WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2017/2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/897427

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Connolly's interest in education began to take root. "I was 14 when I taught swimming at Crystal Lake, and I knew then that I wanted a career in education." A standout in athletics, Connolly was recently inducted into her high school hall of fame for her performance in volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, and track, attributing her successes to the positive influence of her parents. Her late mother, Peggy, competed at Senior Olympic volley- ball tournaments, and her late father, Gerald, was her Little League coach. "They taught us many life lessons, like being kind to others, doing your best, and seizing opportunities when- ever you can." Her father was an electrical engineer for Boston Edison for 42 years while her mother worked as a crossing guard and as a receptionist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, always choosing jobs that allowed her to be present for the children. "They couldn't pay for seven children to go to college, but what they gave us was the foundation and the confidence that we could do it," explains Connolly. Connolly went to Boston College as a double major in elementary and moderate special needs education, working in restaurants throughout her time there to pay her way, while playing varsity volleyball and lacrosse. After spending a year teaching in Compton, California, she remembers how the experience was "the first time I saw what abject poverty was and what an impact schools can have — or not — on children." She earned additional graduate and doc- toral degrees from Boston College in severe special education and curriculum and in- struction, respectively. Connolly also warmly recounts how her grandfather "preceded" her at Harvard where she received a graduate de- gree in administration, planning, and public policy. "He was an Irish immigrant who, upon arriving in this country, worked on the con- struction of Harvard Stadium." But perhaps the most impactful event both personally and professionally was the terror attacks of September 11th. Connolly's brother, Major David Scott Connolly, was an assis- tant district attorney in Suffolk County who re-enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and was later killed in Afghanistan. "It changed my life, and I now understand the true meaning of sacrifice. I feel more of a sense of urgency to take advantage of opportunities when they arise," says Connolly. "I try to do the best I can because you can't be sure of what's ahead, and it motivates much of the work that I do on behalf of children." While working on her graduate and doc- torate degrees, with the goal of one day becom- ing a superintendent, Connolly married Walter Devine and had two children. "Family has always been a priority to me, so I made sure that I was around to raise them, be their coach, or go to their games," recalls Connolly. Because W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 7 / 2 0 1 8 152 education "the core of every meeting and every decision is the student"

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