Sunday, October 1, 2017

Merci beaucoup Mrs. Muskat

A huge thank you to Bev Cohen Muskat and the Friends of the Stirling Road Library for inviting me to their Hollywood library to talk about journalism and writing Tuesday night.

I haven't seen Mrs. Muskat since she taught me French for two years at Nautilus Junior High in Miami Beach exactly 30 years ago. 

It was my favorite class and she was my favorite teacher there. She introduced this shy, curly-haired kid who always wore a T-shirt with corduroy pants (that was my look then) to the French language and culture. I remember Mrs. Muskat walking around the classroom, waving her hands in the air and asking each of us questions in French.

I immediately fell in love with French's beautiful rhythms and vocabulary. 

Words like quelquechose (something); coquillage (seashell) and appartements (apartments.) I enjoyed introducing myself, Je m'appelle Jean. J'ai 13 ans. 

Seventh grade yearbook photo
I remember going home after school, sitting in my chambre in Miami Beach and enthusiastically reviewing my subjects and verbs and filling out the pages of my Mon Amis workbooks.  

I was a mostly "A1A" student in her classes. I was also able to practice French with my childhood best friend Kellyn Maillard and her mom, Patricia, both French. Quand j'allais faire du velo  (When I'd go bike riding), I'd recite that day's new lesson.

One of my proudest French moments was in the seventh grade. I was a first period office-aide and a new student from Haiti had arrived. The attendance officer asked me if I could give him a tour of the school and show him where the cafeteria and his classes were.  I had learned enough basic French in a few months that I was able to talk to him in French since he knew very little English. The words just flowed out of me and I was glad I could put my bits of French to good use. 

Many of her lessons have stayed with me.

Bev will always be Madame Muskat in my heart. I am so happy that she remembered me after all these years and invited me to the bibliotheque  Merci beaucoup! :)

From the Nautilus Junior High yearbook

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