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Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on March 13th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 1

Santa Maria-area language teachers win awards

Language programs at Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria high schools have grown in both the number of classes and student proficiency over the last few years, and now a couple of their teachers have the awards to prove it.

The California Language Teachers’ Association recently announced that Pioneer Valley Spanish teacher Carolyn Lucero received this year’s Outstanding Teacher Award, and Santa Maria French teacher Marianne Angel won a French Consulate grant to study in France.

Norman Léonard, previous president of the language teachers’ association and current awards chair, told the Sun that having two teachers win awards for excellence in one school district is quite an accomplishment.

“I can’t remember a time in the last 30 years when two awards were given to teachers in the same community,” Léonard said in a press release. “This is truly extraordinary.”

Léonard told the Sun that Lucero was chosen for the association’s outstanding teacher award because of all the work she’s done with Pioneer Valley’s Spanish program. Lucero has helped set standards for language proficiency, increased student success on Spanish Academic Placement exams, and goes out of her way to help students graduate on time.

He also pointed out that Pioneer Valley now has 13 Spanish-speaker-related classes to help integrate students who don’t speak English very well.

“It shows that the school is really serving the population of their students really well,” Léonard said.

When compared to Spanish, French may seem an unlikely program to grow at any high school, but in the last 22 years it has gone from only three classes at Santa Maria High School to 12, and from one part-time teacher to two full-time French teachers.

That growth is something Léonard attributes to the efforts of Angel, which is why the association recommended her for the grant from the French Consulate. The grant enables Angel to attend three weeks of seminars and trainings in France over the summer. It includes tuition and a round-trip train ticket from Paris to the destination city. A portion of lodging and food is also included.

Angel said she’s waiting to hear back on which of three programs she ‘s been assigned to, but knows for sure she’ll bring back videos and photos for her students to look at.

“A lot of what I like to do when I’m in France is to collect photos and video clips to show in the classroom,” Angel said.

She turns those clips into grammar and vocabulary lessons, tying French culture into her students’ education with slideshows and videos. Angel said she’s also looking to improve her own language skills by being immersed in French and to also learn more information about the best ways to teach it.

“It’s fabulous; I’m very pleased,” Angel said.