I began my teaching career 20 years ago in a middle school in the South of France. To be perfectly frank, it got off to a shaky start. My teaching wasn’t quite up to scratch, my students weren’t exactly enthusiastic, the university classes I attended twice a week were grueling and my tutor, although lovely, was demanding; by the time the weekend rolled around, all I wanted to do was decompress and think about something else.

It was with that objective in mind that I pushed open the doors of a pub in Montpellier 20 years ago this week. Neither I nor the beautiful red-haired Irish girl behind the bar had any idea that from that moment on our lives were going to change forever.

Andria and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on Wednesday. 20 years of travel and adventures from Montpellier to Lyon, then Seville, Rome, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Shanghai, Taipei, and finally—to our utmost delight—New York. 20 years of joy and dreams. 20 years of conversation, laughter, books, music, art, and cinema. 20 years of schools, students, colleagues, families, and projects. I owe everything I am to her. If it were not for Andria, the trainee teacher I was 20 years ago would never have had the courage or the ambition to dream of something more. Having her by my side at The École since last January is the best gift Philippe and Laurence could ever have given me.

This week, I could have settled for a simple Happy New Year letter, but that would have been a bit selfish of me. Rather I hope you all have 20 happy new years, 20 years that are as beautiful as the ones I have just had.

I’d like to wish Andria a happy anniversary, and, to each and every one of you, a magical, breathtaking 2023!