A French teacher at Cannon School in Concord has achieved something no other teacher in North Carolina ever has.Sylvia Simard-Newman, Ph.D., has won the prestigious and nationally acclaimed Dorothy S. Ludwig Excellence in Teaching Award at the high school level from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF). She is the only high school teacher in the United States to receive the award this year. Simard-Newman, who pioneered the French program at Cannon School, is also director of international programs for the school.She said she was honored and surprised to win the national distinction and acknowledged that it is a major accomplishment. She attributed her success as a French teacher to her sincere belief in the importance of French teaching and her passion about its value. Simard-Newman spent much of her childhood living in France. From an early age, she traveled extensively and developed a love for varied cultures and languages, especially Francophone cultures. That passion stirred a desire to share what she knows with her students, in a relatable and pleasurable way, through experiences that instruct.“You have to take the kids out of the classroom to see the sights,” Simard-Newman said. “Learning culture and language comes with emotion, also. The sense of culture … seeing it, feeling it, you can’t get that just from books.“Teachers are in a position of great positive influence over young minds,” she said. “Not only do we teach French, but we open the world to students.”Simard-Newman said she travels with students often. Just recently she returned from taking a group of students to Paris and Nice as part of a language immersion program. In 2012, she took her students to Italy and France. But she doesn’t always board a plane to immerse her students in French culture. Sometimes she finds it locally. She has been known to take her students to Valdese to learn about that area’s French/Italian heritage and to the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh to view the impressionism exhibit.Simard-Newman strongly believes that students need to have a global perspective to succeed both economically and personally. “It’s important to teach them to be tolerant and respectful of other cultures and their point of view,” she said.Her educational philosophy, coupled with her enthusiasm for teaching, motivated her colleagues at Cannon School to nominate her for the AATF’s prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award. The association was founded in 1927 for the purpose of promoting the study of the French language, literature and culture at all grade levels. It is the largest national association of French teachers in the world, according its website.Simard-Newman will be recognized officially for the honor on July 13 at an awards banquet during the association’s national conference in Providence, R.I. That happens to be one destination she has never visited, and that makes it even more exciting, she said.
Monday, Jul. 08, 2013
French teacher at Cannon School in Concord wins national award
Sandy Whitesides is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Sandy? Email her at email@example.com.
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