Skyline teacher sets goals for leadership program

Skyline High School French teacher Heidi Trude has joined the American Association of French Teachers' Future Leaders program and will be attending its conference in the summer. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – With a vision of further connecting French teachers through technology, Skyline High School teacher Heidi Trude has been selected for American Association of Teachers of French’s Future Leader Fellowship program.

Trude will attend the association’s 2016 convention on June 30 through July 7 in Austin, Texas, with the rest of the 10-person cohort as its only representative from Virginia. She said her project for the program aims to eliminate the feeling of isolation many French teachers in the state experience and increase statewide networking opportunities.

“I feel I’m really going to get a better understanding of the organization, how I can take part in it, how I can make our own organization better,” she said. “I feel like with the program I’m going to create and getting to meet these other people, we’re just going to become this stronger group that can really make change throughout the state and the whole country.”

Trude said she became aware of the program while at a Foreign Language Association of Virginia conference in September, an organization that she serves as Communications and Social Media chair. After the convention, she’ll be required to make presentations to the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, to the Virginia chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French and to Warren County Schools in some capacity.

Besides some basic information, Trude said she hasn’t heard details about the conference or cohort yet. The only preparation she’s made so far is to purchase her plane ticket. Although she hasn’t met the other members yet, she knows that as in previous years, each will have their own goals and their own areas of expertise.

Trude said she’ll bring her technological know-how to the table, wanting to increase teacher-to-teacher communication. She became a Google certified educator last year and pursued the program all the way up to Google Certified Trainer level.

“What better way could I put my Google training to use than through this, where I’m proposing to do Twitter chats. … I’m thinking we could do Google hangouts, to do a video series online just to have professional development,” she said.

Warren County Educational Endowment provided Trude with a $5,000 grant last fall to help furnish her classroom with 22 Chromebooks. Now, all of her students have access to the technology and she’s pursuing a completely paperless classroom this year.

“They probably think my recycling’s weird when there’s nothing in my paper box out there,” she said. “I love it, I don’t bring home papers.”

She’s also used plenty of technology through her classroom’s partnership with Lycée Bazin, a school in Charleville-Mezières, France. The Virginia chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French helped to sponsor Trude’s 2013 visit to the partner school, and her students have been corresponding with French students through multiple digital avenues like webcam videos and social media.

Trude has written two articles for Les Nouvelles, the Virginia chapter’s monthly publication: one article about her 2013 trip and another in the fall about a Swiss exchange student at Skyline High School who has served as her teacher’s aide.

For the moment, she said she can only envision herself as a leader of the Virginia chapter and possibly move up from there, but she said the Foreign Language Association of Virginia has bigger sights for her.

“To get to represent my school and our state as the representative … that is just so rewarding, not only for me personally but professionally,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder to be representing Warren County.”

Despite the excitement of facing a greater leadership role and the possibilities ahead, Trude is keeping herself grounded.

“I want to make sure I’m still staying true to who I am and making sure that I’m still doing what I need to in the classroom,” she said. “I don’t want to let all this attention and this program change what I do here, I want it to enhance everything that I do.”

Follow Trude’s classroom ventures at her blog, http://techietrude.blogspot.com/