By Jagoda Bartula
Shepard High School is thrilled to announce that our very own Foreign Language teacher,
Kelly Karstrand has received the title of French Teacher of the Year in the state of Illinois.
To her students, Karstrand is known as Ms-Madame – a name which combines the French and
English address to teachers. She continues to show how her passion for the French culture and
language makes it easy to enjoy each day in her classroom.
Speaking of her workspace, Madame believes that “The more comfortable kids are, the more
willing they are to take chances in class”, which is the reason for her unique class setup.
Pillows, rugs, round coffee tables and yoga mats are what you can find in room A228. Attending
Madame’s French class will make you forget about a typical desk and chair every classroom
has, at least for the 50 minutes of class time. Senior Ally Mikos “Madame Karstrand is so
deserving of this award. She plans her classes really well and makes sure we’re having fun
Curriculum Director Karen Krueger said “One of Madame Karstrand’s most defining
characteristics is her constant quest to get better at what she does. She’s always trying
something new and pushing herself to get better. She has made her life’s work not just teaching
language, but teacher the love of language. I am constantly impressed by the amount of hard
work and time she puts in to keep learning, growing, and improving.”
lthough, for some, it might sound strange not to stick to regular class “rules”, Madame’s
methods work in favor of motivating students to perceive learning a language as something fun
and useful, rather than just taking another elective off the list. Another senior, Lavontae Morrow
said “Ms.Karstrand always pushes her students and even if I don’t believe in myself, she
believes in me. She is one of the most caring and genuine teachers I’ve had”.
In addition to being a day-to-day foreign language at school, Madame also created a website
where she shares even more of her French language adventures and tips for fellow teachers.
You can find it at www.msmadame.com . It only goes to show how passionate she is towards
improving how students prepare to learn the language and the way lessons are being carried
It would be a sin not to mention Madame’s trip to Senegal. In April of this year, Madame flew
all the way to Africa to teach local students. The experiences of teaching in a different country
provided Karstrand with new ideas and methods she could incorporate into her American
classrooms (she documented the trip on her website mentioned above).
Madame Kelly Karstrand is a wonderful and hard-working teacher at Shepard High. If you’re
planning on starting your journey with the French language in the near future and are lucky to
be taught by Madame, your experience in learning a foreign language in room A228 will exceed
anything you’ve ever experienced.