Hawaii educators earn top awards for excellence in teaching World Languages

07-Apr-2016

Two teachers were recognized for their efforts in World Language study by the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT). Junko Agena from Aina Haina Elementary School was awarded the Excellence in Classroom Teaching Award, and Jeenna Canche from Maui High School was given the inaugural Lynn Sandstedt Memorial Spanish Scholarship.

Junko Agena, left, teaches at Aina Haina Elementary, and Jeena Canche teaches at Maui High School.

​​​The Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT) has recognized two Hawaii teachers for their efforts in World Language study and teaching. Junko Agena from Aina Haina Elementary School was awarded the Excellence in Classroom Teaching Award for the Elementary category, and Jeenna Canche from Maui High School was given the inaugural Lynn Sandstedt Memorial Spanish Scholarship, which sponsors a study abroad trip for Spanish.

"At the heart of every culture is its language, and in our diverse state it is important that we foster an appreciation for many cultures through music, arts and language," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "Congratulations to Ms. Agena and Ms. Canche on this wonderful recognition. They're making a great impact on their students by raising the bar in global lessons."   

The Excellence in Classroom Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teachers of languages other than English at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels. Agena, the recipient of this award, teaches Japanese at Aina Haina Elementary and is the only elementary-certified teacher in Hawaii with a full time position teaching a language, other than English, at a non-immersion public elementary school. As a master teacher, Agena was featured in training videos produced by the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE).

The Lynn Sandstedt Memorial Scholarship is a professional development opportunity to study abroad for foreign language teachers with a specialization in Spanish. This is the first year it has been awarded. Canche, this year's recipient, is the head of the World Languages Department at Maui High. She has been teaching with HIDOE since 2006, and is on a variety of committees for her school that focus on promoting positive change.

"SWCOLT and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the regional and national professional language organizations, send our congratulations to Ms. Canche and Ms. Agena for their outstanding accomplishments and dedication to the field of teaching World Languages," said Lynette Fujimori, regional representative, ACTFL. "With the passing of the recent HIDOE Seal of Biliteracy Policy, it is timely that Hawaii's teachers, and the critical role that World Language education plays in college and career readiness, is being recognized."

World Language classes are offered at more than 120 HIDOE schools, ranging from elementary to high school. Languages offered include Hawaiian, Filipino (Tagalog and Ilocano), French, German, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

For more information about SWCOLT and these awards, please visit www.swcolt.org

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