Foreign Language Exchange
This past August, Bob Jozokos, Associate Principal and Administrator for World Language at Bedford High School (BHS), and Jody Brown, a French teacher at BHS, traveled to Mazamet, France to establish a relationship with Lycée Jeanne d'Arc with the goal of creating a French sister-school exchange program. Bob and Jody were among several educators that received a grant from the Bedford Education Foundation (BEF) to make this visit and program possible.
During their visit, Bob and Jody were escorted around the city and local area by English teachers from Jeanne d'Arc, Brigid Boutet and Michele Lamandin. They toured several churches within town and the town center to see the local cafes, plaza, restaurants, museum, and movie theater that will be available to BHS students. They also drove into La Montagne Noire, a low mountain range, which offers lakes for swimming, hiking trails, a high ropes course, and the medieval village and castle ruins of Hautpoul. BHS students study Hautpoul and its history within the French IV curriculum. Hautpoul is believed to be founded by Visigoths and the site later played a role during the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars of southern France and northern Italy.
Mazamet itself has an interesting history as a city known for its fellmongering (removing wool from sheepskin). Sheepskins imported from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa were processed in Mazamet because of the high quality of its water. There are numerous grand maisons found throughout the city from its heyday in the 19th century.
Lycée Jeanne d'Arc has approximately 400 students and about 50 of that number are boarding students, however, they board only three nights per week. The school has just over 60 teachers. Their school day begins at 7:55am and ends at 5:30pm. Students have about an hour and a half for lunch; many travel home at that time. The school is equipped similarly to BHS: a theater, a dining hall, a library (shared with the middle school), two computer labs, and typical classrooms and science labs. Some differences include an on campus chapel, a radio station, and the boys’ and girls’ dormitories.
While in France, Bob and Jody finalized plans for the first student exchange. BHS students will go to France during Intersession and April vacation of this academic year. The Jeanne d'Arc students will come to BHS in October of 2017.
“Jody Brown and I want to thank the BEF for their generous grant that allowed the two of us to go meet the staff of Jeanne d'Arc, tour the school, and see the city,” said Bob. “While it was a fruitful and enriching experience for us as professionals, the real benefit will be for our students, and we thank you for that.”
In addition to kick-starting the French sister school program this summer, BEF also awarded a grant to establish a sister school in Taiwan for our Mandarin language students at BHS. Both of these opportunities are modeled on the successful Spanish sister-school exchange program, started in 2014 with support from a BEF grant. The photo shows the 25 Spanish exchange students and their BHS hosts during their recent visit.
In 2016, BEF provided grants totaling more than $27,000 to Bedford educators. BEF grants are awarded to teachers and staff to encourage creative and innovative educational opportunities for students in the Bedford School District. Some of the other 2016 grants funded teacher participation in the National Conference on Singapore Math and the UCONN Confratute, as well as the creation of a morning news show at Peter Woodbury School and assistance in launching a district-wide Digital Learning D.
The Galapagos Island Experince - Julia Astbury, 7th Grade Science Teacher, Lurgio Middle School
Julia Astuby was awarded a Summer Fellowship Grant in 2008 in the amount of $2,100 to fund a program through the University of San Diego to visit the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Equidor to experiance and study the deverse and exciting ecosystem on the islands. Beginning this year, her students will have the opportunity to gain from her experince by getting a close look at one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world and contemplate some important questions in the process.