Au revoir Madame, merci

After over three decades as a Sacred Heart Greenwich educator, Upper School French teacher Madame Kathryn Cooley announced her retirement last day Friday, October 5.  Since joining the Upper School language department in September of 1985, Mme Cooley has instilled a love for the French language and culture in all of her students.  Current students, faculty, and alumnae remember their time with her with fondness and gratitude.

The 2017 French V class dressed as Parisians for their spirit week in honor of Madame.
Courtesy of Juliette Guice ’17

“It was clear from the twinkle in her eyes that Madame loved Sacred Heart and Sacred Heart loved her,” Former Head of the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Kris Hooper ’88 said.

Since joining the school community 33 years ago, Mme Cooley has expanded the French department to include a commitment to studying poetry, music, and literature.  She has given Sacred Heart students myriad opportunities to showcase their French speaking and writing skills both by bringing students to Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (COLT) poetry competitions and by mentoring the French student newspaper Tête-à-Tête.

“It was the fall of 1985 when Madame Cooley came to CSH and became my French teacher.  We knew immediately that she was not only a seasoned educator, but a seasoned mother,” Mrs. Hooper said.  “Whenever a student butchered the French language in her classroom, Madame never winced or condescended but instead encouraged and supported.  We were always in awe of her perennial good nature, dedication, and care.”

In her classroom, Mme Cooley fostered an environment of joy and encouragement.  She incorporated her unique love for French music, art, food, and celebration into the curriculum, bringing both a holistic view of the language and an aspect of excitement to each school day.

“I had Madame Cooley for my four years of high school, longer than any other teacher at Sacred Heart,” Alumna Juliette Guice ’17 said.  “French became more than just a class.  Our class became a family as we developed traditions throughout the years.  From singing ‘Elle Ma Dit’ [by the group Kids United] on special occasions, to counting down to Christmas on her calendar, to celebrating Mardi Gras with beads and cake, we shared a lot of special memories together.”

Mme Cooley has lived the Sacred Heart mission both as an educator and through her dedication to the service of others.

Madame and her French IV class say goodbye in their last class.
Sydney Gallop ’20

“My fondest memories of Madame actually come from the time when I served on the Board [of Trustees].  As I arrived for many an evening meeting, I would run into Madame finishing up or preparing to teach English as a Second Language courses (ESL) as a volunteer,” Mrs. Hooper said.  “This was so typical of Madame; when she wasn’t teaching her girls in the classroom, she was teaching them as a role model, embracing the core Sacred Heart value of service to others.  As St. Madeleine Sophie Barat said, ‘Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.’  Madame’s example is certainly that.”

As the community says goodbye to such an incredible teacher, mentor, and friend, the staff of the King Street Chronicle wishes her well in her retirement, and we hope that Mme Cooley knows how much she has impacted the school and each of her students over the years.

“Above all else, I want to express my gratitude to Madame Cooley for her many years of dedicated service to Sacred Heart – for her eloquent lesson to the world.  She has made many contributions to our shining city on a hill over the years, and we are better for having her as a part of it,” Mrs. Hooper said. “I hope she knows she will always be an important part of the Sacred Heart family – and that she visits often.  Merci beaucoup, Madame Cooley.”

Featured image courtesy of Madeleine Galper ’19