When Louise Fay Despres was young, her mother began giving her French lessons and opened the door to a world of possibilities. Ms. Despres fell in love with the language almost instantaneously; she found it beautiful and compelling. She pursued the subject all through her childhood, from home to the classroom, and even then she wanted to know more. She proceeded to complete coursework at the American School of Music in Fontainebleau, France, and to earn a Bachelor of Arts in French from Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College), and a Master of Arts in French from Middlebury College in Paris, France.
Another one of Ms. Despres’ passions was academia. Both her father and her aunt were teachers, and she wanted to find some way to incorporate the field into her career. Language education proved to be the perfect combination. After obtaining certification as a secondary-level French teacher and a Master of Arts in teaching French from Brown University, Ms. Despres set out to make her mark. Her first job in the industry was French teacher at North Haven High School, followed by French teacher in the Foreign Language Elementary Schools Program at High Plains Elementary School and French teacher at New Canaan High School. She really felt at home at New Canaan High School, and remained there in positions like Spanish teacher, Advanced Placement (AP) teacher of French literature, AP French teacher, independent study adviser, International Club adviser, mentor for new teachers, chair of the World Languages Department, and substitute teacher until her retirement in 2012.
Outside of her classroom, Ms. Despres spent a lot of time lending her services to her professional community. She was a teacher assessor for the state of Connecticut, a school liaison for the School Year Abroad Program at New Canaan High School’s Phillips Academy, a fellow of the National Endowment of the Humanities, a chair of the National French Contest for Connecticut, and a high school teacher liaison for the American Field Service (now AFS-USA, Inc.), among other roles.
As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Ms. Despres received a number of accolades over the years. Some notable ones include the Pegasus Pride Award from the Connecticut Organization of Language Teachers (now the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers), the Advanced Placement Teacher Recognition Award from the New England College Board, and grants to study in France. Above all, however, Ms. Despres considers the highlight of her career to be teaching AP French for 30 years and making a difference in the lives of so many students.
When Ms. Despres has free time, she enjoys photography, traveling, reading, music, and theater. She also volunteers as part of the Fellowship Committee at Hyde Park Union Church, the Housing and Hunger Committee of the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Additionally, she has been a volunteer lay reader at New Hyde Park Union Church since 2014.