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Laurentian alumna looks back on twenty-three years and counting of French language teaching

Jennifer LaBrosse inspires the next generation of students in her JK/SK classroom

(February 28, 2023) - A strong start in school helps children learn, develop problem solving and creative thinking, and supports social and emotional growth. Benefits associated with engaging experiences in early school years are widespread, and parents and guardians gain peace of mind when they are confident in the skills and empathy of their child’s educator. 

Jennifer LaBrosse (née Johnson), a Laurentian alumna (Geography, 1998 and Éducation, 1999), has been educating young minds for the past twenty-three years. She is precisely the kind of teacher that parents and guardians appreciate for her enthusiasm, dedication to her students, and caring disposition. 

“I love being a teacher. Children are amazing, each of them unique when it comes to their needs. Being able to make a positive difference in the early years of my students is what drives me.”

LaBrosse grew up in the small community of Warren, Ontario, located about forty kilometers east from the city of Greater Sudbury. She graduated from Sturgeon Falls’ École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité (1994). “My English and Geography teachers back in high school were very supportive,” she enthused. “It was because of them that I wanted to teach. My mother was a teacher, and I remember loving every opportunity to be able to help her as a kid. I was always excited to visit her classroom, and felt as though teaching would be a career I’d want to pursue.” 

Only a few short months after obtaining her teaching qualifications, LaBrosse was hired to teach a split grade 1-3 class at École publique Franco-Manitou in Manitouwadge, Ontario. “I have to admit that I was a little nervous moving so far away from home to a community that was unfamiliar to me. But as soon as I arrived, I dove right in and had a really good experience. I only had nine students in my class. We were a very small school, but this was familiar to me, having grown up in a small community.” 

In the Spring of 2000, when teaching positions closer to home became available, LaBrosse applied to Markstay, Ontario’s École publique Camille-Perron. “That first year, I was hired to teach grades 4-6, precisely the age group I always thought I’d want to educate. However, after two years teaching these school grades, I was asked if I was interested in teaching the junior/senior kindergarten (JK/SK) class. It was my school’s principal who convinced me to make this change. She told me, ‘I think you’d be great. I see how you are and I think you’d be great with the young kids.’ I wasn’t initially so sure, but I accepted the posting in September 2002 and I haven’t looked back.” 

It’s obvious that LaBrosse is passionate about teaching and supporting the bright futures of her students. “It’s never a dull moment. Every day in the classroom is different and you never know what is going to happen. The kids are caring, and it’s easy to love them. They are so inquisitive, so imaginative, and it’s great to be a part of it.” 

LaBrosse incorporates as much outside-the-box thinking into her teaching methods. “I enjoy sharing what I love with my students, and this includes music and travel. I think bringing into the classroom what I am passionate about makes things more interesting. As a JK/SK teacher, you want to try and find fun ways to learn things, such as learning syllables through music with the help of instruments.” In her spare time, LaBrosse plays the guitar. She often teaches through music to better engage many of her students. “I try to bring as much imagination into my teaching as possible.” 

LaBrosse also fosters inclusivity in her classroom. “I teach in a French-language school, but that doesn’t mean that every student who comes into my classroom speaks French before starting school,” she explained. “I welcome all students in my classroom, and I’ve got to say that as the days and weeks go by, it’s incredible to see how quickly students learn and pick up the French language. My students are like little sponges. They soak up everything that comes at them and witnessing their progress is truly rewarding.”

When parents and guardians meet LaBrosse for the first time, they often seem pleasantly surprised to see dozens of pictures of her former students proudly hung on her classroom walls. “All of my students’ graduation pictures are in my classroom. Every single one of them, kind of like a mosaic. So when parents come in, they tend to like to see that - to see how welcoming we make our teaching spaces. As teachers, we tend to be very proud of our students.”  

There is a strong sense of community amongst LaBrosse and her colleagues, she explained. In addition to teaching, she is Chair of her school’s social committee, which means that she takes responsibility to ensure positive relations are fostered amongst her peers. “We all get along really well, and many of us have worked together for years. I actually grew up with some of my colleagues, which I think is pretty amazing.” 

For those considering a career in teaching, LaBrosse encourages you to pursue your dreams. “Get as much experience as you can while accomplishing your teaching qualifications,” she said. “Be open to possibilities, be open minded. I absolutely love my job and am excited about what my ongoing future in teaching holds.”