Following dream leads to teaching success

Regina Flores

Picture your wildest dream – a chance you might take, a place you might go, a thing you might do. If you had the opportunity, would you go for it? In the 1980s, French teacher Michelle Currier had the dream of coming to the United States from Canada, and she followed it.

“One of my goals was to move down south,” Currier said. “It was a dream of mine since 1985. I like to learn about different cultures, and the United States is a great place to learn about people.”

Currier grew up in Ontario and says that Canada was beautiful; however, Currier was not exposed to many different cultures as a child. Her love of diversity and her
interest in foreign foods were driving forces behind her desire to come to the United States.

“Canada is more culturally diverse nowadays, but when I was growing up, it was quite different,” said Currier. “I lived in a French community and went to French schools, so I was not around so many cultures. [Experimenting] with different ethnic foods has been interesting; I love learning about the Hispanic culture, and I love their food too.”

Currier began her teaching career at a young age by working as a part time swim instructor as a high school student in the 80s. Currier loves literature, reading, and language, so when it was time for her to transition into a life-long career in the United States, Currier decided to teach French at the collegiate level. Although meeting different colleagues was a great experience, she soon switched to teaching high school students.

“When I moved to the U.S., I taught French at the University of Houston,” Currier said. “In 1987 through 1991 I was a lecturer. [I taught at] Kingwood College and Lone Star. Then I went to public schools – high school.”

French teacher Jan Krammer knows from her own experiences that being familiar with the culture that one is teaching about comes in handy when trying to share the culture with students.

“[Knowing the culture] gives you a different kind of insight into the way people live and the way people do things in another country,” Krammer said. “When you’re teaching about that country or about that culture and you know it personally rather than just having read about it yourself, [it’s very useful].”

Krammer sees the way Ms. Currier brings her knowledge about Canadian culture into the classroom through her teaching, which, Krammer said, is something about Currier that is extremely beneficial to her students.

“Ms. Currier brings a unique perspective because she knows French-Canadian in terms of the culture, so she can really bring that to the floor,” Krammer said. “Also, since French really is her native language, it is possible for her students to do more speaking. It’s easier for her than it would be for someone who’s not a native speaker to just speak French to them all the time.”

Freshman Danica Mendes points out how Currier’s background helps her learn more about French culture than she would otherwise.

“[Ms. Currier] speaks French in a way that expresses the way that French people would speak,” Mendez said. “She teaches the basics right away; she teaches everything before she goes into long paragraphs. Sometimes I don’t understand her, but she ends up translating it. She’s a good teacher.”

Although Currier never taught high school in Canada, she noticed a difference in the way Americans and Canadians interacted with each other.

“Canadians hug a lot,” Currier said. “We hug our friends, we hug our family, and I don’t see that as much with Americans. There’s probably less respect [here], but I think that’s universal in America. You just have to deal with that. Nowadays, it’s different.”

Currier says that she misses the weather in Canada most.

“I don’t think I’ll ever adjust 100 percent to the humidity,” Currier said, “but then again, I don’t know if I could live in my country in the winter because it’s freezing. But I miss the nature most, the weather.”

Besides teaching, Currier enjoys relaxing and spending time outdoors.

“I love to go camping; I love to spend lots of time in nature away from big cities,” Currier said. “I love to go to the mountains, and I love swimming. I truly love water because it relaxes me. I also like to read and watch good movies.”