St. Landry

Oct 16, 2013 7:54 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Program Sends Local Teachers To France, Affected By Budget Cuts

Budget cuts are hurting the "Escadrille Louisiane" program, which sends Louisiana teachers to France. When those teachers return home, they use that experience to teach students the French language and culture.

The program was created in 2010 and, in three years, 17 teachers have benefited. It's helped 26-year-old year old Elizabeth Lyles, who's a new French teacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau.

"It's very rewarding to hear my students speak French, whether it's just a simple, 'Bonjour, madamoiselle,' in the hallway or to hear them putting together even the most simple sentences, the most simple phrases. It's very rewarding," Lyles said. She spent a year in France participating in the "Escadrille Louisiane" program.

"To come back to Louisiana, and to have you know the experiences that I had there, to bring what I learned back to Louisiana, and to teach here and to teach French, it's been wonderful," Lyles said.

It costs the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, or CODOFIL, $8,000 to send one teacher to France. However, since a $100,000 a year budget cut in 2012, fundraising is a priority.

To help out, Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux is helping organize a French-themed benefit Sunday for the program.

"Support these teachers so that they can come back, go to France, come back and teach our kids to speak French," Comeaux said.

"I feel like I'm contributing to something here in our state, something bigger than just what is in the classroom," Lyles said.

The benefit for CODOFIL's "Escadrille Louisiane" scholarship program will honor world-renowned artist George Rodrigue on Sunday at "Ruffino's on the River" from noon until 2 p.m. Tickets are $125 a person, or tables of eight for $1,000.

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