Jean Villari, known as Mrs. V, has officially retired as a substitute teacher for District 91 in Forest Park. Her interest in teaching began many years ago when she was a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School where she eagerly joined an organization known as Future Teachers of America. 

 After graduating from Mundelein College with a B.A. in Elementary Education, she was hired by the Chicago Archdiocese. She taught as a full-time teacher for 10 years at St. Simeon in Bellwood and St. Hyacinth in Chicago. 

 In the summer of her first year of teaching, Jean traveled to Saltillo, Mexico to attend Inter-American University. Living with a Mexican family for a few months provided valuable opportunities to be immersed in cultural activities, practice conversations in Spanish and enjoy lots of delicious cuisine.

 Later, when she returned to Chicago, she met and married her husband, Frank, and together they raised two children. Both parents worked tirelessly at St. Bernardine School, volunteering their time with fundraising activities. Jean even served as a room mother. 

 Her passion for serving others continued after the children were older. During this time she organized and facilitated the Bereavement Ministry at her parish to help people dealing with profound loss. At the same time, she spent many Saturday mornings as a Catechist for the Religious Education Program known as CCD. Preparing fourth grade public school students for the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation was one of her most rewarding experiences.

 Working for 26 years as a substitute teacher in D91 was a labor of love. Arriving early each day at the assigned school was a priority. She was always meticulously prepared and took the time to greet every student with a smile. Her main goal was to provide a happy environment that encouraged children to learn and grow. Mrs. V was known for her “Bag of Tricks,” which included exciting books, activities and maybe even a Gummy Worm or two.

 Her outstanding work ethic and motivation was inspired by her loving parents who maintained that success in life required hard work and discipline. 

 Upon retirement Jean looks forward to volunteering in her parish and community, spending time with friends, family and especially her two granddaughters, Emma and Francesca.

Gloria Hansberry

Forest Park resident