La Gazette

La Gazette highlights the variety of stories happening in our FAIS community every day—from moments in the classroom and around campus to service projects and off-campus activities.

Usually published monthly during the school year, La Gazette is shared via email with current families and staff. It can also be found here, in our website archive. 


Remembering Virginie Calmé

In remembrance of Virginie Calmé, a former teacher who was part of the FAIS community from 2000 to 2017.


Virginie taught at various levels, from maternelle to fifth grade. 


She was a beautiful person, inside and out, who deeply cared about the world at large as well as her close community. This inspiring woman gave so much to FAIS and was ahead of her time. She initiated many new ideas on our campus and inspired her fellow teachers to follow her path.


Virginie was an accomplished athlete and was instrumental in starting an integrated biking program at our school which is still in place today. The experience of biking led to more confident bikers by fifth grade who were using the nature trail. She was one of the first teachers to ask for a climbing wall and would have been delighted to see it finally in place.


Virginie was deeply involved in childhood development and systematically prioritized her students’ well-being. She was a champion of students with learning differences. She ordered furniture that allowed students to learn in a more non-traditional way. In her classroom, students could choose the method of learning that worked best for them. In addition, she pioneered methods of executive function training to help students with their organizational skills. This led to starting a study skills class, which is currently offered to all incoming sixth graders.

A photo of six students and Virginie at the airport


Virginie also cared about the well-being of our planet. She implemented the washing and recycling of cloth towels reducing our school’s usage of paper. She initiated our composting program after being awarded a grant from Metro to purchase composting bins for classrooms. She and her students built and maintained the large composting bins that the school used for years. Through this project, she showed teachers the value of service as action on our campus. She partnered with teachers in many grades and empowered students to take responsibility for helping with composting. This led to a campus-wide composting program.


Virginie has always been an inspiration and a leader in our IB journey. She was convinced that we learn better by exploring, inquiring, trying, and making mistakes. She offered multiple opportunities to her students to take risks in and out of the classroom. She welcomed their differences and their trials and valued their passion and interests.

A photo of a student reading and Virginie looking on in the background

Virginie was a huge advocate of learning outdoors and being adventurous. Virginie’s classes were frequent visitors to the original forest classroom to recite poetry, work on math, or simply explore. Her positive influence and willingness to try new systems have made an indelible mark on FAIS. Her love of the outdoors, biking, and embracing all students are ingrained in the spirit of our campus culture today.


When she moved to Bend in 2017, she embraced her passion for the outdoors and soon became the program director for Bend Endurance Academy where both students, parents, and coaches can attest that she always put the children first, encouraging them to push their limits but letting them be kids first and foremost. 


Her joy for life was evident at all times, and she will forever remain an inspiration for all of us. We will remember her warmth, her empathy, and her radiant smile.


She was a loving, caring, and inspiring mother to her two sons Etan and Eliot who were students at FAIS and who, like us, will miss her dearly. Our thoughts are with them and her husband, John.


Virginie touched the lives of so many - students, families, colleagues, and more. Thank you Virginie for the impact you made on FAIS and the world.

Virginie's school photo


Third-grade Visits the Oregon Historical Society

The third-graders took a walk through history during their first field trip of the school year.


FAIS third-graders visited the Oregon Historical Society on September 27 as part of their first unit of the year: Our Identity is Unique.


The goals of the field trip were to connect students to their city; define a neighborhood (quartier in French) beginning with the example of the Cultural District; place the Cultural District and some Oregon History examples on a timeline.


A photo of third graders outside of the Oregon Historica; Society waving to people in the city

A photo of two students drawing a historic telephone


Web Radio - Episode 79

Web Radio is back for the 2022-23 School Year.


The latest episode includes:

  • FAIS and International News
  • Back-to-school stories
  • Maternelle Segment


This and past episodes can be found at

All About the Brain

When it comes to education, we are all lifelong learners including the faculty and staff at FAIS.  Our faculty and staff stay updated on the best educational practices and ways to support their students.


Nadine Zaouk-Strapart, a TPS teacher, spent the last 18 months studying neuroscience through the lens of education. She combined her passion for teaching with her interest in psychology and found a way to explore both. Her goal was to get an understanding of how brain development affects the way students learn. Nadine learned ways to better support students in their learning journeys.


“Anyone can do whatever they want if the people around them believe in them,” Nadine said. 


The course was hosted by Mission Laique Francaise (MLF) in collaboration with the Grene. It was taught by Pascal Toscani, a well-known French neuroscientist. Twenty-five teachers worldwide took the class, and Nadine collaborated with three of them to publish a monthly newsletter on their research. We will make that resource available to FAIS families and staff each month.


At FAIS, our mission is to create the foundation for learners to thrive and affect change. Part of this commitment includes hiring highly trained faculty and staff.

Full STEAM Ahead with Dr. Brown

This year, part of the FAIS mission of authentic inquiry, collaboration, and multiple teaching styles includes developing and streamlining a science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) program. To do so, FAIS welcomes Dr. Don Brown to serve as the school’s STEAM specialist.


Dr. Brown sees his role as both glue and string. His job is to create a STEAM curriculum for teachers that “sticks” to what they’re doing in other classes while also connecting and building from grade to grade. His goal is to help train teachers, create a STEAM program that builds on itself as students move through the Lower School, and also enhance our transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. 


Dr. Brown’s role at FAIS will be more behind the scenes. He will be training staff and, in some cases, co-teaching classes.


Ultimately, Dr. Brown hopes to create a STEAM program, a STEAM Lab, and a Makerspace where students are allowed to follow their inquiries and pursue their passions. His first step is revamping the STEAM lab and Makerspace areas in Satellite Four. He is also finding ways to enhance STEAM in the classroom, the forest, the playground, and the art spaces.


“I think we can create a significant and engaging STEAM program at FAIS. It will be the first of its kind for French immersion schools in North America and can be a model for other schools.” -Dr. Don Brown


Dr. Brown’s resume includes experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, IB coordinator, curriculum developer, and school administrator. He has his Doctorate of Education (D.Ed) in Psychometrics and just published a book called “Do Over! Creating Schools Kids Love.”


If you are interested in learning more about STEAM, feel free to connect with Dr. Brown.

FAIS Alum Shares NASA Experience

FAIS Alumna, Lily Segna, had an experience this summer that was out of this world! She traveled to Texas and participated in the NASA SEES (Stem Enhancement in Earth Science).


Lily was selected out of more than 1,100 applicants for one of just 92 spots. Her team of six worked on a Mars research project.


Here is a link to their presentation.


Upon returning to Portland, OPB and Pamplin media interviewed Lily about her experience.


OPB - Portland High Schooler Shares NASA experience
Pamplin Media - Portland high schooler works with NASA; aims for career in space


"I'm so grateful for all the work [my teachers] put into getting me to step out of my comfort zone and become comfortable talking in front of others (public speaking is now something I actively enjoy doing!) throughout middle school. I was extremely quiet and shy when I came into [FAIS], so I know it was a lot of work to get me to speak up. It's definitely paid off and I really appreciate that!" - Lily Segna, FAIS Class of 2019

A photo of six smiling NASA interns sitting next to each other with laptops in front of them


September Mission Moments

This year, FAIS updated its mission statement to better reflect who we are and where we want to go. We also updated our guiding principles and core values - now called “Who We Are” and “How We Create Belonging.” The new mission statement, who we are, and how we create belonging were crafted after soliciting feedback from faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni.


The French American International School develops curious and critical thinkers through a robust and immersive multilingual curriculum. We are committed to fostering an inclusive community that celebrates diverse perspectives and creates the foundation for reflective learners to thrive and effect change in an interconnected world.


Who We Are
Our innovative, multilingual curriculum is taught in small classes by native speakers. Students are the center of our community and learn through authentic inquiry, collaboration, and multiple teaching styles to discover and hone strengths.


How We Create Belonging
FAIS is a welcoming community, connected by shared principles of integrity, respect, empathy, and equity.


Throughout the year, we are sharing weekly mission moments on social media to demonstrate how the mission is playing out in our school on a regular basis. Here are the September Mission Moments:


Mission Moment: Part of the sixth-grade social studies curriculum is learning to use a compass. French-track and Spanish-track classes worked together on a scavenger hunt all over campus. They were given compasses, a map, and instructions in their language track. They had to interpret and collaborate to solve the clues!

A photo of four students using a compass and a map to try and navigate around the school


Mission Moment: The first preschool unit of the year is called "We're all the same, we're all different." To demonstrate this, students brought in a picture of their families to share with the class. Students noticed that some families have two members, some have three, some have four, etc.  Some people have brothers, some people sisters, some have both, and some have neither. Students looked at similarities and differences through the lens of empathy, respect, kindness, and getting to know each other. They also put together this beautiful poster with everyone's family picture.

A photo of teacher, Emilie, holding up a poster to her class that they all worked on together.


Mission Moment: Collaboration! Third, fourth, and fifth-grade English classes working together, sharing ideas, and getting to know one another.

A photo of four students working together in a group to get to know each other


Mission Moment: This week's comes from the middle school. Staff spent the week focusing on belonging and creating a welcoming environment. During Ms. Chen's advisory, students took turns complimenting each other and sharing the qualities they liked in each of their peers.

A photo of the 6th-grade Chinese students going around the class and giving compliments to each other


Record-Breaking Year of Volunteering in Support of the Forest!


From Beth Clifton (FAIS Forest Manager) and Krissy Clifton ‘20 (FAIS Forest Project Assistant)


Earlier this month, the goal of the Girl Scout Troop 10080 Take Action project was 50 volunteers and 15 Middle School students. Their goal was surpassed! 


We had 64 volunteers and 20 Middle School students!! Thank you to Nora, Sarah, Charlee and Chloe for their extra effort in making our year-end work party a huge success and making it feel like a celebration with the decorated seed gift bags at the end.


With the help of 445 volunteers and “forest fairies” of all ages, we reached 900 volunteer hours in the FAIS forest for the 2021-22 school year. What an invaluable asset our forest is for our community, and it’s thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of our amazing volunteers!


We will begin preparing in August to prepare the forest to welcome groups of students in September. FAIS families: stay tuned for an announcement in Family News to mark your calendars!

Preschoolers Close Out the Year with Critters, Crawlers, and Cuteness


Preschool students studied animals for their final unit of inquiry of the year: “Sharing the planet” – with the central idea of “Living things have needs.”


Classes adopted ladybugs and a hamster… they had a "night at school" day (where everyone came to school in PJs) to learn about nocturnal animals… there was a field trip to the Oregon Zoo… and Critter Cabana (a local pet shop) visited for a presentation – and they brought some special guests! Students got to touch and interact with a ferret, a turtle, a leopard gecko, a bunny, and even a snake! Parents/caregivers also brought household pets to class to talk about the responsibilities of pet ownership, as well as the unique needs of each pet.


What a great way to wrap up the year and learn about being responsible, connected members of our environment. Plus, animals are always a hit with the little ones!

Kindergarteners and 2nd Graders Enjoy Original Stories from 4th and 5th Graders


Students from 4th and 5th grade get together weekly to participate in cooperative learning and team building activities. Their last project was to have groups of 4th/5th graders write the text for wordless picture books. Then, the groups of students shared their created stories (text and pictures) with the 2nd graders and kindergarteners. Our younger students loved the opportunity to see the “big kids” reading… so much that they asked if they could read their stories to someone next year!

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