Judith Henderson won't play softball this summer.
The group of Lawrence High School teachers who make up her team, called The Nonchalants, will have to find a new player to fill her position. Henderson, who teaches French at the high school, recently received a fellowship to study in France this summer.
"My only regret is that I'll probably lose my position on the softball team," she said with a laugh.
She will spend eight weeks in various locations in France to learn about the lifestyles of French teen-agers, she said. This will include visiting classrooms and summer camps, where she'll conduct and record interviews.
"My focus point for the first part will be high school students in Metz, France," she said. "I plan to have a tape recorder and a camera in my purse at all times."
NEXT, SHE'LL travel to Paris and spend a week collecting information to update her classroom materials. The rest of her visit will take place in various summer camps across the country. She especially looks forward to seeing one particular camp, where students restore and renovate country manors.
Henderson, 49, was one of 105 foreign language teachers across the United States to receive awards this year from the Rockefeller Fellowship Program, located at Connecticut College. She is the only recipient from Kansas.
"I think I received it because I had a simple focus and could show how it directly relates to the students in my classroom," she said. "The simple goal is to learn about teen-agers in high schools and teen-agers in summer camps. In a broader sense, my goal is to show students different ways of living and to help them accept those different ways of living. I personally feel that teen-agers are not too different wherever you go."
HENDERSON has made a number of trips to France and lived in Europe for a year in the late '60s when her husband, Conrad Henderson, received a fellowship to study in Germany.
"We went to France on every vacation (while overseas)," she said, adding that her husband will be her traveling companion this summer. They'll leave June 1 and return at the end of July.
Henderson studied French at Kansas University and then taught for two years at Wyandotte High School. She also did some substitute teaching for a while before and after living in Germany. In 1970, she joined the faculty at LHS and enrolled in a graduate program at KU.
After 20 years of teaching French, Henderson has learned that travel is essential to understanding the country and its culture. However, the high costs of travel can inhibit plans to visit foreign countries, she said.
"I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to go, especially financially," she said.
When Henderson returns to school in the fall, she'll share her experiences and information with her classes.
"The fellowship's main stipulation is that you return with something practical for your classrooms," she said. "I want to make sure that I fulfill my end of the bargain and I'm looking forward to returning because the real benefit will be for my students."