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2021 Class of Teacher Scholars Announced

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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.

With a nearly universal shortage of language educators reported in at least 44 states plus the District of Columbia, we must prioritize efforts to bolster the teacher pipeline, supporting the recruitment and retention of qualified and passionate teachers of all languages.

It is with great joy and excitement that we announce our third class of Scholars who will begin their undergraduate paths to certification in the weeks ahead.

Meet the 2021 Class of Lead with Languages Teacher Scholars

In their letters of recommendation, the language educators of this impressive class of scholarship recipients describe a remarkable group of young people. Recommenders shared with us how these caring, determined, and eager learners have inspired them as individuals and educators, noting that they look forward to the day they will become colleagues in the profession.

The Scholars have explored a diverse range of experiences to begin honing their leadership and teaching skills. Among countless other activities, they have served as peer tutors, classroom assistants, and camp counselors. They have participated in school language clubs, honor societies, and Educators Rising chapters. Some have earned their state Seal of Biliteracy. Others have volunteered to organize and/or implement international charitable projects. They have conducted research, launched blogs, published media, and attended or spoken at workshops and conferences in the field.

For these ten students, language learning is something that happens inside the classroom, out in their communities, around the world, and within our hearts: It is a means to discover new parts of our identities and also an agent for social change that can encourage important conversations about equity and inclusion.

When asked why they are becoming educators, our Class of 2021 awardees speak to the importance of teacher mentors in their own lives, a desire to give back to their communities, a connection to their heritage, and their unwavering hope for the future.

In their words:

“The biggest reason that I want to be a language educator is because I want to empower students to leave their comfort zone and equip them to create new relationships and experience new cultures. […] After I graduate, I want to join the Peace Corps’ education program in a Spanish speaking country for 2 years, and once I return, I would like to go back to school and get my master’s in Education. With these degrees, I want to teach Spanish or one day have my own school in a Spanish speaking country.”

“As a future teacher, I often think about how one day I, too, can save a child who may feel lost and hopeless. […] I can be the one who tells them things get better, and that I am living proof of that.”

“The German language is very close to my heart. It’s the language that my ancestors spoke, and it has been a part of my life ever since I was a small child learning the original words of ‘O Tannenbaum’ from my grandmother. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve fallen in love with a language that calls lightbulbs ‘glow-pears’ and gloves ‘hand-shoes.’ I love the rich sound of German, how its consonants feel heavy in my mouth like a thick slice of bread. […] I want to pass on that love to my students.”

“The challenges that I have witnessed during this pandemic have motivated me to pursue a teaching career. […] I want to help others to pursue their dreams by imparting an understanding of different cultures and how languages can be a source of social change and individual strength.”

“Although there are so many world language oriented careers in the twenty-first century, nothing provokes more satisfaction in me than the promise of cultivating linguistic and cultural awareness in the next generation and inspiring students to change their society through language."

Congratulations to the 2021 Class of Lead with Languages Teacher Scholars!

LwL Scholars 2021

Aleksandra, Illinois – Spanish
Bella, Maryland – Japanese
Chay Robert, Ohio – French, Spanish, Italian
Chloe, Wisconsin – German
Cody, Kentucky – Spanish, Arabic, Chinese

LwL Scholars 2021

Kaleb, Georgia – Spanish
Lucia, Wisconsin – Spanish, French
Nicole, Tennessee – Spanish
Rachel, Ohio – French
Ryan, Connecticut – Spanish

Sincere thanks to all applicants who expressed interest during the 2021 submission period, as well as the dynamic group of language educators who carefully reviewed applications to select our recipients. We thank 2021 Selection Committee chair Meredith White and members Anne Coffman, Angelica DaSilva, Janet Eckerson, Lindsay Jeffers, Maria Nebres, Jenny Santilli, Nickolas Vosinas, 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 2022?

Visit our Teacher Scholarship Program page to learn more about this program, and stay tuned @LangConnectsFdn for news about the Scholars as well as the call for applications in 2022.