South Orangetown Central School District

South Orangetown Middle School World Language teacher Marie-Laure Spatz welcomed guest speaker Estine Sainte-Rose, the grandmother of SOMS seventh grader Jenelle C., to discuss Haitian customs, history, art and culture with her seventh-grade French classes last week. 

 Spatz began inviting speakers to her French classes earlier this year to teach students about the 29 countries where French is the official language. “The French-speaking world represents so many countries and is culturally rich and diverse. I ask French-speaking people to come to my classes to help students develop an appreciation for this diversity and create a more personal connection to their language studies,” explained Spatz. “May is Haitian Heritage Month, so we are especially fortunate to have Ms. Sainte-Rose with us. Her visit sparked comparisons between what students had learned about France, Haiti and Benin–where our last visitor had hailed from. What a great way to celebrate differences and become global citizens!”

Leading up to the visit, students researched Haiti and collaborated on a poster featuring facts and notes about the nation’s art, food, people and clothing. Jenelle created a Google Slide presentation to accompany her grandmother’s presentation which included information about historic events, such as the devastating 2010 earthquake and the nation’s recovery. 

Sainte-Rose fielded questions from eager students and also brought soup joumou, a squash soup, for them to try. The dish is traditionally served on January 1 to celebrate the country’s freedom. 

Following the presentation, students expressed that they were grateful to learn first-hand about the country. “I learned that after they declared independence, they became a hub of different races and religions,” Zidan noted.

“It was a fun way to learn about a different country and culture,” added Jakob.

Guest speaker visits french classes at SOMS