The Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) honored award recipients at a virtual conference held recently including Maine’s 2021 World Language Teacher of the Year, Maine’s 2021 ESOL Teacher of the Year, and the Student Recognition Award.
Maine’s 2021 World Language Teacher of the Year is Julie Speno, a Spanish teacher at Camden-Rockport Elementary School. Julie has taught Spanish for more than 25 years and currently teaches elementary Spanish to K-4th grade students. In addition to teaching, Julie has presented over 200 hours of professional development at FLAME and many other conferences about teaching languages in elementary schools. Julie’s session “Calm in the Classroom” was chosen Best of FLAME 2019 and she was the keynote speaker at the NNELL (National Network for Early Language Learning) summer institute. Julie is especially well-known as the creator and illustrator of El Mundo de Pepita, providing resources for teaching elementary languages to teachers across the country.
The World Language Teacher of the Year award honors a Maine educator who has achieved outstanding results in teaching modern or classical languages. Other nominees for the award were: Traci Sorti, RSU 29; Jonna Bouré, Caribou High School; and Deb Backman, Cony High School.
The Maine English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher of the Year award was also presented this year for the first time. The new award is co-sponsored by FLAME and the Maine Department of Education and honors outstanding ESOL educators in Maine.
This year’s ESOL Teacher of the Year is Elena Sullivan. Elena currently coordinates Augusta’s K-12 ESOL program and teaches at Cony Middle/High School. She has dedicated 31 years to teaching, both as a Spanish teacher and as an ESOL teacher. Elena’s leadership is evident in her willingness to serve her community and advocate fiercely for language education at the state level as a member of the FLAME Board and incoming president and at the national level in Washington through the Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies. She has forged strong connections with the families of her students, supporting them as they transition to life in Augusta. Focused on equity for English learners, Elena works closely with content area teachers to ensure they are equipped with effective ESOL strategies.
In addition to FLAME’s Teacher of the Year Awards, they also presented the Student Recognition Award to Thomas Wheeler, a student at Orono High School. Thomas is an exceptional student of both French and Spanish. He jumped into French III as an 8th grader, earned his Maine Seal of Biliteracy in French in 10th grade, and won a silver medal in the Grand Concours, ranking 8th nationally. After completing all possible French courses, Thomas then moved to Spanish. He has already earned a silver medal on the National Spanish Exam and hopes to qualify for Maine’s Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish too. Thomas has a heart for service as well, most notably volunteering with CISV (formerly known as Children’s International Summer Villages), a youth organization to develop peace around the world.
The Maine Department of Education in joins FLAME in honoring the hard work and dedication of these amazing honorees.
For more information about FLAME or the awards, please visit: http://www.maineforeignlanguage.org/