KALISPELL - Stephanie Hill has taught French at Kalispell's Glacier High School for the past 10 years..
During that time, she's seen annual enrollment in her program more than double in size to close to 200 students.
Glacier is one of only five high schools in the country to receive the “Exemplary French Program” honor from the American Association of Teachers of French.
“Reading, writing, listening and speaking, so if you walk into any of our classes on any given day, we’re doing all four," said Glacier High School French Teacher Stephanie Hill.
A passion for the French language has developed at Kalispell’s Glacier High School thanks to non-stop energy and compassion from Hill.
“Madam’s love for the program, like she loves it so much it makes you want to love it more too,” said Glacier High School French student Jordan Reiner.
Stephanie and her husband Adam Harbaugh teach French levels one through four, including AP classes.
The French program recently received national recognition with honors distinction from the American Association of Teachers of French.
“So, it’s the highest one we can achieve, five other schools in the nation achieved it this year, it means from top-to-bottom, from the teachers to the students to the activities, the test scores, all the different things that make a quality language program, we’re recognized as one of the best,” said Hill.
One of the best indeed, as Glacier has now received national recognition three times since 2016.
“Sometimes I have my kids for four years, it kind of depends, and to take them from their first word, their first bonjour, to now they’re in AP, you know to see them go on and to study French and become French majors and people in the peace corps and you know we have someone who is in the marine corps using the language skills, I mean that’s what we’re here for,” added Hill.
French student and Glacier senior Jackson Seals said his French language skills have even come in handy while working at the local grocery store.
“And we’ve had a few Canadians come to buy things and occasionally they just don’t know what they’re looking for in English, and I was the only person in the store who understood a lick of French, and so I was able to help them it out and it was pretty useful,” said Seals.
French student and Glacier senior Jordan Reiner said she looks forward to French class every week because of Stephanie’s passion.
“We’re constantly laughing all the time and that’s just, that’s the best part about the class, it’s always happy smiles, it doesn’t seem like a class it just seems like you know, we’re hanging out having a good time," said Reiner.
Stephanie said her passion for teaching and the French language stems back to when she was a high school student, learning from her favorite French teacher.
“She sang and danced, and I just said if that’s success, that’s what I want to do you know, and so I always show my student’s my high school yearbook and it says my goal in life is to become a high school French teacher, and I said you know not many people get to write that in high school and then actually do it,” said Hill.