Mademoiselle Griffith Always Wanted to Teach

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

It’s easy to forget that student teachers are just that: students. Mademoiselle Griffith, for example, Madame Geyer’s new French student teacher, is still very much a student at St. Norbert College. She still has favorite teachers, favorite subjects, and she still has homework.

Not long ago, Griffith was a high school student herself. She attended St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Illinois. Her decision to come to St. Norbert College as an undergraduate was a bit bizarre.

“I actually looked at St. Norbert because I’m a big Harry Potter fan,” admitted Griffith. “And since Norbert is the name of Hagrid’s dragon, I thought I should check it out. I scheduled a visit and really liked it, and decided to come.”

Unlike many college students, Griffith began her undergraduate studies with a clear set of what she wanted to do in mind. She already knew that she wanted to major in French and Religious Studies with a certification in secondary education.

“I fell in love with French from the first day,” said Griffith. Her love of the language partly stems from her love of the teacher, who was “so excited about French and just so full of life.”

Griffith also found a passion for theology in high school. “Until then, I didn’t really care about religion classes at all,” she recalled. “In high school I really realized just what a fascinating subject it is because it’s not definite; there’s so much room for different theories. It’s not straightforward, and I think there’s a lot of beauty in that. It has such a huge impact in the world, and there’s a lot of power in that. There’s a lot to learn from theology.”

Griffith believes that her interest in theological studies has only grown since her arrival to SNC, in part by one professor in particular.

“I’ve had Dr. Brecht for three different classes now,” said Griffith, “and she’s become a really good friend of mine, outside of class as well.”

In Griffith’s freshman year, Brecht bet her that the professor spent more time at Luna, a coffee shop right across from the SNC campus, than she did.

“The deal was whoever spends less time had to buy the winner a drink at Luna,” said Griffith. “So she basically forced me into having a coffee date with her.”

Griffith has come to value Brecht very highly and says she has learned a lot from the professor. “She has pushed me to think a lot more deeply than I ever had. She challenges me in a healthy way that makes me consider not just what I know and what I’ve learned, but why it’s important and what makes it justifiable,” explained the student teacher.

The appreciation does not just go one way. “As a student, [Griffith] was wonderful to have in class. She always listens first and then responds reflectively,” said Brecht. “When I was teaching her, I could always tell she was ‘taking it all in’ and appreciated that she was always willing to hear.”

Now, as a teacher, Griffith has also bonded quickly with Madame Geyer. “She’s lovely to work with, especially just to see her relationship with the students,” said Griffith of her NDA mentor. “What I admire most about Madame is that it’s very clear from the beginning that she loves every one of her students, regardless of how good a student they are. She loves them all as individuals. She’s really good at creating a nurturing, safe environment and still having fun while doing it.”

Geyer believes that Griffith will grow into a well-rounded educator. “Ms. Griffith is a very intelligent young woman.  She has a true passion for teaching,” said Geyer. “She looks happy and energized in front of a classroom full of students.  She is knowledgeable in technology and is eager to learn.”

Brecht also has no doubts that Griffith will make a good teacher. “She is a person who cares and thinks really carefully about how others learn and is attentive to the feelings and perspectives of others.”

“Plus,” added Brecht. “She knows a thing or two about baked goods, which is important in the classroom. Just ask Mrs. Brown.”