We Are SI
Sam Bernstein ’14
If you still think teachers are vampires who lock themselves in coffins outside office hours, you’ve never met Ms. Wynn. Students brighten when they spot the affable chemistry teacher in her third-floor classroom, and as former student Schuyler Whiting ‘14 says, “She eased the burn of chemical equations with life lessons and, of course, tales about her dog.” But few know of her many feats outside St. Ignatius’ halls. From singing to playing sports to pursuing her own academic and charitable escapades, in the words of Ms. Wynn herself, “I’ve had an interesting life!”
Ms. Wynn’s story begins on the other coast, where a love of learning brought her to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Paying for college with her own singing telegram business, Ms. Wynn set out to make the most of her opportunity. True to form, she not only earned a double major in English Literature and Psychology, she returned to school for a Neuroscience degree before continuing on to Boston College for a Masters in Education. While at UMass, Ms. Wynn found time for more than just academics, playing second row position on the rugby team. However, to limit her to those labels drastically undercuts Ms. Wynn’s talents and achievements.
As the singing telegram business suggests, Ms. Wynn carries a set of pipes. In Connecticut, she ranked as the number two high school vocalist in the state. While she didn’t play at Outside Lands with her favorite band the Red Hot Chili Peppers, she has performed at Golden Gate Park and with rock and blues groups and Green Day’s original drummer Franz Palencia. Additionally, while running the Dramatic Arts program in Connecticut, she helped rewrite, direct, and produce a stage production of the major motion picture Dogfight.
Now in California, volunteer work consumes much of Ms. Wynn’s life outside SI. She works with agencies such as “Big Brother of SF” and “Golden Gate Parks,” but her service dates back farther. After meeting a former gang member, Ms. Wynn started the organization “Project Prentiss” to remove his and others’ tattoos. “Project Prentiss” received nation-wide recognition through a National Geographic feature and the documentary Skin, eventually earning Ms. Wynn the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the University of Massachusetts in 2003 and the far more prestigious title of “Tattoo Lady” in the greater Boston area.
At this point in her life, Ms. Wynn does not simply rest on her laurels. She’s recently attended writing programs at institutions including Stanford (where she’s already published her research on cellular models of epilepsy). But while she desires to “own a farm, write a book, grow my own food, build furniture, grow apples, and raise goats,” she still remains a friend and teacher at SI.
Friend and colleague Coach Guilbeaux ‘01 summarizes Ms. Wynn’s current impact best as he states, “When it comes to teaching her students, Ms. Wynn embodies the spirit of ‘cura personalis’ as much as anyone on campus. It is in the relationships with her pupils that the truest outcome of her teaching becomes evident: when you genuinely care about your students, they’ll more fully and readily buy into what you’re selling. Aside from a greater knowledge of sciences, Ms. Wynn teaches compassion.”
In the end, like any “Renaissance Woman,” Ms. Wynn’s life cannot be broken down and dissected into any one label, occupation, or achievement. She is, was, and will continue to be a world-class human.
Singing the 2007 Monterrey Pops Festival
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