AATF EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS FOR 2020
- Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL
- Boiling Springs High School, Boiling Springs, PA
- Edwin O. Smith Regional, Stoors-Mansfield, CT
- Greendale High School, Greendale, WI
- Kettering-Fairmont, Kettering, OH
- Muskego High School, Muskego, WI
- Onalaska High School, Onalaska, WI
- University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI
Exemplary Programs with Honors
Boiling Springs High School, Boiling Springs, PA
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Michael Bogdan
The French program at Boiling Springs High School is served by one full-time teacher, one shared middle school / high school French teacher, and one shared high school French / Spanish teacher. We work collaboratively with our Spanish teacher colleagues for a dynamic, innovative, and highly-respected World Language Department. Two of the three French teachers are National Board certified and are the first and only two staff members in the entire district with that distinction. All have studied abroad in Francophone nations. All are members of and participate in local, state, and regional professional development conferences as well as the AATF Susquehanna Valley Chapter.
All seventh graders take an introductory French course as part of their creative arts cycle; this graded course meets for one trimester. Eighth graders choose between French I, Spanish I, or are placed in a remedial reading course. Most students who complete the first level at the middle school are able to begin in the second level at the high school. Due to semester block scheduling, some students take two credits in one year. Language is considered a core subject.
While many French programs are showing enrollment declines or are under attack, we have found a resurgence in interest in our program, realizing that it is the result of the faculty providing strong lessons and unique opportunities to our students. These opportunities include biennial trips to France, participation in the Grand Concours, French Club activities, the Société Honoraire de Français, National French Week, National Foreign Language Week, an international dinner, pen pals in the Toulouse area, local competitions, internships, and service opportunities with our Special Education Department.
All French teachers follow best practices for language teaching. Through stations, our 1-1 laptop program, flipped lessons, and collaborative learning, we work to put the learner at the center of instruction. We teach 90% to 100% in the target language and provide students with the skills to
progress to that goal as well. Through regular and honors classes, and sometimes courses with a special education professional, we strive to meet the needs of diverse learners. We started to achieve our goal this year of moving forward with a revamp of our curriculum to focus on IPA assessments and culturally-based units. We already have moved our grade books and assessments to Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational modes of communication, as reflected by the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards.
All three of us are proud to be French teachers. We hope to continue providing our students the
opportunities to discover other cultures as they learn about themselves and their place in our
connected world. Recognition by AATF has been a significant honor, one that we have fully
publicized to our school and community so that all are aware of the strength of our program and
the strength of the students with whom we have the pleasure to work each day.
Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Katie Jewett
Edwin O. Smith Regional, Stoors-Manfield, CT
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Melissa Tubbs
The E.O. Smith French program, run by Melissa Tubbs since 2013, has experienced steady growth and now counts 113 students across 6 classes and 5 levels. Thematic units in all levels 1 through 3 each have performance-based formative and summative assessments that are assessed on rubrics using ACTFL and department-specific skill standards. French 4 now has an AP option with the number of test takers increasing yearly, and French 5 is a semesterised ECE course in conjunction with UConn. The curriculum boasts thematic, vertically aligned units across all levels, using adapted and authentic materials and relevant topics that connect to students’ lives. These include (but are not limited to): cuisine, health, interpersonal relationships, growing up, shopping, travel, music, art, sports, theater and cinema, just to name a few. The French 3 and 4 curricula are written in the 6 College Board AP strands.
A cornerstone of the French program is the Mastery approach to learning and the Peer Tutoring support program, which have proven over the years to instill a better work ethic and ensure a stronger grasp of the content on the part of both tutors and tutees. The success of Mastery learning in the program would be impossible without the commitment and enthusiasm of peer tutors, many of whom were once tutees themselves. As of this year, 23 World Language Honor Society tutors (juniors and seniors), and 12 preservice sophomore tutors assist 40 tutees on a weekly basis.
The E. O. Smith French program has multiple opportunities for travel and service learning: a biannual exchange with a lycée in Quimper, Bretagne, France; a smaller weekend trip to Quebec; a Société Honoraire de Français; the aforementioned Peer Tutoring program; and a more informal French Club, organized each year by dedicated seniors. It is a small but mighty program, and a wonderful group of students who make their teacher very proud!
Interlake High School, Bellevue, WA
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Sandrine Colomb
Kettering-Fairmont High School, Kettering, OH
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Mary Townsend
The Kettering Fairmont High School French Program in Ohio has again received EXEMPLARY WITH HONORS distinction from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF). There are only a handful of schools in the United States to hold this title, and Fairmont is the only high school in the midwest region to be awarded this honor. They have held this distinction since 2015.
The French program at FHS has enjoyed great growth and success in the past several years. All students take the Grand Concours National French Test. The program now includes eighth graders, and offers a new Honors II and Honors III program as well as International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Honors IV and V; the latter two courses offer college credit for advanced coursework. Because of their strong background in French, many FHS graduates go on to major and minor in French studies at their chosen universities while others test out of their college language requirements completely.
Over 150 FHS students have participated in the French travel program in the past several years and they recently introduced the Sister City Program for home-stay summer exchange. These programs enhance and augment students’ French language skills, international-mindedness and global understanding that is promoted in the classroom. Other notable student accomplishments include participation in AATF National French Week and annual winners in the National French essay contest, National Video Contest, SHF National French Writing Contest and $1000 travel scholarship program. Each year about two dozen members are tapped for induction into the Société d’Honneur Français French National Honor Society. Throughout the school year, students enjoy campus immersion experiences and visits from French and Francophone visitors to the classroom.
Fairmont’s vibrant French Club has 100 members and holds many events of Francophone culture including visits to regional museums, our annual Cheese-Tastings and Mardi Gras celebrations. Students make traditional macarons and celebrate with fondue, crèpes, mousse and more. A sporty addition to activities includes playing the traditional Pétanque ballgame, sets purchased with monies received from a national grant. They donated funds to refugees and adopt children at Christmastime. The senior class humanitarian “Peace Bracelets” project raised $600 for the International Red Cross. Students organized for a tree to be planted in memory of a fallen classmate. A scholarship fund was developed in this classmate’s name to be offered annually to a French senior. KFHS French Department holds an annual Cérémonie d’Honneur to honor their many Grand Concours national laureates, SHF inductees and recognize outstanding seniors and international students. The program also features talented French student musicians, acknowledging Fairmont’s international Francophone students and presenting the AATF Outstanding Senior Award.
The FHS French Department staff is comprised of teachers Mary Townsend and Michele McCarty. Mary recently held state office in AATF and was French Affiliate to the Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA) and is an Ohio Department of Education Master Teacher. She was chosen as OFLA Outstanding High School Teacher for Modern Languages and also received the AATF Valette Legacy Award for increased growth in a French program. Michele taught at the university level before joining FHS faculty. They have both studied abroad and travel extensively. Their partnership, passion for French and dedication to their students’ success has garnered continued national recognition for excellence in French at Kettering Fairmont High School.
Onalaska High School, Onalaska, WI
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Brian Wopat
The Onalaska High School French Program strives to provide students with the foundation for language skills and global competencies before they embark on their journey to post-secondary schooling, military service, or career. The program provides students two choices for French studies at OHS: Regular French 1, 2, 3, 4 and AP French Language and Culture. Students are exposed to 6 weeks of French instruction in 8th grade. For each group of students, the high school teachers travel to the middle school to start the process of making connections with students, explaining the high school program, and to promote long-term study of French.
Teachers Amy Ticknor, Brian Wopat and Rebecca Chaouki strive to provide students with real-world experiences while learning French. This includes giving students pen pals from Langres, France and bringing in guest speakers from France to talk to the students. The teachers participate in a program through UW-Madison called Student Connections. This program partners up current UW-Madison students studying in Aix-en-Provence to provide extra teaching materials and communicate with students. The students write back and forth along with Skyping numerous times throughout the year.
The teachers believe it is important to provide students a clear picture of how learning French is a lifelong process and that the transition from high school to postsecondary school isn’t that daunting. Each year, the teachers take the level 4/AP students to UW-La Crosse to sit in on a third or fourth semester French class. They work with the professor to involve the students in the lesson as if they were university students. Afterward, the group goes to the local French restaurant for an French meal and French conversation. Furthermore, we have brought in former students to share their experience of continuing learning French beyond high school and how it has positively impacted their lives. With the Lead with Languages campaign, the teachers created posters with how students have continued to use their French past high school to hang in the hallway for students to look at.
Finally, our program works continuously to provide students opportunities to be involved in using their French experiences outside of the classroom. We sponsor a French National Honor Society, French Club, opportunities to participate in the French Speaking Pronunciation Contest and the National French Contest.
University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI
Exemplary Program with Honors
AATF member: Jessica Miller
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire French section promotes multilingualism as the key to intercultural understanding through a wide variety of courses and programs: a certificate in French proficiency, a French minor, and a French major, including a teaching track. Dr. Jessica Miller, Dr. Lise Hoy, and Prof. Amanda Hilson teach student- centered classes in which examples from la francophonie provide multiple perspectives, celebrate the diversity inherent to French studies, and give a voice to underrepresented groups. The curriculum is based on clear program outcomes that are assessed yearly.
Finally, Dr. Hoy and Dr. Miller have worked together to develop upper-division courses that will pique students’ interest. Dr. Hoy developed a course on French gastronomy, as well as a course on the city of Paris through history. Dr. Miller updated the pronunciation course as a content-based class on the theme of creativity with a multicultural focus, and created two 400-level class: one on the topic of environmental and linguistic diversity, and another on the topic of social justice.
Despite national and local challenges impacting language studies, the current numbers indicate that UW-French is strengthening. Today, there are 102 students with a declared French program, the highest number recorded in available data (2001-present), with a significant from 67 students only 3 years ago in 2017. The French program at UW-Eau Claire is undeniably strong for a mid-size liberal arts university in a Midwestern town.
Efforts to articulate the curriculum in order for students to meet program and course outcomes, to offer courses that are culturally relevant and updated, and to advise and support students have been effective and need to continue.
Exemplary Programs with Distinction
Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL
Exemplary Program with Distinction
AATF member: Nitya Viswanath
Amos Alonzo Stagg High School has a wealth of opportunities for students who are curious about the world and want to know more about French language and culture. For my students, who come from vastly different backgrounds culturally and economically, language studies can be transformative. For some of my students, travel is not even in the picture economically, socially, culturally. Regardless, I know that travel will be possible for all students someday, maybe not always during high school. In the meantime, our program works hard to ensure that our students’ French language education can open eyes, ears, minds and doors to future opportunities- to a future driven by curiosity and a desire to keep learning about the world.
There is so much that we (me and our very supportive administrative team) can accomplish right in our classroom and in our community to provide language opportunities as part of the Stagg French Program. My students and I “travel” – to Paris, Dakar, Martinique, Québec, Beirut, Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar), and to so many other Francophone places. My students can gain global perspectives regardless of whether or not they can afford to travel. My students whose parents come from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo also provide stories and perspectives to help us understand the Francophone world. Our connections with our penpals in Bauges, France and our visits from the Québécois players on the Chicago Wolves have been ways to bring the world into our classroom. And being in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, we’re able to visit culturally significant places such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Holocaust Museum where we can continue to explore sources of Francophone cultures and histories.
The growth of our program has taken time and is still a work in progress! Now, nine years into developing this program, we have so much to offer our students and we want to continue to grow. For all Stagg High School students, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the French program, we offer the French Circle, a student-led language and culture club where students can engage in interactive activities that explore facets of French culture like music, fashion and festivals. We are a member of the National French Honor Society, a program offered to students who stay enrolled in the French program for multiple years of study and meet the academic and cultural requirements. We are the home of current and former gold, silver and bronze medalists in Le Grand Concours, the National French Contest. We offer cultural fieldtrips for French classes levels 2 and above that allow our students to connect their classroom language learning to the outside world. We’re also very proud that our students leave the program confident that they can converse in French. Students in Level 4 / AP are in 100% French language settings and are able to function in the language with confidence. We offer opportunities for students to earn college credit through the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy and the AP French program and we have students who continue French classes at the college level.
It’s been our pleasure and privilege to learn about and work with organizations with Francophone connections like Expanding Lives (https://www.expandinglives.org/ ). And we’ve invited speakers into our classroom, such as visits from Francophone members of the Chicago Wolves, to help students interact with Francophone speakers and hear the stories of people from the Francophone world. We are working constantly to connect our students with opportunities that push our students grow socially, creatively, and academically through their work with the French language.
Creativity, collaboration, communication, flexibility- these are all 21 st century skills. We are proud to be able to help students develop these skills in our program, along with a compassion and concern for the world around us. We love that our students leave the program with a sense confidence that they know something about the world and want to keep learning and interacting, via their interest and passion in French language and Francophone cultures.
Greendale High School, Greendale, WI
Exemplary Program with Distinction
AATF member: Sarah Thompson
Bonjour! I am Sarah Thompson and I have had the honor of building the French program in the Greendale School District for the past six years. I started teaching at the middle school in Fall of 2015 and have since been fortunate enough to work with an amazing group of colleagues in both the Spanish
and German departments who have helped me to grow as a professional.
Greendale Middle School offers French, German and Spanish to 6th and 7th graders on an every other day schedule, and for 8th grade as an elective, that meets every day. When I first started in 2015, there were four sections at the middle school which has now increased to six. For students who choose to continue French in 8th grade most are able to go into French 2 their freshman year in high school.
The high school program has had its ups and downs over the years; however, since I began teaching at the high school in 2017 the enrollment, especially at the higher levels, has continued to grow. Every grade level from middle school to high school, has a strong scope and sequence that is centered around the six Advanced Placement Themes and the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards. Each level is made up of thematic units based on best practices with essential questions, proficiency targets, can do statements, affirmative values, and performance-based assessments. Teaching at both the middle and high school, has allowed me the ability to provide numerous opportunities to the students that were not previously available to those in either the middle school or the high school. This could not have been accomplished without parental support. Some of these opportunities included events such as: pen pal exchanges, field to attend UW-Milwaukee’s French Day, and explore the Art Institute of Chicago to experience some French artistic culture. I even afforded my students the opportunity to participate in AATF sponsored French contests such as the Grand Concours and the Concours Oral.
Over the years my students have been inducted into the les Jeunes Amis du Français and Société Honoraire du Français or French National Honor Societies and participate in National French Week contests. Students were able to apply for scholarship opportunities offered through the Swiss Benevolent Society of Chicago, which allowed them to attend the Concordia Language Villages. They were also able to practice their language skills with some visiting Canadians when the Friendship Force of Milwaukee visited our classrooms. Opportunities such as these have allowed students to explore all that the Francophone language has to offer with the added benefit of the students making lasting friendships along the way. We were also able to establish a French Club Program that provided enrichment activities surrounding the French culture for all students to participate in, regardless if they took French classes or not. Along with building a sense of community amongst the students, they were able to develop and increase their knowledge in both the French culture and the very language itself. I have attached photos below showing some of the students as they participated in the various activities.
Being able to teach these students has been one of the most rewarding experiences I could have ever imagined as a teacher. Most of my high school students were ones whom I had previously taught when they were in middle school. Being part of their journey from the most novice level of French to the more advanced French levels has allowed me to deepen my relationships with them as a trusted mentor based on mutual respect. I have watched my students become a special type of family, supporting and encouraging each other throughout their language journey. It has been a truly joyful and inspiring experience to watch students who came into 6th grade with no previous French knowledge, develop such intense and unscripted discussions in the French language. These discussions can extend anywhere from simply hearing about the various group chats they have outside of school in French to the study sessions they participate in to prepare for their exams.
I have been so blessed to have started my career in the Greendale School District where I have been able to share my passion and love for the Francophone language and culture. Not only have I been able to provide these wonderful students with a quality education in French, but I have had the pleasure of helping them to grow to become global citizens. It has been a privilege to help them grow as individuals and collectively in the francophone language and culture. I am honored and humbled by the recognition the Greendale High School French Program has received from AATF through this award.
Muskego High School, Muskego, WI
AATF member: Paula Johnson-Fox
Bonjour! My name is Paula Johnson-Fox, and I am the French teacher at Muskego High School. I started teaching French in Muskego in 1996 after earning my Master of Arts in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I am a member of local, state, and national professional organizations and participate regularly in their professional development and networking opportunities.
Muskego High School is a suburban public high school located in Southeast Wisconsin, west of Milwaukee. We currently offer French and Spanish classes for levels 1-6. Our French 5 and 6 students are able to earn college credit while in high school through the CAPP dual-enrollment program sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Our middle school program offers French 1 and 2 in grades 7 and 8. These courses use the same curriculum and assessments as the high school level 1 and 2 courses; therefore, students can enroll in French 3 as a freshman.
As a teacher, I focus on using French at least 90% of the time, and I infuse lessons with elements from many different methodologies. Activities and assessments vary according to my students’ interests, strengths, and needs. Each unit uses a wide-variety of activities so that students have multiple opportunities to interact with, react to, and communicate in the target language. Instruction focuses on the areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking through whole class, small group, and partner work. The ultimate goal is for all students to develop a higher level of proficiency in all three modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational.
Culture is at the center of every lesson and students are encouraged to compare the target culture’s products, practices, and perspectives to those of their own culture. In order to do this, authentic resources are used in all levels of instruction. Throughout the year, we celebrate culture through holidays; la Saint Nicolas (making shoes), la Chandeleur (cooking crêpes), and Mardi Gras (eating King’s Cake), for example.
Muskego High School students have celebrated National French Week since its inception by the AATF. Some of the students’ favorite traditions include our mancala tournament, the Eiffel Tower construction contest, dancing, and eating French foods. Additionally, since 2017, students have listened to, watched, discussed, and voted on their favorite songs and music videos during Manie Musicale de Mars, and this year, we added the Noel Madness bracket to our December lessons.
In order for students to realize the relevance of French and encourage their interest in Francophone cultures, Muskego High School offers students opportunities to use their French outside of the classroom. Our French Club is open to all students who have an interest in French, regardless of their enrollment in a French class. Past events have included the homecoming banner competition, field trips to the Holiday Folk Fair, crêpe making parties, decoration of mini bûches de Noël, BreakoutEDU games, and GooseChase scavenger hunts. Additionally, the Muskego Chapter of Société Honoraire de Français completes service projects to benefit local and global charitable organizations. We have sponsored food drives, hosted tutoring sessions, and helped at school events like Course Information Night and 8th Grade Orientation. This year, students are raising money for Heifer International and painting Kindness Rocks to be hidden around the community.
Muskego French and Spanish students have the opportunity to travel to France and Spain every other year. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to use French to meet their daily needs, to see famous museums and monuments studied in class, and compare their culture to those of both France and Spain. For many students on the trip, this is their first time traveling internationally, and it is exciting to see their cultural observations firsthand.
My personal hope is that by studying French, students are encouraged to be global citizens who appreciate the diversity of the world around them. Furthermore, I hope that students are inspired to become francophiles who want to continue studying the French language and learning about Francophone cultures. And finally, when given the opportunity, I hope alumni will be able to use the French language they learned in class successfully in real-life situations and have an appreciation of the wide variety of cultures they may encounter in their adult life through work, travel, or personal relationships.
Last update: August 25, 2020