By Andrea Martin, Upper School French and English
We're moving through the start of another school year, another fall when the weather is finally – just a little bit – starting to turn cool, and that means another season of college applications for our Bullis seniors.
Some teachers may disagree, but I actually really love writing college recommendations. It's a chance to reflect on all that our students have learned and how they have grown over their time at Bullis. In writing their letters, I also often find myself reflecting on my own growth as a teacher, sparked by my students' interests and needs.
This year, I had lunch with each of my seniors before finishing their letters. It was so nice to take 30 minutes to speak with each of them and hear about their classes, their motivations, and their goals for the future. After eating with each of them, I was struck by just how diverse and unique our students are. They have lofty goals, including starting a hospital and becoming CEO of a major corporation. But they also hope to help others, whether through service or study abroad.
As I reflected on their growth, I was also struck by how much our French program at Bullis has truly grown up with our seniors. I began teaching many of them as freshmen in French I or II. Back in the fall of 2014, there were just five sections of French at Bullis – one for each level in the Upper School – and I was the only French teacher. Since then, we have grown to 11 sections of French in both the Middle and Upper Schools this year, taught by myself and my dedicated, experienced colleague Eric Métée. My determination to make sure that all of my students love French (or at least love using it in my classes) coupled with Eric's unbridled enthusiasm and energy have sparked a passion for French in many of our students.
The French Exchange that we began last year with Lycée Saint Joseph in Toulouse has also inspired many of our students to learn about the world beyond Bullis and use French beyond our classroom walls. More about this year's Exchange in a future post!
Though our work is far from over, and students won't hear from most of their colleges until the spring, I'm so proud of how far we've come together!
By Andrea Martin, Upper School French and English
This year, my summer was full—and I mean full—of an exceptional amount of one of my favorite activities: travel. I was only at home for about two weeks! Fortunately, my husband is a very understanding and also very busy man.
June was filled with an amazing 18-day, 8-city tour of China with members of Bullis faculty and staff. We saw so many incredible sights, ate unforgettable meals, and toured innovative schools. Some highlights? Eating new foods like Peking duck and sea cucumber, climbing the Great Wall, eating I-don't-know-what at a Chinese hotpot lunch, cuddling up next to a panda, eating dumplings for breakfast every morning, visiting the homes and workplaces of our Bullis students and their families... did I mention eating? I hope to have the chance to go back to this beautiful country soon.
[Feeling on top of the world at the Simatai section of the Great Wall]
[Bullis faculty and staff at the first bend of the Yangtze River]
After a restful week and a half at home, I was off again on a flight to Toulouse, France, where I lived and worked as a Program Leader for one of CIEE's fantastic High School Summer Abroad programs. The entire experience—from the city itself to the local staff to the teenagers eager to learn—was so incredible last year that I couldn't wait to return again this summer. For the month of July, I coached, supervised, championed, encouraged, nagged, supported, motivated, and genuinely had fun with 33 American students who decided they'd like to spend their summer improving their French skills. Magnifique!
[Celebrating Bastille Day, le 14 juillet, with fellow Program Leader Becca]
[The gardens of the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and the banks of the Tarn River in Albi]
Just three days after returning from France, I spent early August at the beach with my family on Kiawah Island, SC. A favorite family vacation destination when I was growing up, Kiawah holds a special place in my heart. As in years past, our days were filled with playing at the beach, biking around the island, and cooking big family dinners. Beyond the beautiful setting, I especially enjoyed spending time with my nephew—who, at two and a half, says something new and funny every day—and my grandmother—who, remarkably, didn't wash a single dish because she, too, was on vacation.
[Sunset and an oncoming storm over the beach on Kiawah Island]
This travel might sound exotic, fashionable, maybe even pretentious. But I can assure you that the everyday experience is much more mundane; I walked a lot, read some good books, ate a lot, and caught up on sleep. What's important about travel, however, is learning. I learned about new places like Shenzhen and Albi. I learned about new cultures and traditions. Mostly, I learned about myself. And so, this school year, I'm committed to keeping my summer brain. My summer brain is not the one that forgets which day of the week it is, but the one that is excited about exploring, concerned with growth, caring about others, and ready for fun. It's going to be a great school year!