New coordinator to lead thriving French Immersion program

highly accomplished teaching specialist will lead French Immersion programming to a new level, as Chinook’s Edge schools reach

by Sandy Bexon – Special to Sylvan Lake News

A highly accomplished teaching specialist will lead French Immersion programming to a new level, as Chinook’s Edge schools reach milestone achievements.

French Immersion is offered in three Chinook’s Edge communities, and all three are preparing to serve new grade levels next year.

Sylvan Lake, which pioneered the program, will welcome its first graduating class at École H. J. Cody High School. Meanwhile, Innisfail will celebrate the arrival of Grade 10 French Immersion students into high school in September, and École Deer Meadow middle school in Olds will see a French Immersion class in each of its grades (Grades 5-8) for the first time. To guide the growing program and provide support to teachers as they serve students in these high level programs, Chinook’s Edge has hired long-serving French Immersion teacher Mme. Jane Atkins.

“French Immersion has always been a priority in Chinook’s Edge, but this is the first time we’ve hired a dedicated coordinator for the program so everyone is very excited,” said Dr. Lissa Steele, Associate Superintendent of Learning Services.

“Jane has 27 years of teaching under her belt, so she definitely knows what works in the classroom and what kids need. What I’m most pleased about is her in-depth experience in French language. She will be in classrooms interacting with teachers and students in the language they are learning in. As each of our French Immersion communities is reaching milestones next year, we are committed to providing the level of expertise to support their French programming and their culture. Having someone like Jane at the helm will set everyone up for success.”

Atkins has spent the last 22 years teaching in Chinook’s Edge schools, most recently in the French Immersion program at École Olds Elementary. She had announced her retirement from classroom teaching earlier this year and felt the parttime French Immersion coordinator position was a perfect fit for her plans.

“I’m looking forward to digging right into the work, because I think if we can work as a really cohesive group French Immersion will meet with even greater success,” said Atkins. “Our three French Immersion communities are located apart from one another in our large division, so we will be finding ways to share the best of the great ideas they all have. I am excited by our program, because I see the real growth of the children. When they realize they don’t have to translate in their heads anymore, that they’re thinking French and thinking English, it is a remarkable moment for them. Our French Immersion kids are blossoming and I see this program growing every year. This is a very positive time for our school division.”