Au Revoir: Maître, Ami et Collègue!

Conleth’s loss is certainly Connacht’s gain: the West of Ireland just got a whole lot calmer and cooler with the arrival of Julien Porzadny and we, at St. Conleth’s, will have to console ourselves with some wonderful memories of a much-loved teacher, colleague and friend. But we also have Julien’s legacy to which to cling: we cannot think of another teacher who has brought so many positive changes and innovations to the school, both curricularly and in our community and culture. We fully understand why Julien is looking for new places and spaces for his beautiful, young family but he also knows that he will have another family waiting eagerly for his visit: the family of colleagues and students at 28 Clyde Road.

It is quite fitting that we are bidding farewell to Ann Sheppard and Julien at the same time: they are forever linked, not just by their subject and friendship, but by the integral part Françoise Brotelande played in both their Conleth’s stories. We wrote below of Ann and Françoise’s closeness but Julien was also part of that camaraderie. Julien first arrived in Ballsbridge as Françoise’s protégée and our jokes about the French Department’s beau jeune homme were supplemented by an appreciation for the burst of energy Julien brought both into the classroom and the staffroom and the close friendships he established with Françoise and Ann and the staff as a whole. And when we tragically lost Françoise, it was Julien who kept her spirit and warmth alive, for both his colleagues and the students.

Yes, Julien is always warm and passionate and that is what we will miss most but, as you can see from the photos above and below, he also accomplished a heck of a lot in his time at St. Conleth’s. In partnership with Chiara Crowley, Julien formed a duo dynamique which, to be honest, were the envy of the other academic departments for their close working relationship, spirit of innovation and endless energy. From visiting troupes of Théâtre Français to Chanson Française competitions, from French board games and Kahoots to cuisine Française in the classroom, from Les Joutes Oratoires to becoming the first DELF school in Ireland to the famous (and infamous) Bundoran trips, Julien and Chiara were the epitome of the teaching partnership and friendship which truly enriches a school… especially when the lawsuits over the Bundoran midnight POW frog-marches fail in the courts!

Julien will also be remembered for forever changing (and improving) the mental health and inner life of St. Conleth’s staff and students. We may make jokes about Julien’s ‘guru’ status (to be honest, the goatee made it particularly tempting!) but we all honestly appreciate Julien being ahead of the curve in his determined and ‘single-minded’ drive to get Wellbeing and Mindfulness on the curriculum and in our thoughts. The whole staff and all our students, both Junior and Senior, have benefitted from having Julien calmly but passionately show us that ‘This is the way’ to having a happy and healthy school community, which in the end, is for what we are all here.

Julien has a new addition to his family, and, with this move, a new chapter to his story opens with fresh adventures on the horizon. For selfish reasons, we do lament his leaving but we would never begrudge such a free spirit such an opportunity, and Julien and can travel onwards with pride for a job splendidly done and with our heartfelt thanks for making St. Conleth’s an even better place.