Director, Public Information

Vol. 44, No. 18

February 24, 2010

Education Commissioner Signs Partnership Agreement with Lyon, France

Missouri also seeking linkages with other countries

The French Ambassador to the United States, education officials from Lyon, France, and Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro today signed an historic agreement intended to build ties between educators and students in France and Missouri.

At a ceremony this morning at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Commissioner Nicastro signed a formal “memorandum of understanding” with the Academie de Lyon, France, to encourage cooperation and professional exchanges between Missouri and France.

Pierre Vimont, the French Ambassador to the U.S., signed the agreement on behalf of the French government, along with education officials from the Academie de Lyon.  The Academie is the “department of education” for the Lyon region of France; Lyon also is France’s second-largest city.

“We have been working for months to confirm this agreement, and we are delighted to launch this partnership with France.  The agreement will open doors for Missouri students and provide new opportunities for professional educators in France and Missouri,” Nicastro said.

“In today’s world, where globalization is not just a word but a way of life, it is more essential than ever to develop cooperation in K-12 and higher education and also to expand the international dimension of teaching,” Ambassador Vimont said.

“To facilitate the promotion of lively cultural and educational exchanges between our two countries, we have worked in recent years to develop partnerships designed to encourage Franco-American educational cooperation.  The agreement between Missouri and Lyon marks the thirteenth memorandum of understanding to be created since the start of this initiative,” the ambassador said.

Commissioner Nicastro pointed out the historic significance of the location of the signing ceremony.  The Missouri History Museum is located in Forest Park in St. Louis.  The building, originally constructed as the Jefferson Memorial Building, was built near the site of the entry to the 1904 World’s Fair – which was held in St. Louis to mark the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

“Missouri’s connections with France go back to the earliest days of exploration and settlement in this region.  There are countless opportunities for our students to establish new connections with their peers in France and to learn more about our fast-changing world,” she said.

“We are already pursuing a partnership agreement with another European country, and we hope to establish similar connections with countries throughout the world.  Missouri’s young people must understand and appreciate international connections to compete in a global marketplace,” Nicastro said.