Veteran educator brings French to elementary classes

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, August 13, 2009

“Bonjour, classe. Comment allez-vous?”

It’s not the typical way third and fourth grade students at Greenville Elementary are greeted by their teachers.

During the first nine weeks of school, however, 18 classes at GES are being introduced to French.

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Veteran educator Jeddo Bell is “floating” from class to class each Monday and Wednesday. He brings 45 years of experience in the classroom as a French and English teacher and a still-youthful enthusiasm for “la belle langue” to the table – or should we say, “la table.”

It’s a grueling schedule for a retiree: nine classes, back to back, from 7:50 a.m. until 11:45, upstairs and downstairs.

He’s tired, but he’s excited.

“These youngsters are different from your older students. They are like little sponges, just soaking up the information. A foreign language is much easier for a younger mind to retain and it is so wonderful to be able to introduce them to this beautiful language,” says Bell.

“They are eager to participate, and you can see the excitement in their eyes,” he says.

The GES PTA organized Bell’s classes at GES, which emphasize oral instruction.

“We won’t be doing any writing; we will learn with our ears,” Bell tells Mrs. Corley’s class on Wednesday.

For their first week, the students learned greetings and farewells, how to introduce themselves and how to count from one to ten.

During class, Bell moves from student to student, enunciating the foreign words and phrases carefully, and then encouraging everyone to join in repeating what they have learned.

“Each week we will review what we’ve already learned, and then we’ll learn something new, too,” Bell tells the students.

GES principal, Dr. Tera Simmons, says she is “delighted” to have Bell teaching French at Greenville Elementary School.

“The students are excited about his engaging lessons. The PTA has provided our students with a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a foreign language,” Simmons says.

The busy Bell says he has enjoyed refreshing his French skills to share with the GES students.

He’s thinking he’d better start eating his Wheaties, though.

“Working with all those classes of youngsters, it requires a high-energy performance, let me tell you,” Bell says with a chuckle.

As he heads to the front office for a break, students from Monday’s classes line up in the hallway for lunch.

“Bonjour!” They exclaim with a smile.

“Bonjour!” A beaming Bell replies.

“You see, they are learning already.”