Maureen Cadden brightens up the gym

By Becky Hoving

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Nestled in her office in the depths of the fieldhouse, physical education teacher Maureen Cadden keeps her door wide open, sips a cup of tea, rests her feet on her “Just A Wee Bit Irish!” door-mat and smiles as students pop in to say ‘hello.’

When asked to speak about her teaching style, Cadden could not get more than a word in before Haley Burns ’16 passed by on her way to cheer practice and offered her own two cents.

“Ms. Cadden is the best teacher there is,” she began. “I’m not just saying that because I’m in her office! She really cares about her students and is one of the kindest people I know.”

This kind of praise is not uncommon for Cadden, who began her teaching career at a young age. “Growing up in Ireland in a big family, I was always caring for my younger siblings, and it seemed the natural progression to go into teaching,” Cadden said. “I started out teaching fourth grade at Saugatuck Elementary, and a few years ago, I switched over to the high school.”

One can imagine that the transition from teaching “James and the Giant Peach” to eager ten-year-olds to trying to captivate stressed out and chatty high schoolers can be quite difficult. However, Cadden has managed it flawlessly.

“What’s great about teaching here is that the kids have come to an age where you can have good fun with them; they really get it,” she said.

Cadden is constantly aware of the stress students are under. Instead of burdening students with more work, though, Cadden always tries to make students feel at home in her class.

Douglas Raigosa ’16 can vouch for that. “She understands students have a stressful life outside of gym class, and she wants to make gym an environment that is relaxing,” Raigosa said. “She wants students to be relieved of stress and have fun while exercising.”

But Cadden will go even further than just ensuring her students have fun; she connects with them on a personal level. “She’s just the kind of person who loves to get to know her students and who is genuinely interested in our lives,” Charlotte Rossi ’17 said. “Whenever I was nervous about a test, she would help me study or show me a breathing technique that would help me de-stress.” Rossi noted that after the girls’ soccer team won FCIACs, Cadden went as far as sending her a congratulatory email.

Cadden, despite the praise, is quite modest. “I’m just trying to help students get through school and enjoy it,” she remarked, while waving to a student in the hall. “I’m always here to listen to their problems and to applaud their successes; that’s what it’s all about.”