|In 2010, FLENJ honored two extraordinary language educators at their annual awards celebration, which took place at the spring conference on April 10th.
Gyselle North, a French teacher at Egg Harbor Township High School, received a FLENJ Teacher Recognition Award. A native of France, Ms. North has taught almost all grades from preschool to high school and adults, from learning-disabled to gifted. Aside from French and English, she is fluent in Russian and can get along in Croatian as well. She worked as an itinerant teacher in Sarajevo (Croatia) and Yaounde (Cameroon).
Ms. North is a beloved teacher and colleague at her school. She is extremely proficient in technology and she has created Wiki spaces for all her students. She uses Jing, Audacity, Google Docs, and many other programs in her classes. Her classes are student-centered, standards-based, and aimed at developing students’ proficiency in French. According to her supervisor, Dr. Michele J. Schreiner, Ms. North “gets her students talking right away! (…) One only needs to observe her class to recognize that she is truly an engaging teacher whose classes are both rigorous and relevant to today’s teenagers.”
Not only is Gyselle North an asset in the classroom, but she is also an asset in the world language workroom. Ms. North often works with her colleagues, offering them assistance with technology and sharing ideas. Her colleague, Ivelisse Velázquez-Malcún, a Spanish teacher at Dr. Miller Elementary School, describes her as “a self-motivated, dedicated educator, who is constantly researching and learning new ways to reach and engage her students in the learning and acquisition of a new language, and who is always willing to teach her colleagues what she knows. Madame North is a superb resource for our entire district.”
Mr. Michael A. Sweeder, Education Media Technology Director, had this to say about Ms. North:
Last year I entered a classroom in one of our many school annexes approximately an hour and a half after the end of a typical school day. To my surprise, I found several world languages faculty eagerly working on their personal web pages and interactive classroom resources and personal classroom websites with Gyselle guiding them through the basics of creating multimedia resources (…) It is not that often when you see motivated faculty spending their own time after school working with technology applications with the excitement they had in developing instructional resources for their students. Gyselle was the catalyst for this excitement.
Congratulations, Gyselle North, for this well-deserved award!
Click here to visit Gyselle North’s website
Click here to visit the Egg Harbor Township World Languages page
Maryann Woods-Murphy, a Spanish teacher at Northern Highlands Regional High School, received a special honorary FLENJ award in recognition of her outstanding role in promoting world language education and diversity in the state of New Jersey. Ms. Woods-Murphy is the 2009-2010 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year and also the 2010 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year.
In her wonderful blog, NJ Toy Travels, Woods-Murphy talks about her experiences as NJ Teacher of the Year. On her entry for January 31st, 2010 she writes about the extraordinary state TOY teachers she met at the National Teacher of the Year conference in Dallas. She was particularly moved by a story she heard from the 2006 National TOY:
Here Kim was confronting a real-life challenge — a boy who everyone expected to fail, but she wouldn’t have it. Here, she said, being Teacher of the Year didn’t matter to this child and all of her speaking success and accolades were of little value. But what Kim had was a rock solid belief in her student’s possibilities and a commitment not to give up, ever.
She ends the same entry by saying that “I feel lucky to be one of America’s teachers. What a chance we have to change the world.”
And she really means it. According to her, being a world language educator is much more than teaching a few discretionary language points. It’s about helping our students acquire a whole new perspective about themselves in relation to others. It’s something very profound and human.
It is that fervent belief in the transformational power of language and multicultural education that drives Woods-Murphy to impact the world one child at a time.