Master Teacher - France
Tim Rumberger
 
Salut! My name is Tim Rumberger, and I am pleased to be serving as your Master Teacher in this coming summer immersion program in Arles!  I’ve loved learning and speaking French from a young age, and enjoy sharing language and culture with others, currently as Department Chair and 5th and 6th grade teacher of French and Spanish in the Mashpee Public Schools on scenic Cape Cod.
 
My first introduction to John Rassias came around 35 years ago (yeah, I’m OLD), when I saw John on that now-legendary “60 Minutes” episode (if you haven’t seen it, Google it!) --  cracking eggs on his students’ heads, jumping around the classroom like a madman... doing things we now accept as normal behavior in L’Univers Rassias...but that at the time were mind-blowing. Certainly like nothing I’d ever seen my French teachers do!  My then-teenage brain wondered: “Wouldn’t it be a dream come true to meet and learn from that guy? He seems really cool.” It was a nice dream, I thought. Never in a million years did I think it would come true, and lead to a lifelong, and life-changing friendship and collaboration.
 
Somehow the stars aligned, and the seemingly impossible dream of Dartmouth -- and the chance to meet Professor Rassias -- became a reality. A teammate on my summer lacrosse team had been accepted at Dartmouth the previous year, and recommended me as a possible candidate. A recruiting trip followed. Then, miraculously, an acceptance letter. Naturally, I accepted!
 
The fall of my sophomore year, I arrived in Blois, France as a student in the Dartmouth Language Study Abroad (LSA) program. Between classes at the Ecole Normale taught by our Dartmouth professor John Anzalone and local ‘Blaisois’ teachers, traveling and making new friends - still some of my closest friends to this day - something clicked, and I devoured French culture, literature, politics, you name it.  
 
Upon my return to Hanover, I tried out for one of the sought-after French Assistant Teacher positions, which is how I met John. For the rest of my Dartmouth career, I taught an 8 a.m. French drill class for French I and II students every term I was on campus. And although I never took a class with John, I was fortunate to learn the Method directly from him, and meet frequently in AT trainings and support sessions. That’s when I became part of the extended Rassias family.
 
I went back to France for an advanced language study - FSP Toulouse - in the fall of my senior year for another immersion experience. I was able to travel through the Midi - the south of France, and found the geography, history and people to be absolutely exquisite, in a different, more laid-back way than those of the north.
 
After graduation, I AT’d in the Dartmouth ALPS program on-campus before heeding the call of the “English” side of my modified French-English major to take a job as a newspaper reporter in the upstate city of Amsterdam, New York.  While there, I met Kim, the woman who would become my wife. To say Kim is a good sport is like saying Einstein was “kinda smart.” She took it in stride when I announced I’d be heading off to Mexico with one of my roommates, to travel and do some freelance writing (not speaking a word of Spanish did not seem too big a problem for either of us). So off to Mexico we went, where I didn’t write any news dispatches as planned, but picked up the language and absolutely fell in love with the Mexican people and their culture...just as I had with French half a decade earlier.
 
After about six months, as I was running perilously short on pesos, Kim came down and ‘rescued’ me. We returned to Amsterdam, got married and started a family, raising our three sons Austen, Brant and Kyle as I continued with newspaper and then corporate writing jobs. I tested Kim’s patience yet again when I was laid off from a communications job at GE. She supported our family while I returned to school full-time to earn my Master’s in teaching French at Union College (thanks in large part to a glowing recommendation letter from...you guessed it, John Rassias), after which I became a public school French and Spanish teacher and lacrosse coach.  
 
For the last decade-and-a-half plus, we’ve lived on Cape Cod, where we raised our three now grown sons, and I’ve worked in a variety of administrative positions -- first as elementary foreign language director in Barnstable, then as a principal and assistant principal in Barnstable, New Bedford and my current school district, Mashpee. Two years ago I jumped at the chance when offered the opportunity to start a new elementary language program and become World Language Department Chair in Mashpee. I now am able to make language come alive by bringing John’s philosophy, teaching methods and joie de vivre to a new generation of students.
 
Through the years, I’ve been a Spanish AT at ALPS, and coordinated language workshops with Helene in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, most recently this past November. I’ve also been very fortunate to return to Hanover every summer for the Inter-American Partnership for Education, a summer institute where Mexican teachers of English learn the Rassias Method, where I get to speak and help the teachers master drill techniques. I’ve been just as fortunate to be a frequent guest at the home of Bill, Helene and Matthew, and to maintain and strengthen the Rassias bond.
 
The last time I was in France was 2012, when my wife and I accompanied our son Brant as he began a collegiate study term at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m very excited to go back, and you may even get a chance to meet Brant, who’s expecting to be at CERN again this summer to continue his Physics graduate studies and exercise his French, bien sûr! Brant was also a National French scholar and was strongly influenced by John when he met him while in high school.
 
It is, therefore, a great honor to be chosen as your Master Teacher this upcoming summer. I look forward to meeting all of you, and to helping bring French alive with and for you!
 
à bientôt!
Tim