Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Upon arrival in the French classroom of Madame Mirna Misseri P'21,'23 first period of the day, I found students feasting on ratatouille, king cake, and baguettes and brie. Madame was dutifully distributing the foods, prepared by students in the classroom. She discussed the cultural connections and pronunciations of associated vocabulary, boulangerie and boucher. The quiet chit-chat in the classroom was pleasant and polite. The activity transitioned into an independent project on Impressionist artists, as students opened their devices and began working on their slide decks. To close the class, Madame called "roll" interacting with each student specifically in one-on-one conversation in the language. Some questions and responses were standard, but a unique conversation of a minute or so always followed.
A Spanish teacher candidate was recently introduced to the Spanish classes of Señora Judy Fanjul and Señora Sabrina Williams P'31. She observed instruction, conducted a lesson, met other teachers and administrators, and concluded her day with a Don Pancho's lunch with the students in Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, the Spanish Honor Society. Her lesson also included direct and individual student interaction in the native language. "I find the interaction is the best way to assess each student while also relationship-building in a conversational way," shared Señora Elsa Henderson. Sras. Fanjul and Williams utilize comprehensible input as an anchor to their curriculum, challenging each student to stretch from their individual comfort zone as they expand their knowledge and skills. The method is highly conversational. In the next few weeks, we will be expanding the world language program to include lower school Spanish, taught by Señora Amanda Haber P'30,'34. Señora Haber has stated, "Exposure of students to the language at an early level is so critical to their future understandings."
It is generally accepted that knowledge and competency of a world language is a key to success in a global society (Guardian, 2014). But, learning and speaking a new language also supports self-awareness and self-reflection, which can be critical for young children as they develop self-confidence and problem-solving skills (Vorstman, 2011). A self-confident problem-solver takes risks as part of their learning, worried less about failure and focused more on the process and journey.
I was reminded this week of Dr. Wendy Mogel's work The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and her follow-up The Blessing of a B- about raising self-reliant children and resilient teenagers. "Real protection means teaching children to manage risks on their own, not shielding them from every hazard (Mogel, 2008)." Learning a language is about culture and multilingualism... and so... much... more...
Finally, here are some items to consider:
Regarding preschool and lower school, I am very excited as Señora Haber, former long-term sub for Mrs. Kathryn Burgess, begins teaching preschool and lower school Spanish the week of November 9! The schedule is undergoing adjustment to work within current resource times.
Regarding middle school and upper school, please join me in welcoming Señora Elsa Henderson! Coming to us from Franklin Public Schools where she worked in special education support, Sra. Henderson is a native of Mexico and will officially begin on Wednesday, November 2.
Regarding the whole school, join us for It's Fall, Y'all! the SA Fall Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Games, petting zoo, crafts, and loads of fun for all!
Regarding the whole school, we will be closed for students on Tuesday, November 1 as teachers and staff engage in professional development with staff meetings, accreditation work and even CPR training. We will resume classes on Wednesday.
The ratatouille below is not a graphic lifted from the Internet but a picture of the dish meticulously prepared by student Ryan Fisher '25 for his French class. It was as delicious as it looks!