Class Act: French teacher Elizabeth Hythecker


Aline Means

Hythecker is teaching French I, III and AP and co-sponsoring French Club.

Leo Morales and Hamzah Mir

Throughout grade school at Fort Worth Country Day and as a teacher at Duchesne Academy in Houston, Upper School French teacher Elizabeth Hythecker has interacted with St. John’s teachers and students in many capacities, from the ISAS arts festival to SPC and the Texas French Symposium.

Now that Hythecker is on the same team, she is eager to teach French in a way that takes students beyond traditional France-focused lessons.

“Even though there is a pull to beautiful and romantic destinations such as Paris or Nice,” Hythecker said. “I also want to show kids that there is a francophone world beyond that.”

Hythecker is teaching French I, III and AP and co-sponsoring French Club. She is also on the board of the Texas French Symposium, an annual statewide competition that showcases talents from poetry recitation to grammar to theatrical performances.

Hythecker has been impressed by the hospitality and enthusiasm of students and faculty as she settles into a new professional environment.

“The students are so engaged and excited to be here while performing at such a high level, “ she said. “The community was very generous in their time helping the new faculty.”

Having spent the past 10 years teaching only girls at Duchesne, Hythecker is energized to be teaching boys again.

“Co-ed education challenges the classroom to intermingle and interact in a unique way, which is why I enjoy being in the classroom with students of both genders,” Hythecker said. 

Hythecker’s love for romance languages has inspired her to live abroad in France — for two years — as well as Spain.

“Living abroad has given me challenges which I never knew I could overcome,” she said. “It brings a validation to who I am and what I can achieve.”

Her linguistic talents and a desire to travel to new francophone destinations led her to take on a temporary job as an interpreter in Haiti.

“Working in Haiti has been very valuable to my personal life,” she said. “I want to show students that things like that are also out there as well as traveling to the Eiffel Tower.”

Along with a new job, Hythecker also has to juggle the challenges that come with arranging her upcoming wedding.

“When we got engaged I had not gotten my new job, so balancing the wedding and my new job really has tested my time management,” she said.

Even though she has only been at St. John’s since the summer, Hythecker has already made a positive impact on the students in her classroom.

“Ms. Hythecker makes everyone comfortable speaking French,” sophomore Gaby Jammar said. “She makes the class interesting with the different activities we do.”

Colleagues also describe Hythecker as a positive asset to the school and the language department.

”Ms. Hythecker has an amazing background in French,” said US Language Department Head Aline Means, “and she has this love for everything French, which I think will be contagious to the students.”

Hythecker sees teaching as a way to pursue her love of learning.

“I have always loved being a student in the classroom,” Hythecker said. “I am constantly learning when I interact with my students and colleagues. With teaching, I get to be a student forever.”