This year, the Ojai Valley School has re-added French to its curriculum. The two classes, French I and French II, are taught by a new faculty member, Marie Samson.
Born in Quebec, Canada, Ms. Samson grew up with French as her first language and it wasn’t until twelve years ago she learned English.
After traveling, she ended up moving to Ojai, where she started teaching French at Thacher School. The following years, she also taught at the Besant Hill School, and, later, Oak Grove School, where she still works part-time.
For eight years in total, Ms. Samson has been teaching high schoolers, with one unbreakable rule: her classroom is French-only, and with good reason.
Ms. Samson notes how well this technique works, with the students being able to learn the language at a much faster rate. French II student Maya Mullins agrees, “The French-only rule was hard at first, but I have learned to talk in much more compact sentences. And after only about three weeks I’m starting to understand a lot more of what my teacher is saying.”
But, teaching techniques like that don’t come from just anywhere. Even though Ms. Samson studied engineering and physics in college, she received her Masters of Arts in Teaching years later and has always had a special passion for teaching.
Ms. Samson recalls childhood memories of her and her brother playing school in their basement, with a big blackboard and chalk and her always playing the teacher. “I always loved being a teacher,” she says. “I’m not surprised that I ended up being a teacher.”
Luckily, for the OVS students, she did choose that path in her career, because the new teacher with a French accent is widely popular within her classes.
Before Ms. Samson worked at the Ojai Valley School, there was only an online class offered for French. Maya, for example, realized that after taking the online class the previous year, she was behind her classmates. But with an actual teacher, she realizes how much progress she has been able to make.
For another French II student, Max Wu, having a good teacher is incredibly important, since French is, after Chinese and English, his third language. But being able to study in a well taught and rigorous class is not a problem for him, but an exciting challenge.
This eager attitude and spirit students, like Max, possess is why Ms. Samson enjoys teaching the OVS student body so greatly.
“They choose to learn French and they come with the intention of really wanting to learn, so they do their best, and I really appreciate that,” Ms. Samson said.Share