Monday, August 7, 2017


       It’s that time again—the time when teachers are heading back to the classroom. I remember it well, and, yes, twelve years after retirement, I still miss parts of it. I miss the excitement of walking into my classroom (my safe place) to see how I would decorate it that year. I miss the anticipation of all the expectant faces looking at me wondering what to expect. My reputation preceded me. Some were terrified, a few were hostile, and most were curious about “Fifi, la folle,” Fifi, the crazy woman. 

      I miss the fun of creating lesson plans that always included the students’ performing, active games, silly theatre pieces—-all in French. I miss the kids, so many touched my life. Some continue to do so on Facebook as I watch a few of them walking into their own classrooms. I miss my wonderful colleagues whose dedication and energy inspired and motivated so many young people. Many of them are there today putting up bulletin boards, meeting over lunch and discussing whatever new ideas they might have. I spent 25 years at Novi High School, 5 years in the Grosse Pointe high schools, a few years at Wayne State University and several years substitute teaching in between my own children’s births. It was all positive. So much fun! 

      To the parents who took time to write me a letter thanking me for caring about their child, to the parents who wrote to the administration to tell them that I made a difference, and to the students who took the time to write and thank me for inspiring them, I send a heart-felt thank you. I have kept copies of all those wonderful letters and notes, and they warm my heart when I’m feeling invisible.

     If you are a parent of a teacher who has helped or inspired your child, take a minute to send them a hand-written thank you. You will never know how important it will be to them. 

     When I left the classroom, I didn’t know who I was or what on earth I would do with my life. I was actually very scared. I would no longer be “Fifi, la folle,” so who would I be? What would I do with my time and all of my creative energy?

      I have found many ways through the years, and I continue to reinvent myself partially thanks to all I did as a teacher. I still tutor a student here and there, I continue to create daily, and I seek to touch lives in everything I do. Much of this came as a result of my teaching experience. My classroom stage has been transformed into a concert stage, a public speaker stage, a volunteer organization stage. I am enriched by adults now, and that is wonderful. It can never replace the thrill and joy of teaching young people, however. To see the light go on, to hear a student speak fluently, to watch a former student become a teacher, to see them traveling in France and standing proudly in front of the Eiffel Tower—these are the gifts that keep coming to me year after year. Thank you, my 5000+ students. I will never forget the laughter and affection you planted in my heart.