French class

World Languages

Nurture meaningful and authentic communication.

The mission of the Language Department is to nurture meaningful communication, develop cultural competency, and promote multilingualism and multiculturalism.

The advantages of being able to communicate in another language include increased adaptability and mental acuity as well as acting with empathy and an open mind. Learning another language advances the development of skills essential to academic, social, and personal growth.   

Modern language courses at Walker’s foster language acquisition by emphasizing meaningful and authentic communication in all three communicative modes: interpersonal, interpretive and presentational. Modern language instructors deliver rich, compelling and comprehensible input in order to maximize engagement with the target language across all three modes. In this way, learners will develop confidence and fluency communicating in the target language.

Latin courses naturally focus primarily on the interpretive mode of communication. All language instruction is guided by pedagogical standards that enable language learners to set linguistically appropriate goals, identify areas of growth, and track progress. Learners will come to understand that language and culture are intertwined and interdependent, but that a shared language does not necessarily represent a shared culture. Through knowledge and appreciation of the geography, customs, history, and literature of the regions where the target language is or was spoken, learners gain cultural as well as linguistic competency.  

Walker’s language classes are learner-centered and collaborative, and designed to maximize engagement and meaningful communication. The interests and needs of learners constantly inform the curricula, which are designed to be relevant, dynamic, and responsive. In this way, language classes enhance learner agency and curiosity. From collaborative storytelling to the discussion of current events or classical literature, learner questions and contributions are at the heart of the learning environment. Finally, the Language Department is committed to creating learning environments that are inclusive and respectful of all the diverse characteristics of learners’ identities and experiences. 

World Languages Faculty

Dr. Chris Semk

World Languages Department Chair, French Faculty

Dr. Chris Semk


B.A., University of Pittsburgh
M.A., Indiana University
Ph.D., Indiana University

Chris is the chair of the Language Department and teaches both French and Latin. He earned his Ph.D. in French literature from Indiana University and taught at Yale before joining Walker’s. Chris coaches cross country and advises the Middle School Garden Club, the French Club, and Wings (Gender and Sexuality Alliance). He is actively involved in the community and serves on the board of directors of A Place to Nourish your Health (APNH), a community health organization in New Haven, and the Hartford Karma Thegsum Chöling, a Buddhist meditation and study center in the city’s West End. Chris lives in Hartford with his partner Jonathan.

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Isabel Ceballos P'29

Head of the Middle School

Isabel Ceballos P'29


B.A., Central Connecticut State University
M.A., Central Connecticut State University

Isabel Ceballos was born in Medellin, Colombia, and raised in Connecticut. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Modern Languages with a concentration in Spanish Language, Literature & Culture from Central Connecticut State University. She is currently working on her Ed.D. in Leadership and Learning in Organizations from Peabody College Vanderbilt University. Isabel Ceballos has been a member of Walker’s Language Department since 2013, and is the founding executive director of Horizons at The Ethel Walker School, the first all-girls Horizons program in the country.

Named one of Hartford Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2016, and a recipient of The Thelma Ellis Dickerson Community Bridge Builder Award, Isabel is an active member in the community. She serves on the Board of The Aurora Women & Girls Foundation, and is a member of the United Way Community Engagement Committee.

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Beatriz Gonzalez

Beatriz Gonzalez P'24

Spanish Faculty

Beatriz Gonzalez P'24


B.A., University of Manizales (Colombia)

Betty joins Walker’s World Languages faculty where she will teach Spanish 1, 2 and 3. She has served as a bilingual tutor for several years for the Bristol (CT) Board of Education; she previously was a Spanish teacher in grades PreK-8 in Torrington (CT) and Bristol (CT) private schools and served as an English as a Second Language instructor. Betty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Manizales (Colombia).

Maureen Lamb

Maureen Lamb

Dean of Faculty, Dean of Educational Technology and Innovative Pedagogy, Latin Faculty

Maureen Lamb


B.A., College of the Holy Cross
M.Ed., University of North Carolina Greensboro

Maureen loves teaching Latin and is thrilled to be the Dean of Academic Technology and Innovative Pedagogy. Previously, she served as the Language Department Chair, Academic Technology Coordinator, and Latin and Ancient Greek Teacher at the Kingswood Oxford School and the Language Department Chair and Latin Teacher at the Westminster School. She also works as a Google Certified Trainer and educational consultant with districts across the country, and she teaches graduate courses in Language and Latin pedagogy and instructional technology with Idioma Education and Consulting. She teaches courses for the National Humanities Center and served on the Teacher Advisory Council from 2020-2021. She has been recognized for her work as the CT Council of Language Teachers Language Teacher of the Year 2017, the New England Council of Foreign Languages Mead Fellow, the Classical Association of New England Weincke Award, the American Classical League Elizabeth Watkins Award, and received a Fulbright to study for a summer at the American Academy in Rome. She is dedicated to creating an inclusive classroom environment, to using technology to enhance the student experience, and to making Classics comprehensible. She lives in Avon with her husband, Patrick, and their two children.

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Karim Mabrouk

Karim Mabrouk

French Faculty

Karim Mabrouk


B.A., Iona College
M.A., UConn

Karim joins Walker’s faculty on a full-time basis this year as a member of the World Languages faculty specializing in French; previously he served on the faculty on a part-time basis. Karim will teach French 1B, 2, and 4 this academic year. He is fluent in French and Arabic and has focused some of his work on teaching French for diplomacy and international affairs. Previously, Karim was a Graduate Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), an instructor at Yale University, and he held various teaching and administrative roles at the University of Connecticut. He is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) at the University of Connecticut in French Language & Literature. He holds Master of Arts degrees from UConn in both International Studies and French Culture Language & Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Human Rights Studies. Karim earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in both International and French Studies from Iona College. Karim is a JV soccer coach and will coach swimming in the winter.