The staff at LFS is one of our most important assets. Our Lead Teachers have degrees and experience in early childhood education, and many of our staff stay with us in the long-term. Lead teachers develop and implement daily lesson plans to engage and support the children, and often work collaboratively with an assistant teacher. Assistant Teachers have ongoing education in early child development and work closely with lead teachers to maintain a positive classroom environment.
The school is administered by a Director, with oversight from the Board of Directors, the governing body of the school. Parents are encouraged to become involved by joining the board or attending the monthly meetings.
This Fall, we welcomed two new assistants: Ariel Kiyabu and Suzanne Griffin. Our former director Stephanie Schiffgens is also back. She will be helping in the classrooms and office.
Assitan Sylla Traore, Director
LFS is pleased to welcome a new Director as of April 2016! Assa is a native French speaker and brings experience in nonprofit management as well as a love of children and early childhood education to our school. Bienvenue Assa!
Sharon Sless, Teacher, La Grande Section
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 5. I was raised in Los Angeles, and started studying French in middle school. Attending Hollywood High School, I began my early involvement in theatre and continued my French studies. After high school, my travels took me to many countries around the world, many of them French-speaking. I spent quite a bit of time in France and then ended up in Montreal, Canada for three years. After returning to the States, I decided to pursue a degree that would enable me to combine and share my love of theatre and my love of the French language. Teaching seemed like the ideal combination. I have a BA in French and an interdisciplinary MA in French and Education from the University of Oregon. After completing my graduate degree, I spent a year in Lyon, France as Assistant Director of the Overseas Study program for the Oregon State System of Higher Education. Upon my return to Eugene, I spent time in public school classrooms as a substitute teacher, and found that I really loved working with the youngest students.
Finding a position as a Kindergarten Teacher felt like a perfect match and I have been in La Grande Section at The Little French School since September 1996. In addition to entertaining my young students, I continue to be actively involved in local theatre productions where I can be seen on stage a few times each year.
Jenine Stocke, Teacher, La Petite Section
Raised in a small town in Oregon, I developed a strong desire during my youth to travel and eventually live abroad. At 15, I spent one month in Europe visiting 5 different countries with a group of students and teachers, and after my senior year in high school, I studied abroad in Northern Cyprus for 6 months. I was hooked on the excitement of language and cultural immersion! After high school, I briefly studied French, International Relations and Child Development at the U of O before moving to New York City where I finished my B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and began an M.A. at The New School for Social Research. Ready for more international experiences, I completed my M.A. in Ethnology in Lyon, France, and eventually “settled down” in France in 1998.
Once settled in France, I was determined to find a way to merge my two true passions in life: “anything international” and children! Thus, in 2003, I began my career in education as a Pre-K English Immersion teacher in Lyon. I later moved to the French countryside, became a trained and licensed childcare provider and instructional assistant, and began learning Dutch! I then worked the next 6 years at a local village school with 3-6 year olds, and in the elementary school focusing on math and reading remediation. I had a wonderful opportunity to work with children with a variety of different needs, including children with autism (non-speaking and verbal), language disorders, learning and physical disabilities. Finally, to enrich my knowledge of working with 3-6 year olds in a child-centered environment, I became an AMI-certified Montessori Assistant Teacher in 2014.
In 2014 I was hired at The Little French School, where I have found my true home in Eugene! Strongly believing in immersion, I raised my two sons to be bilingual and bicultural. Teaching la Petite Section allows me to continue sharing this value and passion for biculturalism and bilingualism with eager, absorbent, playful, loving learners in a child-centered environment. I am thankful everyday for their smiles, their hugs and their great enthusiasm for learning and loving life!
I am a Native French Speaker, raised in a bilingual home speaking French and Dutch. My upbringing gave me a strong sense for and interest in foreign languages. In High School, I chose to apply myself to a literature and language degree, studying German, English, and Russian. I married a German citizen and I now have two wonderful children who attend the French immersion program at South Eugene High School. They are both trilingual. They speak German with their father, English to their friends and pets, and French with me! It is such a wonderful experience to see how much my children benefit from the exposure of different languages and cultures. The learning of a foreign language is a life-long skill that leads to a better understanding and acceptance of the diversity in our world. I am very excited to teach my students a little bit of that magic and to take them on a wonderful journey…
I have a Master’s Degree in Foreign Affairs and Languages and the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. I taught French at Lane Community College in Eugene for 2 years, while working as an Assistant in the Preschool at The Little French School. I then taught 2 years in a French-German Immersion school in Germany. After our stay in Germany, we returned to Eugene and I spent five amazing years at The Little French School as a Preschool Teacher. I later returned to teach the Pre-K, where I have been since 2011. I enjoy every minute I spend with the children in the classroom. Their smiles are priceless, their curiosity and imagination is inspiring, and their love is unconditional.
I am an avid patissière, and have learned that teaching is like a good dessert. First, you learn the basic techniques. The more often you make it, the more fun you have, and the more proficient you get. You start to be creative and you try many new things out until it becomes a daily craving and you realize that you cannot go too long without it. I found the perfect dessert: Teaching! It boosts my energy and elevates my spirit. I can have it everyday and it helps me stay happy, healthy, and fulfilled.
I am a native Oregonian and have been a part of The Little French School for over 25 years. I have worked as Director, Kindergarten Teacher, and Assistant Preschool Teacher in the past, and have been the Extended Care Teacher for over a decade. I have a B.S. in Sociology and a B.S. in Education, both from the University of Oregon. I have a 30-year old son who is the light of my life. I have been involved in the big brother/big sister program, volunteered as a tutor for children’s reading programs, and I coached my son’s baseball team for eight years.
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in the third grade. While others played dolls, I played teacher. I love children. They are like sponges, waiting to soak up whatever we have to teach them. I am a very patient person. I am totally silly. The classroom and I are a good fit.
Suzanne Griffin, Assistant Teacher, La Moyenne Section
My name is Suzanne Griffin and I am a vocalist, musician, piano instructor and educator. I have been with The Little French School for ten years as Sharon’s assistant and primarily as a substitute. I have also run a music program in the afternoon at LFS once or twice a year for the past several years. I am a certified Waldorf teacher and have over twenty years of experience working with children of all ages. Living in Mexico and travelling through Costa Rica I have collected many traditional songs for children. One of my greatest joys is sharing my love for music and movement with children! I am happy to be in the classroom with Barbara this year as one of her assistants.
Christiane Hougardy, Assistant Teacher, La Petite Section
I am a native of Austria (fluent in German) and studied French in middle school, high school and college. During my last summer in high school, I spent three months in France as a nanny caring for four children between the ages of one and eight.
In 1992, I came to the US to follow my sense of adventure. Since then, I have worked as an au -pair, a program manager in the tech industry, and as a classroom assistant in various preschools and elementary schools. While working full-time I also earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies. I have been working as an Assistant Teacher at The Little French School since 2014 and love to see the kids thrive and grow.
When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, our dog, two cats, and four chickens, as well as hiking, camping, backpacking, traveling, and reading.
We are also pleased to work with Shelby Peterson as an Assistant Teacher, since September 2014.