Retiring Language Teacher Hale Sturges Publishes Portrait of French Village

Instructor in French Hale Sturges used memories of his sabbatical to compile a book about a small French village this summer. Through his book, The People of Pleure: Portrait of a French Village, Mr. Sturges said that he has “interwoven both my story and anecdotes of townspeople in order to create a living portrait of a rural town struggling to survive.” Mr. Sturges spent the winter of 1993 in Pleure, a French village in the western part of the Jura Mountains. Although Pleure is lacking in tourism and commerce, Mr. Sturges said that the town derived its charm from “real people in a real village.” He quickly became popular with the 364 people in the village. As an American, Mr. Sturges was considered “exotic” and was often invited to people’s homes. He joked, “I was Saturday evening entertainment, plus some.” Mr. Sturges’ interactions with the people of Pleure provided him with an excellent first-hand source of information about life in a French village. He became interested in Pleure because it had no industry or evident means of survival. As Mr. Sturges studied the situation more carefully, he wondered how the village stayed vibrant. He concluded that Pleure was a satellite village of Dole, a nearby city with industry and commerce and that the residents of Pleure were able to live in the village and work in Dole. Mr. Sturges has served two terms as the chair of the Academy’s Division of World Languages and was twice named to Who’s Who Among American Teachers. He also co-authored three French textbooks widely used throughout the United States. During his two nonconsecutive terms as the chair of the Division of World Languages, Mr. Sturges said that he “changed [his] focus from French to languages in general.” He not only organized exchange programs in Antibes, France and Yokohama, Japan, but also established Chinese as a diploma requirement language at Andover. In 1972, Mr. Sturges went on his first sabbatical to a Cassies, a small village in France, where he researched French villages and school curricula. Upon retuning to the Academy, he became the chair of the Division of World Languages and made several improvements to the French Department, including changing the third-year French curriculum and adding French electives. At the end of this year, Mr. Sturges will retire after 39 years at Phillips Academy. Current chair of the Division of World Languages Dr. Margarita Curtis said, “I’m glad we don’t have to say ‘au revoire’ to him quite yet.” Mr. Sturges said, “PA has been a great place to teach.” As a teacher, house counselor, and baseball coach, Mr. Sturges was involved in many facets of the school. He credits motivated students and talented, interesting colleagues with his wonderful teaching experience. Born in Milton, Mass. Mr. Sturges attended Milton Academy and then Harvard University. After completing graduate work at Middlebury College and teaching French and Latin for five years at Middlesex, he was offered teaching positions at several New England boarding schools. Mr. Sturges chose Andover without hesitation because he was impressed with the Phillips Academy graduates that he knew from college. In 1965, he began his career as an Academy French teacher.