By Alfonso De Torres Núñez

Catherine Del Valle, a Spanish teacher at Russell High School (Russell Independent), is the 2018 recipient of the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) Outstanding Teacher Award. She received the award Sept. 22 at the KWLA annual conference in Lexington.

Catherine Del Valle

Catherine Del Valle

Del Valle is a heritage speaker of Spanish who has taught for the past 25 years in New York City, West Virginia and Kentucky. She has been teaching Spanish at Russell High School since 2014.

Del Valle earned her bachelor’s in Spanish and secondary education with a minor in Puerto Rican studies from Hunter College in New York City. She earned a master’s from American Intercontinental University, and most recently a master’s in school improvement with an English as a second language component and Rank I from Georgetown College.

Del Valle served on the KWLA Board from 2008 to 2015 in the roles of regional representative, regional representative board liaison, interim vice president and communications director. She also has served as president elect and president of the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and currently serves as the Kentucky state director for the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica.

Del Valle is enthusiastic about proficiency-based teaching, affording her students engaging opportunities to practice and increase their language skills. She is also passionate about enlightening her students about the cultural competency needed in their future endeavors by bringing in professionals from the area to her classroom, as well as through video conferencing from locations around the world. She was the Kentucky Spanish Teacher of the Year in 2013 and was nominated in 2012 and 2014 for the Ashland Inc. Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

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

  • Lucianne Junker, Latin teacher at Tates Creek High School (Fayette County), Outstanding Latin Teacher;
  • Michael Dixon, assistant professor of Japanese at the University of Kentucky, Outstanding Japanese Teacher;
  • Jennifer Hoban, French teacher at Louisville Collegiate School, Outstanding French Teacher; and
  • Kimberly Fry, Japanese teacher at Erpenbeck Elementary School (Boone County), Outstanding National Network for Early Language Learning Teacher.

Del Valle received the Outstanding Spanish Teacher award. In March, she will represent Kentucky World Languages teachers at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching, which is the regional conference, and where she will be eligible for the regional Teacher of the Year award. Should she win the award, she would 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.