Sometimes when you speak with someone to get to know them, the most interesting tidbits fall out at the very end, almost as an accident or an afterthought. Once you’ve covered the basics and are wrapping up what has already been a good and meaningful conversation, out pops a golden nugget, an incidental aside, that really wraps everything up and shines a new and insightful light on everything else you’ve learned.
Such is the case with Waterview 5th grade teacher Marie Bossy who - after describing her youth growing up in the beautiful south of France, attending college in Aix-en-Provence (where she studied biology), her appreciation of the great outdoors and her love of riding horses - drops the simple morsel that she is also an accomplished painter.
“I really like impressionism because of all the colors and the light,” she says. “I’ve done my best work in oils, but I didn’t bring everything with me from France, so here I’ve taught myself to use pencil and charcoal and also dabbled in watercolor.”
(Note: If you would like visual accompaniment as you read the rest of this profile, please visit Marie’s online gallery - but be sure to return here to read more.)
Marie chose biology as her college major out of a lifelong love of plants and animals, those natural things which inhabit the great outdoors and also serve as muses for her painting. “When I was young I wanted to be a veterinarian. I appreciate all living things and especially horses because I did a lot of equestrian riding growing up.”
Up through the age of 25, she rode the English way - steeplechase, dressage and "lots of jumping" - but stepped away from competition after a series of bad falls. “I injured my back and neck and that pretty much ended my time competing with my riding club,” she says. “I really liked all of it and I’m glad I did it, but these days I much prefer trail riding - and I’ve even done some of that here in Texas.”
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy, linen land
From Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night”
(Note: Think of this lovely stanza from Don McLean’s tribute to Vincent van Gogh as a sorbet, designed to cleanse the palate as we serve up the entree of what inspires Marie’s art. For the added ambience of the song itself, click here - but, again, please return to finish reading.)
“Growing up in Provence, I was surrounded by all of the beautiful countryside that inspired so many great artists - Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Gauguin and others,” she says. “I trained with a professional artist all through my teenage years who helped me see the world through the eyes of all the great impressionist painters.”
Marie describes the lavender fields, balmy breezes and crystal-clear night skies of Provence - a region she will always consider to be home no matter where she goes - and evokes the same sense of wonderment that captivated Van Gogh, whose masterwork “The Starry Night” captures the pre-dawn view from his lodgings in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The colors of Provence - rich yellows, azure blues and deep reds and purples - also dominate Marie’s own paintings. “There are no rules for the way van Gogh painted those stars in the night sky,” Marie says. "Every artist wants to be able to do that."
There are, however, rules in Marie's classroom - for how her students write letters to share with pen pals just like themselves in France, for example. “They have to learn the proper way to write a letter, with a greeting and a salutation and everything in the right format,” she says. “It’s my way of teaching using projects that are interesting to them; they learn what the objective is and what each of the tasks are that will help them get there so they understand the importance of each step along the way.”
As a 5th grade main teacher, Marie uses project-based learning to bring together all of the subjects she teaches - the French language, math, science, history - in a way that highlights the importance of each. “They’re writing their third letters now to their pen pals and learning how to share their own lives - what their summer plans are, for example - all while learning about another person’s life in a faraway place. It’s a genuine cultural exchange.”
For Marie, moving to Dallas last summer with husband Albert and three children meant a bit of a cultural shift, as well. “Everything here is still very new to us every day,” she says. “I love to explore other people and cultures, and that can be a little scary at first. I’m a positive person and I see the good because it’s what I choose to see. There is a rhythm here that is faster-paced than Provence, but is very exciting.”
Marie’s biggest surprise has been the friendliness of the people - not just at DIS or in Dallas, but across the country in general. “We went to an American football game and there were lots and lots of cars leaving and people were respectful and letting other cars in - and that’s not something you see in places where drivers just lay on the horn and ignore everyone. It was very new for us.”
Experiencing new things has been at the top of the list for Marie and family since arriving in Dallas. To date, they’ve traveled to Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and even as far west as the Big Bend country, where she describes long hikes through the Chisos Mountains with kids in tow. “Fifteen kilometers is a long way to walk up and down hills, but it was well worth it.” Marie also describes a recent trip to the Dallas Arboretum to revel in the spring flowers. “I need to see nature all around me, surrounding me like living art,” she adds. "It feeds my soul."
Next on the list is a road trip out west, to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Monument Valley and then maybe on to California. “There is so much to see and we want to make the most of everything,” she adds.
Until then, Marie is satisfied with what she finds special at DIS. “There is something very unique about this school. The parents are very present and want to help, and the staff and other teachers have all been so welcoming and supportive.” Everything about DIS seems to focus on the success of each individual student in every classroom, according to Marie. “It's like we're all working together to create these beautiful works of art with each one of them.”
With her appreciation for the great impressionists, Marie sees students as individual works of art, glimmering stars in a starry night.
With that driving her work at Dallas International School, Marie Bossy makes quite an impression indeed.