A delegation of educators from France is wrapping up a three-day visit to Missouri schools in advance of a Missouri-France educational partnership. Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is working to establish a formal relationship with the Academie de Lyon, the equivalent of the department of education for the Lyon region of France.

DESE's Stan Johnson (near) joins French delegation in Jefferson City High School French class

DESE's Stan Johnson (near) joins French delegation in Jefferson City High School French class

“We’ve been working on a memorandum of understanding with the State of Missouri which would allow various kinds of exchanges between the students of Lyon – the Academie of Lyon and the State of Missouri,” said Stan Johnson, Assistant Commissioner for DESE, the host of the four-member delegation. “It could be video exchanges, telecommunications between students and students, teacher and students, teacher and teacher, and eventually it could lead to student exchange and teacher exchange with the Academie of Lyon.”

Among the delegates taking part in the tour is Marie-Claude Berbain, Supervisor of English Teaching and Vocational Education at the Academie de Lyon. She believes cultural and educational exchanges can benefit both the French and Missourians.

Students attending Jefferson City High School French class

Students attending Jefferson City High School French class

“Maybe it would be interesting for some of your teachers to see how we teach and it is also interesting for our teachers to see how you teach and then to share and to explain and to exchange and to know why,” said Berbain.

The French delegation has been impressed with the level of interest evident in foreign language classes in Missouri.

“You are not narrow-minded people, I can tell you,” said Berbain. “You are quite open-minded people and quite ready to welcome us and I tell you we were really welcomed during these three-days.”

There is one thing that has given the French reason to pause – the eating habits of American students.

“We saw the canteen,” said Berbain. “They eat what they fancy. It may be a piece of pizza or a lot of sugar. In France, in our canteen, we are very strict with food because we try to teach them … the best healthy food.”

The tour began Monday in St. Louis at The French School, a new language-immersion charter school that opened this fall. It moved to the Clyde C. Miller Academy, part of St. Louis Public Schools. The group moved to Jefferson City for stops at Jefferson City High School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School on Tuesday. The tour wraps up on Wednesday with a return to St. Louis and a visit to Soldan International Studies High School.

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