Swenson Award 2010
Kendra Paupst, St. Johnsbury Academy
Victor Swenson and Kendra Paupst
The Vermont Humanities Council has named St. Johnsbury Academy teacher Kendra Paupst as its 2010 humanities educator of the year. Paupst, a French Language teacher at the Academy, was presented the eighth annual Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award at VHC’s fall conference Comedy and Satire: It's No Joke on November 13 at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort in Stowe.
VHC Board Chair Sylvia Robison presented the award along with a $1,000 check to Paupst.
“We are pleased to honor one teacher in the humanities who has made an especial difference to his or her students and school, and in the process, to honor all the fine teachers in the profession and the important work they do,” said Peter Gilbert, VHC executive director.
Paupst, who joined the St. Johnsbury Academy faculty in 2003, teaches all levels of French, from beginner to Advanced Placement courses. Her teaching methods, which integrate technology with broad immersion in French language, culture, history, and even cuisine, have helped steadily increase student enrollment in French courses at the academy.
Tom Lovett, headmaster of St. Johnsbury Academy, wrote this in an e-mail to Kendra upon notification that she had been named the Humanities Educator of the year.
“As I told the Vermont Humanities Council earlier this fall, you are an inspiration to many for your attentiveness to students, your innovation using technology, and your passion for the French language and culture,” said Lovett. “I am sure I speak for everyone here when I say we are thrilled on your behalf…Thanks for inspiring us, and for serving the students we love so well.”
In her nomination letter, Sandra M. Mings-Lamar, assistant chair of the Academy’s ESL program, noted that Paupst “is so much more than a classroom teacher. She is constantly finding ways to challenge her students . . . [and to] make her curriculum rigorous and relevant.” In class, Paupst addresses students in French only and encourages them to take part in activities such as school-wide presentations, a pen-pal program with students at a school in France, and language contests such as the National French Contest.
One of the hallmarks of Paupst’s teaching is bringing in guest speakers “to expose her students to different accents and to have them learn . . . about other French-speaking parts of the world,” said Mings-Lamar. Last year Paupst’s classes welcomed speakers from Guyana and Switzerland, as well as Quebec Premier Jean Cheres, who visited the school with Governor Jim Douglas and who participated in a question-and-answer session with Paupst’s French II students.
When not bringing French language and culture to her students, Paupst takes her students out to seek it. She arranges annual trips to Montreal and Quebec City, and last year had her AP students read French author Amelie Nothomb, then brought them to the French Library of Boston to hear the author speak there.
Mings-Lamar also noted Paupst’s talent in speaking French “fluently and with the accent of a native Parisian,” her pursuit of professional development by spending her summers teaching French in Nice, France to American exchange students, and her skills using digital media to enhance her teaching.
“Kendra is an inspiring colleague,” Mings-Lamar said. “[Her] enthusiasm is contagious. When observing her classroom, it is obvious that her students love learning from her and take risks with the language because she has created such a safe and fun place for them to learn.”
Paupst earned a B.A. in Psychology from Hartwick College and an M.A. in French from Middlebury College through its program in Paris. She is the second teacher from St. Johnsbury Academy to receive the Swenson award. The late Graham Stiles Newell earned the inaugural award in 2003 after more than six decades of teaching.
VHC created the Swenson award in 2003 to recognize a Vermont educator on an annual basis and to honor Victor R. Swenson, the Council’s first executive director. The award is given to a Vermont educator in grades 6 through 12 who exemplifies excellence in the teaching of the humanities.
Nominations for award are due June 15.
Learn more about the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award.