PARLEZ-VOUS, YA’LL?

Education It’s a familiar story-with a French twist. Idealistic young teacher sows seeds of culture, endures crop failure, becomes sadder but wiser.

That was the case with JEANNE JEANNIN, now direct rice of the Dallas International School. Jeannin, who came to Dallas in 1963 and married a French executive, taught for several years at a Dallas private school but found that the educational system here changed her from a teacher into a disciplinarian. “In France.” she says, “children are in school to study.”

Urged by the French consul in Dallas to start a true French school-the diplomat anted up his own kids as part of the bargain-Jeannin, in 1987. enrolled nine pupils from kindergarten through high school. Today, more than 100 students share the North Dallas campus, hailing from France. French-speaking nations (such as Switzerland. Belgium, and various countries in Africa), and America. Children speaking no French are admitted before the fourth grade: within six months, school officials boast, most of the kids speak fluent French. Science and math are taught in French, art in English, and history in both languages.

How good is the school? Well, Jeannin’s two daughters graduated from the rigorous Ursu-line Academy; back home, they stili would have needed two more years of high school work to enter a university. Graduates from Dallas International, upon passing the infamous French baccalaureat exams, are ready for European universities or can enter any U.S. university without taking the SAT. often with beaucoup advanced placement credit.

“Children are not supposed to speak in class, but to work and learn, “Jeannin says. And they like it.” Vive la difference.

Comments