What began as a kind of accident has turned into a rewarding career for French teacher Laura Roche Youngworth – which has been nothing but good news for the past 25 years for French students in the state of Kentucky.
Roche, as she is called at Beaumont Middle School, intended to be an English teacher and took French in college as an aside. That aside grew into a double major, so when she student-taught at Paul Laurence Dunbar High she had English and French classes.
“I was nervous about the French class, but by the second day I knew that my focus was going to be French,” she said.
For 18 years, Roche taught high school French classes, 17 of those years were at Anderson County where she was able to expand the French program from two levels to four and added an Advanced Placement class.
When she left Anderson County six years ago to teach at Beaumont Middle in Lexington, it took a teacher and a half to replace her.
Nervous at first about working with middle schoolers, Roche quickly embraced her new job.
“Middle schoolers soak things up so quickly and their enthusiasm is remarkable,” she said. “And they are so willing to be silly.”
So is Roche. She dances in class, saying, “The classroom is my stage.”It’s all about reaching her students.
“I read the books they’re reading. I’ll do whatever is necessary to understand my students to help them learn better,” she said.
Beaumont Principal Kate McAnelly certainly has noticed.
“Isn’t she phenomenal?” she said about Roche. “Here she is at the top of her game, and she still wants to get better every day. She never gives up on figuring out how to make sure all her children are learning.”
McAnelly isn’t the only one who has noticed.
Twice, Roche has been the Kentucky state French teacher of the year. She is president of the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French and sits on the board of the state World Language Association.Roche also launched a monthly world language podcast that serves as a clearinghouse of information for Kentucky teachers.
Giving back to the community of teachers is a passion rivaled only by her dedication in the classroom.
“I can share something I’m passionate about and watch my students grow while being part of their lives,” Roche said. “This is a beautiful, rewarding career.”