The Maine Department of Education congratulates Nadine Bravo, an aspiring world languages teacher, for being selected as this year’s recipient of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) Future Language Educator Scholarship. The scholarship provided funding for Bravo to attend the 2022 NECTFL Conference which took place in New York. Nadine was selected to receive this scholarship among a pool of applicants nation-wide due to her promise as an aspiring world languages educator.
As a multicultural and multilingual individual born and raised in Halle, East Germany, Bravo has spent time in Lithuania, Russia, the United States, and Chile, even surviving the Chilean earthquake of 2010 while she lived here. With much world experience, plus a BA in FLL (Russian, German, Spanish, English), some master’s-level coursework, and 20 years of experience tutoring German and English under her belt, Bravo dreamed about pursuing a graduate degree as a world languages teacher with a certificate to teach English as another language.
“It has always been rewarding watching students learn and grow with the languages,” said Bravo. “However, I had never obtained proper teacher certification, which limited my employment opportunities. The onset of the pandemic and an injury on the job were the catalyst to get the process of graduate school rolling.”
Bravo is now in her first year of graduate school and has had opportunities to tutor German in the linguistics department at the University of Southern Maine, which has helped confirm that she made the right decision about returning to graduate school.
Bravo attributes the opportunity to fill out an application for the NECTFL Future Language Educator Scholarship to her mentor teacher, Sarah Collins at Gorham Middle School, who pointed her toward a Language Educators newsletter put together by Maine Department of Education’s Interdisciplinary Instruction & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist April Perkins. A link to the upcoming conference was available in a newsletter and Bravo took the opportunity to apply.
“When I came across the conference program, I felt so inspired and wanted to attend all the workshops and lectures offered regarding my target languages,” said Bravo. “I am currently in a tight financial situation and try to take advantage of any sort of financial support while furthering my education,” she added.
With three different types of scholarships available for the conference, the application process was demanding and complex but not impossible, says Bravo. Her application package included various elements such as letters of recommendation, a list of relevant organization affiliations, testing scores, a statement, methods assignments, and transcripts, among other things.
“I decided to go overboard and shared everything that could have been relevant,” said Bravo. “One of the most rewarding items I received after my first observation in my internship placement was a stack of student notes with feedback. It does not get any better than receiving genuine feedback from your students and learning about your strengths and weaknesses,” she added.
The conference took place earlier this month, bringing opportunities and experience for Bravo to pursue her dream of working as a world languages teacher in Maine.
“It is important not only to learn the language and grammar, but also to be exposed to different cultures, customs, and traditions, said Bravo, who has a goal of teaching students in Spanish and German. “Learning a world language is the gate to other cultures. I want to be that gate, facilitating my students’ access to an additional way of life,” she added.
Bravo expresses her gratitude to all the people who have paved the road for her return to graduate school, including graduate advisor, Mike Katz, and other supportive faculty at USM including her two professors, Dr. Mindy Butler and Dr. Alec Lapidus, who employ her as their graduate research assistant.
Currently, Bravo has accepted a long-term substitute teacher position in the Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. She is hopeful about her future career as a world languages teacher.