AATF EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS FOR 2019
- Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, CT
- Clover High School, Clover, SC
- Ralston Valley High School, Arvada, CO
- St. Luke’s School, New Canaan CT
Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, CT
AATF member: Ashley Caron
Amity High is a first year recipient of the AATF Exemplary Program. The French Program at Amity High School seeks to provide a robust and comprehensive language learning experience, with instruction across all of the three modes of communication, leveraging ACTFL standards and World-Language-Learning community best practices. Instruction is via classes beginning with conversational and grammatical basics in French I and French II, followed by more advanced courses of study through French III (including an Honors class) and French IV (including opportunities to study for the AP Exam and to earn college credit at the University of Connecticut). The program has showed renewed strength and has flourished due to the enthusiasm and continued dedication to enriching the curriculum with authentic learning opportunities.
Students enrolled in French are presented with experiences outside of the classroom including a myriad of field trips to French restaurants and crêperies, in addition to visits to the Yale Art Gallery and Hill-Stead Museum, whereby the tours are conducted in French. Amity also offers bi-annual trips to Québec for Carnaval or to France, whereby students have the opportunity to be immersed in the French language and cultures of these regions, while applying their learning to a real-world setting.
The Amity chapter of the National French Honor Society is very active as well, taking part in a variety of community service programs with nearby schools, organizing a Crêpe and Croissant Night at our school as fundraisers, and making monetary donations to deserving charities including: UNICEF, High-Five for Haiti, and organizing a book drive for Mauritania. The society also raises money as part of a scholarship fund for graduating seniors who plan to continue their studies of French.
Each year the French teachers, Ashely Caron (MA, UConn, La Sorbonne) and Mohamedou Moustapha (PhD) are inspired to continue the growth of the French program by integrating current culture, socio-political events, pop culture and art into their curriculum and extracurricular activities to bring relevancy and enthusiasm for the language thus demonstrating how the acquisition of French can bring a keener sense of global awareness and enlightenment.
Clover High School, Clover, SC
AATF member: Jennifer Reschly
Clover High School in Clover, SC is honored to receive the Exemplary Program award from the AATF. Over the past 5 years, we have been fortunate enough to grow our program, and currently have three full-time French teachers in our school, one of which teaches exclusively on our 9th grade campus. We collaborate frequently in order to provide our students with good articulation throughout each level, and consistent proficiency-based assessments. Our goal is to provide a communicative and culturally engaging environment for our students, including having the opportunity to connect and communicate with students around the world. Our school offers an AP program in French, and honors credit in levels 3 and 4. We have recently participated in the National French Contest and plan to continue and build our participation in this nationwide event. In addition, our school offers membership to French Club and Société Honoraire de Français. These organizations are very active, and participate with daily events in National French Week and National Foreign Language Week. For example, we serve café au lait and croissants to staff, set up trivia and photo booths in the cafeteria for all students during lunches, host a Day of No English, and sell French desserts. The French Club meets monthly and takes a trip to a French restaurant once a year, in addition to hosting a Bûche de Noël bake-off, chocolate-making, cheese-tasting, scavenger hunts, and Mardi Gras crafts. The French Honor Society has monthly French conversation hours at a nearby café and also interacts in the community through creating Impressionist paintings, tutoring other French students, and serving at school and community events, like the Back to School bash.
Ralston Valley High School, Arvada, CO
AATF member: Andrea Leslie
Ralston Valley High School is a Professional Learning Community where we focus on the whole student. Our entire staff collaborates on the best classroom practices to maximize student learning. Our World Language Department offers Spanish, French and German, levels one through AP. For the first time in many years, two of our feeder middle schools are offering French 1. How exciting to see interest in French growing here in our Denver-area community!
Our French department has one full-time teacher – me, Andrea Leslie, and one part-time teacher, Dr. Christian Roche. I am National Board Certified and have been teaching here for 15 years. Dr. Roche, a native French speaker, has a PhD in French literature and shares his time teaching between our school and Metro State University in Denver.
Our entire department strives to meet the goal of 90% instruction in the target language. As we move toward more project-based assessments and IPAs, we are introducing more and more authentic sources–articles, videos, infographics, songs. We are fortunate to have one-to-one technology allowing us to weave technology tools into the daily curriculum is easy. Students watch videos or listen to a podcast or song as often as they like and at their own pace. Research becomes easier–we can simply let students loose to explore topics on their own, then share what they learn through online platforms which also allows for interpersonal written exchanges.
As we design lesson plans, we are always asking the question: How does this relate to a real-life situation? Using the Integrated Performance Assessment model, we set a series of tasks in a real-world setting. As our Spanish-teaching colleagues also use IPAs, we collaborate on cross-language activities. We also have a new approach to end-of-unit assessment–no more large tests. Instead, students do a cumulative project that brings together all elements of the unit. Along the way, we will give small check-point assessments to determine if students are learning the key elements they need to succeed. These projects are designed to be culturally relevant and include choice.
What is more culturally appealing and relevant to hungry teenagers than food? Typical culinary events include making crêpes for La Chandeleur and reenacting Paris’ contest for the best baguette as the Grand Prix de la Baguette d’Arvada. Outside the classroom, we participate in the Denver area’s annual Festinéma Junior sponsored by the Alliance Française de Denver and in the variety of activities and competitions at the University of Northern Colorado multi-state World Language Day. As we know the best ways for students to experience French is to actually be in French-speaking country, our program has offered a trip to France or Quebec every year; often these include a homestay.
We have a very active Société Honoraire de Français; we celebrate National French Week with a chocolate mousse eating contest, a French Top Chef competition and a French Waiter’s Race. We celebrate la Saint Catherine by making fancy hats and gingerbread pigs. Students also learn to make such culinary creations as a croquembouche or a croque monsieur. French movie afternoons happen regularly.
Every French student participates in the Grand Concours.
Looking forward, our goal is to graduate students who are work-force ready with important language skills. We have just learned that our school district will be offering a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to any student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language. We are embracing this and will continue to develop and refine our instruction so that it is rigorous, relevant and useful to students are they look forward to a global work environment.
St. Luke’s School, New Canaan CT
AATF member: Jon Shee
- Jon Shee – 25 years teaching French, 21 years at St. Luke’s • Upper School World Language Chair
- Susan Sarrazin – 20 years teaching French, 6 years at St. Luke’s • Middle School World Language Chair
- Amber Berry – 12 years teaching French, 9 years at St. Luke’s • Head of Middle School, MS French teacher
- Evan Downey – 13 years teaching French, 7 years at St. Luke’s • Upper School French teacher
- Cynthia Badan– 5 years teaching French, 2nd year at St. Luke’s • Middle School French teacher
- Beth Yavenditti – 14 years teaching French, 14 years at St. Luke’s • Director of Global Education
All teachers have a commitment to a full-immersion, French-only environment, from the Middle School through to the Upper School. Students ask their questions in French, and English is not permitted in our classes.
Our teacher-to-student ratio is excellent, with about one teacher for every 9 students on average for each section.
The school administration is highly supportive of the French program, as are the parents and the students.
Our 182 French students represent approximately 36% of ALL students studying language in grades 6-12. Other languages offered are Spanish, Latin, Mandarin (grades 9-12) and Ancient Greek (every other year). Given the fact that we are a smaller school, we are proud to be able to offer such a wide range of options with 13 separate sections of French in grades 7-12 plus 4 sections of 6th grade French.
Beyond seeing our students’ results through simple test scores, we have excellent success in terms of our alumni continuing on with French after graduation, either at college or at work.
For 8 years now, regular one-on-one videoconferencing sessions with students abroad are part of many courses’ curricula, and provide students with the ultimate authentic experience in which to communicate with peers in the target language.
Our Upper School has a long-standing partnership with a private school in Paris, Saint Michel de Picpus, and this year marked the 12th anniversary of our relationship, making it our longest running exchange program.
St. Luke’s is an innovator in terms of blended learning in World Languages, and now all level 1 language classes (French, Spanish, Latin, and Mandarin) are offered as blended courses, and it all started with our French 1 program. As part of expansion efforts, we created and launched a program called “World Language Learning Online” or “W.L.L.O.”, in which students may cover the content of a full level one French course at their own pace, anytime.
In addition to Le Grand Concours, we present the AATF Outstanding Senior in French award each year and we also send nominees for the Connecticut-based “AATF CT Tom Betts Senior Prize” and the “AATF CT Alberta Conte Junior Prize.” In 2018, the candidate from St. Luke’s won the CT AATF Senior Prize, so we were thrilled. Our French students participate in the Connecticut-based COLT Poetry Competition as well.
Our French team gets very excited about National French Week each year. We do special classroom activities, but also work hard to get the community involved. In particular, we decorate many of the public spaces, offer fun activities during the three lunch periods, and do presentations in front of the entire student body. Another major language-based celebration at our school is called World Language Week and it is a yearly event that usually takes place in late April. The French program puts a huge amount of effort into World Language Week, as well.
Outside of World Language Week, our French program offers other events for students that involve leaving campus. For example, French 4 students read Gaston Leroux’s novel “Le fantôme de l’opéra” every year, so Jon Shee takes students to New York each spring to see the melodramatic masterpiece live.
All teachers are active members of the AATF and attend at least one AATF event per year, though most of us attend most or all local AATF events. Please visit www.aatfct.org/aatf-ct-events to see pictures of our AATF involvement.
To see many pictures and videos of our many French-related programs, please visit: