French American School teacher named ‘Exceptional Educator of the Year’

French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) teacher Déborah Fiaux was named “Exceptional Educator of the Year” for 2021-2022 by the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) on June 17.

Fiaux has taught at FASPS for 16 years and has 30 years of teaching experience. She currently teaches the recently introduced Tiny Young Prekindergarten (Tiny YPK) program, which is made up of two- and three-year-olds.

Beginning a child’s education at such a young age gives them the opportunity to establish their bilingual language skills as early as possible in a nurturing environment, according to the school’s website.

Children can enroll in a two-day, three-day, or five-day version of the Tiny YPK program to fit each child’s individual needs.

“If a child is happy and comfortable, then they can learn,” said Fiaux. “I know in my heart it’s impossible to grow if you’re not in a good, nurturing environment.”

When Fiaux heard the school would be offering a new program for young children, she offered to teach them since it was the first time the school was attempting to teach this age group.

“It’s amazing at this age, at 2, what they’re able to do,” she said. “They all understand how the class works. I’m so proud of them.”

The Tiny YPK Program teaches toddlers fundamental skills in both French and English. Motor skills, social interaction, linguistics, and other fun learning activities are all parts of the curriculum for the little scholars.

“I never get bored. I just see these precious little ones grow as they learn a different language but also learn to work in a group, to learn about emotions, to be kind,” she said.

Fiaux said it was always her goal to become a teacher from an early age because her own teachers did not provide a nurturing environment during her education experience.

Fiaux commented that receiving this award “means the world” to her. She had no knowledge of the award’s existence before she was notified of her reception of the award.

Because it is the community that selects the winners of this award, it was primarily the parents of previous students Fiaux has taught that came together to ensure she received this recognition.

“It’s a huge, huge honor. I was so touched. I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t know it existed, so it’s the best recognition of my work of 30 years. It’s not political. It’s people in the community who thought of me. It means the world.”

FASPS student art. Photo courtesy of Déborah Fiaux.
FASPS Student holding one of the personal books Fiaux creates for each student annually. Photo courtesy of Déborah Fiaux.
FASPS classroom. Photo courtesy of Déborah Fiaux.