March 17, 2010

Creativity in the classroom

MELANIE CREAMER

— By

Staff Writer

Nicole Fecteau, a French and Spanish teacher at a Biddeford Middle School, has made a huge impression on her students. And yes, they still get homework.

Fecteau runs a non-traditional classroom that embraces an interactive, hands-on approach to learning. She developed a Web site for her students to do activities in French and often refers to an on-line text book with an interactive smart board.

Fecteau's initiatives to promote the use of technology in her class, and her lesson plans that get students out from behind their desks have earned her the Foreign Language Association of Maine's Award for Excellence in Language Teaching.

''The recognition is an honor,'' Fecteau said. ''I am very thankful this school has an administration that nurtures and encourages professional growth and innovation in the classroom. This award reinforces my love of continued learning and teaching. Each one of my students is an individual and I strive to teach them in a way that works for them.''

Fecteau has taught foreign languages in Biddeford for two years and previously taught at the Middle School of the Kennebunks. Fecteau said her passion for foreign languages dates back to her youth. She grew up in a Franco-American home and her parents encouraged her to speak French. Richard Ayotte, her old French teacher at Cony High school, inspired her to become a teacher, she said.

Thomas Sferes, a Spanish teacher at Biddeford Middle School, is one of many that nominated Fecteau for the award. During his 40 years in the profession, Sferes said Fecteau is one of the best he has worked with.

''She is truly one of the most outstanding teachers I have seen,'' he said. ''She is creative, energetic and takes initiative to meet the needs of kids. She gives kids choices with their lessons and individualizes according to needs.''

Fecteau is pursuing her master's degree in educational leadership. Recently, she volunteered to become part of the ''BMS 12 Brave Souls'' project, where she was videotaped so that her teaching could be analyzed through a lesson study design.

Every week, Fecteau holds an after-school homework club to help students who have fallen behind. Fecteau said the award has motivated her to find new ways to reach her students.

''I love seeing my students light up when they learn something. When a student makes an association, you can see it in their face. It is extremely rewarding for me,'' Fecteau said.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

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