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École Laronde teacher wins Bouquet de Merci award for promoting French in the classroom

Bouquet-de-Merci-Christine-Carriou.jpgÉcole Laronde Elementary teacher Christine Carriou (right) is one of two recipients of the Canadian Parents for French (CPF) Bouquet de Merci award, recognizing the contributions of individuals and groups to promoting the French language in education. Carriou received the award alongside Melissa De Silva, a CPF volunteer in the Sooke School District.

A Grade 6 French Immersion teacher from École Laronde Elementary is being recognized by for her advocacy of the French language and providing mentorship opportunities for students in support of global citizenship.

Christine Carriou is , which highlights the contributions of individuals and organizations to the goals of CPF, including supporting students in learning French and establishing effective communication with groups responsible for French learning opportunities.

“I felt privileged that I received it, but I know of many teachers who work very hard, they’re very committed and I’ve learned from those teachers,” said Carriou. “My approach is to teach the whole child – I tell the kids, ‘I only have nine and a half months with you, and I hope that you’ll keep a lot of things that I teach you, because you are learners for life.’”

Carriou was specifically recognized for her yearly Compassion Project, a collaborative initiative where students fundraise for various non-profit organizations while developing important social skills such as speaking with adults in the community, communicating with each other and working together to make a positive difference in the world.

“It’s not just leadership but it’s that they are able to build their confidence,” said Carriou. “The purpose is to build their sense of worth and sense of selves, and to know that they have a voice, so when I build them up, they can be impactful with their voice.

“It also teaches them mistakes are okay – when they call someone from a charity and the words don’t come out right, they can recognize their feelings, like, ‘I made a mistake, I’m embarrassed, and that’s alright.’ They become better and better at this, it’s about what they’re going to do next.”

In addition to teaching, Carriou is a yoga instructor and health and life coach, pursuing a master’s degree in counselling. She said her background and experiences inform her lessons in the classroom, where she guides students through mindful breathwork, hosts circle meetings to discuss thoughts and instill confidence, and offers an empathic lens to recognize individual student needs.

“It’s more than just teaching, it’s understanding where all the kids are coming from,” she said. “I approach everything with gentle, loving kindness – it sounds so corny when I say that, but that’s what speaks to me and that’s what I try to share with the students.”

Evidently, her teaching style has had a lasting impact on students, as she later learned her nomination for the Bouquet de Merci came from a former Laronde family.

“I taught the daughter who’s in Grade 10 now and her brother’s in Grade 8,” said Carriou. “I’ve taught for more than 20 years and I still have families and students who I’m in touch with, who are in university or graduated, which is amazing.”

Congratulations, Christine, on receiving the Bouquet de Merci!

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