A Dedication to Trinity that Totally Computes!

Robert Young, Staff Reporter

Technology makes the world go round, and Trinity teacher Mrs. Mary Mason H’09 has had a major role in the profound evolution of technology at Trinity during the past 40 years, starting as Computer Systems Manager before serving as  Educational Computer Specialist. From coordinating blood drives and intramural volleyball to working with ice hockey and robotics, Mrs. Mason has done it all. This former collegiate volleyball player discussed her decades of dedication to Trinity.

Q: How long have you been teaching at Trinity? Anywhere else?

A: In November, it will be 40 years!! (Other than Trinity) only student teaching – at Manual High School

Trinity teacher Mrs. Mary Mason H’09

Q: What motivated you to become a teacher?

A: I have always enjoyed helping people – and could always explain things to others. I really liked math  and didn’t like the thought of being stuck in a business office. I am a very patient person. All of these together led me to get my teaching certificate. When I started working at Trinity, I was the only computer person here – I managed the computer system, worked with all of the administrators and office staff, and taught one class. I enjoyed doing the programming for the school but wasn’t thrilled with the troubleshooting part of that job, so when I had to make a decision to be the computer systems manager or become a full-time teacher, I chose the teaching side. I also had two children by that time and liked the idea of having my summers off with them!

Q: Which class is your favorite to teach? 

My students and my colleagues make this a caring and supportive place.”

A: I really enjoy programming and robotics. Programming a computer requires problem solving, creativity, patience, and persistence. Every problem is different. Students can’t just memorize things – they have to be creative and try different things.

Programming can be frustrating, but the feeling of accomplishment is awesome when you get something to work. I like seeing that in a student’s eyes when he is successful. Robotics requires programming – and building with Lego (we use Lego Mindstorms robots in class.) It is great to see the students’ creativity in building robots to do specific tasks. Who doesn’t like to play with Lego?!?

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching at Trinity?

A: Interacting with my students – and seeing their faces light up when they have solved a problem or gotten something to work, and the support and comradery of my fellow teachers and the administration is amazing.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your teaching?

A: I felt stifled. I am used to walking around the computer lab, viewing students’ screens as they work – pointing out small things – answering quick questions – noticing when students are getting frustrated and giving them a hint to help them move ahead. I had to adjust!

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching?

A: I enjoy spending time with my husband, my three grown children and their significant others. In my younger days, I enjoyed playing sports – especially basketball and volleyball. Now I walk my dogs, I ride my bike, and I swim some in the summer. I like to knit, do other types of needlework, and other crafty things.

Q: How long have you been moderating sports at Trinity?

A: I don’t know, exactly. I was the one who got a faculty team together to play in the intramural volleyball league back in the mid to late 1980s. I coached the first club volleyball team Trinity had back in 1992 – we practiced for one month, then played a one-day round-robin tournament against DeSales, St. X and Holy Cross. That was the start of our volleyball program. I took over the intramural program shortly after that, I think.

Q: What are your favorite memories while teaching at Trinity?

A: (1) Being named an Honorary Alumnus in 2009!!  I was working one of our Spring Blood Drives, and they came over and did a presentation. I was so surprised and honored!

(2) In the early years, we used to rearrange the tables in the teacher cafeteria – they were small, square, four seats to a table – and we would make them one big, long table so more of us could sit together – and Jim Connell (art teacher) used to make us place mats for special occasions.

(3) In the middle years – being written up in the newspaper twice. The first time, Kroger ran a promotion for schools – we collected Kroger receipts and turned them in for free computers and printers.  Trinity set a record earning over 20 computers and several printers, and the second time, we were the first high school to offer Internet access to students.

(4) Trinity – St. X game activities and pep rally, especially the one where Bob Maddox and Michael Budniak were cheerleaders in a Pride Week Pep Rally skit.

Q: In what ways has technology changed during your time at Trinity?

A: There have been so many changes in 40 years. Imagine…. There were no cell phones and no laptops and no Internet…..

When I started here, we had one computer, five terminals, and one printer! We used huge hard disks with disk drives that looked like drawers. We moved to desktop computers for students – we kept a time-sharing system for the administrators and put terminals in every office. Eventually, we put one computer in each classroom – it was a three- or four-year process. We did a couple of departments a year (like math and science – then English and world language) until we covered everyone.

I would need a lot of time and pages of typing to walk through all the changes – this is just a quick start – but you get the idea!

Q: What makes Trinity special?

A: The people! My students and my colleagues make this a caring and supportive place.