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Mt. Abe teacher Jori Jacobeit wins foreign language honor

BRISTOL — For Mount Abraham Union High School Principal Jessica Barewicz it was one of those moments that makes the job worthwhile.
On March 15, during the spring conference of the Vermont Foreign Language Association at Saint Michael’s College, Barewicz had the pleasure of presenting an award to one of her own.
Mount Abe French teacher Jori Jacobeit has won the 2018 VFLA Distinguished Teacher award.
“Jori is a positive, compassionate, and energetic educator,” Barewicz said at the conference. “Her students report — and my observations confirm — she is a highly engaging teacher who believes deeply in the capacity of all students to progress in their language learning and develop a love of language.”
A native of the Chicago area, Jacobeit has been teaching at Mount Abe for 11 years. She earned a master’s in French from the Middlebury College Language Schools in 2016.
“I have a really unique role,” she explained in a recent interview. “I get students for four to five years, so I get to watch them develop over time.”
Because she’s able to establish long-lasting relationships with her students, she’s not only able to manage their progress from year to year but she also gets to watch them grow up. Older students mentor younger ones, who advance and eventually become mentors themselves, Jacobeit observed.
In addition to teaching, Jacobeit every other year coordinates experiential learning trips to Montreal and Quebec City. She also advises a new student group at Mount Abe called the “Culture Club,” whose goal is to foster complex political and cultural conversations.
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Two weeks after Jacobeit won her award, Mount Abe announced that it had received a $125,000 gift from former Bristol High School student Stephen Gay, and his wife, Judith, to establish the Mount Abraham Foreign Language Scholarship. The endowment honors the memory of John S. Roberts Jr., who taught French, German and Latin at Bristol High School and Middlebury College in the 1950s and ’60s.
A $5,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a Mount Abe student who has studied a foreign language for at least four years and who plans to continue studying that language in college.
“Hearing about John Roberts and his dedication to his students and community was a touching experience for all concerned,” said Howard Mansfield, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union’s chief financial officer. “It is great to know that his connection with so many students over the years and those who benefited from his teachings attribute to him their learning success.”
Jori Jacobeit is part of continuing that legacy at Mount Abe.
“Jori doesn’t seek recognition for her many efforts yet remains deeply committed to playing a central role in making Mount Abraham the best possible school for our students, teachers, and wider community,” her principal said.
Even with recent successes, teaching French will always be difficult work, Jacobeit acknowledged.
“I won’t ever arrive at the moment when we have it all figured out. But that’s what keeps me coming back.”
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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