Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

French teachers in high demand

Immersion program pressed to fill positions

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Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press

Some of the 110 students of the graduating class of Université de Saint-Boniface participate in the convocation at the St. Boniface Cathedral Monday.

When it comes to teaching, Rachelle Rocque is joining the family business.

Or in Rocque's case make that entreprise familiale.

That's because Rocque, who graduated with a bachelor of education degree from Université de Saint-Boniface on Monday, is not the only teacher in the family.

"Both my parents are teachers," she said.

"So is my cousin and my aunts and uncles are teachers, too. Teaching has always been something that really interested me, even though I saw my parents spend long hours correcting papers and doing report cards."

Rocque begins teaching in September at École Henri-Bergeron in the Louis Riel School Division in a split Grade 5 and 6 class.

"The job was confirmed today (Friday). I'm going to the same school that I did my practicum in. I'm very happy."

There are numerous job openings for the graduates of the Université education program.

Currently, there are more than 22,000 students in Manitoba taking French immersion in 22 school divisions.

Stefan Delaquis, the Université's education dean, said at most they graduate 40 new teachers every year from the two-year program and there are more jobs than graduates.

"We want to encourage more immersion students to come to our post-secondary institution," Delaquis said.

A spokeswoman for James Allum, the minister of Education and Advanced Learning, said he is aware of the challenges school divisions are currently facing in recruiting teachers for the French immersion program.

"The Bureau de L'Éducation Française staff discusses this issue regularly with partners in the French language education community with an aim to find long-term solutions to these challenges. The faculty of education at Université de Saint-Boniface has indicated it is expected that more than 40 students will enter the faculty of education in 2014-15 which represents an increase from the previous years.

"The department continues to monitor this situation and to collaborate with partners to ensure that well-trained French immersion teachers are prepared to deliver high-quality education in the French immersion program."

The Université has a two-year program with the first year being theoretical with a four-week practicum followed by a second year with a seven-month-long practicum in the classroom.

Christine Mahe-Napastiuk, the Université's registrar, said a lot of students "are intimidated by studying in French exclusively," but she agreed if they study there they will not only easily get a job, but they will be more than just a teacher to their students.

"They definitely become role models for their students," she said.

"And they can also teach in a French-French school in the Franco-Manitobain school division."

Mahe-Napastiuk said Rocque was joining 109 other graduates at the convocation ceremony held at St. Boniface Cathedral on Monday.

Rocque said she can't wait until September when she is back in front of a classroom.

"During my practicum, I would wake up in the morning and I'm excited to see their smiling faces," she said.

"People assume I want to be a teacher for the two months of holiday, but for teachers who are really involved it's really a month of rest and then a month of working on new ideas.

"I'm excited to start my career."

-- with files from Nick Martin

Watch the speeches given by the University of Manitoba's honorary degree recipients below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 10, 2014 A4


Updated on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:45 AM CDT: Corrects accented characters

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