A Hard Farewell to Beloved Principal French

By: Jolie Wasserman

As longtime language colleague and global travel partner, Mrs. Manchisi, put it, “Mrs. French has always been an outstanding colleague, mentor and leader. She has had a tremendous impact on students, faculty and the Briarcliff community.  She will be sorely missed but warmly remembered.” Mrs. French cherishes her time as a Spanish teacher at BHS with Mrs. Manchisi. Their trips abroad with students fostered a global classroom as they experienced “the worlds of cultures, languages, and traditions.”

After 15 years as a Spanish teacher at Briarcliff High School, Mrs. French held her current position as BHS principal for 8 years before retiring after the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. French cites her contribution to BHS’s safe, caring environment as well as setting her students up for success as her most proud moments at Briarcliff.

Mrs. French looks forward to gardening, traveling, and spending time with her family during retirement. Her three grandchildren (Huntley, Margaret, and Oliver) never cease to provide her carefree fun.

1. How long have you been Principal at BHS? What was your prior job?

I have been BHS Principal for 8 years. Previously, I was BHS

Assistant Principal for 7 years and a BHS Spanish teacher for 15 years.

2. What are some memorable moments from your career at the school?

The special moments of travelling abroad with my students and beloved colleagues to Europe and Central America. Our trips became a global classroom of learning and experiencing the world of cultures, languages, and traditions.

3. Looking back at your time at Briarcliff, what are some things you are proud of? Contributing to providing a safe, caring environment for BHS students as well as an outstanding education to prepare them for fulfilled and successful lives.

4. Can you share a funny incident that happened?

Pep rally provided some hysterical moments during the class competition games. (i.e., pie eating, three legged races). The spirit and enthusiasm were very exciting and often humorous.

5. Did Covid influence my decision to retire?

Actually, the opposite. I wanted to be there for my students, colleagues, and faculty as we navigated the pandemic.

6. Do you have any advice to offer Ms. Diana Blank, who will be taking over your role? Mrs. Blank and Mr. Goldberg are experienced professionals who love BHS as much as I do. They know I am only a phone call away if needed.

7. What are your plans for retirement? Spending time travelling, gardening and enjoying carefree fun with my family, especially my 3 grandchildren. Volunteering for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

8. If you can pass any wisdom to the faculty and students, what would it be? Leaving Briarcliff H.S will be bittersweet, but I am confident you will continue to reshape the world for the greater good.


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