At the beginning of this new year, I had the pleasure of enjoying the very welcoming and stimulating company of Marie-Hélène Fasquel, whose portrait I was taking for the newspaper La Croix.
Many of us keep, throughout our lives, a vivid memory of a special teacher who has proved to be an inspiration. For me it was a certain Mr Jeanes, my secondary school French teacher, who turned up in his dinky 2CV car and got us to watch Buñuel and Truffaut films during class. I definitely think it was him who cast me under the spell of French language and culture, and is one of the reasons why I ended up, 15 years ago, moving across the Channel to live here.
Through her unstinting passion and energy, as well as via her unique teaching methods, Marie-Hélène Fasquel has marked herself out as someone who really transforms the lives of her pupils. Teacher of American literature at the Nelson Mandela school in Nantes, she is a great believer in new technology and makes use of her numerous contacts among modern authors, to pass on her love of the English language and all forms of English writing, to future generations.
Out of 50 teachers selected from the four corners of the world, for this year’s Global Teacher prize, she is the one and only French representative. The prize, which will be awarded this coming 19th March, is worth a very healthy one million euros ! However, neither this figure, nor the personal prestige that it would accrue, should she win, are likely to go to Marie-Hélène’s head. What counts ultimately for her, is to be able to showcase the real values of French education. Were she to walk off with the jackpot, her goal is to use this windfall to help disadvantaged children and those pupils that would otherwise drop out of the system.
I wish her all the very best in this competition and know that whatever the outcome, her bubbly character and all-consuming love of literature will in no way be diminished.
To keep up to date with her news, here’s the link to her blog.