Spanish professor is Indiana's college language teacher of the year

December 18 2006

Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish at Indiana State University, has been recognized as the state?s finest college-level language teacher by the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association.

Calvin received the 2006 Collegiate-Level World Language Teacher of the Year Award from the IFLTA, which has a membership of 630 foreign language teachers, at its annual conference in Indianapolis.

Calvin became eligible for this award after the Indiana chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese named her the 2006 Teacher of the Year-University Level this summer. As a recipient of that award, she was asked to submit a portfolio, including essays and letters from colleagues and former students, to be considered for the IFLTA?s coveted Teacher of the Year honor.

Calvin said this award was the highest honor of her professional career.

"From the stage, I looked into the audience and saw a former junior high student of mine from the early days of my career, seated beside a recent student from my teacher methods course at ISU, and at that moment, I felt the coming together of over 20 years of teaching," she said.

Though teaching for 20 years, Calvin has not lost her interest and passion for teaching students a new language.

"I became a Spanish teacher as a result of a passion for the cultures and the peoples that the language represents, and a desire to introduce Indiana youth to them, and thus my classroom emphasis is a natural outgrowth of that passion," Calvin said in her essay submitted to the award committee.

To help her relate to her students, Calvin has continued her own learning in foreign languages. She has recently studied Kazakh and Arabic.

She also travels extensively to maintain her firsthand knowledge of the current-day cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. In the last two years, Calvin has traveled to Honduras; Mexico; Spain; and to Argentina, where she researched the rituals surrounding the drinking of mate, which is the subject of a book she is writing.

"It is my belief that language instructors must be life-long learners and actively seek ongoing exposure in the target language culture and immersion experiences in the target language," Calvin says.

Calvin's classes reflect her passion and desire for learning through experiences.

"I have long been an advocate of experiential learning in its various forms, from role play in lower-level courses to projects with native speakers in upper-levels courses, and the acquisition of cultural knowledge from interviews with guest speakers and through class field trips," Calvin says.

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In addition, two alumni of ISU?s language department received statewide recognition for excellent teaching at the high school level in 2006 by their respective state teacher organizations.

Mary Ellen Wright (MS, ?93), a Spanish teacher and head of the language department at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, was named IFLTA Secondary Teacher of the Year; and Terre Haute South Vigo High School Latin teacher Mary Steppe (BS, '68; MS, '72) was recognized as the Indiana Classical Conference's Classics Secondary Teacher of the Year.

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PHOTO: Lisa Calvin

CUTLINE: Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish at Indiana State University, cooks up an international dish while teaching a Spanish course for ISU Summer Honors -- an academic, university program for talented high school students. Calvin was named the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association?s 2006 Collegiate-Level World Language Teacher of the Year. (Tony Campbell/ISU)

CONTACT: Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2363, lcalvin@isugw.indstate.edu

WRITER: Megan Anderson, media relations, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790, kspanuello@isugw.indstate.edu

ISU Communications & Marketing: (812) 237-3773, http://web.indstate.edu/news/

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Story Highlights

Lisa Calvin, associate professor of Spanish at Indiana State University, has been recognized as the state's finest college-level language teacher by the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association. Calvin received the 2006 Collegiate-Level World Language Teacher of the Year Award from the IFLTA.

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