Many people comment on the family spirit at Marist, but for teachers Dan Brant and Alessia Zulato, it’s reality. The married couple are both full-time members of the school’s World Language Department.
The two met while studying abroad in France during the 2004-2005 school year at the Université de Caen in Normandy, France. They met through a mutual friend and have been together since.
The couple, married since 2009, said they had no apprehension about being colleagues since they had worked together at different times in the past in France and even had adjoining offices at various times in the Foreign Languages Building at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (UIUC).
“It’s been great,” Dan said. “We both really understand the challenges and demands of teaching, so I think that helps. It’s also nice to be able to bounce ideas off each other.” Alessia points out they do a good job of not allowing work to consume conversations at home. “Even though we don’t see each other a lot during the school day, we are still able to work in a short ‘coffee date’ if we share an off mod. It is also nice to carpool together,” she explained.
Dan, a Northern California native, attended University of Idaho, received his master’s from
New York University, and earned his doctorate at the UIUC. He started at Marist in 2015 and teaches sophomore and senior French classes along with a new Global Cinema course he created.
Alessia grew up in Turin, a city in northern Italy. She received her bachelor’s degree from Università di Torino in Italy, her master’s from Université de Rennes 2 in France, and is currently involved in advanced graduate work in French at UIUC. She initially covered a maternity leave at Marist in the spring of 2016 and became a full-time faculty member in 2017. She teaches all the Italian classes at the school.
Dan says he enjoys the positive energy he feels in the school every day, while Alessia likes the sense of community and the students. They live nearby with their daughters Eleonora, 6, and Elisa, six months.