By Alfonso De Torres Núñez

Jennifer Hoban, a French teacher at Louisville Collegiate School, is the 2020 recipient of the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. She received the award on Sept. 19 at the KWLA Fall Virtual Conference.

Jennifer Hoban

Jennifer Hoban

While predominantly teaching at the middle school level, she has taught all grade levels between kindergarten through college-level French. During her time at Louisville Collegiate, the French program has seen tremendous growth in the middle school, with full classes and the opening of new sections.

Hoban passionately believes that every student should have the opportunity to learn a world language. Learning a language not only brings students undeniable cognitive and long-term professional benefits, it also opens up new worlds to them. In her classroom, students not only learn to communicate in a second language, but also learn through listening and observation to become curious, empathetic and engaged citizens of the world.

At her school, Hoban is serving as the chair of the World Language Department, coordinator for Global Experiences and as the chair of the Strategic Plan Global Citizenship Subcommittee. She also serves as treasurer of the Kentucky World Language Association, and in a variety of positions at the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.

Hoban is an item writer for the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages, a writer of Comprehensible Input for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling books and a freelance translator.

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

  • Tamara Hedrick, Latin teacher at Stopher Elementary School (Jefferson County), Outstanding Latin Teacher;
  • Nicole Whitescarver, German teacher at Greenwood High School (Warren County), Outstanding German Teacher;
  • Madeleine Sexton, Spanish teacher at Eastern High School (Jefferson County), Outstanding Spanish Teacher;
  • Jill Susini, French teacher at Trinity Christian Academy (Lexington), Outstanding French Teacher;
  • Yanyan Zou, Chinese teacher at Tates Creek Middle School (Fayette County), Outstanding Chinese Teacher; and
  • Mariko Barnes, Japanese teacher at Lafayette High School (Fayette County), Outstanding Japanese Teacher.

Hoban received the Outstanding K-8 World Languages Teacher from the Kentucky chapter of the National Network for Early Language Learning before receiving the top honor as the KWLA’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

In March, she will represent Kentucky world languages teachers at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT), where she 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 compete for the National World Languages Teacher of the Year Award given by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Picture of Sydney Meaux

Sydney Meaux

KWLA also awarded its Outstanding Rising Star Teacher Award to Sydney Meaux, a French teacher at Frederick Douglass High School (Fayette County). The award recognizes a teacher with no more than five years of experience (both in the U.S. and/or internationally) who has made an amazing impact on their students by exhibiting best practices to an uncommonly high degree.

A native of Lexington, Meaux developed her love for the French language and francophone cultures while taking her first French class at Lexington Traditional Magnet School as a middle school student. It was through her years of studying French and the subsequent opportunity to study abroad at the Université de Caen Basse Normandie in 2014 that her worldview changed, allowing her to fully understand the power of language to open doors and connect us with individuals throughout the world. After graduating with her degree from Western Kentucky University in 2017, she became determined to help cultivate the same passion she had developed for language and cultures with new generation of Lexington youth.

Three others also received awards from the KWLA:

  • Stayc DuBravac, associate professor at the University of Kentucky and director of the master’s in Teaching World Languages, Outstanding Administrator;
  • Language Access Team from Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration, Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages); and
  • Laura McGee, head of Modern Languages at Western Kentucky University, Lifetime Achievement.

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.