French teacher Rita Davis has been elected vice president of the American Association of Teachers of French, the largest national association of French teachers in the world. The AATF has nearly 10,000 members, comprising French teachers at all levels, and 73 chapters across the U.S.
Davis served as co-president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AATF from 2009-2013 and begins her three-year term as vice president of the national AATF this month.
“This is an exciting opportunity to be working with French teachers across the country,” Davis said. “As I reflect on the course of my career as a French teacher, I’m constantly reminded to what extent the AATF was a driving force in my growth and development as a professional in the field of language acquisition.”
Born in Clermont Ferrand, France, Davis has taught Middle and Upper School French at The Agnes Irwin School for the last 32 years, and currently serves as the school’s French Coordinator.
She also serves as a consultant to the College Board, presenting workshops for new and experienced teachers of AP French. Over the last several years, Davis has presented workshops on the East Coast, in Las Vegas, and as far away as Switzerland. Davis has been an AP reader for the last 20 years, and she was appointed a table leader in 2012, giving her an active role and oversight in the AP grading process. Davis also serves as an adjunct professor at Goucher College and La Salle University, teaching during the schools’ Advanced Placement summer programs.
Davis’s primary objectives at AATF will be to promote the study of languages in general and French in particular, facilitating the implementation of national and state standards in the classroom, as well as creating opportunities and finding resources for teachers to update their skills and seek the support that they need to build their French programs.
“As vice president, I would also like to continue to find ways to explore creative initiatives, including a greater investment in social media,” Davis explained. “There is a definite need to parallel teachers’ classroom style with the mindset of the current generation of students.”
She will serve on the organization’s Scholarship Committee, Grants Committee and Nominating Committee, as well as communicate with AATF members across the country, plan programs and create new initiatives. Davis will also attend the AATF Convention in Saguenay, Quebec in July, where she and other members of the executive committee will administer the three-day conference and strategize for future events.
Davis feels her three decades of teaching at Agnes Irwin, in addition to her work with the College Board, have exposed her to a variety of valuable teaching techniques and initiatives and prepared her to advocate for teaching communities. She has been grateful for the school’s flexibility and her colleagues’ openness to exploring new approaches in language acquisition.
“We have an excellent staff at Agnes Irwin — wonderful, committed, and supportive teachers,” Davis said. “We have a very well-articulated program starting in fifth grade, and many devoted students who go on to study French in higher education and combine their French studies with majors in international relations, law, medicine, finance, publishing and social work.”
“Rita’s nomination as one of the vice presidents of the AATF is a wonderful tribute to her more than three decades dedicated to inspiring AIS students to love learning French, her commitment to the profession as an AP reader and conference leader, and to her organizational and leadership skills,” Modern Languages Department Chair Norman Sargen said. “We are thrilled for her and wish her the very best."
The AATF produces two publications: the French Review, a well-known scholarly journal of French studies in its 86th volume, and the National Bulletin, a newsletter devoted to the teaching and promotion of French studies, in its 38th year.