French American School of Puget Sound: Beacon of Innovative Educational Methodologies
French American School of Puget Sound Cover Story

In the ever-evolving landscape of education in the United States, a transformational wave has surged through the traditional norms of teaching and learning. Over the years, educational paradigms have shifted, embracing diversity, cultural awareness, and a global perspective as vital aspects of a comprehensive education. This transformation has been significantly propelled by pioneering institutions like the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS), which has stood as a beacon of innovative educational methodologies for nearly three decades. FASPS has epitomized the fusion of French and American educational systems, heralding a dynamic approach that not only equips students with academic prowess but also instills a profound understanding of diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives.

Since 1995, FASPS has been a pioneer in bilingual education in the Pacific Northwest. Its program harmonizes the best of the French and American educational systems. Its diverse and international community creates a global experience for students that fundamentally and positively changes their worldview. FASPS students become multilingual, regularly scoring higher than the national average on standardized tests in reading, math, and science.

Broadening Worldviews of Students The FASPS community is extremely diverse, which leads to expanded perspectives, stimulating discussions, and an overall enhanced educational experience. Its student body comes primarily from Seattle, Bellevue, and Mercer Island but originates in close to 60 different countries with about 40 languages spoken. Its tuition assistance program also allows for socio-economic diversity to further broaden all of its students’ worldviews.

FASPS has high expectations for its students, and this rigor and dedication lead to motivated and knowledgeable individuals who excel in life after they pass through its doors. Every year, its Grade 8 graduates move on to public and private schools in the area and around the world. The school believes that the foundation of a FASPS education, based on excellence, integrity, cultural agility, and community, provides them with the tools and experiences to make the most of their future pursuits.

French schools abroad form by far the largest network of international schools worldwide, accredited by the French Ministry of Education. FASPS allows families to start their children’s education in an all-day preschool program at 18 months of age-a unique characteristic of a French education that allows children to develop their early learning skills in an educational environment with highly trained teachers. FASPS also offers the opportunity to start learning languages progressively and efficiently.

Amalgamating French and American Values

Its designed harmonized program covers both the objectives of the French curriculum and the Washington State Common Core Standards while using best practices that come from the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS). This program configuration enriches its curricula. Its math program is also unique, covering a large scale of different concepts (including 85 percent of the geometry High School program), and offering an accelerated program in 7th and 8th grade.

In 6th grade, the school adds a third language, Mandarin or Spanish, to continue to enhance the student’s multilingual capabilities.

FASPS alumni often come back to share their stories and insights with the grade 8 students or at open houses. The math and science program is unique. FASPS students graduate from Grade 8 at minimum 2 years ahead in math, having taken Geometry and Algebra 1, and often Algebra 2. STEM and STEAM opportunities for applied Science, Coding, and Engineering learning geared to support student problem-solving around current challenges are also a key part of the program. Cognitively FASPS students are strong, agile thinkers because they have been immersed in different cultures, switching between multiple languages from an early age as well as approaching math and science from multiple angles. High school is often easier for its students, and they have the confidence and cultural agility to envision challenging college tracks. FASPS students often do international programs at college or take on service work (helping Syrian refugees for example), then return to tell the tale, inspiring students to continue with polyglot learning models.

Creating Personalized Programs

The school combines project-based learning, challenging academics, and creative exploration. The school is able to create a personalized, student-centered program. It believes in a holistic approach that does not teach to test but teaches how to learn and metacognition. The first step is to know students as individuals and learners while we identify their strengths and areas of growth. Teachers will then offer different approaches and tools to the students: personalized work, flexible settings, multisensorial methods of teaching, mentoring system, use of technology to both challenge students or alleviate difficulties for others, advanced math program, etc.

Nurturing Passions

FASPS places a strong emphasis on recognizing and celebrating student achievements across a diverse range of disciplines. At FASPS, academic excellence is just one aspect of a well-rounded education, and the school takes pride in nurturing students’ talents and passions. To honor their accomplishments, FASPS organizes a variety of events and initiatives that showcase the exceptional talents and hard work of its students.

These may include academic award ceremonies, where students are recognized for outstanding performance in subjects such as mathematics, language arts, and science. Additionally, FASPS celebrates artistic achievements through art exhibitions, musical recitals, and theatrical performances, providing a platform for students to shine in the creative arts. Furthermore, the school fosters a culture of inclusion, acknowledging achievements in sports, leadership, community service, and cultural diversity, ensuring that all student’s unique contributions are acknowledged and celebrated.

In doing so, FASPS not only fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment among its students but also encourages them to pursue their passions and continue striving for excellence in all aspects of their education. This commitment to recognizing achievements across various disciplines reflects its dedication to producing global citizens who are prepared to excel in a diverse and dynamic world.

The school provides extracurricular activities for students from pre-kindergarten through grade 8. It offers more than 40 enrichment classes per week for students in PK through Grade 8, covering a wide variety of student interests.

The school also strives to continually offer programs that engage in different areas of interest such as gross motor skills (yoga, sports, capoeira, karate, swimming), arts and crafts (art class, DIY construction, pottery, sewing, knitting), tech and coding (robotics, little coders, Minecraft level design, video game development) music classes (DJ & music production, music theory & sight-reading, sing along children’s songs, piano & keyboard, global drums), Cooking classes, and in Middle School FASPS has a wide variety of clubs such as Yearbook Club, Coding Club, Math Counts, Debate Club, GSA, Cooking Club and Board Games Club.

Students not participating in After School clubs or enrichment are still invited to play a sport for FASPS. The school runs athletics for students in Kindergarten through Grade 8, in such sports as Volleyball, Soccer, Track and field, Cross Country, and Basketball, and it has eyes on more to start soon.

Fostering Ideal Teacher-Student Relationships

The well-being of students is a school priority. FASPS offers a low ratio of students to teachers that allows adults to take the time to listen and address conflicts however important. Its teachers receive annual training in conflict resolution, class management, positive discipline, etc. Students can be part of the peer mediation program. The school promotes and celebrates diversity, so FASPS becomes a safe place for each of them. In the Middle School, FASPS offers a comprehensive Advisory Program and time for teachers and students to meet about their assignments for enrichment or support every week.

FASPS Student Success Team helps students with their academic and personal challenges. It offers the help of the school counselor, Dean of Students, Dean of Learning and Teaching, French Speech therapist, reading specialist, ELL teacher, and French language acquisition specialist.

The school offers multiple meetings during the year where parents can meet teachers: parent-teacher conferences, curriculum nights, and current families’ open houses. Teachers are also available anytime to answer questions or concerns. For students who need accommodations, the Student Success Team schedules meetings regularly to follow up on the student’s school journey.

The school is using different tools: FASPS also sends out a weekly newsletter called the Friday Flash which keeps parents and the FASPS community in the loop about the exciting projects children are working on as well as the upcoming community events it hosts throughout the year.

Prioritizing Comprehensive and Inclusive Education

FASPS is embarking on an exciting journey of educational excellence and development, with a vision to enrich its students’ experiences on multiple fronts. With the expansion of a new facility in Seattle scheduled for 2026, FASPS is strategically positioning itself to provide an even more comprehensive and inclusive education. By housing grades 4 through 8 in this new campus, FASPS aims to continue its commitment to bilingual education while nurturing core competencies in mathematics, science, and language. However, FASPS’s goals extend beyond the traditional academic framework. The school is dedicated to instilling in its students a profound appreciation for diversity, cultural agility, empathy, compassion, and cooperation.

Parents at the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) chose a bilingual school for their children. They explain to their students the reasons behind this choice, highlighting the importance of language diversity and cultural understanding. They actively support their children’s educational journey by showing interest in their school activities and volunteering at the school. Celebrating and promoting diversity is a fundamental value they instill in their children, engaging them in discussions about various cultures, countries, and languages. They trust the experience and process of FASPS, having witnessed the successful education of multilingual children for the past 30 years.

Fostering a Culture of Learning by Asking

Students at the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) are encouraged to embrace diversity, approaching fellow classmates, teachers, and community members with an open heart and mind. They are urged to value different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures. Within the diverse environment of FASPS, students are advised to be curious and inquisitive, fostering a culture of learning by asking questions and seeking knowledge.

Working together is emphasized, highlighting the essential role of collaboration for growth, allowing students to solve problems, complete projects, and develop a deeper understanding of various perspectives. They are encouraged to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, understanding that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.

Effective communication in multiple languages is stressed, encouraging students to actively practice and improve their language skills while being respectful and inclusive to all. Involvement in extracurricular activities, clubs, and events is encouraged, as it can lead to lasting friendships and a deeper sense of belonging within the FASPS community. Seeking support, whether academic, emotional, or guidance-related, is seen as a positive step, with teachers, counselors, and staff members available for assistance.

They are reminded to maintain a balanced life by pursuing their passions, interests, and hobbies outside of the classroom, finding happiness and fulfilment. Lastly, students are urged to enjoy the educational journey at FASPS, appreciating the opportunity for personal and academic growth while knowing that support is available every step of the way.

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