2021–2022 FASPS Faculty & Staff Interviews
 
Béatrice Is Retiring!
 
Lia Corrado, FASPS’s admissions, marketing, and communications assistant, interviewed Béatrice on June 9, 2022.
 
Lia: Describe the scene when you first started working at FASPS. What are your memories from before we moved to Mercer Island?
 
Béatrice: I discovered the school in 1997, and I started working at the school at the very beginning of 1998. They needed a teacher. Many years ago, in 1987, I had worked for a language school, and someone from that school told me about this young school starting up, that they needed a French teacher. At that time my daughter was only two and a half, and I said, if you take me, you have to take her too! I didn’t feel like putting her in a daycare in English; she hardly spoke French yet, and I wanted her to learn French.
 
FASPS was located in a part of a church in Newport Hills. It was their second location at the time. There were three classrooms, and Patricia Blaise-Caves was in a classroom next to the church, right in the entrance where people walk in. We had a recess area, three rooms, and that was it. I was teaching kindergarten then. Since we were in such a close environment, close to the church, the students had to be quiet! It was a different life, but it was a beautiful, small community. All the shows were happening in the church; we just moved the altar. All our meetings too, sometimes with parents. It was just different. Everybody knew each other. It was like a great big family. Beautiful memories. Then, after two years, we moved to Mercer Island in two portables. At the time, it was a fire station. We repainted the portables and reorganized them. I was actually part of the Real Estate Committee; we were already searching for a permanent home even back then! This took a few years, as everybody knows, and finally I got an answer just before leaving! So we found this place. People thought we were moving to the JCC to this beautiful facility, and no, we were next to it, in the portables [laughing]. But we fixed them up, repainted them with a big “A” and “B”. We actually had a cafeteria inside and space for students to eat outside the classrooms. It was small but beautiful.
 
Lia: Was it preschool and elementary at that time?
 
Béatrice: It was preschool, kindergarten and first grade. The school just kept growing on and on. When we moved to Mercer Island, we went to third grade. The year after, my son started in fourth grade, so both of my kids went to FASPS and graduated in fifth grade. It was a young school but really ready to grow, happy to grow. Then the new building came, the first floor, then the second floor, so all of these were beautiful events and big moves for the school, but this one that’s coming up is definitely THE big one, the permanent home. It’s so fantastic for the school.
 
Lia: What are the different roles you’ve had at FASPS?
 
Béatrice: When I started, I was a kindergarten teacher for five years, then I became a fourth grade teacher, which is what I used to do in Brussels. Before that, I worked at a language school, then at Bellevue Community College, and then I went back to a school in Brussels, where I taught for seven years. Then I came back here and taught kindergarten and fourth grade, and then middle school in the last three years. This is my 35th year of teaching! I’ve done multiple things: art coordination; I was a pedagogical coordinator for two years; I did 17 years of summer camp; I’ve been on the Board three times. I’ve worn many different hats. I really enjoy especially being part of the shows and the Gala class projects and just helping the beautiful ideas of all the other teachers come to life. Art has always been a part of my family. My dad was an architect, and I watched him draw all day long. I learned so much from him. In Brussels, we spent pretty much every Sunday at the museum. I loved it. The guides knew me and would let me go in when I wanted. When we were traveling in Italy or in other parts of Europe, art was always the focus, visiting different exhibits. So I’ve been really exposed to the arts for my whole life. Even my seven years teaching in Brussels, I was responsible for the arts in the whole school, and that was a big school with a high school. And the shows. In my 35 years of teaching, I’ve done that many shows, until the pandemic. That’s always been a highlight for me.
 
Lia: What were you doing before you moved to FASPS?
 
Béatrice: I was born and grew up in Brussels. My mom’s side goes a long way back there. My dad was Dutch speaking, and my mom was French speaking, so I grew up bilingual, speaking French with one set of grandparents and Dutch with the other. At school, we had English from England, so when I came here it was so different. It took me awhile! Then I went to Italy to study Italian for six months after I became a teacher. We had English in high school and Dutch from third grade on. I loved languages, and I chose to go to Italy not just for the arts but for the language as well.
 
Lia: What are those moments during your tenure at FASPS that really stand out for you?
 
Béatrice: That’s a big question. There are so many things! My first thought was: every move. It’s a hard time, but a beautiful time, and you feel like you’re growing and you’re getting somewhere. After that, all the performances! I love being backstage and seeing the dynamics of the students. Some are nervous. Some are happy. You really discover all that they have to give. You think they’ll never be able to say a word onstage, and then they do, and they memorize their lines, and they dance. We did some great shows and musicals with Ashaun and Stéphane. Parents would start sewing costumes in September sometimes. We’d work on it to the end of the school year. And then we started doing multiple-age shows, so there was a lot of coordination between the classes. The older ones would help the little ones learn their dance moves. So all of that I loved, and even in fourth grade I’d always go over my hour of art class because I just loved it, and I wanted to help them really integrate and complete their artwork. When they’d say, “I don’t know how to draw,” I’d say, “You can do it. We can do it together if we need to, but you’ll see. You can finish this art piece.”
 
Lia: You have such a gift for that. Not only do you encourage each student’s unique expression of creativity, but you also help them to refine their vision and present it attractively.
 
Béatrice: I think I got that from my dad. He’d say, “Never put anything in the garbage. You can always catch up. You can always reach. Add colors, change something, make it abstract if you don’t like what you did figuratively.” So that’s what I think. Then I always frame everything. An art piece always looks better with just a black background or something that frames it. We never frame until we’re really done with an art piece. White is for the snow, but otherwise we don’t have white! So if you do a little drawing in the corner, then I’ll tell you to do a background, maybe add things to it, fill up the space. I work a lot with VTS — visual thinking strategies — to help students learn how to look at things and have conversations about what we see. It is wonderful for French language acquisition to use this methodology, but it also helps students look deeper into their artwork, to make something memorable. And then you frame it, and then you’re proud of it, and you expose it! It’s hard to coordinate, but I try to do the best I can. There’s so much creativity among our teachers and students. We all have artistic talent inside us. We just have to practice and believe in it. And there are different kinds of art. For a chef to create a beautiful dish, that’s art. You go into nature, go hiking, and admire your surroundings, and that’s another source of inspiration for art. It’s all around you. You just have to look. My number-one important thing in art is observation; you can’t do anything without observing. Lots of my art classes start with an observation of an art piece. First you go deep inside, and then you think, How can I interpret this on my own? There’s no right or wrong. It’s just, What is going on in this artwork? We all see different things. It’s inspiring to listen to people observe art, and then to listen to artists themselves who made it part of their passion in life. And then students, sometimes they come up with these incredible ideas around their art pieces. And I talk about my dad, but my mom too was an artist. She would paint on silks. She would go to Paris and get silk and paint, and she’d make these beautiful shawls. I hesitated between architecture and teaching. I had a wonderful cousin who was a teacher, and I thought, “I want to be like her!” So that’s how it started.
 
Lia: What were your first thought when you learned we’d most likely have our permanent home in the coming years?
 
Béatrice: That was exciting news. For me the first word that came to mind in French was: « Enfin ! » Finally! All these years, all the parents asking to donate to try to find property. There’s so much hard work behind the scenes. I have to say that being part of the Board three times and witnessing all the work for us to find bigger spaces gave me an appreciation for the immensity of this task. So I really want to acknowledge this work that’s been done over the past years. It doesn’t just happen like that. First Mme McGiffin. Then Eric stepped up after her. And the trustees. It’s been countless hours to finally now reach this day where we can announce it. I just can’t imagine what could be there in 10 years after the step-by-step development.
 
Lia: How will you remain involved with the FASPS community?
 
Béatrice: I’m going to stay on the Board as a trustee this time. Another thing my dad did was build a school in Belgium when I was very young. It was a very innovative school at this time in the ’70s. It was largely inspired by the teachings of Piaget and Montessori, so they really built something cohesive with those philosophies. I think the space, the kind of space, according to the age and the subject being taught inside that room, is very important. The space around the school is so important for the community as well. When I came from Europe, and I was here with my two young children, they didn’t speak very much English, and we’d go to this beautiful playground after school; that’s how I got to know people. There are lots of beautiful schools here in the States and the world that we can get inspired by, and now we have this great team of architects, and I truly believe we could do something fantastic for everyone involved. It will take lots of work, creativity, and lots of money, and I’m excited to be a part of that process.
 
Lia: What does next year look like for you?
 
Béatrice: I’m stepping down from teaching, but I want to stay involved. I want to stay involved with VTS. Hopefully, I can help the school in different areas like the Gala, different community service projects with the Middle School, things like that. I also want to do art for myself. I have an art studio, and I’m excited to develop some things there — I can always tell the students I think you should do this or that with your art, but to do it on my own is very different. I’m someone who, when I do something, my whole mind is in it, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to really and truly focus on my own artistic process. I also want to spend more time with family, with my fiancé, my children, and my mom. I’m going to pick her up in August in Brussels, and then I’ll bring her back here. She’s celebrating her 90th birthday this year, and we want to make it special. So you see, there are lots of reasons to stop teaching now. And I thought, 35 years, that’s a good time to stop.
 
Lia: You have done so much for our community over the years. Is there anything else you’d like to tell everyone?
 
Béatrice: I really want to thank everyone involved in the school in all the past years. All the students I’ve known — what an experience in life to be a teacher. You meet everyone’s parents, families, brothers, sisters. It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s a real gift. These 25 years here, I’ll take them with me forever. I’ve learned so much from this experience. The growing part is not always easy, but the growth is always happening. I have a lot of appreciation and gratitude for everyone. The directors, the trustees I’ve met over the years, all the colleagues of course, all the students and the families, so much kindness. It’s a long past, a beautiful past, and I really can’t complain. I’m very happy. Even today, I had a student ask for my private email because I’m not going to be at school in September. It’s hard to say goodbye, but I know I’m not really going away, I’ll be around in the Pacific Northwest!
Meet Harvey Ecoiffier, FASPS Alum & Educational Assistant
 
Lia Corrado, FASPS’s admissions, marketing, and communications assistant, interviewed Harvey on December 8, 2021.
 
Lia: Hi, Harvey! Thank you for meeting with me today. You have the unique role of being both an alumnus and a current FASPS employee. How long were you a student at FASPS, and when did you graduate?
 
Harvey: I graduated with the Class of 2016, and I was at FASPS from first grade through eighth grade — eight years total. It’s funny being back. There are a lot of memories walking down the hallways, especially the first day. I work with Middle School and K–1 students, and the throwback the first day back in the Middle School just hit me all at once because I’m only five or six years removed from being in their shoes! So, the first day was kind of weird, but it’s been great to be back here and to be able to give back to the community.
 
Lia: Did you speak French already when you started?
 
Harvey: Yes, we speak French at home. Both of my parents are French, so I already spoke French. If anything, I didn’t speak English very much — I was doing ELL at the time. But now I’d almost say my English is better than my French. I was four when we moved here from Paris. We go back every summer, but I basically grew up here in the States. Most of my family is still in France though, so it’s always really fun to go back and see everyone.
 
Lia: Can you share one or two highlights from your time as a student at FASPS?
 
Harvey: The Paris trip in fifth grade was very fun — all the trips in general. The geology trip in sixth grade in rural Washington, Ashland, Oregon in seventh grade, all those trips were great fun and obviously a great bonding experience being around the class for a full week. The teachers were always great. Mr. Coley. Mr. Rea was one of the funniest teachers I ever had. Of course, Béatrice, Mr. Gautin, Sr. Sisson for Spanish. I’m always scared he’s going to speak Spanish with me in the hallway and I’m going to disappoint him! It’s really great seeing some of the same teachers and staff these days. It’s a very weird experience being a co-worker now.
 
Lia: Right, you’re a peer now.
 
Harvey: Yeah, I was talking with Ms. Vandivort — who was Ms. Blick back when I was here before — and she said, “You can call me Sarah now.” In my head, I’m still a student!
 
Lia: How did your experience as a student at FASPS shape your path as a teen and an adult?
 
Harvey: Looking back, I definitely feel fortunate that FASPS has such a wide array of cultures. I feel lucky to have grown up around different types of people; it’s helped me to be able to connect with all kinds of people from different backgrounds. I went to a public high school — Mercer Island High School — and there I saw how many people had never even been out of the country, let alone speak another language. I didn’t realize how common that was, and I don’t take it for granted now!
 
Lia: What are you up to these days?
 
Harvey: I’m a student at Western Washington University, studying journalism, hoping to do some sports journalism later on, and working at FASPS as an educational assistant!
 
Lia: Ok, so I have to ask because I always look to young people for fresh ideas. What music are you listening to these days? And what’s the best movie you’ve seen lately?
 
Harvey: I listen to a good amount of rap; my favorite artist is J. Cole. I love Kendrick Lamar too; he’s supposed to have an album coming out pretty soon if the rumors are true. I saw James Bond recently, which I really liked — definitely recommend it. I rewatched Knives Out, and that was good too. I saw Dune, and it was okay but a little overhyped in my opinion.
 
Lia: What do you enjoy about working with children and working in a bilingual setting?
 
Harvey: I’ve always enjoyed working with children. When I was here as a student, Garderie was totally different. You had way more ages all grouped together, so I was around kids a lot, and it was always fun. It was Hannah Duff that recommended I do the Summer Program as a youth volunteer, which I did for several summers, and that’s what led to me eventually becoming an EA.
 
Lia: Did you do the Summer Program every year since you graduated?
 
Harvey: Yes, almost every year, maybe four years out of six. I was a volunteer up until this past year when I was actually hired as an employee, a camp assistant. I’ve always liked working with children, the joy and the energy they bring, always having fun. The bilingual setting is so natural to me because that’s how I grew up. I don’t think too much of it, but it is cool. I do love noticing the kids who have only American parents, seeing them speaking French so naturally is really a cool thing to see.
 
Lia: Well, you’re very good at it; my son, Luca, absolutely loves you! Where do you see yourself in five years?
 
Harvey: I’ll be 24. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I will have graduated by then. I’ll have my journalism degree, maybe interning for ESPN, Fox Sports, something like that. I’d love to work for the NBA because I watch a lot of basketball. We’ll see.
 
Lia: I hope that dream comes true. I can definitely see you as a journalist with your ability to connect with different types of people. Thanks, Harvey!
 
Harvey: Thank you!

Meet Robert Schaudt, FASPS’s Parent Committee (FPC) President
 
Lia Corrado, FASPS’s admissions, marketing, and communications assistant, interviewed Robert on December 1, 2021.
 
Lia: Good morning, Robert! Thank you for joining me today. This is your first year as FPC (FASPS Parent Committee) president. What is the FPC’s mission statement this year?
 
Robert: Good morning, everyone. This year the mission statement is founded on three Cs: Community, Communicate, and Connect. Since in-person gatherings away from school have been so limited over the last year and a half, we’re bringing back more in-person events to connect and solidify our community.
 
Lia: Tell me a little bit about your goals and visions for the FPC.
 
Robert: The FPC is a channel for parents to stay connected. Grade parent emails go out every week with news about community projects. Our goal is to build community and keep it strong by providing fun events for everyone. We want parents to get to know each other more and not just within the same grade or the same classroom. We want to give parents an opportunity to become friends; you can never have too many friends! This is my third year of volunteering at FASPS and my first year as president of the FPC. I really want to make this community strong and make it feel like home. I have a strong sense of safety, of home, and I want FASPS to feel like a second home to our families and to the kids. With all that’s happened in the last 18 months, it’s more important than ever to have a support system outside of home, and school is possibly the best ground for that. I want to use the next six months to put that community sense in play and hopefully build a foundation for the FPC for years to come as a common ground for parents to connect with each other.
 
Lia: What other FPC projects are coming up this winter?
 
Robert: First things first, next Friday, December 10, we’ll have the first in-person holiday dinner. I believe that when people have a chance to sit down to dinner together, it’s a great way to connect. The following week, on Thursday, December 16 and Friday December 17, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm, we’ll have a family-friendly Winter Market at the school. We’ll have pastry sales, merchandise sales, hot drinks, a station to pick up your torchon order, and more. There will be a tent set up outside the school, so you won’t be able to miss it! Just swing by, say hi, come get some merchandise, and have a hot drink. All proceeds will go the FPC Cultural Agility Fund, which supports student field trips. We hope to see you there! Then in January we’ll have a snow-shoeing trip for all ages; the whole family can come and play in the snow!
 
Lia: How about future events?
 
Robert: First of all, we’re bringing back Bread Sales. We are also planning museum trips for the whole family, and a special Valentine’s Day dinner for parents. In March, we’ll go do something crazy, who knows, axe throwing is actually on the agenda.
 
Lia: No way (laughing)!
 
Robert: No, I’m completely serious. You laugh, but I did it once, and it was crazy fun! There’s a lot in the works — each month we’ll have something to make sure we can continue to strengthen our three Cs philosophy. And we also have something big planned for the end of the year.
 
Lia: Ooh. Can you give us a hint?
 
Robert: Well, my dream is always to spend time with parents, not just an hour or two, but like you might do with good friends and family — for the whole weekend. So, we’re looking into a schoolwide camping trip where we can really build community from the ground up, sharing meals, going on hikes, enjoying outdoor activities together. So that’s my vision, and I hope we can make it happen.
 
Lia: That sounds incredibly fun. Any last thing you’d like to add about the FPC?
 
Robert: I want to say it’s just amazing how our school has stayed strong with all the challenges we’ve faced. I want to say thanks to everyone who’s stayed with the school. Thank you so much for sticking around. Now it’s time for the FPC to give something back to the community by building an even stronger community and knowing each other better. I hope that I will see you at the next event, and we can all have fun together. Peace out!
 
Lia: Peace out! Thank you so much Robert!

Meet Sébastien Boccaccio, FASPS’s New Athletics Coordinator
 
The following interview took place November 18, 2021. Lia Corrado is FASPS’s admissions, marketing, and communications assistant.
 
Lia: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the path that led you to teach athletics at FASPS?
 
Sébastien: My name is Sebastien Bocaccio. I’ve been living in Seattle since 2012. I moved here from Canada, but I’m originally from France, where I was born. I have two children, Phoenix, who is 2½ years old, and Elodie, who is seven months old. My wife, Taylor, is also a teacher; she teaches fifth grade in the Seattle Public Schools system.
 
Sports and athletics have always been a big part of my life, ever since I was a child. I’ve been an area manager for a few youth sports companies for the past nine years, and I’ve been involved in coaching youth sports for 15+ years; it’s always been a passion of mine. I’m French, and I saw a great opportunity when I learned the athletics coordinator position at FASPS was open. I thought it would fit me and my skills perfectly, so I was very excited when I got the call from Eric that I had been offered the position, and I gladly accepted it!
 
Lia: What’s happening now with our Athletics program, and what’s in the works for the year ahead?
 
Sébastien: I’m very excited that we’ve relaunched Athletics this year in a limited capacity for the Middle School. We started boys basketball practices this week, and we had so many students interested that we were able to form two teams, D1 and D2, which is very exciting! We’re aiming to get a girls basketball team off the ground at the end of January, and hopefully we’ll be bringing back track and field in the spring. We’re also in the process of planning a Middle School ski trip in February, so bringing that back is going to be so much fun.
 
Lia: Can you speak to the measures being used to limit viral transmission in close-contact sports?
 
Sébastien: Basketball is a close-contact sport, and what we’re doing to reduce transmission is masking at all times for practices and games, and regular testing. The FASPS community knows we test our students on a weekly basis, but on game weeks, we’ll test the athletes twice a week. More and more of our young athletes are getting vaccinated these days, which is great news for limiting viral transmission. I’m in great communication with Athletics directors from other schools we are competing with, and everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to covid-19 safety measures.
 
Lia: Anything else you’d like to add about Athletics?
 
Sébastien: Next year we’re hoping to fully open Athletics for the entire school. We wanted to start off gradually this year and slowly work our way up since this is the first time we’ve offered Athletics since the pandemic began. Hopefully in September 2022 we’ll have our full Athletics program up and running again.
 
Lia: Can we expect to see little Phoenix and Elodie wearing FASPS basketball jerseys before long?
 
Sébastien: Definitely!