Minnesota French Teacher of the Year
Minnesota French Teachers of the Year
Congratulations ! - Félicitations !
- University of Minnesota - Duluth -
The TWENTIETH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Photo: M.L. Wolsey*
[l-r] Milan Kovacovik and Christine Lac, President, AATF- MN chapter
MnAATF Celebratory Event - 28 April, 2017 - Macalester College, Old Main 4th Floor Lounge
Milan Kovacovik,, has been a member of the French faculty at the University of Minnesota - Duluth for several decades. He almost single-handedly saved the UM-D French program a few years back earning the admiration of the French teaching establishment throughout the USA. He actively enourages Minnesota French heritage efforts and has for many many years introduced French media in his courses.
Extraits of nomination letters for Milan Kovakovic
Kirsten Hylenski Department Chair, Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota-Duluth
"In an educational landscape increasingly defined by big data, bureaucracy, and assessment plans, Dr. Milan Kovakovic tenaciously upholds personal relationships and community in his classrooms. He is committed to a deeply engaged one-on-one investment of his time and his talents. A firm supporter of Claremont Graduate University's transdisciplinary perspective on college education, Milan has been combining the study of French language with literature, film, music, and the visual arts long before the 5 Cs of the 21st Century Standards were developed/ Student comments I have read over the years repeatedly speak of how Dr. Kovacovic motivated them - not by force, but by his enthusiasm, deep knowledge of the subject matter, and mutual respect, igniting interest in the student to want to learn."
Chris Ibarra, Marshall School (former student)
Milan has an extensive library of experience which he brings into the classrooms, sharing his own passion in the subject area with otherwise apathetic students in order to create a classroom environment in which students push themselves to discovery.
Due to his constant sparks of inspiration, his students often joke that his catchphrase is "Je reviens tout de suite
'. Nearly every time that a student asks a question directed at a cultural or historical aspect of any vocabulary or grammatical principle, Milan will present a book, film, article, or any other number of primary resources to share with that student, as well as the
class as a whole. No two semesters were the same with Milan because he tailored each class to the students. Without the work that Milan put into my time in his department, both inside and outside of his classroom, I would have never found the successful career in French education that I am currently enjoying.
Françoise Denis, Macalester College retired French professor and co-judge AVLP Speaking Contest
Wrote her nomination commentary for the Summer 2017 issue of the chapter newsletter, REFLETS de l'étoile du Nord (available on the website in Fall, 2017):
- Rosemount, HS -
The NINETEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r] LaRae Ellingson and Clare Hagen
MnAATF Chapter Recognition Event - 7 October, 2016 - Macalester College, Old Main 4th Floor Lounge
Clare Hagen, Minnesota French Teacher of the Year for 2016, has been the chapter's French Speaking Contest registrations and awards director for over 22 years, She and her husband and their two sons were present for the award ceremony which was led by Chapter Treasurer, LaRae Ellingson (long time Teacher of the Year program coordinator),
Those supporting Clare's nomination :
- John Wollersheim, Rosemount HS principal, who wrote in her behalf:
"Based on the skillful approach she uses to help students reach their full potential, her leadership in strengthening world language at our school and most important, her deep care for her students, it is clear that Ms Hagen is a master teacher. I give her my highest recommendation for French Teacher of the Year. ...Perhaps Ms Hagen's greatest strength is the care she shows each of her students. Ms Hagen is a teacher with high expectations. However, at the same time she is stretching students' skills, she is able to give them the individual attention they need to put them at ease and enjoy learning the French language and culture. Ms Hagen's students love her as a teacher, because they know she loves them as students. It is this special treatment that each student receives that sets Ms Hagen apart. ..."
- Isabel Edgar, former student, and niece of former Richfield HS French teacher, Margaret LaBoe Cosgrove, wrote a long letter full of amusing anecdotes which concluded with:
"Madame Hagen puts her whole self into her teaching. She doesn't just care about getting through the year or handing out homework assignments. She believes she has the power to change lives, and that dedication and drive is apparent in her everyday actions. I am so so honored to be able to have had a teacher whose sole focus was not her own opinions but developing those of her students. She is talented, caring, intuitive, dedicated and focused in her pursuits. In a nutshell, I can't think of anyone more fitting for such an amazing accomplishment."
- LaRae Ellingson, MnAATF Chapter Treasurer and colleague of Clare's at Rosemount HS:
"En tant que collègue de Clare pendant ses 24 ans Rosemount High School, J'avoue que je ne pourrais pas imaginer une collègue plus chère, travailleuse et géniale que Clare. En acceptant cet honneur, Clare a mentionné qu'elle adore partager sa passion pour la musique française avec ses élèves et qu'une autre chose qui la passionne est la correspondance écrite. Elle a accès a un réseau par lequel elle connecte ses classes de français III à de jeunes Français. La musique et la correspond ance sont des aspects de leur apprentissage qu'ils se rappelleront toujours, bien après la fin de leurs études au lycée. Elle a aussi parlé de son amour pour l'ordre et l'organisation, qui sont surtout utiles pour la direction du concours A Vous la Parole et ses plus de 1350 participants chaque année. Pendant ce concours du français parlé non seulement y a-t-il des dizaines de sections et de catégories et plus à coordonner mais chacun des participants reçoit un certificat et la plupart aussi une médaille - tous passés par les mains de Clare."
Les profs de français du Minnesota sont vraiment reconnaissants chaque année du travail dévoué de Clare (et d'Annie Muske la co-directrice) pour la réalisation du concours.
- Como Park Senior High School - retired, St. Paul, MN -
The EIGHTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r] Lydia Belatèche, Nancy Solo-Taylor, Joëlle Vitiello
MnAATF Annual Dinner - 2 October, 2015 - Macalester College, Alumni Center
Nancy Solo-Taylor, Minnesota French Teacher of the Year for 2015, recently retired from Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul, taught French I, II, IV and College in the Schools French for many years.
Extracts from the awards ceremony:
Immediate Past-President Mn-AATF, Lydia Belatèche, ("l'Ex-Madame la Présidente") who nominated her and presided):
I have worked with Nancy on a very close basis since 2004 through the College in the Schools (CIS) Program for French at the U of MN-TC.
When I think of Nancy, two descriptors come readily to mind: advocate and team player. I have seen Nancy serve as an advocate for French, and education in general, on many occasions.
During the academic year 2011-12, I taught at Hamline University, Nancy's alma mater and where she was an enthusiastic French major. During that year, the administration at Hamline decided to cancel the French Major, Minor, and Certificate of Proficiency. Nancy fought bravely to prevent this from happening, and I so enjoyed hearing about all the steps she had taken to save French at Hamline. Unfortunately, the battle was lost, and now only Beginning and Intermediate French are left at Hamline. But Nancy's advocacy for French at Hamline always rang true!
I will definitely miss having Nancy as part of the CIS French team. Upon her retirement in May, her colleagues in the CIS Program shared their good wishes with her and spoke of how much they01d miss seeing her at our workshops and field days.
At the first workshop without Nancy since 2004, Linda Albertson, a CIS French teacher at Eagan High School, shared the following with me about Nancy:
"C'est la première et celle qui parle le plus fort pour soutenir les élèves qui sont des fois oubliés dans nos écoles. Ses idées d'inclusion m'encouragent à penser plus profondément à comment «enseigner la diversité: Commençons d'abord dans nos propres classes et avec nos propres élèves, qui comptent sur nous pour leur montrer le chemin vers l'ouverture d'esprit, parmi tous ceux avec qui on partage nos classes, et notre planète».
Former student, Nathan Campbell (who taught French in the Minneapolis and Chicago public schools) has two Masters degrees, and currently holds the impressive titles of Coordinator of World Languages and Coordinator of Technology Integration at Christa McAuliffe Charter School in Framingham, MA:
"Je suis content pour elle. Sa passion se voit dans tout ce qu'elle fait pour soutenir ses élèves et leur exploration du monde francophone. Comme on dit en anglais, «elle porte son coeur sur la manche». Ses élèves
savent toujours qu'elle leur donne son énergie et sa dévotion complète."
Her colleague at Como Park, Suzanne Susens, who teaches ELL, praises Nancy for her everyday interactions with students:
"Unfailing dedication to her students! Nancy had a ROOMFUL of students after school every single day. Always working on various things - homework, quiz retakes, practicing for AVLP. Always a fun atmosphere with laughter echoing down the hallways coming from her room. How she managed to motivate SO MANY students over so many years, I will never know."
And, finally, Patricia Teefy, who replaced Nancy in the CIS French Program this fall, writes about Nancy
as a mentor:
"Most fortunate for me was the opportunity to work with Nancy and see her in action. Her positive connection with students was immediately apparent. She cared deeply about their well-being and fought hard with and for them to succeed in every way. Many a day, I sat after school at my desk next to hers as she worked with the reluctant and struggling student. These were great opportunities to build relationships with the students and encourage them to engage beyond the French classroom. Several students joined the Future Educators group that Nancy formed and was most passionate about. Nancy's after school classroom was a busy hive of activity where students felt safe and welcome."
- St. Peter, MN Middle & High School -
The SEVENTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r] Mary Behrends & LaRae Ellingson AATF-MN Treasurer/Award Coordinator
MnAATF Annual Dinner - 9 May, 2014 - Chez Daniel, Bloomington, MN
Mary Behrends was nominated by St Peter Middle/High School principal, Paul Peterson. Her candidacy was supported by Peggy Rimrock, English teacher, Rachel Berau, an 11th grade student and François Fouquerel, Dean of Lac du Bois-Les Voyageurs, Concordia Language Villages.
Mary, who has been teaching French for 43 years, is a cum laude graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter. She received her Master of Science degree from MnSU, Mankato and has also studied at the Centre International des Études françaises in Angers, France. In addition to teaching French, she has provided students with a variety of opportunities to use their French outside the classroom through trips to France as well as the Concordia Language Village. She encourages her students to participate in Le Grand Concours (the national French exam) and A Vous la Parole (the state sponsored French speaking contest). Mary's school principal describes her as "the consummate professional, intelligent and a master teacher" mentioning her "command of research-based educational pedagogy", "sophisticated understanding of how students of different ages learn" and points out her "strong emphasis on experiential education."
Peggy Dimock -- parent
I have had two children go through her classes...If they could've had their perfect high school experience, they would have had all their classes taught by Mme Behrends. She doesn't just care about her students. She gets her students to be passionate about French and all things from France. They are excited to learn and they study French outside of class at every opportunity they are given--and Mme Behrends gives them many opportunities. She shows French movies after school, she introduces them to French food, she teaches them verbs using popular French music, she puts on a huge Mardi Gras celebration for the entire school, she takes them to French plays in theatres (last year they went to Les Misérables) and she hosts trips to France in the summer. She believes in the power of community and goes out of her way to introduce her students to the community of French students in Minnesota. She takes them to French camp twice a year, she takes them to Franco-Fête and she enters them in French talent shows. There is almost no length she won't go to in order to expose her students to the most French possible in the tiny town of Saint Peter.
François Fouquerel -- Lac du Bois Dean (Academic Year/Les Voyageurs)
Chaque fois que je vois les élèves de Mary parler en français, ils/elles ont un éclat lumineux dans les yeux et un sourire qui ne cachent pas un goût contagieux pour la taquinerie et la joie de vivre. ...Avant tout, c'est que Mary nourrit une relation avec le français qui lui vient des aventures d'un père parachuté dans la France sous l'occupation avec comme seul vocabulaire "Avion Américain." Cet héritage familial a donné à Mary des atomes crochus avec le français qu'elle distribue à ses élèves - mais aussi, à travers le temps, aux personnages des aventures françaises de son père...
- North High School -
The SIXTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r} LaRae Ellingsont. AATF-MN Treasurer/Award Coordinator & Dianne Sandberg
Dianne Sandberg at the MnAATF Annual Dinner, April 19, 2013
- l'Hotel Sofitel, Bloomington, MN -
Extraits des lettres que nous avons reçues au sujet de Dianne!
Monica Dahlberg, Tartan HS, high school district colleague of Dianne:
"We have Dianne to thank for the survival (and thriving) of the French program in our district. Three years ago our district implemented an 8th grade program for languages that we had never had, and the initial recommendations from administration were to offer only Spanish. In her role as curriculum chair of World Languages, Dianne advocated for languages other than Spanish to be part of the offering, arguing that our diverse families wanted French as an option for their students. - - French has expanded and we have three additional teachers of French in the district as a result."
Linda Albertson, Eagan HS -- CIS colleague of Dianne:
"Transforming American teenagers into Francophiles takes skill, knowledge and a little bit of magic, all of which Dianne appears to possess in abundance. Dianne displays a professionalism and dedication to her students and in a larger sense to our profession that is both exceptional and inspiring. She seems to have a limitless amount of time to research topics , finds the answers to obscure grammar questions and forward timely and engaging WEB sites and videos to our active College in the Schools cohort. An email from Dianne means that something fun, timely and bound to interest my students is waiting. - - On a personal note, several years ago I took on one of the most important projects of my career and video taped and sub-titled an interview with Louise Dillery in the hope that Louise's story would be preserved forever. - - Dianne actually took time off work and came to my school and spent a day with my video support staff as we finished the project."
François Fouquerel, Concordia Language Villages, Coordinator of weekend French programs:
"Depuis mon poste au séjour weekend de Lac du Bois, le village français des villages de langue de Concordia College, c'est avec admiration que je contemple le passage des élèves de Dianne sur une période de vingt-six années. - - Ce chiffre nous invite à voyager le long d'une carrière motivée par l'exploration de nombreuses vagues d'élèves vers le monde francophone. On devine bien sûr, la jeune prof enthousiaste prête à accompagner ses élèves pour un weekend de français, de fun et d'aventures francophones. On apprécie aussi la vision, la serviabilité et la conviction de la professeure d'expérience, prête à partager un chalet avec des adolescents effervescents alors que ses collègues des nouvelles générations exigent un logement séparé des élèves. - - Etant moi-même, ancien élève de North High, je suis touché par le fait que Dianne a aussi longtemps maintenu les efforts d'échanges de son prédécesseur en accueillant et correspondant avec les élèves de René Daligault en Normandie. Et ce, bien avant l'aisance que nous offrent les moyens de communication modernes. Cet engagement avec un collègue outre-Atlantique, souligne l'aspiration de Dianne à inviter ses élèves à embrasser la découverte du français au-delà des "ouvrez le livre à la page douze, écoutez et répétez" mais aussi au travers de contacts avec des francophones de leur âge."
- Mounds View High School (retired) -
The FIFTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r} Bonnie Bougie and LaRae Ellingson, AATF-MN Treasurer/Award Coordinator
Bonnie Bougie at the MnAATF Business Meeting on September 29, 2012
FrancoFête 2012 - DeLaSalle HS - Minneapolis, MN
Félicitations à Bonnie Bougie, notre professeur de l'année--2012!
-- 26 ans dans le district de Mounds View!
Highlights from the letters in support of her candidacy by Heather Guyer, MVHS French colleague and Patrick Sullivan, former student who was fourth in the nation on the National French exam:
Heather Guyer, colleague in French at Mounds View HS:
"Please consider Bonnie Bougie for this prestigious award, although in our minds she earned it long ago."
"Bonnie Bougie just completed the most amazing and impactful teaching career of anyone I've ever known. Every year, I hear students talking about how wonderful she is, and it's not because she has made superfluous attempts to be the fun loving, charismatic, teacher that has a reputation of putting fun before learning. Bonnie took her role as a teacher very seriously. Everyday, she came to work before anyone else, dressed professionally, and had a set of objectives for her lessons. This translated into a lot of hard work for her and her students, but the efforts paid off. Numerous times her students attained top rankings on the Grand Concours and pursued similar dreams for themselves like they saw in her."
"Bonnie taught in our district for 26 years and neither let her professionalism slide nor her concern for her students diminish. She set such a high standard for herself and her students, that others felt motivated to follow her example. During her time at our school, she was known for putting in long hours of planning, grading, and correcting, going far beyond what the district would require of her contract. Bonnie's concern was always for the students and the language. The reason Bonnie is so loved, is because she listens to the needs of others, students and peers alike. The students often referred to her as a motherly figure due to her desire to see them succeed."
Patrick Sullivan, former student of Madame Bougie at Mounds View HS:
"Madame Bougie did a fantastic job of ensuring that a week of class never became too monotonous. After several days of note-taking or reading activities, I would walk in to the classroom to be pleasantly surprised at a well-prepared jeopardy game waiting for us. She prepared us well for exams and quizzes, and had obviously mastered the balance of fun and learning when it came to French."
"Madame Bougie's exceptional teaching had effects beyond class work and tests. Every year, Bougie encouraged her students to participate in the National French Exam Grand Concourse, and offered a small amount of extra credit for students who did well. A few days before the test, she would prepare the class by taking practice exams. I felt very prepared for the exam, and scored 4th in the nation in both of her classes. Had Madame Bougie not been there to prepare me and answer my questions, I wouldn't have been able to score so highly. I wasn't the only one who did well on the exam, four other students from my class scored high enough to attend the honorary Grand Concours breakfast."
"Perhaps the greatest impact that Madame Bougie had on me was with her focus on preparing me for the A.P French test. Even though French IV was not an A.P class, when I expressed interest in taking the test, Bougie did everything she could to ensure I would be prepared. Every few days, she would give me a new packet to work on at home or in class and gave me practice AP tests from previous years. In the weeks before the test, she let me come in after school and record myself speaking and gave me a tape recorder to practice for the speaking portion of the test. My preparation paid off and I scored a 4 on the A.P test, despite it being one of the hardest tests offered."
- Saint Thomas Academy -
The FOURTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l-r} Carolyn Little and LaRae Ellingson, AATF-MN Treasurer/Award Coordinator
Caroline Little at the MnAATF Annual Dinner Meeting on May 6, 2011
Minnesota Humanities Center - St. Paul, MN
Caroline a fait ses études de français et de religions comparées à l'Université de Wisconsin à Stevens Point. Elle a continué ses études à l'Université de Caen en France et enfin, elle a fait sa maîtrise à l'Université de St Mary 030038 Winona.
Sa candidature était proposée par Julie Lane, la mère d'un ancien élève. Elle écrit en anglais --je vais continuer en anglais maintenant parce que toutes les lettres que nous avons reçues étaient en anglais - - et son mari, Michael Little, est ici et je pense qu'il aimerait savoir ce qu'on dit en faveur de sa femme -
"Caroline Little cares about every one of her students and wants the very best for them. She knows when they need a firm push and when they need a pat on the back. Her creativity permeates every lesson and makes even mundane activities interesting." She talks about the French Café Caroline set up in the school cafeteria where she played the part of waitress and went from table to table conversing with the diners and taking their orders. She sums up her nomination with: "Ms Little is a tremendous role model and provides our boys an excellent example of a positive professional female".
The Physics teacher, Mark Westlake, who teaches right next door to Caroline also provided a letter of support: "As the only French teacher here she commands seven preps with relaitve ease. She relates well with both her seventh graders (They think she is from France !) and her seniors (whom she has instructed for six years)." He goes on to cite specific examples of her creativity knowing how important they are to an application: "Activities range from tasting and rating cheese with her youngest students to virtual trip planning with her sophomores. Her oldest students enjoy conversation about current events and the occasional game of French Jeopardy. Her Honors French V class has just started to study French cinema from the early 1900's to the present. He sums up his letter with: "Students dive into the language the minute they enter the room and are not ready to get out of the 'pool' when the period ends". He says he visits her classroom every day just to get ideas for his own classes and adds the French Club is so popular it includes members who don't even take French!
Her final nominator was an articulate student, named William Chapman who admits that "her class has always been my most difficult class" and he goes on to talk about what a wonderful woman Caroline is. He writes, "She is so down to earth and real with us. When something is funny, she laughs, When something is hysterical, she laughs hysterically with us! She treats us with us so much respect, we are excited to show her the same respect. She rarely has to get after us for not paying attention in class because her energy, charisma and sense of humor kept us completely engaged in the class both on a social and academic level. "
He sums up his letter with observations regarding his trip to France with Mme Little.- "If there was a teacher that I would want to take me on a trip or spend time with anywhere outside school, it would be someone that puts the needs and interests of others before her own. NO other name comes to mind than my amazing French teacher, Caroline Little."
- Benilde-St. Margaret's High School -
The THIRTEENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Sue Cipolle at the MnAATF Annual Meeting/Atelier on October 9, 2010
- Jones Hall, U of MN-TC - Minneapolis, MN -
[l-r} LaRae Ellingson, Treasurer/Award Coordinator, Sue Cipolle, and Lydia Belatèche, AATF Mn President
Representing all the best of what it is to be a professional in the field of education, Sue Cipolle, of Benilde-St Margaret's High School was named the MN-AATF Teacher of the Year for 2009-2010. Nominated by her French colleague, Amy Jo Hyde, Dr. Cipolle's application was supported by her fellow Benilde-St Margaret's teachers as well as her principal and a former professor from her graduate study days.
From the nomination materials, it is clear that Sue is well-loved and respected by colleagues and students alike and that she is always willing to lend time and a helping hand to those in need. Her professional academic career is inspiring, reflecting her insatiable love of learning which has spanned more than four decades and two continents. A life-long student, Dr. Cipolle's quest to learn has taken her from Avignon and the Université Laval in Québec City to St Thomas University in Minneapolis-St Paul, where she capped off her studies with a doctorate in Critical Pedagogy.
A leader in her school, she is currently Assistant to the President of Benilde-St Margaret's and has spearheaded innovative and extensive work on Service Learning, culminating in the publication of a book, Service Learning and Social Justice: Engaging Students in Social Change. This book is based on her work in the French classroom, integrating the study of French with real humanitarian work in the world.
Some highlights from her colleagues'
comments regarding her many talents and accomplishments:
Rob Epler - Sue Cipolle never stops learning, never stops trying to become a better teacher and never stops encouraging the rest of us to do the same. Sue is not one to rest on her laurels.
Mary Periolat - Sue is innovative and dedicated to her career to improving teaching methodologies. Just this school year, Sue did a project with her French IV class where each student created an identity from a French-speaking country. They used this identity to create a profile on Ning, a social-networking site. Then, students responded to current events from the perspective of their alter ego, using real-life newspapers to help form their responses.
Libidette Rosado Gusman - Sue has also been a pioneer in the area of Service Learning. Her students have raised money to buy a pig for a village in Haiti, as well as collected personal hygiene items to provide relief in Haiti.
Maggie Masica - I haven't known Sue for very long but she has been incredibly helpful and welcoming in my transition into teaching here at BSM. One thing that sticks in my head about Sue: After my interview, she shared with me that she has worked here for 30 years and not once dreaded coming to work, not even one day! While she thought she was speaking to BSM (which she is in part), it also demonstrates her demeanor, her optimism and her love for teaching. She has also been helpful in sharing class activities with me. I admire her drive to stay on top of pedagogy and technology. She is amazing! That s what I can share about Sue! How fortunate am I to be her colleague.
Amy Jo Hyde - Sue is such an excellent leader because she wants everyone around her to succeed. She generously shares ideas and materials with her colleagues. She is an inspiring educator who never stops improving her art.
Sue Skinner - What makes Sue stand out from other excellent French teachers in the state is her willingness and ability to serve the greater profession of teaching. She has been a leader in both researching and implementing a service-learning curriculum. She has been responsible for writing grant proposals that have resulted in over $500,000 worth of awards for B-SM.
MARY ELLEN KASAK-SAXLER
- Stillwater Area High School -
The TWELFTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler at the Minnesota Humanities Center, St. Paul on May 1, 2009
at the Mn-AATF Annual Meeting/ Spring Dinner
[l-r} LaRae Ellingson, Treasurer/Award Coordinator, Lydia Belatèche, AATF Mn President, Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler, Michèle Cassavante
Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler, French teacher at Stillwater Area High School, was honored on Friday, May 1, 2009 by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. She was named MnAATF French Teacher of the Year at the annual dinner and meeting held at the Minnesota Humanities Center in Saint Paul.
Rouen, Dakar, Rabat, Quèbec, Champaign-Urbana, Stillwater! This year's MN- AATF Teacher of the Year has been "tout à fait à l'aise" moving in and out of "le monde francophone" for more than thirty-five years.
Bringing these worlds to life for her students as well as her colleagues, Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler has been a major player in French education both here, locally, through her work with MCTLC and MN-AATF and internationally, through presentations at national conferences around the globe.
Her former students make a convincing and compelling case for their beloved teacher's selection with comments like: "What Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler does in her classroom that is superior to other French teachers is that she has less emphasis on teaching French and more emphasis on teaching in French. Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler spends plenty of time relating French grammar conventions to her students, but she always has an ulterior focus. While I finished high school with a good understanding of how to use the French language, what I remember are units on the Maghreb, on World War II from the French perspective, on how to be a good eco-citoyen, on the French film industry. I learned so much more than the language while I was in her class."
(Abbie Chandler Defiel030072030055former Stillwater Area HS student, currently U of M student majoring in French)
Emphasizing how her lessons remain with them out in the world, Sara Stelland (U of W - Madison senior in Political Science) writes, "While I did not choose to be a French major, Madame's classes gave me the basis for my continued interest in the subject. I also keep in contact with many of my former peers in her class and I can say that 100% of us have continued to some extent our studies in French and we all reminisce on her unparalleled classes - - Without hesitation - - Madame Kasak-Saxler has been one of the most influential teachers in my life - -"
Mary Ellen's nomination was supported by Michàle Cassavante, her long-time friend and colleague from the Blake School, who writes: "I am able to state unequivocally that Mary Ellen is one of the most distinguished, devoted and professional teachers I have ever met. With a genuine love of French and of teaching, Mary Ellen works diligently to communicate this passion to her students. Leading them to the joy of discovery and understanding, she creates an interesting and dynamic environment for their learning."
Mary Ellen Kasak-Saxler has taught at Stillwater Area High School for over 18 years and students from this school have created a Facebook page devoted to her, called "Did you have the Kasak-Saxler? - Chouette!"
JOHN J. JANC
- Minnesota State University, Mankato -
The ELEVENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Prof. John Janc at the Minnesota Humanities Center, St. Paul on April 18, 2008
at the Mn-AATF Annual Meeting/ Spring Dinner
and LaRae Ellingson (l.), Teacher of Year Coordinator
John J.Janc, professor of French and Director of Summer Study at Minnesota State University, Mankato, since 1979 was honored on Friday, April 18, by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. He was named MnAATF French professor of the year at the annual dinner held at the Minnesota Humanities Center in Saint Paul.
Dr. Janc received a Doctorat de troisième cycle from La Sorbonne Nouvelle and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been actively involved in teacher preparation and teaching assistant supervision. In addition to authoring five books and numerous articles, he has made numerous presentations on the local, state and national levels. He has served as vice-president, president and past president of the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures, been on the board of the Central States Conference as well as many of its committees and was president of the Minnesota chapter of the AATF. He was named the Order of Omega Faculty Member of the Year at his home institution and CASE University Professor of the year for the state of Minnesota. He is also the recipient of the Emma Birkmaier Award and the Central States Conference Founders Award. The French Government named him a Knight (Chevalier) in the Order of the Academic Palms (les Palmes Académiques). He founded and has directed the Mankato State University Summer Study in France Program (in La Rochelle) for twenty-eight years.
One of his former students, Traci Nelson (herself a former Mn-AATF President), spoke eloquently of how he guided her through her French and French-teaching studies so thoroughly. "He started out as my French professor, and ended up as my lifelong mentor. He is the reason I became a French teacher, and I believe, the reason I have been successful. As an Intermediate French student at what is now Minnesota State University, my desire to become an elementary teacher was beginning to fade. I was drawn to the idea of becoming a French teacher by this man who demonstrated such passion for his subject matter and a tireless dedication to teaching. I changed my major and became his advisee. Little did he know this was just the beginning of my need for his guidance! I was fortunate to work under him as a teaching assistant. Dr. Janc created a system built for training successful teachers. He taught us specific methods of teaching and then allowed us to try them with a class. We would then evaluate our skills and formulate a plan to improve upon them. It was because of his program that we became confident teachers. Even after starting my teaching career, I could depend on him for advice and guidance. He assisted me with everything from designing my curriculum and planning my first trip abroad with students, to writing grant proposals. It is no surprise that his office phone number is etched in my memory. An exemplary teacher is someone who gives of him or herself both inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Janc does more in one year than I will do in my lifetime! He coordinates a trip every year and finds funds to help students in need. He writes numerous articles throughout the year, most notably the "Que se passe-t-il en France" which allows French teachers for whom travel is difficult to keep current on what is going on in France. In addition, he has written numerous books on the works of Victor Hugo. He has been President and Past President of AATF-MN, as well as serving on a variety of committees. Whenever there is a task to improve the state of teaching languages, Dr. Janc is there to help."
Selected Janc articles .
- Cooper High School, Robbinsdale -
The TENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Kathleen Lahouze (r.) at Embassy Suites Chez Daniel on April 13, 2007
at the Mn-AATF Annual Meeting/ Spring Dinner
and LaRae Ellingson (l.), Teacher of Year Coordinator
Liane Mattson--Language and Friendship travel group, said in her nomination letter:
"Kathie est adoree par tous les professeurs qui ont le plaisir de voyager avec elle. The feedback from her co-leaders every year is "extraordinaire."...Elle reussit avec tout le monde a cause de son charme et sa chaleur. Each year after she takes her students abroad, she takes the time to stop in for a visit and share the many new tips she's found--for restaurants, fromageries, new directions ...et toujours un cadeau de bonbons francais en plus! We treasure her friendship and know Naomi * is smiling on her dear friend tonght."
* Naomi Thomsen received "les Palmes Académiques" in 2004. Kathy was a primary supporter both for receiving the honor and throughout Naomi's so very unfortunate illness.
Pat Deckas-Becerra--2004-2005 MN AATF Teacher of the Year, retired from Robbinsdale HS, former colleague of Kathleen Lahouze in her letter nominating Kathleen for the 2006-2007 MN AATF Teacher of the Year award.
"She consistently demonstrates her love of the French language and francophone cultures. She studied at the Sorbonne, in their regular classes for a year, and then returned to graduate from Carlton College. She went on to teach in the Robbinsdale school district in 1969. She then went back to live in France for several years. She has also lived in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast for a year (or two) where she taught in high school. Every year, she expands her students' horizons by telling them about her travels plus she has lead at least 25 groups of students to France on three week summer trips, for which she was not paid.
Her students admire and respect this caring and sensitive teacher who always makes time for them and the important issues in life; she inspires them to do their best and that is why so many of them have kept in contact with her over the years--even after they've graduated. She even took one student into her home for several months after his family had kicked him out. Her home has also been open to several Amity Aides as well as many other francophone visitors.
Every year her students consistently place in the Top Ten for le Grand Concours for which she has organized the Awards Breakfast for several years. Every spring she organizes busloads of students to participate in A Vous la Parole; for many years she arranged for all the judges for this important state-wide event. (ed note: She almost did not attend the Spring dinner because she was overwhelmed with getting everything in order for her fifty students participating in AVLP! We thank Kari Christensen who insisted that Kathleen accompany her to the dinner!)
Her impeccable linguistic skills, her academic background, her tremendous contributions to the MN Chapter of AATF, and her vast cultural experience make her a perfect choice for French Teacher of the Year."
- Macalester College -
The NINTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Françoise Denis (l.) at l'Hôtel Sofitel on April 20, 2006
at the Mn-AATF Annual Meeting/ Spring Dinner
and LaRae Ellingson (r.), Teacher of Year Coordinator
"L'idéal de tout ce qui est important dans la vie - - la plus gracieuse des femmes, la plus généreuse - - la plus gentille- - la plus intelligente - - la plus bienveillante - - la plus belle, spirituellement aussi bien que physiquement - -": Françoise Denis, Associate Professor at Macalester College and our very own beloved chapter newsletter editor. Her nomination was supported by former students and colleagues from the Blake School, Macalester and the University of Minnesota.
Françoise received both her License en Philosophie et Lettres and her Agrégation de l'enseignement secondaire supérieure from l'Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She went on to do an MA and PhD at the University of Minnesota. Her CV runs 15 pages and is filled with a variety of publications, grants, translations, book reviews, national and international presentations of papers, ad inf. On page 11, under "service to the profession," one will finally find two short lines mentioning her work as editor of our newsletter, REFLETS de l'étoile du nord.
Her key nominator, Vanessa Doriott, an Honors Thesis advisee of Françoise, who is now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, was most eloquent in her description of Françoise: "As an instructor, Dr Denis is approachable, supportive, humorous, and exacting in the best possible sense. (It is no coincidence that her nickname in the department during my time there was "La Déesse".) " She goes on to write "My first year experience with Dr Denis left me with an unexpected love for medieval literature that has never left me, despite the fact that my graduate studies are focused elsewhere". Dr Denis is so successful in sparking students' interest because her classes are very dynamic, incorporating literature, music, film and other visuals. She consistently works to show the connections between medieval or early modern texts and today's world and she often uses humor to bridge the gap between the two (one of my favorite memories involves her very vocal appreciation of Louis XIV's legs as she showed us slides)". Dr Denis pushes her students to think outside of the box and go beyond their comfort zone. I feel very strongly that the atmosphere she created in class, which allowed us to feel safe as we took risks, was an important factor in helping me overcome my shyness in the classroom". For six years, I have saved a post-it note written to me by Dr Denis in which she gave a positive evaluation of my class presentation. Later in my studies, realizing that I had earned her respect as a developing scholar meant the world to me."
Patricia Mougel, U of M, states that "her professional and personal commitment to French learning and teaching is far-reaching and exemplary". You can have a discussion with her about selecting a first-year French text book or about a local French play or a 19th century novel and she will show the same genuine interest in those topics and your own ideas on them, which reveals an open mind, genuine intellectual curiosity, well-roundedness and above all, a generous heart." Others mentioned her "infectious smile and laugh" - she has "a joy of life that would light up the room, " and the fact "she didn't just grade compositions-- she kept a log of errors made by each student so she could monitor their progress to make sure they didn't make the same mistakes again."
Bravo to chapter members receiving other awards in 2005:
- October, 2005 - MCTLC Emma Birkmaier Award 2005 Winner
Mary Kuettner, Eastview High School
October, 2005 - MCTLC STAR Award 2005 Winner
LaRae Ellingson, Rosemount High School
photos and details
- July, 2005 - Minnesota Chapter member, Betsy Kerr, is named National AATF
Dorothy Ludwig Excellence in Teaching, Post-Secondary (College/University) Level Winner for 2005
Prof. Betsy Kerr [our Mn-AATF French Teacher of the Year - 2003] at
the National AATF Conference, July, 2005, Québec, PQ, Canada
- See AATF National Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 4 (April 2005) page 44 -
Extracts below: from the REFLETS de l'étoile du nord, printed bulletins - Winter or Winter/Spring issues
- Robbinsdale Area Schools -
The EIGHTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year
Patricia Deckas-Becerra ( c ) at l'Hôtel Sofitel on Oct. 29, 2004 at the Mn-AATF Annual Fall Dinner
- with her nominators Kari Christensen ( l ) & Kathleen Lahouze ( r ) of Robbinsdale Area Schools -
Patricia Deckas Becerra's energy, dedication and enthusiasm for teaching French have inspired many students and colleagues alike so it is understandable why she received the award for MINNESOTA FRENCH TEACHER OF THE YEAR for 2004.
Her first exposure to a francophone country was at 19 when she studied at McGill University in Montréal where she says she was incurably addicted to French. She worked as an Au Pair in Paris for four months. She has been teaching French in the Robbinsdale Area Schools for 34 years after graduating from the University of Minnesota. She has studied in France at various cities from Paris to Nice during her 20 trips to Europe.
She has taken Robbinsdale Area students to France on six of these trips. She worked as a bi-lingual guide at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. She has also traveled to French speaking areas in the Caribbean like Martinique and even to French Guyana, South America. Even though this is her last year teaching in Robbinsdale, she says studying and traveling feed her soul so last summer she spent a month in Belgium as the only American studying art, music and literature with French teachers from 19 European countries at the Université de Liège.
Her love for the French language and culture has continually driven her to learn many different methods and incorporate technology as much as possible in her classrooms. She enthusiastically shares any new ideas with her colleagues - she has presented various workshops at state and regional conferences. At one recent workshop she taught others how to create CD-ROMS using their own trip photos with French captions/questions. The prominent textbook company of McDougal Littell published an activities/method book she wrote for their current textbook series. She has also published materials on Internet sites for the French classroom. Her great hope is for her students to always keep their hearts and minds open to other languages and cultures so a deeper appreciation and acceptance of differences in our world can grow ; she deeply believes students learn more about themselves and their communities by becoming globally-minded citizens of the world.
BETSY J. KERR
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities -
The SEVENTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
[l to r] Betsy Kerr, LaRae Ellingson, and nominator Lydia Belatèche
at the annual AATF-MN buffet dinner 24 October, 2003
Féicitations à Betsy Kerr, notre, notre nouveau professeur de l'année! Betsy is an Associate Professor of French at the University of Minnesota where she also serves as the Faculty Coordinator of the College in the Schools French program. A graduate of Wooster College in Ohio, Betsy did her graduate studies through Middlebury College in Paris and Middlebury, Vermont and received her doctorate from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Betsy was nominated for this award by Lydia Belatèche, her colleague at the University and assistant for the CIS French program. Lydia lauds Betsy's connecting the University with the greater community of French teachers in the state through her work with the CIS program as well as the major role she plays in the "A Vous la Parole" contest each year. She also notes that Betsy is the co-author of the popular college text, DEUX MONDES and is also a consultant for two other texts.
Lydia called upon Betsy's former students and a CIS teachers, Linda Albertson [1998 MN French teacher of the year-see below] of Eagan HS, to support her nomination. Some key comments drawn from letters by Betsy's former students include:
--"Professor Kerr played a HUGE role in my decision to change my minor into a major in French."
--"She exemplifies the ideal by which all other French professors should hold themselves."
--"Her French is elegant.. (she) starts where we are and inches us forward through ever more complexity
to a sense of confidence and a degree of mastery."
--"I decided to stay on at the University of Minnesota in part because of Betsy Kerr's courses."
excerpted from - REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 2003-4 (Vol.24,n.2) page 9
[ See U of MN TC campus Dept. of French and Italian website for: Prof. Kerr's academic listing ]
- Hopkins High School -
The SIXTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
Molly Wieland(center) and two of her many nominators
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, October 25, 2002
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
Molly Wieland enseigne à Hopkins H.S. C'étaient ses collègues au lycée, Ann Walsh, Amy Miller et Mary Slinde, Associate Principale qui ont posé sa candidature pour cet honneur.
Molly a commencé sa carrière comme professeur d'espagnol en 1979 à Morris Community HS dans l'Illinois. En 1983, elle a commencé à enseigner le français, son premier amour, à l'Université de Michigan. Elle a aussi enseigné le français à Indiana University, l'Université de Strasbourg et l'Université de Minnesota. Elle a commencé son travail à Hopkins HS en 1995 où elle est professeur et District WL Curriculum Coordinator.
Molly a fait ses études à Illinois State University à Normal, Illinois, Middlebury College et à Indiana University où elle a fait son doctorat. Sa dissertation au sujet de la politesse s'intitule: "Politeness based misunderstandings between Native speakers of French and American advanced learners of French."
Voici des extraits des lettres que nous avons reçues en faveur de Molly:
Ann Walsh décrit Molly comme "gifted, dedicated, brilliant, inspiring , creative and fun." Elle ajoute "she is sheer magic in the classroom. Her lesson plans are each works of art, with one stimulating activity flowing seamlessly to the next. She brings music, movement, popular French culture, history, literature, current events and humor to her classes, all while maintaining extremely high academic rigor. "
"Molly has a special gift for reaching out to students that society overlooks, and she does it in a professional, caring and courageous way. She is a genius at setting a positive, respectful, and fun-filled tone in the classroom. Through the years, she has had students facing various difficulties (autism, hearing impairment, emotional trauma, unstable family life, issues of sexual orientation) to whom she has offered hours of special help while still holding them to the same standards as all of her students. "
Amy Miller goes on to add "I admire Molly's ability to develop relationships with her students. She is truly interested in their lives outside of French class. She often attends their plays, concerts and sporting events. I have seen how much her students appreciate her interest. I believe that the relationship that Molly creates with her students inspires them to achieve in French class."
Mary Slinde dit " I have worked with Molly for the past four years and I would consider her one of the top five educators with whom I have ever worked. You could not choose a better candidate for French Teacher of the Year. I have said many times that Molly Wieland combines all the characteristics that we define as necessary in an outstanding teacher. WhenI visit her classroom, I know that our students are receiving superb French education. It simply doesn't get any better!"
text based on an "MnAATFNet" message of 31 October, 2002
& Winter, 2002-3 REFLETS de l' étoile du nord (v.23, n.2), page 9
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : FLASH : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
Molly Wieland, MnAATF French Teacher of the Year - 2003,
received the National AATF Dorothy Ludwig
Excellence in Teaching Award - Secondary Level
at the AATF Convention in Martinique, July 2003
- See AATF National Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1 Sept. 2003, page 48 -
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
MAUREEN ELWELL PELTIER
- Saint Thomas Academy -
The FIFTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
LaRae Ellingson(L.), Chair of the MN-AATF Teacher of the Year Committee and Maureen Peltier(R.)
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, October 26, 2001
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
Maureen Elwell Peltier of St Thomas Academy ( St Paul) was nominated by her colleagues who describe her as "a vivacious, dynamic and innovative teacher as well as a kind, gentle and compassionate human being" who "loves all things French." She studied French at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin and l'Universite Laval. She has led numerous trips to France with her students and has inspired her students to travel and continue their language study of to a degree "rarely seen in other language students" according to her departmental colleague, Mitch Taraschi. This year, her five-year old son just started his French studies at the French immersion school in St Paul. Maureen started her teaching career in Owatonna in 1984 and has been at St Thomas since 1992.
REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 2001-2 (Vol.22,n.2) page 7 - Photo
CAROLYN CRANE-FISK - 2000
The FOURTH Minnesota French Teacher of the Year ! - Lake Country School
Traci Nelson (L.), President MN-AATF Chapter with Carolyn Crane-Fisk (R.)
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, October 27, 2000
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
Carolyn was nominated by her colleague, Paulette Zoë, who describes her as "graceful and strong...warm and giving...a good listener and a wonderful friend." Her principal, Kathy Coskran, goes on to add that Carolyn is "a consummate professional with an unflagging enthusiasm for the French language and a true gift for communicating her passion to her students."
Carolyn graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota and has been teaching at Lake Country School, in western Minneapolis, for the past twenty-one years. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, AATF, the Minneapolis-based Alliance Française chapter and the MCTLC. Upon receiving this award at the Fall AATF dinner, Carolyn gave a gracious, inspiring speech based on her personal experiences teaching and learning French. She gave special recognition to her own high school teacher, Carolynn Johnson, who was in attendance.
REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 2001 (Vol.21,n.2) page 9 - Extract
VIRGIL BENOIT - 1999
The THIRD Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
- University of North Dakota, AFAM and AFRAN -
Traci Nelson (L.), President MN-AATF Chapter with Dr. Virgil Benoit (R.)
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, October 29, 1999,
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
Dr. Virgil Benoit of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota was named our third Minnesota AATF Teacher of the Year at our annual Banquet at the Fall MCTLC Conference.
Widely recognized as an expert on the French-Canadians of Minnesosta, Virgil teaches French at the University of North Dakota and is a founding member of l'Association des Français du Nord - which sponsors an annual French Festival each August celebrating the French heritage of the area. In addition, he organizes French immersion weekends in Saint Boniface, Manitoba at the Antenne universitaire de l'Université du Manitoba, for teachers of French. ... Several Minnesota French teachers have participated in such sessions and have reported enthusiastically on the merits of the programs Virgil has organized.
Educated at schools in Minnesota, Louisana, Arkansas, Québec and France, Prof. Benoit earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and the University of Vermont. Besides teaching at UND, he writes, speaks and participates in community, cultural and educational groups. [He is the Project Director of the well-known "Calendrier Bilingue - Les Français d'Amérique" published since 1985 by l'AFAM (l'Alliance Franco-Américaine du Midwest) aved l'AFRAN (l'Association des Français du Nord)... .
REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 2000 (Vol.20, n.2) page 7 - Extract
LINDA ALBERTSON - 1998
The SECOND Minnesota French Teacher of the Year ! - Eagan High School
Molly Wieland( R.), President MN-AATF Chapter with Linda Rae Albertson( L.)
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, October 30, 1998,
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
....the MN-AATF's second "French Teacher of the Year" awardee, Linda Albertson, who was presented that honor at the MN-AATF Fall Dinner meeting held on Friday, Oct. 30, 1998, teaches French at Eagan High School, where she is the coordinator of its modern languages program. As a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, she began her career in Iowa. She has a Masters degree in the Teaching of Second Languages and Cultures from the University of Minnesota. ...Linda's principal writes: "If Linda Albertsson has any peers, they are few in number." He calls her "a student's dream teacher" and adds that she is "sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes stern, often humorous, and always demanding." He attributes Eagan High School's "thriving language department" to be the direct result of Linda Albertson's leadership.
REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 1999 (Vol.19,n.2) page 5 - Extract
The FIRST Minnesota French Teacher of the Year !
STACY BERGLUND - 1997
- Anthony Community Middle School, Minneapolis -
LaRae Ellingson ( L. ), MN-AATF Chapter Secretary-Treasurer
and Chair of the "French Teacher of the Year Award Committee",
Stacy Berglund ( C. ) 1st awardee,
and Molly Wieland ( R.), President MN-AATF Chapter
at the Annual MN-AATF Buffet Dinner Meeting, November 14, 1997,
Radisson Hotel, So. Bloomington, MN
In her fifteen years of experience with 7th and 8th grade French students, Ms Bergland has consistently and creatively inspired, motivated and enlightened her students as well as her colleagues both in and out of the classroom. Her students say "She has made learning the French language stimulating, exciting, adventurous and challenging." Her colleagues say "She exhibits excellence in all she does" and "...manages to negotiate with great skill that fine line between challenging her students to achieve academic success while always showing them that she is concerned with the development of their whole selves as students and people."
REFLETS de l'étoile du nord Winter 1998 (Vol.18, n.2) page 7 - Extract
OnLine Nomination form: Mn AATF French Teacher of the Year
*All photos on this page: mary lou wolsey.
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URL:http://mnaatf.org/4.htm - - Created in June 20, 2000 - - last updated:14 octobre, 2017