French Enthusiast Expands Horizons With Teaching Assistantship

Thursday, May 2, 2013

by Brianna Willard '13

Jennifer Cush, a senior French major and secondary education minor at Saint Joseph’s University from Washington Township, N.J., has been accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France for the 2013-2014 academic year. The program offers the opportunity for aspiring teachers to work in France for an academic school year, teaching English to French students.

Beginning in the first grade, Cush had a profound interest in the French culture and language.

"When we were given time for free reading in the elementary school library, I always sought out the French picture dictionary,” Cush says. “I took the book out so many times, memorizing as many words as I could, that my teacher allowed me to keep the book for myself.”

Cush knew she wanted to spend time in France studying, and also teaching. During her sophomore year at Saint Joseph’s, Cush spent six months in Poitiers, France through Middlebury College’s study abroad program. The language-intensive program required her to sign a contract agreeing to speak, read and write solely in French during her time overseas. Her experience helped her to see the possibilities of teaching abroad and how that would complement her career goals.

The guidance of Peter Norberg, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of English, and Brent Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing and director of office of fellowships, pushed Cush to apply for the assistantship program in France.

With her acceptance in the Teaching Assistant Program, Cush will be preparing to leave for France in September.  She will teach students in both middle and high school in the Provence region of France at the Academy of Aix-Marseille. During that time, Cush hopes to not only become more well-versed in the French language, but also in the country’s culture, traditions and customs.

“I applied for the teaching assistantship because in order to be the best French teacher that I can be, I must be exposed to the target culture as much as possible,” Cush says.

Cush would like to return home after her assistantship and participate in a program similar to Saint Joseph’s Alliance for Catholic Education that would allow her to live in a Catholic community with fellow teachers.  She ultimately hopes to become a French teacher for high school students at an urban Catholic high school.

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