Sophie Boynton began her career with SYA France in 1999 as the administrative assistant at our campus in Rennes. Sophie makes our campus, Villa Alvarez, a warm and welcoming “home” to all who enter the doors at 5, allée Ste Marie. The school should really be moved one street over to be on allée Ste Sophie. Why? Because our Sophie is truly a saint. At school, Sophie is the gatekeeper for many different things. She's our Mary Poppins and a wealth of knowledge about anything pertaining to our day-to-day operation.
Her hidden talent of growing plants is no secret. Taking good care of her plants and flowers and knowing when to water each varietal is the perfect analogy for how she cares for each individual student and colleague. If you don’t find her in her garden, you may see her walking along the coast of Brittany … one of her favorite activities.
SYA France Administrative Assistant
How did you learn of SYA and what made you want to work at an American high school?
I used to live in the house next to SYA France when Geoff, then-Resident Director, and Michelle (Mike) were there. We were — and still are – friends. They naturally offered me the job upon Colette Damboise’s retirement. I had always worked in an international environment, notably at the French consulate in San Francisco, and for the international student exchanges at the Rennes graduate business school. I feel particularly at home with Americans — I married one.
What has been most personally rewarding for you being at SYA?
Being around teenagers that you can truly see blossoming. I have always been impressed by their curiosity, determination, ambition and enthusiasm. Anything is possible! I also invariably keep in mind that they are brave, at such a young age, to spend a year away from home. It is very enriching and inspiring on a personal level for me to witness that.
What do you hope for this generation of students?
Especially in light of current events, our world needs SYA, more than ever. I believe today’s generation of students wants to act for a better future and SYA helps them to think more globally to possibly take on the many challenges we will be facing. I hope they will be pathfinders while putting people back at the heart of global interactions and concerns and think about ways of rebalancing the world’s economy. Ambitious, as are our SYAers.
You have been with SYA for 22 years! Do you have a favorite memory, activity or time of the school year (you can’t say summer!)?
The 50th anniversary in Rennes. It was really grand and fun to see all these generations of SYAers. The lifelong friendships that have been formed over the years among the SYA alumni and families, all of whom consider Rennes their home away from home.
If you could ask any historical figure anything, who and what would you ask?
The great Victor Hugo. I would ask him what he would think of the yellow jackets protests and if they are heirs of the “Communards." I would ask him what he thinks of the increase in wealth of the most affluent societies which mechanically increases the poverty line.
Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to, and why?
San Francisco is definitely “ma ville de Coeur,” where my son was born. But I’ll have to say Iran, it was fascinating and nothing like anything I had experienced abroad before. The beauty of the cultural sites and learning about the ancient Persian culture was compelling. What also struck me a lot was the fact that the youth there were friendly and eager to engage a conversation with foreigners.