New Teacher Interview: Mr. Chapdelaine: by Eve Brown-Ryder

Mr. Fernand Chapdelaine has led a professional life that some can only dream of. After double majoring in college, he began his teaching career at age 21 in Bristol, New Hampshire. He left Bristol after a couple of years and did his first stint at Memorial High School from 1966 to 1968. He then taught at Brewster Academy for a year before dedicating nine years to Pinkerton Academy. After Pinkerton, Mr. Chapdelaine shifted gears. He joined the business world and spent approximately twenty years in sales. His ability to speak Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese came into play every day, seeing as how he traveled overseas at least seventy times before retiring.

Jump forward a decade or so to the summer or 2019. Mr. Chapdelaine used his interpreter certification to do translations and interpretations before Mr. Adamakos called him in late August and asked him to teach Spanish in the place of a teacher who left Memorial abruptly. Now that Mr. Chapdelaine is back teaching after being out of the game for thirty years, he has found that everything is different.

“The students are different, the mentality is different, the level of respect is below what it should be… They don’t work enough, they don’t engage enough… When I was here the students were way more receptive. Not that these kids are ignorant. They’re not, they’re very bright.”

Another contrast between his first round of teaching and now  is how distracting cell phones are. “If we could eliminate the cell phones from class the activity level would go right up. Kids are so stuck on the phones they don’t pay sufficient attention…  In every class, there’s probably ten, fifteen minutes wasted on telling kids to put the phones away… That should be changed.” Mr. Chapdelaine believes that the skill level of Memorial students (which proves lacking in a state-wide comparison) could be greatly increased if a no cell phone policy were put in place. 

Despite his plans to stay in interpreting and translation, coming back to teaching is going well for him. Even though he has not been a teacher at Memorial since the late sixties, his reputation preceded him and people knew about him even before he came back. However, he is not the same teacher he used to be. “My experience in business has made me a better teacher because I know where to focus; I know what the students need. I can work my experiences into the lesson.”