30 June 2010

Au revoir, mes enfants

It's hard to believe that the school year has ended

Between my two schools, I've been consumed by a flurry of end-of-the year picnics, vocal concerts, cocktails with colleagues, and goodbyes.

My last day of school, I fought back tears as my students presented me with a bound book of drawings, letters, and thank you notes.  They also had cards for my fiancé Jim, which they instructed me to deliver unopened! Even though they only met him once, they adored him, and had never ceased to ask about how he was doing, and whether or not I returned every weekend to the USA to visit him! (I wish, hehe!)

I handed out handmade certificates of excellence for their performance in English class, and received hundreds of hugs and bisous in return.  Several cried, imploring me to come back next year. Gently, I explained that I didn't want to leave them, that if my contract had been renewed in Metz, I would not be going to Toulouse. I promised them I would never love my university students as much as them. One girl, Manon, was sobbing inconsolably. Interestingly, she's the last kid I'd expect to react this way to my departure, seeing how she was quite the troublemaker this year

I already feel such a void for my students and colleagues. I would absolutely live for 10am coffee breaks in the teacher's room, where we'd share cake and swap jokes and stories about problem students.  Shortly after my arrival, I would sit back, struggling to understand the nuances of their conversations... and now, nine months later, I understand everything, and even contribute.  

My colleagues presented me with a large decorative candle and a beautiful silver necklace to express their appreciation for my work with the kids.  I was praised by colleagues and parents alike for 'working wonders' with the kids and for being dynamic in the classroom. But truly, the kids were MY educators. Unbeknownst to them, they  helped my French more than I ever helped their English. Every time they asked a question, tattled on one another, or simply spoke amongst themselves, my French vocabulary grew. They taught me to laugh in a way I never thought possible. They drove me crazy at times, but never would I have had it any other way. They are my living proof that love knows no boundaries, no matter what language or nation we hail from

I will never forget my first French teacher, Madame Boehmer, at Heritage Junior High. At 12 years old, my love affair with France and the French language began, thanks to her. Her passion and enthusiasm made the language come alive to me, and she will always dwell in my heart. If I managed to touch the lives of these children a fraction of the amount Madame Boehmer touched mine, I will have succeeded

I came to France because I wanted to live in the country of my dreams.  Nine months ago, teaching was simply a means to get here. Keep in mind my degree is in graphic design, not education. That was of no concern to me; I would have done anything to get here... 

I just never expected teaching to become the most fulfilling thing I've ever done.  I wonder if I'll ever be capable of doing anything else again.

My CE2 class (second graders)

Group hug!

Un bisou!

Balloon release 
(the kids attached their names and the school address 
and phone number to see where their balloons would travel.)

Up, up and away!

Some of my colleagues at an end of the year picnic


  1. This is such a wonderful blog, I am quite astonished to see it languishing here with no comments and no follow up.

    How is it going in Toulouse?

    Did you get your computer repaired?

    How are you doing?

    It's been 3 months since your last post, are you planning to pick up where you left off?

    Drop by ...Spit and Baling Wire... if time permits and say hello!

    Bonne continuation, JamieNoelle!

  2. Teaching can be very rewarding, even at times when you may not feel so. I'm sure those last days were very encouraging and the memory will help spur you on through your university experience. I love you!



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