French immersion, Portland immersion


Back in July, when I arrived in Portland to start my nannying gig, the summer seemed endless, its long lazy days to be filled with sunny skies and adventures with my new charges.

Suddenly it’s September. The days are getting shorter, gray rain clouds have been menacing, and nannying is over.

Summer has begun its transition into fall, and I’ve begun a transition of my own—into my first “big-girl” job, into living in Portland long-term.

When I moved up to Portland for the summer months, I envisioned a longer sojourn. I hoped nannying would be my foot in the door, that by physically being in Portland, I’d be able to find a way to stay in Portland.

A month ago, I submitted an application to one of Portland’s French immersion schools for work in its extracurricular department. Seven days later, I had a job offer.

Last week, I started training. This week, à la rentrée, students (including my summer kids) will swarm the campus and I’ll officially take up my new post.

When I tell people I’m working in a French immersion school, they overwhelmingly assume I’ll be teaching. I won’t be. I’m not qualified to be—to teach French in a French immersion school, you pretty much have to be a native speaker (not to mention a certified teacher). And to tell the truth, I don’t want to be.

Teaching was fun and frustrating, gratifying and challenging. I liked it enough for the year it allowed me in France, a year of fine cheeses, finer friends and fabulous travels. But there’s a reason I didn’t apply to renew my contract with TAPIF: Teaching isn’t my ultimate passion. There, I’ve said it.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the act of teaching, of sharing knowledge or a new way of thinking with others, because I do. I will always love teaching in its most basic sense for the same reasons I love learning—exploration, discovery, collaboration. What I don’t love is teaching in a classroom environment.

At my new job, instead of drilling in lessons and administering evaluations, I’ll be in charge of students when they aren’t in class—during recesses, lunches, and after-school care. They’ll still undoubtedly learn from me, but the information and ideas I present won’t be purely academic and my approach won’t be strictly pedagogical. I won’t be a maîtresse; instead I’ll be a social educator.

And working in a French immersion school comes with benefits other than my fabulous health care package (I told you it’s a “big-girl” job). I’ll be keeping up my language skills by interacting with all those aforementioned native speakers and further developing my professional skills through a slew of training seminars, in addition to all the experience I’ll gain when I’m on the clock.

I’m excited to have landed a job relevant to my interests and skill sets, and I’m excited to add Portland to the growing list of places I call home.

School starts Tuesday. I hope all the other kids will like me. 😉



  1. I’m sure the kids will adore you! How could they not…. But you need to transition yourself to a new reality and lifestyle, and to blend it all together. This will take some time, but I have every confidence that you will succeed in this, as you have succeeded in every other challenge presented to you!

    1. Thanks, mom!

  2. Yay have a good first week of school! I know you’ll rock it.

  3. SO excited for you! Hope everything’s incredible in Portland.

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