by Thomas Fenner ‘24
After contemplating his decision, French teacher John Falls has decided not to retire and will return to Sherwood next year. Falls has been teaching for 31 years, the last twenty of those at Sherwood. For most of those years, he was the head of the world languages department while also teaching French and Spanish.
On January 19, Falls sent an email to his students letting them know he decided to return for another school year. Falls had said previously that 2022-2023 would be his final year teaching, but this sudden decision is one that will inspire students to take his class next school year. “Sometimes one realizes that it is not so easy to walk away from what we truly love,” said Falls.
This spring break will be the fifteenth year of his French exchange trip, which has been a facet in the world languages department and will certainly be missed by future students. When the 19 students arrive in France in April, they are assigned to a French family who they will be with for the entirety of the trip. The Sherwood visitors will spend their first eleven days going to school, eating, and living with their host families. The American students have the opportunity to learn how education works in a foreign country. It is a great chance for students to implement what they have learned in French classes as they are required to speak French at schools and in their homes.
Likewise, when the French students come to America later in the school year, they will be able to apply their English skills at Sherwood. “It’s a total immersion experience,” said Falls. “Both the American and French students get to apply their knowledge.”
Falls is looking forward to making this trip special. For the final three days of the trip, the students and chaperones will visit three different cities: Avignon, Nimes, and Les Baux de Provence. This will allow Sherwood students to enjoy a different culture in the South of France.
In a decision made by Falls, the students will get to spend extra time with their exchange families instead of going on the final leg of the trip to France. “It’s actually something that has been suggested by former students,” explained Falls. “They love spending time with their assigned families.”
Ethan Tuttle, a Sherwood graduate who went on the trip twice, has fond memories of the daily activities he was able to participate at school and with the families. He enjoyed the day trips with the other Sherwood students and mentioned that his favorite spot was Marseille because of the beautiful mountainous scenery. Tuttle strongly encourages all French students to take part in this trip, as it was a life changing experience for him and a time where he was able to make lasting memories and relationships.
“The French exchange trip was the most fulfilling, exciting, and impactful experience of my entire K-12 education, and that was no accident with Mr. Falls at the helm,” Tuttle said.