I never imagined I would become a French teacher.
When I was six, I wanted to be an author. When I was sixteen, I wanted to be an actor. I published my first novel in 2010 and have worked professionally in film and theatre for over two decades. So, how did I get here?
I am from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. My peers growing up had been in the very first offering of French Immersion from kindergarten. By junior high, I felt that I was missing something and wanted an enriched academic experience. Luckily, there was an amazing opportunity available to me: Place Immersion Française. P.I.F. was a unique program and was offered less than a dozen times. We were a small group of mostly grade 9 students who chose to push ourselves to become biliingual in one term. We did our English core classes in the first semester. Then in the second semester of grade 9, we were immersed.
And by immersed, I mean TOTALLY. We took recess and lunch at different times than the rest of the school so as not to affect the integrity of our intensive ensemble experience. After the first week, we were not permitted to speak a single word of English. This required us to circumlocute and find our ways into the language. The experience was intense, exhausting, exhilarating, and character building. We were all there by our own volition and we knew we were doing something cutting edge. The year culminated with an student exchange with a school in Marieville, Québec. We had prepared a play en français, which we enacted for our friends and families in both Port Coquitlam and Marieville.
The following year we stayed together for two special classes. Our grasp of French was so great by this point that many of us began to tutor other Immersion students in our school; I tutored my peers, who had had eight more years of French Immersion than I had. For the next two years of high school, those of us who continued French, joined the regular Immersion stream.
I still pursued my dream of being an author and an actor. I was also a model, a clown, a logistical specialist, and many, many other things. I travelled, I married, I divorced. I left university. I went back to university. I secured French-speaking work in film. I refused, after all those many years to lose my French. I had been determined at 14 years old and would not let that hugely formative experience be wasted.
One day, I met a Newfoundlander, fell in love, and moved to St. John's. I felt as if it was time to do something 'productive'. I took my education degree at Memorial University, expecting that I would teach drama.
Instead, I began to teach French. The passion, which had never been extinguished after all those years, returned with a fury. I thought, what better way to pay homage to my inspirational junior high teacher, than to continue his legacy.
I love teaching French. Perhaps, it is less about French and more about the classroom experience. I love sitting with my kids, talking about philosophy, music, linguistics, art, politics, travel, existance. I still write and I still act. I am finishing my thesis this spring and hope to begin a Ph.D. The raging passion to achieve, to do, to experience has never faded.
I hope, if nothing else, that I can impart that to my students. I always tell them to not be satisfied with mediocrity--to be the most they can be and to do the most they can do. Life can be so rich and fulfilling, if only we choose it to be.