Submitted by Madame Diana Couture, French Immersion Teacher at Debden Public School
Students, staff, and community alike know that Mrs. Anne Blais has contributed above and beyond to her profession of teaching French Immersion in Debden.
“Madame Blais” splits 0.5 Vice-Principal duties with 0.75 teaching time in a combined Grade 1 / 2 French Immersion classroom of very busy students. She is already the recipient of another teaching award, but if that alone isn’t enough, she is also the school’s “French Ambassador”, and takes special care to conserve and promote learning French in Debden School. What she does immediately received the attention of the Saskatchewan Branch of Canadian Parents for French (CPF-SK). It is why the Inspiring Teacher of French award was presented to her at Debden Public School on Tuesday, November 18th by CPF-SK President of the Board of Directors, Mr. Eric Bolay.
Her handiwork is seen throughout the halls of Debden School. She creates French bulletin boards everywhere – making French visible in the building to students, staff, and visitors. She sets up French tutoring sessions between older and younger students during the noon break and after school. Care is taken to organize reading buddies between French classes to encourage reading in French. She organizes all French activities in the school, and brings in French groups to entertain and educate students; everything from a French Hip Hop group to Canadian History and voyageurs. She coordinated a set of workshops put on by la Société historique de la Saskatchewan, and billeted the presenter overnight at her own home to ensure students would have two full days of workshops. She promotes the French Immersion program in our community through events such as French Oratory and French Entertainment night.
She promotes and passes along scholarship opportunities to students for French Universities, as well as French exchange programs, contests, and CPF Rendez-vous camps and CPF French summer camps. She always speaks French, encourages students to do the same within the classroom and on the playground, and with a smile, she kindly and patiently repeats their English words and sentences in French so students can learn how to say it.
Last year, she co-organized the first ever trip to Québec City for our Grade 11 & 12 Immersion students to help them see the French history and culture in our country, and to encourage students to continue pursuing and using French as a second language. She used her own Easter break to accompany students on this trip.
In her administration role, she fills out the necessary paperwork and reference letters to ensure our school has a French monitor every year, and schedules the French monitor’s time evenly throughout the grades. She attends French Professional Development workshops when offered.
She writes French articles about school events for “La voix de Debden” and “L’eau vive” to promote our French Immersion programs, fulfills the role of School Liaison in the Comité culturel de Debden, a French cultural group in our community that helps to sponsor French events at school.
Mrs. Blais also supports Debden students outside of school hours; she has attended students’ hockey, broomball, and baseball games, and even came to watch a tae kwon do class. Sometimes, the students are in her homeroom, but often times they are not.
Being on staff with Anne is inspiring. It is not surprising that for years she has had a sign that says “I Love Teaching!” outside her classroom door. She truly is an asset to Debden Public School and Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division.