Anne Shook is our World Languages department chair and Upper School French teacher! A native of La Valette du Var, France, Ms. Shook has been teaching at Rabun Gap for 19 years and holds Bachelor of Arts in French from Kennesaw State University. Ms. Shook is heavily involved in our community service program by coordinating the activities and partnering students with local organizations to serve those in need.
How long have you been working at Rabun Gap?
I have been teaching at Rabun Gap for 19 years.
What made you choose to work at Rabun Gap?
When I was a Georgia Rotary Student Program recipient and a student at Young Harris College from 1997 to 1999, I had a host family in Rabun County and spent many weekends and breaks at their home. We used to drive by Rabun Gap, and I always wondered what it would be like to work at a place like this. Little did I know that 5 years later, I would start my teaching career at Rabun Gap. In 2004, I was finishing my education degree at Kennesaw State University and needed to find a school to complete my practicum. At the time, my husband was working as a middle school teacher in Hiawassee, and I was trying to find a school nearby to complete my practicum. Unfortunately, French was not offered in any local public schools, and this is when I decided to look at private schools. I stopped by Rabun Gap one day and met Jen Bonn, World Language department chair; Elena Carlson, Spanish teacher; and Ivy Stiles, Latin teacher. Right away, I knew I wanted to teach at Rabun Gap and learn from these amazing teachers. To my surprise, Bob Brigham, Head of the Upper School at the time, told me that more than merely letting me complete my practicum at Rabun Gap, they would hire me as a full-time teacher! I said yes without hesitation.
What did you do before coming to Rabun Gap?
I was a student at Kennesaw State University.
What makes Rabun Gap special to you?
The students make Rabun Gap special to me. I enjoy being with them, teaching them, learning from them and witnessing their growth. Many of them have made an impact on my life, and I cherish the memories we have made in and out of the classroom.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to share my language and culture with young people and inspire them to look at the world from a different perspective and to explore the world.
Tell us about the community service program and your role in it.
Rabun Gap’s mission is to prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service. As a result, our Upper School students are required to participate in three community service activities each year that they attend Rabun Gap. Engaging in community service provides our students with the opportunity to become active members of their community, and it has a lasting, positive impact on society. Participating in community service also enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge, as well as provide a service to those who need it most.
My role in the community service program is to provide community service activities for our students on the weekends. Some of the local organizations that we help on a monthly basis are the Food Distribution at Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, and the Appalachian Animal and Rescue Center. We also volunteer at several annual events such as the Rabun County Veterans Appreciation Dinner, the Trunk-or-Treat event at the Recreational Department, and the Festival of Trees. Besides helping the local community, students have also participated in global outreach events such as Rise Against Hunger, and they have also led fundraisers for disaster relief.
What is your favorite aspect of community service at Rabun Gap?
My favorite aspect of community service is seeing our students interacting with people, giving their best effort, working efficiently, and practicing good teamwork in order to help our local community. We have caring students who want to make a difference in this world, and it is amazing how much work they accomplish together to help others.
What do you like most about working with our students?
I love interacting with students, I love learning from them, I love helping them understand the French language, and I love when they see the connection between what they are learning and their daily lives. Also, I love it when students see improvement in their learning or when they are able to struggle through a concept to mastery. Because I teach a language, I see this improvement on a regular basis. As these successes build on one another, students grow in confidence. Helping students discover their strengths and then develop those strengths is rewarding for me.
What is your favorite memory from the time you have worked here so far?
I have many favorite memories, but since I must choose, I would say that over the years I have particularly enjoyed the school trips to Europe I have taken with students. It is always a memorable moment for me to see the excitement and joy of my students when they speak with a native speaker and can understand what they say, or when they see historic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower or the Mont Saint Michel for the first time. We talk about all these places in the classroom, and it is quite special when they can finally see them with their own eyes. These are beautiful moments that I will never forget.
One particular memory would be our school trip in 2010 when a volcano in Iceland erupted sending ash clouds across Europe. Due to the volcano, our return flight was rescheduled and our trip was extended five days. Despite the uncertainty of our return at the time, the students embraced the experience and were able to visit the Palace of Versailles and stay at a local French high school for two days. Like one student said, “The trip was perfect, natural disaster and all.”
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
Most people don’t know that I start my mornings very early by going to the barn and taking care of my horse and two donkeys. I enjoy the peacefulness of early mornings, the manual work, and being outside around the equines, and the dogs and cats. It is a great way to start the day for me.