As Saugus High School loses its only French teacher, the Hart district looks for a solution
In the last month, current and former Saugus High School French students have voiced their concerns to the Williams S. Hart Union High School District governing board regarding the departure of the only French teacher on campus – and with it the potential cutting of the French program.
According to Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the Hart district, the French teacher at Saugus High School is resigning at the end of the school year and pursuing different business. After advocacy from concerned parties, the Hart district announced Saugus would be posting for a new French teacher for the upcoming school year.
“I would like to note that the students, staff and parents who advocated for the continuation of the program made a powerful impression on the board, site leadership and district office staff,” Superintendent Mike Kuhlman wrote in an email to announce the news. “You were respectful, eloquent and persuasive. You all should be encouraged that your advocacy made a difference.”
The news that Saugus’ French teacher Ashley Rubay would be leaving left a lot of people wondering who would replace her, and the issue intensified when no announcement was immediately made regarding what would happen to the French program.
In the most recent board meeting during public comment, a few speakers talked about the significant role the French program had on their lives and why it would be pivotal for it be continued. Speakers mentioned how the French program gave them an opportunity for academic and professional success and a community, too.
The speakers’ messages to the board echoed one another – the loss of the French program at Saugus would be devastating and impact current and future students.
Joe Messina, president of the governing board, took a moment to address these concerns. The governing board members are listening and they are looking for possible solutions, he said.
According to Caldwell, for parents who are concerned with their students meeting A-G requirements, Saugus High School continues to offer Spanish, Chinese and American Sign Language, which would help students meet the language requirement.
The Hart district had said they were looking for a solution, and they may offer alternative choices for Saugus’ students who took French I, so they may take French II, Caldwell said.
Messina said they would make an announcement soon regarding the future of Saugus High School’s French program.
According to Kuhlman, Hart district staff discussed “meaningful options for students” if they decided to discontinue the French program at Saugus. However, after examining their available options they concluded they would not be able to provide those options in time for students currently enrolled in the French program.
“I’m writing now to share that Ms. (Genevieve) Petersen Henry will indeed be posting for a new French teacher for the coming school year. Now that this has been decided, we are committed to searching for a worthy successor to Madame Rubay so that the program can flourish and grow.”