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Sound Bites - Issue #55 - March 2018 - #283

On the Cover
Harriette McCauley - Francophile Extraordinaire

Harriette McCauley (right)

Harriette McCauley and friend at a French cafe

Harriette McCauley & friends in Paris


As a native of Santa Monica, French instructor Harriette McCauley attended schools in the Santa Monica Unified School District. After receiving an Associated of Arts degree from Santa Monica College, Harriette decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the Marine Corps, she attended California State University, Northridge, soon thereafter. Because of her outstanding grades, she qualified for the Dean's List, in the Junior Year Abroad program and was chosen to attend college in Aix-en-Provence, France.

After returning home, Harriette completed her B.A. and M.A. in French/Spanish, as well as continuing her courses in Theatre Arts and the Credential Program for Secondary Education. She was offered a position at the Consulate of France, Los Angeles, honing her abilities to practice speaking, interpreting and translating French. Since then, she has been developing and teaching French classes. She teaches "Beginning Conversational French for Travelers," Level I and Level II at SMC Community Ed.

What do you like about teaching at Community Ed?

The programs Community Ed offers, and the support I receive from Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education, and all of the staff, and the freedom I am allowed to develop and teach the classes – they have been marvelous.  And, I met Director of Career & Contract Education Michelle King and see the work she does to support the staff. I salute what they do. Just marvelous.  I see this particular class ("Beginning French for Travelers") as being "organic." It has structure but it unfolds according to the makeup of the attendees. Everyone is not going to Paris only, if at all. They may be visiting France or countries where French is spoken, so we focus on those things. These classes are like a "spark. There is a painting of God and Adam ("The Creation of Adam") on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Italy that people are familiar with. As God reaches out to Adam, their hands/fingers don't touch, but you get the sense that there is a "spark" of life between them that flows from one to the other, where the "life" of something begins. I hope my class is like that for the people who attend: a "spark." Because each class is only for six weeks generally, I want it to "spark" the interest of those who attend to continue on in other classes where they can meet and greet other students, or immerse themselves in another language or pursue other possibilities. 

What kinds of students do you have?

All kinds, all ages, all ethnicities. At SMC Community Ed, the age range has been 17 to 70's-plus. They are either planning a trip, usually very soon after the class or they are thinking about planning a trip in the near future or they are exploring the possibility of a trip, or they are just interested in the language.

Briefly describe your year abroad studying at university in Aix? What was the name of the school/university? What was the experience like?

The California State Universities has a program they are/were involved with in Aix at L'Institut pour les Étrangers. It is a school for foreign students. Other colleges from the U.S. and other places also send their students there. There was also the Faculté des Lettres, Aix-Marseilles, which are equal to the UC campuses here. Brave students attended some of those classes and I took two classes there. I didn't speak much, but listened a lot and learned a great deal. I was a theatre/film major here at CSUN and only picked up language as a major when I returned. So my focus was on theatre and film. We had to take the regular grammar, history, etc. classes in French, but were encouraged to take higher ed classes at the university.  My two were "Cineaste Jean Cocteau" and "Cinematic Film Phenomenon."

Do you go to France often?

Every other year at least. I would like to make it a yearly event if I can. I go to immerse myself in the language and pick up new and current things that are happening. It changes so quickly. I usually stay with friends just outside of Paris.

What do you like about the French language?

The "drama." It is a dramatic language (and I was a theatre/drama student in college, as well as a member of a theatre company in Hollywood). All of the nuances, the rhythms, the sounds, the linking of sounds, the structure – it is highly structured. French is "vocal gymnastics." In my opinion, it is a "whole body experience." 

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Waking up in a "portion" of my right mind (smile).  That gives me the opportunity to make some wise choices for the day.

What is one of the best compliments you ever received?

There are so many. In recent times, two of the students in my French class at another community college went on a long trip in France. They drove and visited a lot of places, some not so much touristy. When they returned, they sent me the most marvelous compliment. They told me they were able to navigate their way through their trip with few or no problems. Without using their names, here is the compliment they sent to me:

"We are soooo happy we took your "French for Travelers" class! We understood much of what we heard and were able to use simple phrases without inducing laughter or blank looks. The trip was great – we drove about 6,000 kilometers and enjoyed the different regions with their food specialties and architecture. The people were wonderful and appreciated our attempts to speak French. Thank you!"

But there are so many like this I've received in the past – this was the recent one.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Rappel off the side of a mountain.

Is there any thing you would like to add?

About my year in Aix: I learned how much French I did NOT know or speak when we arrived in Nice on our way to Aix. It freaked me out! I didn't speak much for about a month – I just nodded or shook my head, whichever was appropriate at the time, especially in the dorms. I found that when we as American students spoke in French just among us, we reinforced a lot of mistakes; we needed to have French students/people to be in the mix if we really wanted to learn. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a French family who lived in a village about 35 minutes outside of Aix. Their youngest daughter, age 13, was taking an English class and needed tutoring. No one in that family spoke English, no one (except for the eldest daughter who spoke a little British English – there is a difference; the French will tell you.). It was the best thing that ever happened for me. They actually adopted me as one of their own. I spent weekends with them, went on vacation with them, and really learned to speak the language. When/As I began to notice that I was dreaming in French at times, I realized that I had arrived. The mom in the family even complimented me on that fact just before I was to leave and come back home.

And, as a result of my time abroad, I decided to complete my studies in French, earning a B.A. and M.A. in French with a minor in Spanish. I'm still working on a degree in Theatre (it can take forever). I also was able to work at the French Consulate in Los Angeles soon after my graduation. I was in charge of visas for non-French citizens. That was a plus. It was like being back in France. This helped/inspired me in developing the "French for Travelers" class that I would later teach. 

Harriette McCauley will teach Beginning Conversational French for Travelers - Level 2 beginning April 21.

What's New
Find Yourself in a Jam? Traffic School for You...

Alice Meyering

U.S Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Apprentice Airman John Suits, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Jorge Royan, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

from the desk of Alice Meyering

I did something I never did before, and I did it through SMC Community Ed Program.  What did I try that's new and worth writing about? Traffic school, of course! And online no less.

That's right, traffic tickets happen to the best of us because if you have resided in Southern California for as long as I have, you know what I'm talking about. According to Fortune Magazine, Los Angeles is now the most congested city in the world, followed by New York City and Moscow, which tied for the second place. So, if commuting on the 10, 405, 101 or other freeways sometimes leads to impatience and tickets happen.

The right thing to do when you get a ticket, of course, is to take traffic school and take care of the ticket without having it impacting your driving record. The great thing about the online traffic school we offer is that it's easy and straightforward from the first moment you register to the last minute when you finish (and pass) the final exam. 

I opted to have the materials in audio & visual format instead of just reading the text alone, and found the lessons extremely helpful and the quizzes at the end of each lesson a great way to cement important information. As much as I loathe the reason for taking traffic school, I have to admit that having a refresher of traffic rules is honestly a good thing for many of us who last took the driving exam before the Internet and smartphones – which brings me to my next point.

By now we are all familiar with online classes, but in my opinion, taking traffic school online really is a much better option. First, who wants to drive somewhere else to take this class in this traffic, when you can easily accomplish this task at the comfort of your own home, in pajamas, and at leisure? Second, and this is important, online traffic school means everything is online, and online means instant gratification. 

As soon as I finished and passed the exam, my results were sent directly to the courthouse and the DMV, which means less hassle. I did pay an extra $6 for a hardcopy just in case, and I received that in the mail within a week. 

The best part? I even received an email to let me know when the court reviewed my exam, and I received notification of my completion. If you have tried to call any governmental offices recently you will know how difficult it is to get a real person on the phone. So this online program is super convenient in the sense that its entire automation is set up to ensure that once you finish your part, which is the class, there is nothing much for your to worry about. Now that's some good news, isn't it? 

So, if your driving habit is more akin to teenage boys than mature adults, and I'm not naming any names here, and the Santa Monica Police Department finds you somewhere on the PCH one day, go here and we have the class that will take care of your woe. Until then, drive safely!

Alice Meyering, CPP, CMP is the Program Coordinator for Community & Contract Ed.

For those looking for a online Driver's Ed class, we offer that option, as well. Visit our award winning website at to register for classes online 24/7. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our classes. You can email us at or call us at (310) 434-3400.

May 7 Deadline:
Calling for 2018 Photo Contest Submissions!

Victoria Bleeden's “Golden Flight” Winner of last year's 2017 Photo Contest

Dinnertime by Frank Damon - 2016 Winner

Observatory at Night by Dean Reyes captured top prize in 2015

As our Annual Student Photo Contest continues to grow each year - both in quantity and quality of submissions - SMC Community Ed is pleased to announce our fourth yearly competition. This year's deadline is noon on May 7.

View Our 2017 Annual Student Photo Contest Winners

Open to all current and former students, the contest will have a winner and first and second runners-up. The winner's image will become the cover of the Fall 2018 class schedule and will be featured in this newsletter, Sound Bites, and on social media.

"I must confess I'm still amazed that our little contest, started as no more than a figment of my wildest scheme to add some colors to our catalog, actually captures the fascination of so many," said Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education Alice Meyering. "And I cannot overstate the quality of the submissions we receive each year."

Altogether, the 2017 contest drew 167 photo submissions from 39 current and former students, almost double the 90 images from 22 participants in 2016. The winner of last year's contest was Victoria Bleeden, who captured "Golden Flight," her stunning image of a hummingbird in flight, with a Canon EOS Rebel T3, a regular telephoto lens and a fast shutter speed (sports mode).

All current and former Community Ed students - regardless of whether a photo student with Community Ed or not - are encouraged to submit their best work. Victoria Bleeden had not taken any photo classes at Community Ed when she entered her image for the 2017 contest.

The rules and submission instructions are at this link.

Wonderful New Additions to Our Community Ed Team!

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Dr. Dione (Dee Dee) Carter, SMC Dean of Noncredit and External Programs (2nd from left) is Community Ed's new dean

Our newest addition is Tymia Yancy; part-time project assistant

I'm very pleased to announce additions to the SMC Community Ed/Extension administrative team – please join me in welcoming Dean Dione Carter (Dee Dee) and Tymia Yancy.

Dean Carter has many years of professional experience in non-credit curriculum administration. You'll be hearing more about her in a future issue of Sound Bites, but for now I will tell you that Dr. Carter is the Dean of Noncredit and External Programs. She has served in the California community college system for nearly 25 years, including eight years at the North Orange County Community College District's School of Continuing Education. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting regularly with Dean Carter to explore and develop strategies that will better position Community Education/Extension as an integral part of the College while remaining agile and committed to serving the needs of the community. 

I'm glad to announce that Community Education/Extension has added a new part-time Project Assistant to the administrative team. Tymia Yancy joined the team on February 1. The additional administrative support is well overdue so we feel fortunate to have Tymia to help with the workload. She is already proving to be a valuable asset – assisting with registering students and managing classroom requirements. Tymia is an alumna of SMC and received her bachelor's degree in Psychology from UCLA in 2017.

We welcome both Dee Dee (Dean Carter) and Tymia to our Community Ed family!

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education