Vivienne Mulhall loves to share stories — even one about her own life

Lauren Cole, Raider Times staff

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“Be curious, pull on every thread you find,” this is the advice that English teacher Vivienne Mulhall wants to give every student at Watertown High.

She was born in Dublin, Ireland, on a street filled with lots of children. Along with a huge family, she is the oldest of five siblings  

“Out of about 30 houses there were 129 [kids] … it was fantastic,” she said.

While talking about her childhood with these kids, her face lit up. Everyday was a new chance to play games. One of her favorite was ding dong ditch, which is called “knick knack” in Ireland. Another one of her favorite games was a game called “kick the piggy” or “beds,” which is similar to hopscotch “except much more difficult and much more complicated.” Other than that, they played “every game you could think of”: soccer, tennis, and even dodgeball. It really seemed like the best time. 

My favorite thing to do was play on the streets, but I always did love to read and loved words.”

— VIVIENNE MULHALL, Watertown High English teacher

When asked how this was different from what children do now, she said, “We didn’t have equipment, we didn’t have iPhones, we had to use our imagination a lot … you had to do an awful lot of talking, I think that’s where I got my love of words and stories”

She even stated that reading was not her favorite thing to do as a kid.

“No, my favorite thing to do was play on the streets,” she said, “but I always did love to read and loved words.”

This love of words brought her to America 26 years ago to study in the master’s program at Boston College. She received her masters in moderate special needs teaching and began her career at Watertown High 17 years ago as a special needs teacher. Ms. Mulhall now works in the English department, teaching grades 9-12, college prep, and AP English classes.

“School brought me here,” she said. “Love and marriage kept me here.”

Her two favorite authors are Thomas Hardy and Kate Atkins. She loves the type of language and the stories that Thomas Hardy shares, saying, “He really transports you to another place.”

One thing you may not know about Ms. Mulhall is that she’s a “little bit wicked.”

“I do have a wicked sense of humor,” she said, which is why she likes Kate Atkins as they share the same kind of humor.

Although grading takes up most of her time, Ms. Mulhall tries to squeeze in as much reading as she can during the year. However, she says she is never able to read as much as she’d like to.  Despite that she says, “If I’m on a roll during the summer, if I’m lucky [I read] probably 10 books.”

Her favorite kinds of books are the “big sweeping stories,” the ones that make you feel something at the end. She recommends that every student reads the books called “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr and “Being There” by Jerzy Kosinski.  

Her advice to students is “ask lots of questions, don’t be passive in your learning.”

Whether you have her in class or just go to talk with her during your spare time, I can assure you that after leaving Ms. Mulhall’s room you will come out having learned something and holding a smile on your face.

–Nov. 17, 2017–

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