The French Ministry of Education has awarded Dr. Virin Vedder, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) foreign language instructional specialist, with the Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) Silver Cross (Chevalier). The Order des Palmes academique (Order of Palmes) is a national order of the Republic of France that recognizes distinguished academics and contributors in the fields of education and culture. The award was founded by Emperor Napoleon in 1805 and is bestowed upon French citizens or foreign nationals who make major contributions to the expansion of French language and culture.
Dr. Vedder’s work came to the attention of the French Consulate when its delegation visited Gwinnett’s French Dual Language Immersion (DLI) classrooms at Trip Elementary and French classrooms at the middle and high school level. Dr. Vedder says he is humbled by the award. He adds, “This award reinforces the value of what I enjoy doing every day. I’m honored that I can help expand knowledge of the French language and culture in my capacity. More importantly, this recognition spotlights the team members in our county, who work diligently each day to achieve these same goals.”
Dr. Vedder was among a group of GCPS teachers who piloted the first middle school Carnegie Unit French programs in the school district. He went on to open Trip Elementary School as an assistant principal, a role he filled when the school was selected to host the first GCPS French Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program which began with kindergarten in 2014. Those students are currently in 3rd grade and are in their fourth year of the program.
Dr. Vedder says without the support of many people, including Dr. Jon Valentine, director of foreign language, the school district’s DLI program would not be successful. He says, “This honor reflects the value GCPS places on foreign language education. We are supported by parents who want their children to recognize, understand, and appreciate our global community and ever-shrinking world. We’re very grateful that the French Ministry of Education has chosen to spotlight the strength of our programs with this award.”
The decision to include French at Trip as part of the DLI program was based on Vedder’s French language proficiency and his ability to support this complex and innovative new program. As a French-speaking administrator, Dr. Vedder had the singular ability to interview and hire exemplary French-speaking teachers and to ensure that these teachers had the support they needed to successfully integrate French language and culture into daily instruction.
In 2015, Dr. Vedder transferred from the local school to the district level to provide additional support for world languages and DLI programs, first as an Instructional Coach, and then as an Instructional Specialist for Languages and Dual Language Immersion.