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Snapshot: Jen Reilly

Occupation: I’m a teacher, but right now I’m taking time off to be with my kids. Most recently, I was teaching fifth grade at St Rose School. I’ve taught just about every elementary grade over the years, at various schools.

Family: I’m married to Richard. We have three boys. Conrad is 15, Daniel is 13, and Zachary is 10 years old. We have an exchange student with us right now, too, from Germany. Simone is 15, and she’ll be with us until the end of the school year. It’s more like having a niece with us. Her mom and I were good friends growing up in Trumbull, and I’ve known Simone since she was born.

Pets: We have one dog, Reagan, a rescued mutt, and one bearded dragon, Draco, who was adopted from a friend who couldn’t keep him. Both enjoy snuggling.

How long have you lived in Newtown? We have been here for 16 years. We moved here from Trumbull.

What do you like to do in your free time? I’m the secretary for the Board of Trustees for the C.H. Booth Library, and I teach Religious Education at St Rose. I like to run and I like to read. If I added up all the hobbies I’ve had over the years, it would fill a page. But reading and running are the ways I spend most of my free time, right now.

Do you have a favorite author? It’s always hard to narrow down, but I love Annie Dillard. Her book Teaching A Stone To Talk was outstanding. Her nonfiction I especially like. She’s a naturalist and observes things, and I tend to do that same thing.

Do you have a favorite travel destination? I like going someplace new every time we travel. The last really big trip we took was to Yellowstone National Park. It was a camping trip, starting in Bozeman, Montana, and making our way down to Yellowstone. I have a lot of good memories of the places we’ve been.

What is the best thing about Newtown? The feeling of community here — not just at big events like the Labor Day Parade or the tree lightings, but standing in line at the grocery store, people chat with you. I’ve never felt alone living in Newtown.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? I always look at my grandmother as a model. She grew up in poverty, and was very tough and shrewd. When she passed away, she had managed to retire comfortably, even with only a fourth grade education. She worked as a waitress. She was one of those people who knew what she needed to accomplish, and did it. She didn’t compromise quality. She was very determined.

Do you have a personal philosophy? My mother’s words are what I try to follow: “Make hay while the sun shines.” I think she meant half the time to get outside and play, because it might rain tomorrow. The other half, get your work done while you have good health. That’s how I try to live my life.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? Bridgewater Chocolates. And I’m not ashamed for liking them. I am ashamed, though, that when I have them, I hide them for myself!

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