A year ago to the day, we announced our partnership with Léman. We had a twofold aim – to offer our students access to a reputable private high school in New York that systematically sends its alumni to the best universities in the US and around the world, and to extend our students’ bilingual learning experience by proposing an American high school program that allowed them to keep their connection with French language and culture.

Everything went much faster than anticipated. When we first met with Léman, we tabled the notion of September 2023 as a start date. Then, as we got to know each other better, as the conversation became more precise, and we realized the multiple opportunities the partnership offered, it became obvious that we could open our unique bilingual high school program from September 2022. It was made possible, to a great extent, thanks to our French Language and Literature Teacher, Franck Le Martelot, and our French History and Geography Teacher, Laurence Bendinelli, who accepted splitting their time between two schools, hectic schedules, and an increased workload in order for the project to come to life.  I would like to pay special homage to them here because it is not simple to construct a curriculum in just a few weeks, join a new team, and adapt to different working methods, but they did it. Since September, Franck and Laurence have been teaching eight students who enrolled in the pathway; others will soon be coming to join them.

I say that because today, exactly one year after we announced the partnership, our 8th graders have finished the application process for places at Léman. Our aim was to remove as many of the administrative obstacles as possible. There is still progress to be made, but we have already made considerable progress: no enrollment fees, priority access to Léman’s financial aid, individual parent and student interviews that take place at The École, a meeting between the teaching teams of both schools that replaces the need for both recommendation letters and an Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE). These steps toward a smooth transition are much appreciated by our 8th graders, who are, as we all know, under a considerable amount of stress at this time of the year.

At the moment of writing, seven of our sixteen 8th Grade students have been formally accepted by Léman and others are waiting for responses. We are obviously very, very proud of them. They put in a huge effort over the past few months and I know what it means for them. Even though the system is not perfect – and we fully intend to make the process even smoother next year – it feels as though the bet has definitely paid off.  It is already a very natural thing to hear our middle schoolers talking about Léman in the corridors of The École, it has become a realistic horizon where our students have no difficulty imagining themselves, continuing with the same classmates, with teachers they know, in French, in a school they have visited and are familiar with.

I have accomplished a few things over the course of my career, but this partnership with Léman is one thing that I am sincerely proud of. It represents a real added value for our students and for The École. If you spotted me smiling stupidly on the dancefloor at the holiday party last night, it wasn’t just because I had drunk too much champagne (and hadn’t managed to track down any hors d’oeuvres) and it wasn’t just because I was delighted to be in your company. It was also because being the head of The École feels really good!