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Au Revoir Madame

February 3, 2012

French Club: Madame on the left, me next to her

Long ago, when I was in high school, I had a French teacher who actually taught us French. And oh, she taught us much more than that. She was only ten years older than us, and somehow began her teaching career with total confidence. Right out of the box, she was a great teacher.

She just passed away suddenly at the young age of 51. Like a Rock Star, dying young. Of Course. Madame, as she was called by all who loved her, was truly unforgettable. It was the mid-eighties and we were in a small town. Why this fashionable, mega-energetic young woman who seemed like she belonged in a French movie decided to teach at our high school is still a mystery to me.

Madame realized that what happens outside the classroom is important too. And she involved herself there. Including the Drama Club. I was too shy to be an actor, but I loved drama so I volunteered for makeup. She handed me a stage makeup catalog and told me to order anything I wanted. So I researched what we needed for our play and ordered it. Then the makeup crew and I proceeded to make all the high school aged cast members into old people for the play using this makeup and a few books she offered up. Of course, I realize now, she shelled out for all of this. She understood that people need the proper tools when they are learning and if the school couldn’t provide them, well, then she would.

She was my stepson’s French teacher and our babysitter’s French teacher too. And all agree on how unique she was. She didn’t just teach a class, she helped us learn how to study and how to relate to the other people around us, both students and teachers. She helped us learn how to relate to the material in a way that took us out of the classroom setting and into real life. A real rarity in a teacher. And, rarest of all, she wanted to be there with us. It was her life’s passion to be there with us. She made us feel like we really mattered. Thank you Madame. I will miss knowing you are out there sharing and expressing your beautiful gifts. I know I am in the company of many.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Trane DeVore permalink
    February 3, 2012 9:13 am

    This is quite a wonderful tribute, Karen – and including the French Club photograph is an especially nice touch. Madame was too, too young.

    • karen hess permalink*
      February 3, 2012 9:43 am

      She was much too young. Vince scanned the photo, I just stole it off facebook from him! It’s how I remember her.

  2. February 19, 2012 8:28 pm

    wow she really was fabulous. How sad.

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