The Lobby Observer

Bienvenue, Monsieur Sullivan!


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By Tara Dupree ‘20

Monsieur Bobby Sullivan, the French teacher and department chair with the best Louisiana accent in the school, has just started his second year teaching at Westborough High School. While he’s only been here a little while, he has already secured a spot in our hearts as a fantastic French teacher.

Sullivan grew up in Harvey, Louisiana, just across the river from New Orleans. Growing up, Sullivan attended an all-boys parochial Catholic school which provided him with opportunities to study French abroad in Lyon, France, where he acquired his love for the French language and culture. Sullivan then attended college at New Orleans University where he majored in French.

When asked why he decided to study French, he said after a long pause, “I’m going to be honest because I’m always honest.” He joked that he decided to study French in order to avoid having to deal with being a general studies major.

Yup, he basically decided to study French for the convenience. However, Sullivan does actually extremely enjoy teaching French and experiencing French culture.

After graduating from New Orleans College in 2003, Sullivan decided to pick up and move all the way to Boston, Massachusetts. Once there, he got a “boring old Craigslist job” to make ends meet.

But soon, a new opportunity presented itself. A friend of his who was in contact with the French Embassy was looking for native English speakers with French majors to move to France and teach English at elementary schools.

In 2004, the French the education department started a new policy to teach foreign languages at an elementary school level; they reasoned that younger children are much more susceptible to learning a new language. To begin this initiation, they needed an abundance of English teachers at public schools in France.

So Sullivan picked up again and moved all the way across the Atlantic ocean to a town in Alsace-Lorraine — “Because when you’re in your twenties and you get a chance to live in Europe, you obviously take it” — where he taught English in a small elementary school for two years. Here is where Sullivan acquired his love for teaching kids and becoming their first exposure to a new language.

After teaching in France, Sullivan moved back to Boston, where he applied to graduate school at Simmons College and earned his masters in French Education. He began teaching at Shrewsbury High School soon thereafter for 9 years. He then came to teach here at Westborough High School in 2017.

Through all of his experiences teaching abroad and at home here in Massachusetts, Sullivan has cultivated a love for teaching because it marries his two favorite things: teaching kids and the French language. He enjoys seeing students who struggled begin to succeed after finally getting that “Aha!” moment. While he doesn’t love grading papers, he loves making lasting connections with his students and genuine human interaction.      

When Sullivan is not doing his favorite thing (answering detailed questions from students), he loves catching up with his good friends and hanging out with his two dogs named Miles and Mischa.

Sullivan, citing his Southern roots, says he deeply values family and friends. Because of this, keeping up with his real family and his second family, his friends here in the Bay State, is extremely important to him.

Speaking of southern roots, Monsieur Sullivan has the most fantastic Louisiana accent, so if you ever get the chance to talk to him, treasure it.

When asked what advice he would give to students, he has a simple answer.

“Be inspired.”

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Bienvenue, Monsieur Sullivan!