provide is unlike anything else. To know that through anything, they will be there for you and love you is a really great feeling that I hold dear to my heart.
We are joyful and grateful to have Jessica Lennon rejoin our STA Family. She brings with her the passion and flair for all things French that Mdme. Chamberlain so treasured and that have benefitted STA students for decades. Welcome Back Home, Ms. Lennon! Saints Pride!