Jun 25, 2009


Here's the thing--the great thing--about Nicole French. It never was about her.

All of us teachers struggle with it being about us: I want the kids to respect ME. I want the kids to obey ME. I want the kids to like ME. I want the kids to think the coolest teacher is ME. I want the kids to think of ME as their friend. It's not that these things are bad or that good teachers don't often desire these things, but great teachers understand that at the end of the day--at the end of the school year--it's not about me. It's all about them.

Nicole got that. And this is why despite all her humble protestations and insistence on bouncing my compliments back to me, I maintain that Nicole is a great teacher.

Nicole walked into her classroom, all about business. She was motivated to teach science, excited to see the kids succeed, burdened by her desire to do her job well. Often times there's a distinction in approach between the "SM" teacher and the professional teacher. With French there was no distinction. She was a professional.

Nicole worked very hard this year. She understood she had only ten months to do the job and she was determined not to waste a second. She taught all day, coached volleyball and basketball, tutored into the evening, and then round about 8 o clock headed back into the classroom to pore over lesson plans and grading. At 5:30 A.M. she was often back at her desk getting the job done. Fortunately, especially as the year wore on, and she found her groove, Nicole found time to have fun too. Running, scuba diving, reading The Fountainhead, and even talking on the phone to good friends back home (okay, one dear friend in particular :) ). But it all came second to the kids she loved, the kids she gave her life to this year.

Some come for the sand, some for the sun, others still for the scuba. Nicole came to Saipan for this girl. . .

. . .and them. . .

...and him. . .

. . .and him too. In serving these young people, she was rendering the highest service to the One who called her in the first place.

Nicole and I worked together a lot this year. I pitched in on some P.E. classes, was co-sponsor of the 8th grade class (though she did most of the work), and teamed up with her for the school Christmas play. We always had great conversations, and I always learned from her, whether it was the value of wind sprints in our morning runs or something from her store of science teacher knowledge. One of my favorite memories is of our Turkey Trot run up Mt. Tapochau Thanksgiving morning.

Nicole, it was a privelege to serve with you. You've been a good freind, a wonderful colleague, and yes, a great teacher. I'll miss you!

French, Jaimie and Rhonda getting ready for the pudding drop game at their going away party. Saturday night, June 6, 2009.

French and Me in Guam.

Nicole takes her Long Walk. Well done, French. Well done!

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