Fenwick Welcomes Back Four Alums

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Ms. Steinmeyer distributes papers to her sophomore English class as they study "Lord of the Flies."

It is a rare occurrence when a Fenwick student graduates without having a former Fenwick student as a teacher. Over the years, there has been a significant number of Fenwick alums who have come back to teach or work in administration.

Unsurprisingly, the 2018-2019 school year has welcomed four alums back through Fenwick’s doors– Carlotta Battelli ’13, Peter Durkin ’03, Jim Sperandio ’85, and Theresa Steinmeyer ’12.

Ms. Carlotta Battelli, who returned to Fenwick in June, works as the Administrative Assistant for Institutional Advancement Department. In her department, Battelli helps plans events for alumni, donors, and friends that aid in tuition assistance and development.

While at Fenwick, Battelli was a part of the cheerleading team, and earned the captain title during her senior year. She was also the manager for the Baseball team, and participated in campus ministry, the Broadcasting club, and SADD. Additionally, she notes that she was a part of Environmental Club the year Fenwick brought recycling bins to the classroom.

Battelli graduated from Fenwick in 2013 and went on to study at the University of Missouri – Columbia, where she majored in English, minored in Classical Humanities and Literature with a focus in Latin. Additionally, she received a Multicultural certificate for taking classes studying different world cultures and religions.

Mr. Peter Durkin, who also began working at Fenwick in June, serves as the Director of Alumni Relations. His objective is “to create vibrant Fenwick alumni network.” This includes the most recent launch of Fenwick’s “FriarsConnect” website.

Despite graduating over a decade ago, Durkin has fond memories of his time at Fenwick and recalls all of his impressive involvement. He was on the soccer and bowling teams, volunteered as a Write Place tutor, was a member of NHS, led and rectored for Kairos, had an internet radio program, contributed to The Wick and Touchstone, and did all of the BFG productions.

After graduating from Fenwick, Durkin went on to study at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL where he graduated with a degree in Music Theatre. Before coming to work at Fenwick, Durkin worked as a performer at Drury Lane Oakbrook and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was also a motion capture actor on “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” and worked at Jump Trading in Chicago, which is a high frequency trading company.

Mr. James Sperandio is Fenwick’s first School Resource Officer. As a retired Oak Park Police Officer, he cannot protect the Friars in uniform, but maintains the ability to act responsibly should dangerous situations arise. He also works to develop Fenwick’s safety procedures.

Back in the early 1980s, when Sperandio was a student himself, he established relationships with teachers and coaches still working at Fenwick today. He was a member of Coach Hogan’s first soccer team at Fenwick, playing alongside Father Dennis Woerter.

After graduating with the Class of 1985, Sperandio attended Loras College for two years before finishing his BA in psychology at University of Illinois, Chicago. He then moved onto earning a graduate degree in Criminal/Social Justice at Lewis University in Romeoville. He settled down back in Oak Park as a police officer, and later a homicide detective, for 27 years and four days. He returned to Fenwick starting in 2002, when then principal Dr. Quaid hired him to teach Street Law. His relationship with Fenwick deepened in 2006, when he began to work in the reception area, and then again this year when he was hired full-time.

Ms. Theresa Steinmeyer, who graduated in 2012, came back in August to teach Sophomore and Junior English classes. Additionally, she serves as a Write Place moderator. Ms. Steinmeyer, warmly notes that “students are involved in so many other sports and activities — one of the joys of my job is the opportunity to get to know and support students at these events outside of the classroom.”

As a Fenwick student, Steinmeyer ran cross country, participated in math team, and worked on Touchstone. She also tutored for the Write Place and the Friar Mentors program.

After graduating from Fenwick, Steinmeyer attended Yale University, where she earned her B.A. in English. Prior to her return, Steinmeyer taught English at Tampa Catholic High School in Florida. During this time, she was also working to earn her M.Ed. through the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Teaching Fellows program.

Despite an array of vastly different backgrounds, current careers, and past endeavours, all four of these alums returned to Fenwick. It is evident that something special happens in the classrooms, on the courts, on the fields, in the hallways, that draws people back here. “Fenwick feels so alive ​to me,” Ms. Steinmeyer says, “[T]he students here are so involved with activities, events, and service outreach beyond the classroom.

Whatever the reason for so many returns may be, Fenwick has welcomed back dozens of alums over the years, many of whom are part of the faculty today. One of the most startling aspects of any class is finding out that the teacher used to sit in the same desks as the students.

When she received the opportunity to work at Fenwick, Ms. Battelli says, “I was ready to come home.” Notably characterized by a sense of family, Fenwick continues to welcome back alums every few years. Who knows— maybe in the future a child of a current working Fenwick alum will come back to fill their parent’s position? It’s definitely possible.