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Uno propone y Dios dispone (We plan, God laughs)

Dr. Joseph Parodi-Brown has been at Marianapolis for more than a decade. In that time, he has taught every level of Spanish offered, currently instructing Spanish III Honors, Spanish IV, and AP Spanish Language and Culture and serving as the Chair of the Modern Languages Department. He directs the winter play and serves the residential program as an AOD (Administrator on Duty). He is the founder and advisor of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica. He studied at the University of Salamanca, Spain in 2005 and 2009, and earned his Ed.D in Leadership from Creighton University in May 2019.

Uno propone y Dios dispone. 

We plan, God laughs.

When I was a high school senior in New Hampshire, I refused to look at colleges in Connecticut. I did not want to live in Connecticut. As a senior at Saint Anselm College, a staff member suggested I look into independent schools. “Sure,” I thought. “Now’s the time to do it - when I’m young and not tied down.” When I told her that I had an interview at Marianapolis, she beamed. “I love that place!” In her work in college admissions, she had visited the school several times. She was ecstatic when I took the job, and I smiled remembering how I had shunned Connecticut four years ago and was now moving there. No matter, I thought. I’ll do it for two years and then move back to New Hampshire. 

For the record, that was in 2006, so I have spent just a bit more than two years at Marianapolis.

Uno propone y Dios dispone. 

I will always remember the day I interviewed at Marianapolis - Ash Wednesday. So many anecdotes color that day for me, but I will always remember that I couldn’t wait to tell someone about how much I had enjoyed my day. I found a school that felt a lot like the things I valued about my college - a community where people knew one another, cared about one another, and wanted success for one another. I was impressed with the students I met that day and inspired by the professionals I spoke with. 

At Marianapolis, I found a school that values academic rigor and balances it with support for its students. I discovered a school where students compete fiercely - against themselves and their own expectations, not one another. I encountered a community of students and educators who understand that each of us does better when all of us are thriving. 

Fourteen years seems like both an eternity (for many of you reading this it’s as long or longer than you’ve been alive!) and like no time at all. I came to MPrep just out of college and knowing no one in the area; it’s amazing to think about how much has changed. In this community, I have built relationships that are integral to me professionally and personally. I am grateful to Marianapolis for providing that for me. My colleagues, the students I’ve taught, and the families I’ve met at Marianapolis have been a constant source of support for me throughout my time here. 

It is at Marianapolis that I have truly learned how to be the teacher that I want to be. Because there is a holistic nature to being an educator at Marianapolis, each role affects the way that I carry out the others. As a teacher, I understand that my students are seeking to learn as much as they can to be their best selves, and I see that same drive in the students’ extracurricular activities. Each year, during the winter season, I get to see a microcosm of what student growth looks like when I co-direct the winter play. Students start the season with a script in their hands, material that they have never seen before. At the end of the season, they present it to an audience, polished and practiced. What the audience doesn’t see is the growth that has happened during the season: the struggles, the difficulties, and the successes. Rehearsing for and preparing a play is just like learning an academic subject. Sometimes you get what the teacher/director is saying right away and you run with it. Sometimes you try the same line/math problem 85 times before you get it right. Sometimes the director has to jump on stage and show you exactly, step-by-step what to do. 

As an advisor, I love the opportunity to spend time with each student, to understand their strengths and where they need help, and to know when they need some guidance and when they need to go it on their own. I think it is so powerful for students to have the chance to see their teachers in the role of advisor as well. Advisory is a space where the ‘teacher’ is not evaluating or assessing the student with grades, affording advisees the opportunity to be more open, honest, and sometimes vulnerable. I’ve seen that, too, residentially. I am not in one house or hall as a residential faculty member anymore, but I remember those opportunities to sit with students, to help them process academic concerns or difficulties with roommates. I remember especially one night when a resident of mine came out of his room, clearly upset. I had never seen him emotional like this, so I immediately asked him what was wrong. He had just finished reading Of Mice and Men and was devastated by its ending. We talked through the ending, and as a nod to our literary bond, when he went home at the end of the year, he gave me a copy of his favorite book, The Little Prince. 

At Marianapolis, I’ve grown. As this is my fourteenth year, I’m basically a sophomore in my fourth rotation. In my time here, I’ve earned both my Master’s degree and my doctorate. I’ve been able to work closely with my colleagues as a class dean and as a department chair. Through each of these steps, I have learned more about my role as an educator. Through each of these steps, I have been supported by my colleagues and challenged by them to do and be better each day. 

That being said, my coworkers are only a small piece of why I am in my fourteenth year at Marianapolis, a tenure approximately 7 times longer than the one I originally envisioned. As a prospective student, while the teachers are going to be an important part of your experience, they will pale in importance to your classmates and peers. And, for me, the students are - without question - the most important reason why I am so happy to work and live here. I have been the advisor for somewhere around 125 Golden Knights and I’ve got stories for each of them: the student council president who made me run my first (ok, only) 5K by publicly challenging me in front of the whole school at Morning Gathering in order to raise more money to send to victims of a natural disaster, the Division 1 college basketball player who saw me in the stands at one of his games and rushed out of the locker room after it was over to make sure he thanked me for coming, the recent graduate who I recently met for coffee and whose success makes me so happy. Each of them is a reminder of why I have been so happy here. 

I have memories from fourteen years of students that I’ve taught, including surprise birthday parties they’ve thrown, academic successes they’ve achieved, and hilariously unscripted moments we’ve shared. I have stories from the students that I’ve traveled with across four continents, like the young woman who looked at me after we all got out of a taxi in Mexico together and commented how great it was that language allowed me to connect with the driver during our ride. She has traveled extensively since then, making connections with people in countless countries. I think, too, of the young man who participated in a theater LEAP Week with me, having never participated in a production before. He has now appeared in dozens of collegiate and repertory productions. Each of these students reflects just one story of the countless examples of interesting, talented, and hardworking students who are - more importantly - thoughtful, compassionate, and caring.