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Dave and Lori French

posted Sep 10, 2012, 10:24 PM by Faith Academy Alumni Coordinator   [ updated Sep 10, 2012, 10:24 PM by Sites Admin ]

David French - 25 Years at Faith

Any excuse to honor a respected teacher like Dave French is snatched up by alumni and staff alike who love their favorite teachers and look to express their appreciation through shared memories and words of thanks. 

The excuse this past year was that Mr. French hit the 25-Year mark for his service at Faith Academy so the whole community pulled out the stops for a Dave French Day on May 2, 2012.  Students showed up to school in hand-painted t-shirts to recognize Mr. French for his role as longtime Faith Art Teacher.  A portrait in Mr. French’s likeness was created and presented by his current students and a reception was given in his honor at the old Meeting Hall right next door to the updated Art Studio-Classroom.  This large studio replaced Mr. French’s old classroom in 2008 when the final touches of the Fine Arts Building, Phase One were completed.  

Often when alumni and former staff come back to Faith for a visit, they’ll request a tour of the new Art Room just to visit with Mr. French and browse the colorful paintings and sculptures he has carefully collected over the years.  Mr. French can still recall the artwork of most of his former students and he mentions their work by name even when they show up unannounced for a visit!  A recent Twitter quote reads, “Visited the amazing art studio at Faith and Mr. French immediately remembered me and one of my paintings of the 'Girl in the Red Dress' from twenty-five years ago! I was in his first art class at Faith." - Jeanne (Rider) Zahn (F.A. Class of 1988) 

Family: Dave’s wife, Lori, joined him in ministry when they were married, the summer of 1995.  The couple met as single teachers at Faith.  Lori arrived to student teach the same year Dave was returning from a furlough year.  The two began dating second semester of that year.  Lori shares, I was technically here to student teach, but there was an English teacher leaving on furlough after 1st quarter, so they asked me to student teach for 9 weeks and then fill in when she left. Then, second semester, Sally (Hicks) Morrow went home, so I took her classes, and the next thing you know I was stuck!” 

Lori has brought her own style of art to Faith as accomplished Drama teacher and director.  In the course of her Faith career, she has directed 27 plays and musicals!  Of course God knew what He was doing by bringing the two together.  Their teamwork in the Fine Arts Department fits like a hand in a glove.  Their children, Alexandra (grade 8) and Toby (grade 6) have grown up in the theatre.  They have both been acting as early as they could recite lines and follow stage cues!  

As popular as the family is, it is not just their roles at Faith which set them apart from the crowd, it is their whole-hearted dedication to those God continually puts in their path.  The Frenches are known for their warm hospitality and for reaching out in friendship to new students and staff, yet it is long-time former students and staff who know them well and say it best… 

…The following comments are excerpts shared on the Facebook group page created by Dave’s former Faith student, turned Faith colleague, Micah Voraritskul (F.A. Class of ’92) as a tribute to Mr. French and his family during his 25th year:           

Dave’s Former Students say… 

“Thank you for loving Jesus and being a soft, sweet vessel for so many complex MKs to know Christ through.” - Katey (Cannington) Mishler (F.A. Class of 2000) 

“I feel indebted to you. I count on one hand the men who have impacted my life towards Jesus as you did. You essentially adopted me while I was entrenched in some strong hardness of heart, anger and bitterness, all the while trying to make sense of life. I can’t thank you and Lori enough.” – Gary Stauffer (F.A. Class of 2002) 

Many educators can teach, but some can also inspire. Dave, you are an inspiration on so many levels. Thank you, sir.”  - Jonathan Steffen (F.A. Class of 1991) 

“I have so many great memories of you and the art room, specifically your little ‘Frenchisms’ all art students know so well. For example, when you would come up and say, ‘Can I ask you a question? This is what you should do.’ Or when we were just finishing up a piece and you would come up and say, ‘That’s a good start.’ There are many more I could name, but those are some of my favorites.” - Alyssa Machlan (F.A. Class of 2011) 

“Thank you Mr. French for being encouraging to the kid who just needed some encouragement. Thank you for challenging me when I was ready to slack. Thank you for a safe haven in your art room, for some quiet time alone from the world when I needed it. Thank you for loving the kids as you do, not putting on airs or making demands of me spiritually before I even knew what life was about. Thank you. I praise God for your work, ministry, and the lives you have touched.” - Emily (Garwood) Hart (F.A. Class of 1992) 

“You are a blessing to your students, and always have been. I may not have turned out to be much of an artist, but I still have very fond memories of the time I spent with you. I didn't know who I was back then, but you were a rare teacher, patient enough to be my friend as I grew up. I distinctly remember jogging through the valley with you, finishing up by running up the hill to Faith, and followed by some pretty intense puking. At least, that was what happened to me. You managed it without all the messiness.” - Elliot Nelsen (F.A. Class of 1997) 

Parents of Dave’s Students say… 

“I prayed often during the years my boys were in high school that they would find other significant adults that would help shape them during the seasons my influence was weak. You were that for both my boys and many other Eyestones. We all thank you but I'm particularly grateful that your acceptance and grace is/was broad and your example was Godly.”  - Kim (Davis) Eyestone (parent, also F.A. Class of 1979) 

Dave’s Friends/Colleagues say… 

“I never have a dull conversation with Dave. You always have something fun to say.  Thanks for being a good friend to us Buntings over the years!” - Val Bunting (Faith Teacher) 

Up to the point I was a Freshman in high school, there were lots of good, solid Christian men in my life. But Dave French was the first one who represented precisely the kind of Christian I wanted to be like. He spent time with us--like, REAL time with us--listened, took seriously, and responded so personally to all the messy stuff of our lives. It was never about the artwork, the music, or the grade. It was about us, his kids. - Micah Vorariskul (F.A. Class of 1992 and also Faith colleague) 

Visit the Facebook group page, Honoring Dave French’s 25th to read more.   In response to those who wrote him, Mr. French replies with gratitude, “As [a] friend told me as we were walking out of the meeting back in May, ‘French you are a very rich man.’ --and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about cash flow…”  

Thank you Mr. French for using your gifts to so richly inspire the lives of students at Faith Academy.  ~ Your dedication is much appreciated!

 By: Deanna (Jenkins) Nichols, Class of 1989