Foundation supports language exchange programs

This past August, Bob Jozokos, associate principal and administrator for world language at Bedford High School, and Jody Brown, a French teacher at BHS, traveled to Mazamet, France, to establish a relationship with Lycee Jeanne d’Arc with the goal of creating a French sister-school exchange program. Jozokos and Brown were among several educators that received a grant from the Bedford Education Foundation.

During their visit, Jozokos and Brown were escorted around the area by English teachers from Jeanne d’Arc, Brigid Boutet and Michele Lamandin. They toured churches within town and the town center to see the local cafes, plaza, restaurants, museums and movie theaters that will be available to BHS students. They drove into La Montagne Noire, a low mountain range, which offers lakes for swimming, hiking trails, a high ropes course, and the medieval village and castle ruins of Hautpoul. BHS students study Hautpoul and its history within the French IV curriculum.

Mazamet itself has an interesting history as a city known for its fellmongering (removing wool from sheepskin). Sheepskins imported from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were processed in Mazamet because of the high quality of its water.

Lycee Jeanne d’Arc has approximately 400 students and about 50 of that number are boarding students, however, they board only three nights per week. The school has just over 60 teachers. Their school day begins at 7:55 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. Students have about an hour and a half for lunch; many travel home at that time. The school is equipped similarly to BHS: a theater, dining hall, library (shared with the middle school), two computer labs, and classrooms and science labs. Some differences include an on-campus chapel, a radio station, and boys’ and girls’ dormitories.

While in France, Jozokos and Brown finalized plans for the first student exchange. BHS students will go to France during intersession and April vacation of this academic year. The Jeanne d’Arc students will come to BHS in October 2017.

"Jody Brown and I want to thank the BEF for their generous grant that allowed the two of us to go meet the staff of Jeanne d’Arc, tour the school, and see the city," said Bob. "While it was a fruitful and enriching experience for us as professionals, the real benefit will be for our students, and we thank you for that."

In addition to kick-starting the French sister school program this summer, BEF also awarded a grant to establish a sister school in Taiwan for our Mandarin language students at BHS. Both of these opportunities are modeled on the successful Spanish sister-school exchange program, started in 2014 with support from a BEF grant. The photo shows the 25 Spanish exchange students and their BHS hosts during their recent visit.

In 2016, BEF provided grants totaling more than $27,000 to Bedford educators. BEF grants are awarded to teachers and staff to encourage creative and innovative educational opportunities for students in the Bedford School District. Some of the other 2016 grants funded teacher participation in the National Conference on Singapore Math and the UCONN Confratute, as well as the creation of a morning news show at Peter Woodbury School and assistance in launching a district-wide Digital Learning Day.

BEF relies on community donations to fund these extraordinary programs in our schools. Our annual FUNdraiser, will be held at the Manchester Country Club on November 4th at 7pm. Tickets are $50 for community members and $25 for Bedford faculty & staff and are available at: www.seatyourself.biz/befnh.

The Bedford Education Foundation is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization whose mission is to support academic excellence of the Bedford, New Hampshire public schools by raising and providing funds for the benefit of its students. Consistent with this mission, the BEF raises monies from individuals and businesses through an annual appeal and community events, and channels these funds back to the schools through a grants program. Teachers, staff and administrators are able to apply for grants from the BEF each year.

– Submitted by Bedford Education Foundation