Laguna Beach High School’s French teacher Odile Dewar instills Francophile culture in her classroom by tapping resources wherever she finds them.
While attending a meeting of French speakers in San Diego last fall, Dewar overheard hotel employees speaking French and befriended Haitian-born Jean Coriolan, who became a liaison for a classroom project.
Dewar directed her senior class to design Laguna Beach-themed holiday cards with greetings written in French. Coriolan’s father, who lives in Orlando, Fla., would send them to Ecole Mixte de Petit-Gôave, a school in Haiti’s Petit-Gôave.
The Haitian students were thrilled by the cards and enthusiastically drafted Coriolan to facilitate a Skype call to Laguna through his cousin, Frantzy Saintilien, director of the Haitian school. And students from both schools dreamed of a visit in the future.
In the meantime, Dewar invited Laguna Beach resident Fabiola Thébaud-Kinder, also from Haiti, to make a presentation on the history and culture of Haiti to her class in preparation for their AP French exam.
The students’ experience came full circle when Kinder described a French colonial law over slave management that was first read and posted in Haiti’s Petit-Gôave, where their Skype buddies reside.