TERRI GREENE HENNING '93
Terri is a product of K-12 Catholic education, having attended St. Peter School in Danbury and then graduating from Immaculate in 1993. She is the middle of three; her sister Jane graduated from Immaculate in 1989, and her sister Katy graduated in 1996. Terri's mom, Rosemary Greene worked at Immaculate for six years, after having retired from Bethel High School. Rosemary taught Latin, was the Guidance Director, and Dean of Students.
Terri recently graduated with her Ed.D. in Catholic Educational Leadership from the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit university in the heart of the city. In the winter of 2012, when she applied to the program at USF, she had never been to California, let alone San Francisco! However, that decision was life-changing. She flew every other weekend from New Hampshire to San Francisco for three years! She also spent six weeks each summer for three years while working on her degree, all the while working full-time. Terri shared that it was an intense schedule, but an incredible journey.
Initially, when she began the program at USF, she had expected to eventually transition from teaching into administration; at that point, she was full-time at Trinity Catholic High School as the Communications Director and had taken on a new role as one of the school's assistant principals; however, a few months into her experience as an assistant principal, she quickly realized that she wanted to be back in the classroom, and returned full-time as a teacher. Terri shared, "That's where the magic happens—working with students, helping them find their voices and supporting them on their journeys. I so enjoy teaching and being on the "front lines" of the experience; now, as I look ahead, I'm sure I'll always remain involved with teaching—whether continuing at the high school level or full-time at the college level. Ideally, I'd like to stay in Catholic education, as so much incredible work is happening in our schools; there are challenges, yes, but incredible opportunities, too. I also look ahead to ideas focused on supporting teachers and focusing on developing avenues for teachers to reflect on their craft and practice, ideas that have stemmed from my doctoral research, which focused on the qualities of effective Catholic secondary school teachers." Terri surveyed principals in the Archdioceses of Boston, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles regarding their perceptions based on two frameworks of effective teachers; in the end, the results were clear: principals overwhelmingly rated the affective qualities highest. WHO the teacher is speaks to teachers' effectiveness more than what he/she does in the classroom or how. The teacher's sense of self, his/her relationship with students, the way he/she cares for students and builds community—those affective qualities mean so much. "As a student at IHS, I know I felt that with so many of my teachers—I think we all did," said Terri.
While at IHS, Terri was freshman class president, vice president of National Honor Society, and also involved in yearbook during her senior year. She played JV basketball during her freshman year, JV softball freshman and sophomore year, and did track and field her junior and senior years. She was also deeply involved in Danbury Emmaus while at IHS.
Terri attended the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. She graduated a semester early, in Dec. 1996, with a B.A. in English teaching and proceeded to earn her M.Ed. in secondary education in May 1998. Her goal was always to go to school in NH and then return home to Danbury—the dream was to return to IHS to teach English. She soon, however, met her husband, who worked at UNH at the time, and they settled in New Hampshire. Terri enthused, "I still haven't given up that dream of returning to IHS!"
Terri shared, "Teaching at a Catholic school now reminds me of everything I so loved about Immaculate: a sense of belonging in a tight-knit community; a feeling that we're all family, connected for life; the importance of caring for others and living out our faith; and an understanding of social justice—and injustice. At Immaculate, I fell in love with the writers who have made such a difference in my life, and I had teachers who challenged me, nurtured me, and continued to feed the passions I was developing. I know that who I am as a teacher—and person—is in large part due to the many mentors who helped to shape me during those years. Mr. Gerwein will always be, to me, the image of what a principal should be; Miss Montesi was one of the toughest and best English teachers I've ever had, as was Mrs. Bierbower (Arsenault), whom I had in class for 1.5 years—I loved every minute. The list goes on and on—Mrs. Foncello, whom I had for two years; to her, I credit her for being able to STILL name the parts of cells and surprise my own students with facts and info from her classes that I know I'll never forget. I almost feel bad in giving "shout-outs" because everyone at IHS shaped me in some way or another; I'm thankful to them all. I can't say enough about the impact IHS had on me; it was in those classrooms that I decided to become an English teacher and in those halls where I met the men and women with whom I formed lifelong bonds. No matter where I go, I will be forever proud to be a Mustang."
Currently, Terri lives with her husband in New Hampshire. He is a professor of higher education at New England College. Her mom and sisters have all moved to New Hampshire as well, and they all live within a few miles of each other, making Sunday dinners and hanging out with nieces and nephews incredibly convenient! Terri commented, "Still, Danbury—and Immaculate—will always be home." Congratulations on all of your success, Terri! Mustang Pride!!