Profile: Nicole Gastonguay Ritchie ’92 (Bowdoin Magazine)

Nicole Gastonguay Ritchie '92 (Illustration: Chelee Ross '12)

 

This profile originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Bowdoin magazine.

Bowdoin major: French

Title: French teacher and founder, L’Ecole de Nicole

Bowdoin connections: sister, Danielle Gastonguay Dunn ’96

Web: www.ecoledenicole.com

Inspiration behind L’Ecole de Nicole: Before having a family, I taught French and math in private schools. After having my first daughter, I wanted to take a break to be a mom. When both of my girls were in school, I felt that I wanted to get my foot back into teaching, but I didn’t want to go back full-time. A friend of mine was teaching art independently and suggested that I start doing small French classes. I approached our town library about using their historical building, giving part of my tuition to the library’s endowment. This was very well received and I had my first class of six pre-K students in the fall of 2008. Since then, my name has become known in the community, which has opened many doors for me. It even landed me a French teaching position at ChildLight Montessori School in Berwick, Maine.

On teaching foreign language to children: We keep the learning fun; that’s really what it’s all about. My goal is not to help the young child become fluent, but rather to expose them to French and hopefully spark an interest in continued study of the language later.

On the French language: I love the sound of French being spoken.

Favorite spots in France: Paris, bien sûr! I also really love Dijon, St. Emilion (near Bordeaux), the Loire valley and Provence. They all have something very special about them.

Best recent movie: The documentary Race to Nowhere. I think every educator and every parent in our country should see this

Guilty pleasure: I don’t watch “American Idol” regularly, but there was one season that I really got hooked, and loved listening to David Cook sing. I just really like his voice.

Music: When I’m looking for music to inspire me, I usually turn to Jars of Clay or Mercy Me.

Best meal ever: Wow, that’s a tough one. I’ve had plenty of amazing food and I always enjoy my mom’s cooking. My honeymoon at Swept Away Resort in Negril, Jamaica-I never knew that jerk rattlesnake could be so tasty. But, if I have to pick one place, I guess I’d have to say Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens in Vieux, Québec-their soupe à l’oignon and their tourtière.

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