Launched in 2019 as an initiative of the Lead with Languages Scholarship Fund, the Lead with Languages Teacher Scholarship Program provides merit-based funding to graduating high school seniors committed to pursuing the language teaching profession in languages other than English. Scholars receive an annual award of $1,500 per academic year, renewable to a cumulative total of $6,000 per recipient, as well as 1-year complimentary ACTFL membership including access to the ACTFL Mentorship Program aimed at early-career language teachers upon entry into the field.
Launched in 2019, the inaugural class of ten Teacher Scholars headed to campus to begin their undergraduate studies last fall. With a nearly universal shortage of language educators reported in at least 44 states plus the District of Columbia, ACTFL and its Lead with Languages campaign continue to prioritize efforts to recruit, retain, and support qualified and passionate teachers of all languages.
We are thrilled to announce the second class of Scholars who will begin their paths to certification in the weeks ahead.
Meet the Scholars
In their application essays, each of the Scholars shared moving, personal anecdotes about their motivation to join the teaching profession.
They draw inspiration from their cultural heritage, their local communities, and the support of their families. They speak to the power of having strong role models in the field—from their own K-12 language teachers to educator parents and mentors. Many have already embraced opportunities to volunteer or intern in classrooms at home or abroad and those experiences have further affirmed and solidified their desire to become educators.
They also recognize in their reflections the many challenges facing young people across the country, at a time when COVID-19 has created so much uncertainty and we are beginning the difficult and important work of starting real conversations about ensuring social justice and equity for those who have been systemically excluded from opportunities for centuries. Acknowledging the work that remains, they believe that language education will continue to bring a diverse world closer together, with improved communication and a deeper understanding of others.
In their words:
“I know that lifting up students by providing them a better education makes a difference, and my goal would be to provide my students the same amazing opportunities I have had in my public schools. […] Many students of color face discrimination and fear in the United States simply because of their heritage and culture, and I know bilingual education is an important step in teaching people to honor each other’s differences.”
“My long-term goal is to spread awareness for cultural diversity within our community. As a future Spanish educator, I will have the opportunity to share the Hispanic culture and language with my students.”
“The day [my French teacher] came to see me in Les Mis at my theater company was the day I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to show up for my students as she did for me.”
“It shouldn’t matter where you live, how much your parents make and where they come from in order to receive an excellent education, and I want to be the bridge that fills that gap. […] Choosing to become a bilingual teacher was the easy part of everything, now all I have to do is get the opportunity to come back and inspire my students; to let them know that someone that looks like them, speaks the same language as them, even came from the same city as them, made their dream possible, and the same thing can happen to them.”
“I dream of a world where more people are connected through language and that is why I want to become a teacher so I can be a part of the movement that helps bring the world closer together. […] In a time of uncertainty and growing xenophobia, it has become more important than ever to create personal connections with people from around the world. Becoming unafraid of meeting and speaking to new people is what I want my students to conquer.”
Congratulations to the 2020 Class of Lead with Languages Teacher Scholars:
Bess, North Carolina – Spanish
Carlos, Illinois – Spanish
Julia, New York – French
Julia, Pennsylvania – German
Julia, Pennsylvania – Spanish
Kateri, Illinois (not shown) – French
Kiana, Pennsylvania – Spanish
Madison, Vermont – French
Renee, Virginia – Spanish
Virginia, Georgia – Spanish
We look forward to hearing about our Scholars’ ongoing journey with languages as they enter their undergraduate classes this fall—one of many early steps toward following their dreams.
Sincere thanks to all applicants who expressed interest during the 2020 submission period, as well as the dynamic group of language educators who carefully reviewed applications to select our recipients. We thank 2020 Selection Committee chair Rebecca Aubrey and members Julia Baumgardt, Angelica DaSilva, Laura Dennis, Rhonda Petree, Deborah Robinson, Scott Watford, and Miaochun Wei for their service and dedication to supporting future teachers.
Do you know a future language teacher who will be a high school senior in Spring 2021?
Visit our Teacher Scholarship Program page to learn more about this initiative, and stay tuned @LangConnectsFdn for news about the Scholars as well as the call for submissions in 2021.