French Teacher David Fritz Reflects on His Teaching Career as His Final Year of Teaching Comes to a Close

Farewell to Fritz


Credit to Addy Bradbury

[Left] French teacher Dave Fritz speaks to a student, this picture is from sometime in the 1980’s. [Right] In a recreation of the photo from the 80’s, Fritz poses with junior Phoebe Primeau. After teaching at Howell for one year, Fritz moved to North to teach for the next 32 years. “My fondest memory of French was taking one of our largest groups and traveling to France, Switerland and Italy,” Fritz said.

David Fritz taps his fingers on a classroom desk, a wistful look on his face as he remembers the early years of his teaching career. Gray hair and impending retirement aside, Fritz is not dissimilar to the youthful 22 year old that he was when he first began teaching. His exuberant personality is evident as he laughs aloud, recalling the fact that he practically stumbled into the education field.

When he first began college in 1982, Fritz thought he wanted to go into computer science. However, it was hardly a semester into the school year when Fritz realized his math skills were somewhat lackluster. He quickly changed his major after remembering how much he had admired his high school French teacher and the impact that her class had on him.  

“She had instilled a love of French in me,” Fritz said. “So I was still taking French when I was at college and because I was still taking French classes, I just decided to fold that into an education degree and become a teacher.”

Fritz wasted no time finding a job after graduation. Eager to get to work, he applied for a teaching position at Francis Howell High School.

“I was fresh out of school at SEMO in Cape,” Fritz said. “I drove up for the interview in July or August and they told me a week later I was hired. So I went to one interview and I got the job. My very first interview and my very first job.”

Fritz felt “pretty confident” going into his first job. It helped that at 22, Fritz was only a few years senior to his oldest students. This significantly small age gap meant that the mullet-clad Fritz shared a lot of the same interests as his students, particularly music.

He carried this ability to bond with students with him after he transferred to Francis Howell North the following school year. FHN had just been converted from a middle school, meaning Fritz has been a part of FHN since it first opened its doors as a high school.

“I honestly am happy that I was able to pretty much do my entire teaching career at this school and I feel fortunate that I was placed in this building,” Fritz said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

A big part of why Fritz feels fortunate is the help that he got from colleagues throughout his career, but particularly in the early stages. Fritz accredits previous educators in the building with developing his teaching style, something he doesn’t think would be the same if he had taught at another school. Fritz manages his classroom in a way that many students, including junior Julie Hohensee, find unique and valuable.  

“He made learning fun for me,” Hohensee said “He made me look at teachers from a new perspective. They’re not just someone that cares about the grade you get on a test, they actually care about you as a person”

Fritz’s time at FHN has been filled with a lot of experiences that became lifelong memories. It was a teacher at this school that introduced Fritz to his wife. He visited France for the first time with a group of students on a school trip. But more than anything else he’s experienced, Fritz will treasure the impact he’s been able to have on the school and the people in it.

“I’ve managed to sustain the program here and I’ve had a couple of former students who enjoyed the language and my classroom enough that they decided to be classroom teachers themselves so that’s a cool thing,” Fritz said. “Plus the relationships I’ve developed with students over the years is something I’m pretty proud of.”

Fritz finally made the decision to retire after a 33 year long career. And though he will miss the colleagues and students that he fostered relationships with over the years, he feels ready to move onto the next phase of life.

“This is kind of a dark way to look at retirement, but I have had some colleagues before me who never got to enjoy retirement because they retired late in life and then became ill or had health issues so they never got to fully enjoy life after education,” Fritz said. “I didn’t want that to happen to me, I wanted to be able to retire and still have time with Mrs. Fritz and get to travel while I’m still healthy.”

Despite his excitement for all that the future holds, Fritz does wonder what the transition between working fulltime in education and living in retirement will be like for him. In contemplating this, Fritz is reminded of all of the teachers that have been in his place before, about to say goodbye to a lifetime of work.

“I remember when I was a young teacher sitting in those faculty meetings at the end of the school year where they would celebrate people like me now who were getting ready to retire, and we celebrated their accomplishments and wished them luck in the future,” Fritz said. “I just remember sitting there thinking that’s gonna be so far from now, I’m going to be doing this forever. But it’s over before you know it, and I think for me it’s because I’ve enjoyed every year.”