French class hero

New teacher joins mid-semester


Catherine Diel

Linda Hawkins shares an experience from her time in France

Catherine Diel, Social Media Manager

Growing up in a Spanish speaking household in Laredo, Linda Hawkins never expected she would become a French teacher. 

“My secondary, or even primary, language was Spanish,” Hawkins said. “My grandmother spoke nothing but Spanish. I spoke Spanish and English at the house.”

This all changed when her and her whole family moved to France, where they stayed for three years.

“When my husband was in the military, one of his assignments was to work for NATO in France, so my entire family moved out there,” Hawkins said. “It was a very humbling experience because I didn’t speak a word of the language. While I was there, I learned French. I fell in love with the culture, with the language, with the people, and I figured why not add it to my teaching certification.”

Hawkins started her career in banking and finance, but moved into teaching because her family was constantly moving and she wanted a job that could move with her. 

“I tried teaching and I realized how much I enjoyed it and that’s why I do what I do,” Hawkins said.

In the middle of the first semester, the school’s French teacher left. There were a few weeks of the French classes having nothing to do. They were lost without a teacher. But then, Linda Hawkins showed up. 

“It’s kind of jolting but I’m kind of relieved we can start working on things now,” sophomore Max Wroblewski said. “It’s been a lot more structured and ordered, especially after all that time. It’s just relieving.”

Hawkins has had her fair share of struggles joining the French team in the middle of the semester. Despite these difficulties, she keeps a positive outlook.

“We get there and we move on and we just keep going,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins also acknowledged student struggles with this change. 

“It’s a matter of change for the students themselves and change for anybody is hard,” Hawkins said. “Some students may be stressed because they’re changing from one teacher to another, one teaching style to another, and I want to make that transition as smooth as possible.”

In just Hawkins third year teaching, she is able to really connect with the students. When the teacher first arrived in France, it was a culture shock.

“As a person it gave me more of an understanding, especially as a teacher for the students who come in from other countries, who speak different languages, to be able to relate to them, to be able to say, hey I was there, there were times when I could not speak the language, where it was difficult to express myself, where people may have thought I was not an intelligent person just because I couldn’t express myself, when that’s not the case at all.” Hawkins said.

Junior Lera Wroblewski, the adopted sister of Max Wroblewski, came to the U.S. from the Ukraine. She agreed with Hawkins’ statement that the teacher can relate to her. 

“We can share our experiences.” Lera Wroblewski said.

It is important to Hawkins that different cultures are explored and respected. When she went to France, she found that the people were welcoming, kind, and patient, contrary to the beliefs of some who think the French are snobby or rude. Hawkins said her best experience in France was getting to know the people and the culture.

“Primarily when you teach a foreign language, it’s not so much about the language itself but about understanding that there are different cultures around the world and that we, as Americans are not the only culture that’s out there, the best culture that’s out there, the culture that knows how to do things exactly right.” Hawkins said.

Hawkins, luckily for French students, “saved the French class”, which would have been switched to an online program if no teacher was found. 

“I think it [an online program] would have been irritating,” Max Wroblewski said. “It just would have been annoying.” 

Hawkins has goals for the next semester, and even goals for after that. 

“For next semester, scholastic wise I expect that my kids will be able to speak more fluently and write more fluently, to have more fun interacting with each other in the classroom, speaking wise and culture wise.” Hawkins said.

French students are looking forward to learning more in depth from their new teacher. Some are even looking to continue their learning of the language in the upcoming years.

“I’m looking forward to being able to have an official beginning for Mrs. Hawkins- like somewhere we start from.” Max Wroblewski said.

Hawkins loves to teach French, but she loves to teach students even more.

“I teach less to teach a subject and more to teach students,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s important to mold the students to become good citizens and to become lifelong learners. I want them to be excited about learning, to know different ways to learn, to never stop having that desire to learn, and I want them to go out and do great things.”

While still teaching French, Linda Hawkins has a dream for the future, and that dream is to teach students about personal finances.

“My dream job would be to teach students how to work their own personal finances, so bringing in my love of teaching with my knowledge of the financial world,” Hawkins said. “You can learn your Algebra, you can learn your Chemistry, you can become a doctor, but if you don’t know how to manage your finances, your life will be a little bit rocky. You, as young people, have this ability to start young and use the power of compound interest. The numbers are magical when you’re at this age.”

Hawkins explained how teaching about finances: budgeting, investments, balancing checkbooks, using credit, excetera, can lead to students being able to build up their money and become multi-millionaires by the age 65, easily.

“You start young, you have that power in your hands, and if I could just reach out and explain that to kids, I believe that’s a life skill that would make their future so much easier so they would not only not have to worry about money, but can also donate and contribute to people around them, share with their community,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s really important to have that and I’m hoping that comes to reality, but we’ll see.”

Personal Financial Literacy was recently approved as a one semester class, but now, it needs students. The course is primarily for juniors and seniors, as they are able to better retain the material going into their adult lives. If you have an interest in the course, reach out to Linda Hawkins in room A215 to learn more.

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