Remembering our beloved Mary Breault who passed away on June 6 after a two year battle with cancer. Mary taught middle school Literature & Writing Workshop at Countryside for nine years from 1999-2008. She also served as chair of our middle school team. Originally from Indiana, she was the parent of two Countryside alumni, Chris and Amelia. She was a fiction writer, an avid reader, and enjoyed traveling, walking and eating chocolate. She will be dearly missed.
The following interview with Mary is from our 2008 issue of Trees, our alumni newsletter. At that time, she was retiring from Countryside to join her husband Mike who had taken a job in Madison, Wisconsin.
What are your favorite Countryside moments?
One from my early years was when the staff took part in "The Wizard of Oz" P.E. show. Bill Fallon and I were supposed to exit the side gym door and re-enter from the main door a few minutes later to deliver an important line. We stepped outside and started to chat about how well the play was going. Then we realized that it was almost time for us to return to the stage. We ran breathlessly around the building to get back in, but unfortunately, the front door was locked and neither of us had remembered a key! Our scene came and almost went, but Susan Richardson managed to holler from backstage: "Look! It's a twister!" and the show went on without us. (see cast photo below)
What do you love most about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is the students, of course! I love reading aloud to my classes, laughing with them, and getting to know them better through their writing. I especially love reading students' poetry.
What do you love least? grading papers
What is the most profound thing you have learned from a student?
Many of my students have amazed me with their courage, but none more than Ben Petersen, who had such a warm, kind spirit and an open-hearted enjoyment of life. He made the most of every minute.
What is your favorite word? Binky
What is your least favorite word? None. I love language and think words are fascinating.
What profession other than teaching would you like to attempt?
If I were not a teacher, I'd love to be a librarian. I worked in libraries all through high school and into college. I miss the old card catalogs with their wonderful wooden drawers and yellowing cards. I love getting lost in the stacks.
What will you miss most about the school?
I will miss the people at Countryside more than anything else (especially Susan Richardson).
Mary's family would like to honor her lifelong love of reading. Cathie Webber, our head of school when Mary taught there, has created the Mary Breault Memorial Fund to build up the middle school library. Countryside was Mary's favorite place to teach, and we know she'd have loved to expand the library she started. It will be renamed the Mary Breault Collection.
1. Send a check to Countryside School, directed to the "Mary Breault Memorial Fund":
4301 W. Kirby Avenue
Champaign, IL 61822
2. Donate online using this link: https://tinyurl.com/MaryBreaultMemorial
At the bottom of the form, type in "Mary Breault Memorial Fund"