The French American School of Minneapolis—previously the French Academy of Minnesota—has been molding “bilingual minds and creative hearts” for over 20 years. This past May, the school not only changed its name, but also added a music program to its extensive art and language focus. “I have always been passionate about music,” says founder and head of the school Véronique Liebmann. “We want to stand out from other schools and lead the new generation.”
Liebmann was born in the French Alps, in the town of Annecy, but she has lived in the United States for 23 years. She founded the French American school in her basement 20 years ago, and the school only continues to flourish—people even come from Europe to attend the iconic St. Louis Park school. The school’s program is unique: It employs the French curriculum along with the standard Minnesota one. It is also one of the only French-immersion schools that hires only native French-speaking teachers in order to give the kids an important advantage in learning the language.
About the school’s new music program, Liebmann says she’s enthusiastic about “sharing and cultivating change” for its young minds. She adds that language and music enhance each other and improve students’ ability to learn both subjects successfully. Starting in the fall, the school is offering private music lesson space so that students can learn an instrument during the school day. The school handles the scheduling of the music lessons as well as make-up classes for the students who miss regular lessons due to their music lessons. Duet and small ensemble opportunities will also be available, along with choir. So far, the instrumental lessons will include violin, flute, cello and piano, but more music teachers can always be added to the program. “Basically, we’re creating resources and outlets for families to bring private instructors in,” says Melissa Do, the school’s social media and marketing manager. “The programs tie in well together. We wanted to make a lot of changes and refresh everything.”
Liebmann believes that “playing together and having the full music experience” is extremely important for her students and their liberal arts education. It’s no secret that children who learn a musical instrument excel in school, especially in languages. “We thought, ‘What can we bring to our school that will support what we currently do?” Liebmann says.
In addition to the music program, the French American School of Minneapolis is also partnering with Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins to help develop a stronger stage program and allow student involvement in bilingual shows, including one in the spring, The Velveteen Rabbit.
“This program is all about music and language and working together,” Liebmann says. Everything the school stands for is enriched by these new, stronger art programs.
As for the school’s new name, Liebmann explains that bilingualism is too big a part of the school’s mission for it to be known as just ‘the French school.” “[The old name] doesn’t relate to what we do, exactly,” Liebmann says. “We want to reflect on what we do.” That is, to nurture young minds into living a bilingual, artful lifestyle.