Art teacher Mr. Willy Corbett will clean his last paintbrush and theatre director Ms. Teresa De Zarn will take her last bow as the 2021-22 school year comes to a close.
For the past 24 years, Mr. Corbett has touched the lives of students while teaching drawing and painting and coaching basketball, football, softball, baseball, and golf. In addition to his talent, Mr. Corbett is known for his humor and his deep faith.
Senior Morgan Svarda said, “As a freshman walking into Mr. Corbett’s class, I knew instantly that it was going to be my ‘happy place’. Mr. Corbett has kept all my days at McNick fun and lively with his never-ending dad jokes and singing. He has truly inspired me through his openness about his faith life. Mr. Corbett started class with prayer every day, without fail. He gave us many faith-based projects and inspiration boards, always circling back to our Cathodic education. He has helped me define the type of artist I am and showed me how I can use that in the future.”
Mr. Corbett begin his career at McNicholas in 1994 as an assistant football coach under John Rodenberg. He began coaching baseball in the spring of 1998 where he led the Rockets to a State Championship. He joined the faculty as a full-time art teacher in August of 1998 where he’s taught countless Rockets, including his five daughters.
SAIL teacher Mrs. Val Combs, who has known Mr. Corbett since he began teaching at McNicholas, said, “I have many wonderful memories of Willy...wowing us with his magic tricks, inspiring us in faith and prayer, impersonating Elvis on Faculty Retreat, rolling down the hill with students on Kairos, auctioneering with my husband at McNick at Night, coaching my nephew in baseball, and most of all, caring for students and sharing his heartfelt passion and gift of art with all of us.”
Corbett plans to continue coaching baseball and girls’ golf during his retirement and is looking forward to spending time with his children, grandchildren, and wife Teresa, a 1975 McNicholas graduate.
Ms. De Zarn, a 1976 graduate of McNicholas, returned to her alma mater to teach theatre after a 25-year career as a professional actor in New York City. In her 10 years as the McNicholas Theater Director, she has directed 10 musicals, at least 20 plays, and dozens of showcase performances.
Senior Arden Jakubovic said, “Ms. De Zarn is talented, dedicated, and passionate about the performing arts in a way I have never seen. She introduced me to the wonderful bones that theatre can create, and she has inspired me to spend my life doing what I love most: stage managing. Though she is leaving, the mark she has left on the McNick theatre will never fade. She has built a wonderful program that will continue to build strong, passionate performers. I cannot thank her enough for all the support and love she has given me.”
Mrs. Julie Dill, English teacher and producer for many McNicholas theatre productions, said, “Teresa has made theatre class fun and engaging and a comfortable and accepting place for all of her students, but she has high expectations for them as well. She challenges them to improve their acting skills and holds them accountable. She celebrates her students' theatrical accomplishments, especially the students who work hard and grow as actors. In her shows, all students are important—the leads and the tech workers and the painters and the stage crew. She gives all of her students a chance to shine in the many aspects of theatre. She has worked to make theatre a place of brilliance for McNicholas.”
Ms. De Zarn is celebrating her retirement from teaching high school students but plans to continue working in the performance field, acting in commercials, plays, and film. Ms. De Zarn said, “I have absolutely loved teaching here at McNick and felt like I had something to give back to my alma mater, but at this point in my life, with grandkids and children scattered about, I want to free up my time for more family time…It has been an honor to be the Theatre Director at McNick and I will treasure the memories forever."