Foreign Language Association of Maine Announces Recognition Awards

As part of its work to promote and improve the teaching and study of languages and cultures of the world, the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) recognizes Maine educators and students annually for their outstanding work in a number of areas including student recognition, leadership, lifetime achievement, and their two teacher of the year awards, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher of the Year and FLAME Teacher of the Year. They recently announced their 2022 award recipients.

FLAME Student Recognition Award

Sam Conner Self is a talented senior at Bangor High School, currently enrolled in AP Spanish: Language & Culture. However, they also study ASL at Bangor High School and German at the University of Maine at Orono. Their academic pursuits after school include Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club, Math Team, Theater, Civil Rights Club and Young Democrats. Beyond these extracurricular activities, Sam has shown leadership in their roles as: Social Media Director of Students for Gender Equality, Co-president of Q+ Club, and co-organizer of the Maine Youth Power Voter Education Campaign at BHS.

They intend to study psychology with a minor in at least one language in college and envision creating a community center that provides counseling and other services from multilingual psychologists rather than solely relying on interpreters.

Richard Williamson Leadership Award

This award is given to a teacher, administrator, student, or community member for outstanding results in promoting the study of modern and classical languages in their community or region.

Skip Crosby has been a dedicated Spanish teacher in Maine for 29 years at the high school level, with nine years at the college level. His excellence in teaching has been recognized over the years, but especially in 2014 and 2015, as Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year and FLAME World Language Teacher of the Year.

Skip is well known for his dedication to supporting his teaching peers in a variety of ways. He is a true leader by welcoming other teachers and graduate students into his classroom without hesitation. Most significantly, he has coordinated the TCI Maine Conference since 2006. This “Teaching with Comprehensible Input” conference provides meaningful and accessible professional development to teachers across New England by inviting nationally and internationally recognized experts on TPRS and CI.

Sister Solange Bernier Lifetime Achievement Award

This award was named after a well-loved and well respected French teacher, whose career spanned more than six decades. It recognizes the career-long accomplishments of those who are approaching retirement and who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership throughout their careers as modern and classical language teachers.

Susan Dana of Cape Elizabeth Middle School is this year’s recipient. She is a National Board Certified Spanish Teacher who has been a language educator for 39 years, 30 of which have been in Cape Elizabeth. In the late 1990s she started the Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program in Cape Elizabeth. In 1996 she was the FLAME teacher of the year, and she has been the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships, including a Fulbright Teacher Exchange to Uruguay in 2013. Susan has led service trips through Safe Passage in Guatemala with Cape Elizabeth High School students, and has engaged her students in many social justice projects and endeavors. Her students have participated in events such as Global Collaboration week, Journey North, and connecting with Peace Corps Volunteers. She also helped her students develop community and global connections with projects such as bookmarks for the public library, decorated grocery bags for the supermarket, valentines for hospital patients, pen pals, the Peace Corps’ World Wise School Program, video exchanges with Spanish speaking students, and a “New Mainers: Hear our Story” Program.

English Speakers for Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher of the Year

Farrah Giroux of Westbrook School Department was selected based on her demonstration of leadership in the field of ESOL, both on the board of Northern New England TESOL, serving terms as treasurer, vice president, and president, and locally in her community at Westbrook Middle School where she holds the position of Instructional Leader for the ELL Team. Farrah is a champion for educational equity, promoting an asset-based orientation, high expectations, and equitable opportunities for students learning English. Farrah skillfully leverages the WIDA English Language Development standards to bring principles of equity into practice for herself and the colleagues she supports.

FLAME Teacher of the Year

Each year at its annual conference, the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) recognizes those who have achieved outstanding results in teaching modern or classical languages.

This year’s recipient is Deb Backman from Cony High School. Deb is not only a fantastic language teacher, but an asset to her school community. Deb has served on the League of Innovative Schools Leadership Team, her District Curriculum Mapping Leadership Team, and was a class advisor for many years. At the state level, Deb has served multiple times as President of the Maine Chapter of American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), Webmaster and Treasurer. Since 2015 she has organized the annual Maine AATG Awards Tea at the Blaine House which recognizes German language students’ achievements, including on the National German Exam. Deb also helps organize an annual student immersion day (Sprachfest), in conjunction with German faculty at Colby College and co-organized several annual week-long K-16 Deutsche Woche in Bar Harbor immersion seminars for educators from the entire US.

She has served on the most recent Steering Committee for the review of the Maine State Learning Results for World Languages and currently serves on the Maine DOE World Language Advisory Council. As a result of Deb’s hard work, Cony High School is one of 13 German Government-designated US PASCH partner schools and serves as a beacon for other German programs. Her students have studied food waste with German entrepreneurs who started a zero packaging store in Berlin, worked with a German technology company who taught students to program mini-computers, and with a German singer/songwriter to write and produce an original song.

To learn more about FLAME’s awards visit their website. For further information, reach out to FLAME.