The Rosemary Morrissey Memorial Spanish Scholar Award was established in 2023 by Mr. John Morrissey to honor the memory and legacy of his late wife, Rosemary, who taught Spanish at Loyola Academy for twenty-three years. Rosemary retired from the classroom in 2017 and passed away unexpectedly in 2022.
Known to all her students as Señora Morrissey, or simply Señora, Rosemary was an exacting, animated teacher of Spanish. She held her students to high standards, but combined this approach with an abiding interest and personal concern for those she taught in order for them to learn better. Rosemary encouraged confidence in students uncertain of their abilities. She encouraged them that, if they kept at it, it was quite possible to become fluent in Spanish. And many ultimately did gain that confidence and skill to succeed.
Rosemary leaves a lasting legacy that extends outside the classroom. In 1999, she became the lead teacher of Advanced Placement Spanish Language. In 2008, she engineered the creation of a Loyola chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, the national honor society for Spanish and Portuguese. Among measures to magnify the impact of classwork, Rosemary established in 2010 an annual trip to Seville, Spain, to immerse students in the study of Spanish at the Centro MundoLengua school shortly before they were to take the AP Spanish exam. Both initiatives continue to this day.
“Rosemary's spirit and commitment to teaching Spanish live on at LA through this scholarship,” says Les Seitzinger '88, director of development, major gifts, who taught Spanish alongside Rosemary for a number of years. Seitzinger worked closely with Mr. Morrissey and Ms. Margaret Rice, chair of the Language Department, on the logistics of establishing the award, which recognizes a senior who has excelled in their study of Spanish and demonstrates character, leadership, and service.
This is a $5,000 award, renewable for a second year— totaling $10,000. Mr. Morrissey will be generously funding the award for ten years.
The inaugural recipient of the Rosemary Morrissey Memorial Spanish Scholar Award is Payton Lee ’23
, who was honored at Loyola Academy’s Honors Convocation
on May 17. In the fall, Payton will begin her study of international relations at Boston College and plans to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. This award enabled her to choose Boston College over other schools.
At Loyola, Payton was a member of Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica and she took Spanish for four years, ending in AP Spanish Literature, the highest class in Loyola’s Spanish language curriculum. Mrs. Erica Nathan-Gamauf
, who teaches the course, nominated Payton for this award. "Payton has excelled in all of her Spanish classes here at LA and has reached the highest level offered,” says Nathan-Gamauf. “She consistently demonstrates a passion for the language, its cultures, and its literature. She is an extremely engaged and passionate student whose enthusiasm positively impacts her peers.”