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El Paso teachers win annual French award

Three teachers from Montwood High School in El Paso, Texas, have won New Mexico State University's 21st Annual French Award for the Improvement of Secondary Teaching, the most prestigious external award given by the university's College of Education.

Montwood High School teachers, from left, Frances J. Black, Douglas W. Black and Sharyl Ferguson, are the 2001 winners of New Mexico State University's French Award for the Improvement of Secondary Teaching. (New Mexico State University photo by Michael K

chers, Douglas W. Black, Frances J. Black and Sharyl Ferguson, have received a cash award of $3,000 to develop an American studies curriculum at their school. Their proposal competed with entries from educators throughout New Mexico and West Texas. The teachers and their principal, Phil Hatch, recently attended an award luncheon at New Mexico State.

In their proposal, the teachers noted that Montwood High School has about 175 English as a Second Language students. Many of the students are recent immigrants to the United States and know little about American history or culture. Beginning with this fall's freshman class, to graduate from a Texas high school students will have to pass an exam that deals primarily with American history. The new course will help prepare ESL students for the exam as well as for other high school courses. A major resource for the course will be a Web page the teachers are developing that will have links to sites on American history.

"The students will have to write as well as read, make presentations and use computers for research," Douglas Black said. "We want to help them improve their academic and English skills and open the Internet to them. We have a lot of hope for our students and high expectations of them."

"This was an outstanding proposal because of the impact it will have on individual students," said Enedina Vazquez, chairman of the French Award committee.

The French Award, founded in 1981 by Ralph and Josiah French of Las Cruces to honor the memory of their aunts, Fannie and Floy French, is given annually to encourage research and application of creative ideas for the improvement of secondary teaching. The French sisters devoted their lives to education. Floy French, born in 1878, worked in library management in New Mexico and later as head librarian at Carnegie Library in Indiana. Fannie French, born in 1883, graduated from New Mexico State University in 1902 when it was the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. She organized the first Las Cruces High School and was its first principal. She later became an education teacher at Morton College in Illinois. Both women returned to Las Cruces after they retired.

More information about the French Award, including how to apply for the 2002 prize, is available from Gary Ivory at (505) 646-6842.

Photo is available at http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/French_2001.jpg.
For a print, call (505) 646-3221.