by Jessie Jiang
A devoted French Teacher at Galileo for more than ten years (who retired four years ago), Madame Denise Lebiavant lost her fight with cancer in early January 2016. She will be deeply remembered as an inspirational and dedicated teacher that never quite stopped teaching because she was deeply passionate about the French culture and the language.
Although Madame Lebiavant retired from Galileo, she stil. made time to come back to teach at the school. Her current successor, Mr. Kenneth Mendribil, invited Madame Lebiavant back to Galileo to help him in the classroom and served as a mentor to him. “I met Madame Lebiavant seven years ago at a professional development workshop, and she was the person that interviewed me and chose me to come to Galileo to teach,” said Mr. Mendribil. “She invited me into her classroom many times and set up my transition [to Galileo], which was very impactful to me. After she retired, she came back to Galileo to accompany my classes to field trips and spoke a lot about the art, culture, and music of the French.”
Madame Lebiavant also shared special connections with former Spanish teacher, now currently an ELD teacher, Ms. Kathleen Golata. “Madame Lebiavant actually grew up from New York and received her PhD degree at New York University. She was a well-educated person who spoke about four languages, and was really creative and elegant. We were really picky about grammar because we were World Language teachers and would correct students’ grammatical errors, so we ended up calling ourselves ‘grammarians’,” said Ms. Golata.
Overall Madame Lebiavant was a wonderful colleague and is remembered fondly at Galileo. “Madame Lebiavant was very dedicated to students and loved to help them become successful. As a friend she was a lot of fun. I see Madame Lebiavant up in Lake Tahoe and here, and we get together and hike up to Angora Lake. Madame Lebiavant was a great and loving mother,” added, secretary, Ms. Grinnell.