With the semester coming to an end, many seniors are well on their way to life outside of Wooster. Although graduates will choose a variety of different career paths, one of the most popular post-graduate options is to go into teaching. Programs like Teach for America and City Year offer students a chance to get hands-on teaching experience all around the country for one to two years. This year, five graduating seniors have received the opportunity to spend the next academic year teaching English in schools around the country of France.

Alexander Jue ’10, Britta Harman ’10, Lucy Plaugher ’10, Maureen Hochman ’10 and Katharine Tatum ’10 will soon travel to France to begin their work as American teachers. The program, which is a joint initiative between the Embassy of France and the French Ministry of Education, aims to strengthen English language instruction in the French educational system through the establishment of a native speaker presence.

Teachers can either be placed with advanced high school students or young elementary groups who have little† experience in the the English language.† Depending on the age and level of the students, they will either assist a teacher with his or her class or serve as the primary English educator.

The students were encouraged to apply to the prestigious program, but the acceptance of five came as a quite a surprise. According to the program website, the selection process favors applicants who have experience teaching or working with children, adolescents and/or adults.† Such experience is not necessarily required, however all applicants should demonstrate at least an interest in education. Candidates must also possess the skills to promote cultural understanding between France and the United States. Previous experience living, working and/or traveling abroad is helpful in demonstrating this ability and appreciation of other cultures.

Plaugher credits her interest in the program to Wooster French Professor, Carolyn Durham. Plaugher says that, “I decided to apply after I met a [Fulbright Scholar] in Senegal while I was there doing I.S. research for a month over winter break.† He had done the program twice (first in France and then in the overseas department of Martinique) and was very happy with his experience. I scrambled together an application as soon as I got back into the states.”

The program sets students up nicely for a profession in the education field and also guarantees fluency in French by the end of the academic year. Another acceptee, Hochman says that her interest in the program stems from the fact that she will get “more experience in education, improved French fluency and the experience working in another culture.” While the education experience is a plus, Plaugher says she hopes to gain different knowledge from the program. Plaugher says that, “[the program] will allow me to make international contacts and develop meaningful friendships abroad.”

In addition to being a great experience, this unique opportunity will also give students who are unsure what career path to choose some direction. Plaugher continues by saying, “[the program] will also provide space and time for me to think about and explore my future while I gain professional experience at the same time.” Needless to say, this fascinating program will certainly give these students an opportunity to gain valuable employment skills, while at the same time exploring and learning about a culture entirely different from their own.