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Staff

Native French Speakers, World Class Instructors.

It’s wonderful to learn from native French speakers, and to be with fellow lovers of French language and culture.
- Harriet M., Wilmette
Maria Kurt

Maria Kurt

Founder and Executive Director, French School
In 1998, Maria used her knowledge and expertise to establish the French Institute of the North Shore. She earned a master’s degree in French Language, Literature and Civilization from Middlebury College where she specialized in the teaching of French. Maria was determined to understand how one acquires a second language and develop the most effective way to teach French. Additionally, she holds a master’s degree in Education. Having lived in Paris for two years during her studies, and frequently traveling to France, Maria appreciates cross-cultural nuances and brings an abundance of travel and cultural insights to the school.

Maria and her husband live in Winnetka with their two daughters and a French Bichon Frisé. Maria and her husband enjoy ballroom dancing, as well as water sports on the French Riviera.

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Ashlee Cummings

Ashlee Cummings

Director, French School
Ashlee has been working in education for 14 years, having taught foreign languages at the elementary, middle, high school, and university levels. She has worked in both administrative and instructional capacities at the French Institute and the French School over the past six years. Ashlee holds a master’s degree in French Language and Literature and a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language Education from Miami University. Ashlee has been fortunate to study and work abroad in Paris and Dijon and travel extensively throughout France. She particularly looks forward to her frequent trips to her favorite French town, Annecy. Ashlee enjoys reading, going to the ballet, and exploring the viticulture of our great land.
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Heather Meindl

Heather Meindl

Director, French Institute of the North Shore
Heather’s studies and work afforded her the opportunity to live abroad in Avignon, Québec, Senegal and Switzerland, giving the French Institute a more global Francophone perspective. Her master’s degree in French language education brought her back to her hometown of Chicago. Heather’s energy and charm help guide and inspire our adult language learners. Outside of work, Heather enjoys exploring Chicago’s foodie culture, traveling the globe, and tending to her menagerie of animals.
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Audrey

Audrey

French School Teacher
Audrey was born and raised in Colmar, a small city in eastern France. She is very proud of her origins and loves sharing her knowledge of Alsatian culture and food. She has lived in the United States for over five years and now considers it home. Audrey wears a constant smile on her face and loves teaching young children. She is so grateful to be a part of her students' first learning experiences and to help them build a solid foundation emotionally and academically. Outside of school, Audrey enjoys going to the movies with her husband, ballroom dancing, and horseback riding.
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Camille

Camille

French School Teacher
Camille grew up in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a small town west of Paris. She has previously lived in both Germany and the United States with her parents, an experience that motivated her to want to live and work abroad as an adult as well. Camille loves teaching and is so excited to have the opportunity to teach in the US. In her free time, Camille enjoys reading, running, and cooking.
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Johanna

Johanna

French School Teacher
Johanna comes from a small city near Versailles, France. With previous teaching experience in France, Johanna has cultivated a unique, creative, and well-organized classroom environment, which sets her students up for success from the moment they enter her classroom. Her inviting demeanor and sense of humor keep her students at ease throughout the year. Outside of school, Johanna enjoys painting, dancing, and travel.
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Géraldine

Géraldine

French School Assistant
Originally from francophone Belgium, Géraldine has spent much of her adult life in Switzerland and the United States. Her effervescent personality creates a nurturing environment filled with fun and happiness. Géraldine understands the complexity and value of raising bilingual and bicultural children. She is passionate about pets and enjoys cooking.
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Laure

Laure

French School Assistant
A native of Normandy in northwest France, Laure enjoys discovering new things and is eager to pass on this curiosity to the children she teaches. Through her experience in France as an educator, she learned the joy of helping children explore the world and grow as individuals. Seeing them learn new things is what she loves more than anything. Outside of school, Laure is passionate about reading, travel, and hiking.
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Marie

Marie

French School Assistant
Born and raised in a small town in the southwest of France, Marie has called the United States her home for over 20 years. Prior to the French School, Marie worked as a teacher’s assistant at a Montessori preschool and as a home daycare provider. She loves working with children and is inspired by their spontaneity and “joie de vivre.” Outside of the classroom, Marie enjoys painting, gardening and cooking.
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Adeline

Adeline

French Institute Instructor
Originally from Nîmes in the south of France, Adeline grew up with a love for literature, fine arts, and Les Camargues (the natural wetlands near the Rhône Delta), which in turn, are some of her favorite topics for discussion! Adeline is motivated by la francophonie, and is equally excited to teach about French culture, as she is to teach about cultures from other French speaking countries.
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Laura

Laura

Continuing Education & French Institute Instructor
A native of Picardy in northern France, Laura is very passionate about French language and literature. Laura has ample positive energy and a calming presence that will inspire her students to speak with confidence and ease. Because Laura loves traveling and discovering new cultures, she has lived in both Australia and Canada, and is thrilled to be here in the United States!
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