Meet the new headmaster of the LIFV, Régis Haudecoeur

Régis Haudecoeur has just been appointed Headmaster of LIFV and will lead the school until the start of the school year 2022-2023. France, Morocco, Venezuela, Hungary, Chile, Mauritius and Reunion Island – this is the geography of the exceptionally rich career of our new headmaster, who has devoted his entire life to education. We invite you to meet the new headmaster of LIFV.

What is your experience in the field of education?

One could say that my professional career is composed of two parts. I started in 1981 as a teacher of physics and chemistry and computer science. I taught in the French high school in Rabat (Morocco), in Reunion Island, in Caracas (Venezuela), in Mauritius, and in the south-east of France, in a high school in Carpentras.

Having passed the Headmaster’s exam, I was appointed deputy headmaster of a large high school in the centre of Avignon before applying to go back abroad. I had two 5-year missions as headmaster in Budapest and in Santiago, which is one of the largest schools in the AEFE network in America. After this mission, I retired.

The new headmaster of LIFV will be appointed in September 2022. Can you describe the context that led you to take over the management during the school year?

The AEFE (Agency of French Education Abroad) needed Ms Llopis to move to another school, where the school year starts in January. AEFE  invited me to take over the management of LIFV for the rest of this school year, because I knew the ZECO (Central and Eastern Europe area of AEFE) from my experience in Budapest. I had the opportunity to visit Vilnius, the school in Silo, and to meet the two former headmasters of the school during the head teachers’ seminars.

I accepted the job for a personal challenge and above all to have the pleasure of meeting the pupils and teachers again, since I ended my career with the last six months without seeing any pupils or teachers with the arrival of the pandemic.

What is your mission in Vilnius?

I knew that LIFV is a well-functioning school that has just successfully expanded to a new campus. It is also a growing institution, and there are challenges associated with this growth.

My mission is to manage the day-to-day management of the school, to prepare for the new school year, and to make an analysis with a fresh and experienced perspective.

What practices from your experience in AEFE schools can you apply in Vilnius?

In all schools we have some similar issues, especially those related to the relationship between the school and the host country. 

For example, in Budapest my mission was to contact the Hungarian schools that had a French-speaking section. In Vilnius, I noted a lack of partnership with Lithuanian schools, although it is always interesting to have links with the country’s education system.

In the two schools I managed, I noticed that the educational projects on the country’s traditions strengthen the community: the local children are proud to present their country, and the students who are passing through are happy to know their host country better and they value their visit more. In Vilnius, I have already seen the commemoration of the 13th of January in the school, and I think that the link between the school and the history of Lithuania should be reinforced.

In the network schools, parents have high expectations and are not always familiar with the functioning of a French lycée. This obliges us to adapt our way of working by taking into account the habits of the host country, while at the same time explaining the requirements of the French education system that they have chosen for their children.

The third thing is that LIFV is a growing school. Relationships within the school are changing. We are moving from a family-like organisation to a larger one, where the members of the community will know each other less well, and the management of the students will require more discipline. For example, in Budapest there was an external psychologist who came for a few hours a week. Here there is no such person, and I immediately proposed to the Management Committee to look for a school psychologist, who could provide a listening space in the school.

I am very pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere that I find serene between the teachers, the administration and the management team, as well as by the polite behavior of the students.

You come from the south-east of France, and you have lived almost all your life in tropical countries. How do you feel in Vilnius in January?

For the moment I only know the old town, which I think is very nice, the baroque architecture is magnificent. Moreover, when I told my friends in France that I was going to Vilnius, they immediately replied that Vilnius is a very beautiful city.

As for the climate, yes, it takes some time and effort to get used to it. I had the Hungarian experience, but in Hungary it is not as cold as here. For example, yesterday I already saw the river Neris frozen!

Thank you for the interview.