Meet Maria Babiak, Director of AmeriSpan's Montreal French school
What is your background?
I'm married with 2 young, adorable children.
Do you travel abroad often?
Not so much as I’ve got a family with young kids.
Have you studied abroad?
Never, because before I started working at the school, I never realized these cool programs existed!
Which languages do you speak or have studied?
I speak English, Spanish and French.
How and why did you get into the Study Abroad market?
When I first moved to Toronto, I saw an ad in the paper for a position at a ‘school’. I thought ‘sounds interestesting!’ so I applied, not knowing it was a language school. I got the job to start in Marketing and loved it. Little did I know I would still be with the company 16 years later, living in Montreal!!!
What is your job or function at the organization?
I am the Director of the Montreal school, which means I am involved in all of our service areas, from academics, to accommodation to activities. I even occasionally am a tour guide and furniture mover! Fortunately, I have a wonderful staff…we make a great team!
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Where do I start? I think my most favorite part of my job is talking and interacting with our students. Each one has a something different to add to our school population. I also love to see the progress they make in their language learning. It’s a rewarding feeling when students come to the office on their last day to thank us for the most ‘amazing experience of their lives’.
Tell us one of your biggest challenges in starting your organization.
Our school is celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2012, and I haven’t been around that long : ), but I guess my biggest recent challenge was when we were doing a complete renovation of our school last year. And even though we started early in the spring, the renovations lasted into the summer, which is our peak season! The staff and the students were so great and understanding during this time and it was really appreciated. The school looks wonderful now, so I guess it was all worth it!
How did you and AmeriSpan begin working together?
We have been working with AmeriSpan for many, many years now. We’ve even had the pleasure of having their staff visit our school. They hire great, friendly staff who care about their clients a lot.
Can you tell us about your school’s philosophy, specialty and/or why you think it is special?
I think there are lots of things that make our school special – I often think of us as a somewhat large organization (we have 4 schools in Canada) with small-town service. It isn’t the largest of the schools, but I think this is a strong point – our staff and teachers really get to know our clients by name and are able to spend the time getting to know them. We offer services, counseling and support in different types of accommodation, activities and excursions.
I think our academics program shines on its own – our French teachers are well-qualified, with specialization in teaching French as a Second Language. Our curriculum is well-defined, with clear level objectives which are communicated to students. Our levels are correlated to the European Framework, so students can continue their language learning even after they leave. After almost 50 years of welcoming students to our cities, listening to their feedback and evolving with the times, we’ve been able to build our reputation as one of the best language schools in Canada. Don’t take my word for it – come join us and find out for yourselves! : )
Learn more about AmeriSpan's Montreal French School