Faculty and staff returned from Thanksgiving Break to an exciting announcement. Thanks to the support of a dedicated group of alumni, the J. J. Connolly Master Teaching Chair was announced before Mr. Connolly’s passing in 2014. The Chair reached full funding early this year and will come online at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
The J.J. Connolly Master Teaching Chair recognizes a man who devoted more than four decades to St. Mark’s. “A legendary English teacher who inspired generations of Marksmen, he was well known for setting the highest standards,” said David Dini, Eugene McDermott Headmaster. “During the past twenty years I have heard countless stories from our alumni about the formative role Mr. Connolly played in their lives.”
John Joseph Patrick Connolly earned a degree from Boston College before deploying to the European theater to service his country during World War II. In 1949, he came to Texas to join the faculty of Texas Country Day School, a predecessor school of St. Mark’s. During his time as a member of the St. Mark’s community, Mr. Connolly taught Latin and English, was Dorm Master for 11 years, coached every sport in the Middle School and, for many years, coached the Upper School golf team. He also served as Head of Upper School, the School’s first Senior Master, and held the title Senior Master Emeritus. Mr. Connolly left a mark in numerous areas of campus life. He wrote the words to the Alma Mater, created the Senior Follies, and in 1959, he began the CanPaign, a school-wide community outreach effort to collect canned goods for those in need. The CanPaign ultimately transformed into what we now know as the Community Service Program. The Classes of 1959, 1967, 1975, 1986, and 1989 dedicated their Marksmen yearbooks to Mr. Connolly.
After announcing the new Chair, David Dini also shared that the first holder of the J.J. Connolly Master Teaching Chair will be longtime Language Department Chair and Spanish Teacher, Nancy Marmion.
“Having taught with Mr. Connolly, I know the high regard in which he was held by so many of his students,” said Mrs. Marmion. “For those of us who teach and learn at St. Mark’s, this generous gift is yet another reminder of what makes our community so special. I look forward to continuing to build on the School’s tradition of excellence and to honoring Mr. Connolly’s legacy.”
Nancy Marmion received her A.B. from the College of William and Mary and her M.A. from the University of Texas. In addition, she has studied in Spain, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and Mexico. In 1985, she joined the St. Mark’s faculty as a Spanish teacher, where she currently teaches Spanish and AP Spanish. In 1989, Mrs. Marmion was a recipient of the John H. Murrell Excellence in Teaching Award and she was a finalist for the Ralph B. Rogers Alumni Award in 2006. An active member of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, she also serves as an AP Reader. She’s led student trips around the world and contributed to many activities around campus including Admission Committees, Discipline Council, Community Service Program, Spanish Club, and much more. She has served as the Foreign Language Department Chair since 1994.
The J.J. Connolly Master Teaching Chair is the sixteenth Master Teaching Chair at St. Mark’s and brings the total number of endowed positions to twenty. Four decades ago, the Master Teaching Chair program was established to attract and retain the very best teachers from across the country. From its inception, Master Teaching Chair positions have been filled by teachers who are leaders in their fields; men and women who are not only effective educators, but who also provide daily inspiration and motivation to students and colleagues alike.