SPRING VALLEY — On Oct. 24, the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages held the annual awards ceremony at the close of the fall conference. This year, awards were presented to college teaching majors, new World Language teachers and veteran educators. The virtual ceremony was well attended and gave many family members and associates of the awardees an opportunity to celebrate their achievement.
Katie Lawrence, Spanish teacher at Hall High School in Spring Valley, received the ICTFL Distinguished Service to Foreign Language Learning Award for her substantial contributions to the enhancement of the profession of foreign language teaching in Illinois. This award recognizes efforts to improve the image and effectiveness of professional associations as well as the profession itself as an institution. It includes persons who have supported professional organizations by presenting at conferences, holding leadership positions and serving on committees.
Lawrence was one of five winners throughout the state of Illinois. She won for the region, which includes all schools from Cook County to Iowa and from Wisconsin to the Interstate 80 corridor. She has been a member of ICTFL since 2014 and has been on the Board of Directors for ICTFL since 2016. She has been a Spanish teacher for 16 years, previously teaching at Annawan High School, and has been teaching Spanish at Hall since 2014.
Lawrence was recognized as an excellent classroom teacher, and she goes above and beyond to support the growth and development of the profession of language teaching within the district, the community and the state. She enhanced the teaching profession in her district by aligning the curriculum with the new world language standards and focusing on proficiency of the language. She is constantly promoting foreign language and culture throughout the district, by extending cultural activities from her classroom to the entire student body. She is responsible for the introduction of many of the multicultural music, dancing, cooking activities that now take place at Hall High School.
In addition to her abundant experience and understanding of methodology and curriculum, Lawrence serves as the ICTFL Region 2 director. In this position, she constantly reaches out to teachers in her region, serving as a motivator as well as a leader. As Region 2 director, she serves on the ICTFL board and has the opportunity to enhance the profession by providing input and direction. She has moderated online workshops for ICTFL and aids in the preparation of ICTFL conferences.
As her colleague, Kelsey Sarver wrote, “Katie is the epitome of the enhancement of foreign language instruction due to her motivation and ability to truly understand what her colleagues, students and community deserves from a Spanish teacher. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with, and for, Katie and can truly think of no more deserving person for this recognition than Katie Lawrence.”
Recently, the community has begun organizing events for Hispanic culture and heritage. Lawrence has worked with the city council in the planning and organization of these events. She has created a bridge from her classroom to the wider community in doing so. This has had a positive impact on the school district’s relationship with the community. It has also facilitated the building of relationships between the members of the community as a whole. Her positive attitude and eagerness to learn make her an impeccable Spanish teacher. She is a willing mentor to the other teachers in her school and throughout her region and the state.