Monday, November 9, 2009

Annual meeting at the French Embassy in Washington, DC

From Oct 22-24, 2009, the Directors of the 46 French schools in North America gathered at the French Embassy in Washington, DC for their annual meeting and Beth and Willy were in attendance. Among the topics discussed were the “socle commun”, which corresponds to the learning results of the French Ministry of Education, the assessment results of students in grades 2 and 5 from the last academic year, and new report cards currently being designed.

The Director of the AEFE (Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger), Madame Descôtes, described the agency's efforts to promote the value of French education to American Universities and presented a new website for parents, teachers and administrators ( This website presents practical information about school life in the French schools in North America in both French and English.

Madame Descôtes also addressed the Directors on the topic of a newly imposed contribution to the AEFE to be paid by schools that are accredited members of the agency. The fees imposed are equal to 1% of each school’s annual tuition income. Many Heads of Schools voiced their strong opposition to this newly imposed fee structure. Madame Descôtes justified the fees by stressing the quality of the services offered by the AEFE to our schools: (professional development, annual school inspections including personal visits for the Inspecteur de l'Education Nationale, the availability of our certified French teachers to maintain their professional steps in the French system through “détachement” (equivalent to sabbatical) among other benefits.

Kareen Rispal, Cultural Attaché at the French Embassy, presented several exciting upcoming projects including math contests and poetry contests and a theatre competition offered for the upcoming year.

M. Bonnet, Director of International Affairs at the French Ministry of Education, presented the new procedures for accreditation with the French Ministry of Education. The newly appointed Director of MLF, Jean-Christophe Deberre, met with the Heads of Schools affiliated with the MLF (including L'Ecole Française du Maine), to plan professional development opportunities through the MLF for our teachers in the next academic year. M. Georges Alzina, Inspector of Education Nationale in North America, made a presentation on second language acquisition in the bilingual context, and how to develop strategies for assisting students with learning challenges.

There were many opportunities for Beth and Willy to collaborate with the other Heads of Schools represented at the conference. It is always a positive experience to share ideas and experiences with our colleagues in this unique learning environment.