Tracy Rucker, a French teacher at Louisville Collegiate School, is the 2021 recipient of the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. He received the award on Sept. 17 at the KWLA Fall Virtual Conference.

A graduate from Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont), Rucker taught French in Georgia and Virginia prior to arriving in Kentucky. A teacher at Louisville Collegiate since 2010, Rucker has organized summer trips for students, created opportunities for them to become global citizens, organized fundraisers to support schools in other French-speaking countries, and planned cultural celebrations and events.

Picture of a smiling man.

Tracy Rucker

Rucker is an American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview and Avant STAMP certified French teacher who participates and present in events organized by the U.S. Bureau of Education and Research. He has served as the president of the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (KY-AATF), as representative of the National French Honor Society Teacher and as teacher mentor for ACTFL.

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

  • Lhousseine Guerwane, Arabic professor at Western Kentucky University, Outstanding Arabic Teacher;
  • Yanhong Zheng, Chinese teacher at The Academy for Leadership at Millcreek Elementary (Fayette County), Outstanding Chinese Teacher;
  • Andrea Fieler, German professor at Northern Kentucky University, Outstanding German Teacher;
  • Rachel Weinrich, Spanish teacher at Highland Middle (Jefferson County), Outstanding KY-NNELL (K-8) Teacher;
  • Bari Clements, Latin teacher at Madison Central High School (Madison County), Outstanding Latin Teacher; and
  • Amisha Patel, Spanish Teacher at Frederick Douglass High School (Fayette County), Outstanding Spanish Teacher.

Before receiving the top honor as the Kentucky World Language Association’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Rucker received the Outstanding French Teacher award from the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.

In March, he will represent Kentucky World Languages teachers at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT), which is the regional conference, and where he will be a candidate for the SCOLT regional Teacher of the Year Award. Should he win the award at the regional level, he would advance to the national level to compete for the National World Languages Teacher of the Year Award given by ACTFL.

Picture of a smiling woman.

Marisol Martín

KWLA also awarded its Outstanding Rising Star Teacher Award to Marisol Martín, a Spanish dual language immersion teacher at Liberty Elementary 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 graduate from the University of Cumberlands, Martín’s story is one of courage, resilience, and perseverance.  Originally from Mexico, she had several professional experiences before becoming a teacher, a job in which she found that she could share her love for languages, and communicate to others the importance of language development and the critical need for being sensitive and open minded to learn and appreciate other people’s cultures.

She is currently working to obtain an educational specialist degree, principal certification from the University of Kentucky. She teaches math and Science in Spanish to 2nd-graders at Liberty Elementary.

Four others also received awards from the KWLA:

  • Andre Terry, principal at Anchorage Public School, Outstanding Administrator
  • Jason E. Glass, Commissioner of Education at Kentucky Department of Education, Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages) in education category.
  • Marta Miranda-Straub, commissioner for the Department of Community Based Services, Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages) in non-education category.
  • Linda Worley, professor at the University of Kentucky, 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.