Louise Fay Despres Honored for Excellence in Foreign Language Education

Mrs. Despres taught AP French for 30 years, in addition to serving as a mentor for teachers and independent studies

CHICAGO, Aug. 29, 2018  Louise Fay Despres is a distinguished biographee of Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are chosen from among a pool of the most prominent professionals and are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Specializing in the instruction of world languages, Mrs. Despres maintained a very active career as a secondary school educator at New Canaan High School in Connecticut since 1970. She taught Advanced Placement French for 30 years. In addition to mentoring students for AP examinations, Mrs. Despres was also responsible for teaching other classes and for preparing French III honors students among others for the national French examination for many years. She served as a mentor to several new teachers throughout the course of her career, as well as to many students pursuing independent studies. From 2001-2006 she served as the department chair of World Languages and from 1996-2001 she was Chair of the Independent Study committee.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1944, Mrs. Despres recalls developing a love for the French language as early as childhood. She credits her mother, Jean, with giving her French lessons before her school offered them, thus sparking a lifelong interest in the subject. Mrs. Despres also looked up to her father, Frederick, as well as her aunt, who were both teachers. Driven to follow a similar career path, Mrs. Despres traveled to France to study the language and culture at its source. While attending the American School of Music, now known as the Fontainebleau Schools, she studied organ performance with Nadia Boulanger, a famous French composer, conductor and teacher. Mrs. Despres went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in French from Connecticut College in 1966, followed by a Master of Arts in teaching from Brown University in 1968 and a Master of Arts in French from Middlebury College in Paris, France, in 1973. She became a contributor to the cultural booklet, “French in Connecticut,” when it was published in 1970.

Prior to joining New Canaan High School in 1970, Mrs. Despres taught French at North Haven High School in Connecticut for two years. She was also a French teacher with the Foreign Language Elementary Schools Program at High Plains Elementary School in Orange, Connecticut for one year. She was certified as both a Spanish teacher and French teacher for grades seven through 12. In more recent years, Mrs. Despres enjoyed serving as a substitute teacher and proctor for the New Canaan Public Schools in roles related to her areas of expertise. She also maintains involvement with the American Association of Teachers of French. Looking ahead, Mrs. Despres hopes to become more involved with volunteering in Williamsburg, Virginia where she spends winters. She currently serves as secretary of the board of the Hyde Park, Chicago Transitional Housing Project, a position she has held since 2015. Additionally, Mrs. Despres volunteers with the Fellowship Committee and the worship and music committee of the Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago, The Suq shop at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and the Housing and Hunger Committee of the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church in Virginia during winters.

During her career, Mrs. Despres received several awards. She was selected to receive the Pegasus Pride Award from the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers in 2001 for Fairfield County. She was previously awarded an Advanced Placement Teacher Recognition Award from the New England College Board in 1994.  She was also a National Endowment for the Humanities recipient chosen to study three advanced placement French literature poets—Baudelaire, Apollinaire, and Cesaire—in the summer of 1983. In 2017 and again in 2018, Mrs. Despres received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2017, the Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award. She has been featured in a wide range of honors publications, including Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America. Married to her husband, Robert Leon Despres, since 1974, Mrs. Despres enjoys music, theater, reading, travel and photography in her spare time. They have one son, Frederick, a chef in Chicago.

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