French with Fox


Sydnie Barrett

French club members prepare for the upcoming school year at this year’s Homecoming Parade on South Field.

Sarah Gebremeskel, General Reporter

Doreena Fox is a French teacher at WHHS. She joined the WHHS staff in 2013, and has since made many strides in the modern world language department.


“Before I arrived, the modern world language department wasn’t truly very active,” Fox said. “There weren’t a lot of AP courses, [and] there weren’t a lot of languages. The clubs weren’t very active at all, it was just my desire to put some life back into the department and put some life back into French.” 


Fox’s efforts to help revive the department were made easier due to WHHS’ students. After previously teaching at Princeton High School, Fox was immediately drawn to the willingness and passion for learning WHHS students have. As the child of a single mother, Fox is able to recognize the various walks of life students come from. Fox’s upbringing led her to become an industrious learner, something she sees in her students each day. She also admires the close-knit community she was able to develop with other teachers in the modern world language department.


“I think that Walnut students really value their education,” Fox said. “[They] want to learn from the top-notch people, and they’re just a pleasure to teach.” 


After joining the department, one of Fox’s most significant efforts was energizing the foreign language clubs. Fox serves as the French club advisor and utilizes the club to bridge a gap between students interested in French and her classroom. 


“I guess the club for me was a segue into bringing life to the department,” Fox said.

French club meetings are always centered around food, and sometimes centered around traditional French and Canadian holidays. (Ryan Vogt)


In her classroom, Fox focuses on a communicative and interactive approach to both the French language and culture. Fox likes to place emphasis on the speaking portion of the language rather than regular practices like translation and analysis. Students in her classroom often engage in partner work, listening activities and cultural learning. 


“There’s no sense in studying a foreign language if you cannot walk out of the classroom and speak it,” Fox said.  


It’s hard for Fox to recall a time in which she wasn’t teaching French; and she attributes her love for teaching to the push that others in her life gave her as a college student. Despite a high school counselor strongly advising against pursuing language education as a career, Fox took on teaching French as a result of the foreign language department staff at college, who took her under their wing and acknowledged her affinity for the language.  


Fox’s journey to teaching was one with many twists. Although she pursued law school and even worked as an attorney for 10 years, she continued teaching part-time at the collegiate level. As a result of her personal experiences, Fox constantly reminds her students of the importance of pursuing their passions, no matter the obstacles they may face.


“Keep on pursuing dreams would be my message [to students],” Fox said. “No matter what you do, take people’s advice into consideration, but don’t dwell on it. Dwell on who you are, and what you want to be in life. If you’re passionate about it, you can do it.”