Anne-Sophie Gueguen: “The French American Academy is a Passion”

It was in 1977 that the United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day. For four years, Le Petit Journal New York has been extending this day dedicated to women and women’s rights throughout the month of March. This year, our new Florida edition joins us.

During this March, 2022, many French-speaking women from New York, Florida, and more broadly from the United States will be honored in our columns with the support of the auditing firm Orbiss, co-founded by a wife, Laurence Ruiz.

We are going to meetAnne-Sophie Gueguen. Based in the United States for 23 years, she is the founder and leader of the establishment of French American Academy, a bilingual school in New Jersey. Portrait of a woman who decided to devote herself to bilingualism at the birth of her fourth child.

Anne-Sophie Gueguen and Minister Elisabeth Moreno

From Ethiopia to the United States

Anne-Sophie Gueguen was born in Paris, where she grew up and took her higher education. She began a career in corporate communications at Usinor Sacilor, where she met each other Yves-Thibault de Silguy who will be the EU Commissioner for the single currency. By his side, later, she ” represents the European Commission in the Paris office. I was the liaison with the financial authorities to start preparing the financial heads and the public for the euro “, she explains.

But between these two rich and intense professional experiences, there is a crucial moment in Anne-Sophie’s life that does not yet bear the surname Gueguen. It was during a trip to Ethiopia in 1994, where she joined the man who was only a friend – and who was to become her husband, and later her business partner – that the young woman’s life took a turn. Event that will weld her forever to Jean-Francois Gueguen. At dusk, in the heart of the bush, the duo had a car accident in which Anne-Sophie was close to death, ” his hand kept me alive, Jean-François stayed by my bed night and day, this event united us forever. We have on the way elements and stories whose meaning we do not understand, but which make sense later “. A few weeks later, the two young people became a couple, and Anne-Sophie Gueguen saw her first broadcast. She takes the road to Ethiopia, where she almost died, but it is ultimately love that brings her back. There got she her first experience of education.She teaches in primary school which was very useful as I wanted to create the French American Academy “.

Back in France, she worked in the European Commission for a few years and then accompanied her husband to the United States. which was not easy for me because the position I held was both important to me and exciting explains Anne-Sophie Gueguen. ” We moved to Florida with our first child, who was 18 months old, and this was where our second and third child was born. “. Then her husband’s career brings them to New Jersey.” The birth of our fourth child was not on the program, but it was the light and the reason for my new professional adventure. It was when I heard about his arrival that I decided to open a school. The three eldest went to American school, and the level of French was declining. We may be French parents, but that is not enough to convey a good level of language. And then there were elements of American education that struck me. she says.

In November 2006, the project was launched, ” I wanted a bilingual school from the start, which was not the trend back then. It is the comparison and coupling between the two cultures, the two pedagogies, that would be the strength she explains. On July 14, 2007, Anne-Sophie Gueguen opened an after-school program and the year after kindergarten. ” And from there, I opened an extra class every year. The goal was always to be bilingual, to go up to 4th grade. Bilingualism is a long adventure, children learn quickly but also forget very quickly “.

In 2011, her husband joined her and took charge of the financial and business part of the school so that Anne-Sophie could devote herself to pedagogy, her hobby horse. ” Is it easy at first to work with her husband? joker Anne-Sophie, the answer is no, but we have passed the milestone and today everything works quite efficiently and harmoniously. The first French American Academy campus was established in 2007 in Bergen County for geographical reasons. So in 2012, the French American Academy opened another campus in Jersey City at the request of French families. ” Today we are still working on other development projects. Jean-François is committed to developing our franchise program, which is a specific educational model for bilingualism. For my part, I am required to work out at a gym. Covid helped nurture and mature these projects. With nearly 300 students and a staff of 70, including just over 50 teachers, the French American Academy will open a new campus in Hoboken in September 2022.

I wanted a school that was inclusive. We have support programs for families. We have the French government, which helps us terribly, it is the only government in the world that helps schools and families abroad so much in preserving their culture and their roots through the French language, explains the headmaster. But if the French language is Anne-Sophie Gueguen’s heart high and at the heart of the teaching at her school, the two languages ​​- French and English – are equivalent. ” I wanted to be in this world of comparison where the French language and the English language have the same status, there is not one that is more important than the other, there is no duty more important than the other. It is also necessary to teach teachers to work together so that they are models for the students and give them a model of thought. »

Gender equality education from an early age

There are four key elements to achieving justice and inclusion across all domains, explains Anne-Sophie Gueguen, ” it is a work about emotions, about biases and stereotypes, about identity and about power. Knowing how to put words into these areas is not easy, neither for children nor adults. We work with a consultant to explore the idea that diversity is not just about minorities, but about accepting that we are all different. ‘An intellectual work of consciousness which first passes the teachers so that they can reproduce it to the students. From the start of the adventure, the French American Academy provides diversity, all the way down to the puppets, which then reflect all the students’ identities.

I had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Moreno when she visited New York a few days ago, she’s a brave, lively woman, passionate about what she stands for, and that’s what we want girls to become, women who push boundaries, the sky is the limit “. Today’s society is still full of prejudices. An example often experienced by Anne-Sophie Gueguen” when we go into an assembly with my husband, even though I am the headmaster and founder of the school, people always turn to my husband. There is a huge amount of work to be done. There are no fatalities, there is no road already drawn delights Anne-Sophie Gueguen.

A passionate woman who cares about education, bilingualism, the desire to balance the best between the two educations, French and American. The thirst for transmission. ” I’ve never seen the French American academy as a job, but as a passion, it’s what makes me get up in the morning with a smile, ends the founder of the French American Academy.

By Rachel Brunett

“Month of Women” 2022 is supported by the auditing firm Orbiss


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