Age 85

Sister Mary Marlene Cunningham was a Sister of Mercy for 65 years. Sister Marlene’s first assignment was teaching first grade at St. Matthew’s School in Edison, New Jersey. She was assigned next to St. Joseph’s School in Keyport, New Jersey, and then to Holy Spirit School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in 1971. Then, she was appointed principal at St. Matthew’s, where she served four years.

Subsequently, Sister Marlene was sent to St. Francis Cathedral School, where she taught on the intermediate level and served as vice-principal for a year before being appointed principal, this time for 17 years.

During that time, she spearheaded a dramatic increase in the use of technology. Computer and science labs were not always found in elementary schools. Still, they were designed, enrollment increased, and before and after-school programs were instituted for students whose parents’ work hours exceeded school day hours.

During the next ten years, she served at Georgian Court University, evaluating junior student teachers as a student teacher observer and supervisor. She was also the director at the Brielle Learning Center, assistant to the supervisor of Bay Head, New Jersey public schools, and assistant to the principal at St. Paul School in New Jersey.

Sister Marlene has taught on all levels in elementary schools and received awards as an Outstanding Educator in Edison Township and the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. In recent years, Sister has resided at St. James Convent, Red Bank, New Jersey, and served as an evening receptionist at St. Leo Rectory in Lincroft, New Jersey.