Mama knows best

How Madame Filliez became a beloved figure at GlenOak


Teacher Julie Filliez has been teaching at Plain Local for over 30 years. She told her mom she would not be a teacher but changed her mind.

Rachel Gortney, Staff Writer

“I never wanted to be a French teacher,” French teacher Julie Filliez said. “I very wrongly thought that I was too smart and teachers didn’t make enough money.”

For many students it is hard to imagine GlenOak High School without the notable presence of Madame Filliez. Her love for the French language, culture and her students is what makes Filliez stand apart as an educator.

“Madame is more than a teacher to almost every single one of her students. She’s a friend, a leader, and an advocate. She cares about her students and she cares about her students’ education. She’s an amazing teacher,” sophomore Kat Groves said. “She’s done so much to help me throughout my years of taking french, and I could never have asked for a better French teacher.”

Filliez has been with Plain Local for the past 30 years. She first started at the Pleasantview School for the Arts, then she moved on to teach at Glenwood and Oakwood before teaching at the high school full time in 2010.

Filliez’s appreciation for French culture started young. Taking French as a freshman in high school, she loved the class since it was challenging and new. At the end of her freshman year Filliez got the opportunity to go to France with her teacher. 

“The experience really solidified my love for France, a little freshman me who could barely speak the language in awe of the country and culture surrounding me,” Filliez said.

Filliez’s love for French ensured she would continue to take the language in college. But she never intended to be a teacher, she was originally a pre-law major.

“Teaching was the last career I thought I would end up in,” Filliez said. “My mom always told me I would be a teacher. My sophomore year my mom convinced me to pick up an education class. So I gave in and took the class, I had an experience in a school and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna be a teacher.’”

Filliez changed her major to education and started to pursue the career that would end up changing her life and making her the person she is. 

Filliez is known for many things, her mini-fridge stocked full of Diet Dr. Pepper and Cherry Coke Zero, playfulling hitting students with a pool noodle and of course her organizational skills.

“I teach seven different levels of French, just at the high school level,” Filliez said. “Since I teach so many different levels of French I have to stay organized. If I wasn’t an organized person, I wouldn’t exist.”

When Filliez walks into a room, she is a picture of coordination. Matching her mask to her shoes, her necklace matching the small pattern in her blouse, everything about her screams organization. Everything in her room has a spot, no marker, white board, or Diet Dr. Pepper out of place. 

Being an organized person has helped Filliez in her career, but that does not mean she has not gone through challenges while teaching. A couple of years ago, Filliez was going through a really hard time. She even contemplated quitting her job, but her love for teaching would not let her quit.

“I was so close to quitting but I thought to myself, ‘If I’m not a teacher, who am I?’” Filliez said. “Teaching is who I am. It’s my first identity.”

Nate Davis is a junior at GlenOak High School and one of Filliez’s past students. Davis speaks highly of Filliez, even calling her one of the best teachers he’s had. 

“She always kept the class rolling,” Davis said. “She would always push everyone to be better than what they think they can be. She would always push me and my classmates so we would succeed.” 

While Filliez became embedded into the memory of many students she was making her own memories in the classroom. 

“My favorite memory from my 30 years of teaching is all of it,” Filliez said. “But my favorite part of teaching is when you look out into the classroom, and staring back at you is a sea of faces and they finally get it. When you see that they start to love the language as much as I do.”

From someone who thought teaching was below them to someone who now says teaching is her first identity.

 This really does prove the old adage, mama knows best.