Teacher Spotlight: Mary Dowden
Teacher Spotlight: Mary Dowden

"When we learn new languages, we build bridges of peace and understanding. We're not alone in our joys and struggles."

Those are the wise words of World Languages Department Chair Mary Dowden, who has worked at Serra for more than two decades. She has always been intrigued by the romance languages, particularly French.

"I love the ability to communicate with people and think differently and more profoundly in conversations," she said. "Learning a different language has enhanced my understanding and appreciation of my own language. It enables us to connect with people from all over the world."

Dowden particularly enjoys teaching French at an all-boys school.

"I love teaching boys," she said. "I love how honest and open they are. I see amazing growth in them during the three years that they take French. They transform over those years. Teaching them is an investment in our future. I try my best to tap into their capacity to reach their intellectual and spiritual potential."

For Dowden, it all began when she studied abroad after her final year of college at Santa Clara University. She quickly became a Frankophile after living in Nantes, France, with a French family.

"It was beautiful, like a miniature Paris," she recounted. I have always been fascinated by the language, beauty and romance of France. I love the books, music, cafes and food. I get so energized by having access to a variety of museums and cultural events. The French people take time to really develop relationships. They know how to sit down and have a good conversation over a glass of wine. Conversations aren't rushed; everything is more intentional."

Dowden takes Serra students on an enrichment trip to Paris, Nice, Florence and Rome every other year. When she's not teaching, Dowden moderates the Serra Cycling Club and participates in marathons and triathlons. In 2005, she completed the Ironman Triathlon in New York, which entailed a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run! Dowden also enjoys spending time with her husband, John, and their Serra Padres, Ben '10, Peter '10 and Charlie '17.