GY student surprises inspiring French teacher with an ‘Outstanding Educator’ Award
Year-end teacher appreciation gifts are a thoughtful gesture, especially in a year when “frontliner” has unexpectedly been added to the faculty job description. Katherine Chen’21, who’s off to study economics at the University of Chicago this fall, went above and beyond this year—recognizing Diploma Program French teacher Nicole Hallett with a University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award.
“This award was a complete surprise,” says Hallett, who has taught Katherine Standard Level French in Grades 11 and 12, and been her Advisor since Grade 9. Hallet also supervised the Club d'Art Oratoire, the French public speaking club of which Chen was an integral member for three years, becoming co-head in Grade 11 along with her twin sister Margery. “Teaching students like Katherine is such a privilege, and makes my job as an educator so rewarding.”
To earn this award each year, newly admitted students have the opportunity to select educators who “go beyond everyday teaching and leave an impression that is carried over a lifetime.” Explaining why she nominated Hallett, Chen praises her teacher’s enthusiasm for creating active opportunities to practise French, and the encouraging attitude that sparked her student’s passion for the language.
“Learning a language is a somewhat painful process,” says Chen, “but Ms. Hallett is always patient with our progress. As my advisor, Ms. Hallett was the first person to make me feel welcomed in the Branksome community. I will always be grateful for her guidance and support in all of my years here.”
Hallett, in turn, praises Katherine and Margery for keeping the club going during the pandemic, organizing games, activities and a festival d'art oratoire where students presented their speeches over Zoom. She will also remember how Katherine arranged a musical piece, performed at the Célébration de la Francophonie in Assembly, and how she won the subject prize for SL French each year since Grade 10.
A veteran teacher, Hallett ran the pilot for SL French almost two decades ago at Branksome and is always keen to improve her skills, currently training for new curriculum updates.
“Students were really so understanding during the pandemic, and helped me a lot in teaching the course by working independently and participating actively, even when on Zoom,” says Hallett. “I think every educator thrives when students are receptive and engaged, and with students like Katherine and her cohort that part was easy.”