Lydia Kohler, a French teacher at George Rogers Clark High School (Clark County), is the 2023 recipient of the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. She received the award on Sept. 30 at the KWLA Fall Conference.

Lydia Kohler

Lydia Kohler

Kohler is a National Board Certified Teacher. She earned her master’s degree in education at Georgetown College and her bachelor’s degree in French and education at Transylvania University.

She teaches French language classes at all levels in her school and teaches French 101 and 102 at Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead University.

Kohler has been an active leader in the field by serving in many roles both local and statewide: She currently serves as the director of the KWLA State Showcase and has served within the same organization as secretary and regional representative liaison, among other roles.

Her passion for francophone language and culture and her ability to create a stimulating and engaging learning environment make her an outstanding teacher. Through her methods, as well as a wide variety of activities, not only does she provide her students with the opportunity to witness the language in action, but she also allows them to deepen their understanding of French history, culture and traditions firsthand.

Prior to receiving the top honor as the KWLA’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Kohler received the Outstanding French Teacher award from the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.

In March 2024, she will represent Kentucky world language teachers at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) and will be a candidate for the SCOLT regional Teacher of the Year Award. Should she win the award at the regional level, she would then advance to the national level where she would compete for the National World Languages Teacher of the Year Award, given by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

The other candidates for KWLA’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, who represented Kentucky chapters of professional language organizations, included:

  • Wei Jiang, Chinese professor at University of Kentucky, Outstanding Chinese Teacher;
  • Rebeccah Dawson, German professor at University of Kentucky, Outstanding German Teacher;
  • Pilar Gomez, Spanish teacher at Anchorage Elementary School (Anchorage Independent), Outstanding Spanish Teacher; and
  • Mercedes Harn, Spanish teacher at Athens Chilesburg Elementary School (Fayette County), Outstanding KY-NNELL (K-8) World Languages Teacher.

KWLA also awarded its Outstanding Rising Star Teacher Award to Schuyler Bunn, a French teacher at Louisville Collegiate School. The award recognizes a teacher with no more than five years of experience (both in the US and/or internationally) who has already made an amazing impact on their students by exhibiting best practices to an uncommonly high degree.

Schuyler Bunn

Schuyler Bunn

Bunn completed her bachelor’s degree in modern languages and literature at Kenyon College in 2021. That year, she started working as a French teacher at Louisville Collegiate School, teaching two sections of French A and two sections of French B at the middle school level, adding Honors French I at the high school level to her teaching schedule over the next years.

While in her third year working as a teacher, Bunn is a teacher who encourages a growth mindset, intercultural competence, respect, and empathy in the studies of different cultures by giving students the opportunity to explore and discover, and to ask questions without fear of judgment. Her supervisors said Bunn is a learner among learners, always trying to learn how to best teach and serve her students.

Six others also received awards from the KWLA:

  • Brian Ford (Wayne County Public Schools), Outstanding Administrator;
  • Laura Roche Youngworth (Fayette County Public Schools), Lifetime Achievement;
  • Virginia Moore (Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages award) in education category;
  • Poder KY Radio, Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages award) in community;
  • Cody Smith (University of Louisville), Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages award) in postsecondary student category; and
  • John Harmon (Fayette County Public Schools), Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages award) in K-12 student category.

Since 1974, the Kentucky World Language Association has endeavored to support, celebrate and highlight excellence in teaching world languages in Kentucky schools.

Alfonso De Torres Núñez is a Spanish teacher at Bloom Elementary School (Jefferson County) and serves as the awards committee chairperson for the Kentucky World Language Association.