Last week, we hosted a small gathering on our historic campus in celebration of French language learning to show appreciation for our treasured community and school district partners in our French Pedagogy Program.

This program is intended to support B.Ed. students at St. Mary’s University who already speak French by placing them in a designated immersion school after having their language levels assessed.

Functioning the same as our Teacher Leader Project, this program was a direct response to witnessing school districts struggle to fill French-speaking positions. In this program, students receive extra practicum experience and mentorship opportunities, as well as participate in student-led research.

Deanne sincerely thanks our partners for their time, effort, and dedication.

This Specialized Practicum program would not be possible without the support and dedication of our many program partners, and this gathering was intended to thank our partners for their time and effort.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to thank our small but mighty group of avid supporters of French as a second language teaching; HR personnel, Principals, French specialists, and Cooperating teachers from Calgary Catholic, Christ the Redeemer and Calgary Board of Education, Dr. Katherine Mueller from the University of Calgary, and some of our pre-service teachers were in attendance,” explains Deanne Barrett, Sessional Instructor and Practicum Advisor at StMU.

Planned by Deanne, this evening of celebration featured a nod to French culture with wine and cheese on the menu, and was an opportunity for our program partners to mingle and connect with each other. Interim Dean of Education, Dr. Paolina Seitz, took this opportunity to share with attendees just how much of an impact our French Pedagogy Program has on our students.

It’s a unique opportunity, with students who are successfully placed in this program being given enrichment opportunities to develop their French Language skills and their understanding of the pedagogy of teaching French in an immersion setting. This is a valuable and in-demand skill that is worth developing.

“Alberta is such a unique context for French Immersion schooling, and the graduates from this program have greater insight into what it takes to be a successful French Immersion teacher. This program offers students support as they continue to build their French language fluency, as well as providing them with opportunities to understand the pedagogy specific to teaching in a French immersion setting,” remarks Deanne.

An evening intended to celebrate French language learning and culture, portions of the program were delivered in French by Dr. Seitz and the featured speaker of the evening – StMU President, Dr. Sinda Vanderpool.

After falling in love with the French language while attending Davidson College as an undergraduate student, Dr. Vanderpool spent her junior year enrolled as a visiting student at the Faculty des Lettres in Montpellier, France. After earning her bachelor’s degree in French from Davidson, she attended Princeton University where she focused on 16th Century French poetry through the lens of female identity.

Dr. Vanderpool’s passion for the French language shone through as she addressed our Specialized Practicum program partners in fluent French and spoke of the value of second language learning while telling stories about her background with the French language, her time in France, her studies in French literature, and her first Post-secondary job as a French Instructor.

Featured speaker, Dr. Sinda Vanderpool, spoke of her personal connection to French language learning.

Also addressing the room in fluent French, Dr. Seitz personally thanked our many school district and community partners who have made the success of both this program and our pre-service teachers possible.

As this specialized program has continued to grow, we have spent this year connecting with new partners. StMU has now partnered with 11 schools from four different school districts, and we are consistently hearing about the increasing need for skilled Second Language teachers in Alberta.

Dr. Seitz discussed the continued success of this unique program.

This year, we were thrilled to form new working relationships with teachers both at Calgary Catholic School District and Calgary Board of Education, who have given their time to support our students through language evaluations, workshops on curriculum and pedagogy, and sharing their expertise with our students.

We are excited to celebrate our third graduating class of students in the French Pedagogy Specialization here at St. Mary’s University soon at our upcoming spring convocation. We are so grateful to all of our community partners who have said yes to the exciting project of preparing skilled teachers for second language classrooms!

St. Mary’s University’s Bachelor of Education Program is proud of our sterling reputation for graduating excellent teachers who are well-prepared to be effective teachers on day one of their teaching careers.

The quality of our graduates is further punctuated by the long list of district and regional winners of the Edwin Parr Teacher Award for outstanding first-year teachers who have come out of our program.

Our reputation for fostering the development of excellent teachers means that our graduates are sought after by Catholic and Public districts and international organizations seeking teachers for overseas positions. St. Mary’s students’ strong reputation in the education community translates into employability. Nearly all graduates in the most recent graduating class secured employment before the start of September, and over 50% had job offers before they had even completed their final practicum.

Learn more about our esteemed Bachelor of Education After-Degree Program here.