Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages


2017 CSCTFL Teacher of the Year

Melissa Dalton


The Michigan World Language Association is proud to nominate Melissa Dalton for the CSCTFL Teacher of the Year. She has taught Spanish and Japanese at Scripps Middle School in Lake Orion, Michigan since 2002. 

Melissa received her Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in 1998.  She also studied at Middlebury College, Michigan State University, Oakland University and in Japan for her certification in Japanese.  Melissa mentors and is a cooperating teacher for world language interns from Oakland University. She has supervised many extra-curricular activities in her school, and has presented at MIWLA and ACTFL Conferences with great reviews.

Melissa’s principal praises her leadership roles in the Lake Orion School District, from the school improvement team, the world languages standards-based grading team and the World Language Advisory Council, among many others.  She is a team player, and a leader.  “Weaving in culture in daily instruction is a priority” for Melissa. A student writes of her impressive use of technology and the way she nurtures her students’ language skills, which are important to their success. In another recommendation, a parent tells of Melissa’s contributions to her children’s success in studying Japanese at the university level.

Congratulations on your achievements and being named CSCTFL Teacher of the Year!

In her own words, Melissa shares her beliefs on language learning and cultural competence:

Reliance on engaging essential questions is the foundation of my teaching. For example, my unit on food has the essential question, “Is fast food ruining our culture?” Within that unit, we compare what foods they eat for certain meals, whether eggs are good for you, how fast food is marketed differently in Spain and finally how you could launch your own American restaurant in a Spanish speaking country. When we address these topics, the activities spiral around the 3 modes. I also apply the Laura Terrill Unit and Lesson templates when preparing, helping tremendously in the backward design of my instruction. In addition, it is taught in a 90/10
environment, ¡por supuesto!

When rating the standards using rubrics, creativity is a must! Moodle and Diigo achieve a vibrant pool of authentic resources. The best result is the innate wealth of cultural perspective embedded in the lessons and assessments. I select topics and essential questions deliberately to highlight specific practices, products and perspectives. Ideally having an essential question that appeals to middle school and draws on pop culture is crucial. Every Spanish 1 class studies personal traits, but what about “What makes you MARVELous?” Despite using authentic resources about American superheroes in Spanish to teach characteristics, the students still reference Mexican heroes in their summative tasks. By frontloading the interpretive instruction with video clips of Chapulín Colorado, they are able contrast their own unique super hero with a beloved Mexican character. This conjured up greater comparisons of what constitutes a hero in different cultures.

Authentic materials truly drive communication in the classroom and keep us on track with the target language. I apply TPRS circling techniques which scaffold conversation. The students who need differentiation  have a way to engage in the conversation and the more adept students have greater opportunity to takes risks with their speaking. They know the Can-do statements and ratings because they see them on the write up for their interpersonal tasks and I have a rubric attached so they can see what feedback they will receive. I use this circling technique when beginning a new topic, but also as we go over activities we’ve completed as a learning check.

There are many elements one might do naturally as a language teacher, we are born to differentiate! Such as providing the students with a set format for “Warm Ups” weekly rotating the activities by learning styles on each day. Language is infused into this experience because they see: lengua lunes, arte para martes, música miércoles, juntos jueves and video viernes. In addition, I found it helpful to put my daily lessons on PowerPoint, clearly relaying our tasks and providing a way for them to review material presented in class via Moodle if they need reinforcement or absent. I think of my approach as “Augmented Esteem Acquisition”. Simply by feeling positive and experiencing novelty each day, my students know I promote success for all.


2017 CSCTFL Teacher of the Year Finalists 


Ryan Rockaitis


Ryan Rockaitis is a Spanish teacher and Department Chair of World Languages at Deerfield High School. He has studied Spanish in Spain and earned a Master of Arts in Spanish from California State University a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. While Ryan is active in world language education as a MOPI trainer, an OPI tester and trainer apprentice, an AAPPL rater and an ACTFL mentor, he also has received the Golden Apple Foundation of Illinois Teacher of Distinction Award for his work supervising and training teachers of all subject areas in the Chicago schools. Ryan is a “standing room only” presenter at ICTFL, CSCTFL, ACTFL and the Chicago Chapter of AATSP conferences.

When a student recognizes and states in his letter of support that “everything we do in the classroom has significance”, one realizes that his classes are “interesting”, “intriguing” and “exciting”. His students describe what is relevant to them – communicating with others on real topics, whether it be a field trip to visit elderly speakers of Spanish in the community or a Skype conference with a classroom in Spain. Ryan’s colleagues benefit from his willingness to share his knowledge of best practices in teaching and learning through his training sessions, conference presentations and Weebly interactions.



Rachel Parroquín


Dr. Rachel Rivers Parroquín has a joint appointment in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Center for Social Concerns the University of Notre Dame, IN. She earned her B.S. in Education and Master of Education from Valparaiso University and her Doctor in Education from Loyola University. Professor Parroquín’s experience is varied: classroom teacher at all levels, creator of college courses, implementer of community-based learning programs, author and presenter.

She is acclaimed for her knowledge and practice of community-based pedagogy, sharing with both her students and colleagues. It is that dedication to the Spanish Community-Based Learning Program at Notre Dame that awards her the most accolades, as affirmed by her glowing letters of recommendation. Colleagues and students alike wrote about the academic and personal impact Professor Parroquín has had on their lives. Described as a “model instructor” with “high expectations” and a “commitment to social justice”, all of the letters talked about her relationship with her students. A colleague states that Rachel has a “gift for making students feel valued and every student’s growth important.”



Christine McCormick



Christine McCormick is a Spanish teacher at Prairieview School in the Waukee Community School District. Christine earned Education Specialist and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from Drake University Des Moines and her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central University of Iowa Pella with a major in International Management and minors in French, Spanish and Accounting. She also studied in Mérida, Mexico as part of Central Iowa University’s International Study Abroad Program. Chris also serves as an adjunct at Mercy College of Health Science, teaches online French and Spanish courses for Iowa Learning Online, and is a scholarship evaluator for the Council on International Exchange.

Her principal describes her as a lively educator and a valued teacher leader. “It is not uncommon to see [Chris] in costume or with her face painted on Day of the Dead.” Indeed, Chris believes that “[the] emotional responses that [students] have about real people are more enduring than verb conjugations or grammar rules.” Her principal wishes she could have had a teacher like Chris in school.

Chris’s students confirm that she is a “great teacher” who “makes learning interesting” by “presenting material that is relevant, relatable, and fun.” One of her students praised her for not only creating “a comfortable and fun learning environment,” but also for being “interested in what her students have to say” and sincerely caring about them.



Jeremy Jordan



Jeremy Jordan teaches Spanish at Lee’s Summit High School. Jeremy earned Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Spanish and a Master of Arts in Education from Truman State University. Jeremy has presented at FLAM and CSCTFL. He is the creator and star of the “Señor Jordan’s Spanish Videos” YouTube series and he also maintains an active blog at profesoranonimo.blogspot.com.

Jeremy’s current principal, attests that even though he has just known Jeremy for one semester, “it has taken only four months for him to blow me away.” He calls Señor Jordan a “collaborative” and “receptive” educator who makes “learning acquisition fun and engaging versus dry and lackluster.” Jeremy states that he always strives to “bring in laughter… to ensure we have fun in the language” and “connect with my students and their lives.”

Based on his students’ testimonials, Señor Jordan achieves his goal. A former student now living in Barcelona calls him “the best Spanish teacher ever.” Another student considered Spanish his “favorite class, the class I looked forward to all day.” Yet another student praised Jeremy for being “very personable and relatable.” She added, “Señor Jordan gave us more than just words to say. Not only did he share his love for the culture behind the Spanish language, he immersed us in it” and “that’s why we as students enjoyed him so much.”



Cara Heminger


Cara Heminger is a French teacher at North Star High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. She holds a Master’s Degree and Teacher Certification from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She is also an Honors Academy instructor at Nebraska Wesleyan University and teaches courses in education at Doane University.

Cara has been active in the Nebraska International Language Association and is President of the Nebraska chapter of the AATF.

Her principal states that Cara has a remarkable way of making the French language and culture come alive for the students in her classes. He has heard her students comment that Mrs. Heminger made them love and appreciate languages, which has allowed them to be better prepared for the complex and diverse world in which they live. She provides classroom projects and experiences that stretch students to think about languages differently. Cara is not afraid to think outside of the box about learning and what’s possible for students. Her former students have written touching recommendations about how Cara has not only helped them in the classroom, but in their personal lives and academic paths after high school.

We congratulate Cara on being named a Central States Teacher of the Year Finalist!



Angela Garritano


Angela Garritano teaches advanced levels of Spanish and is the World Languages Department Chair at Green High School in Green, Ohio. She holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Akron, one in Education and one in Spanish, and she has also taught Spanish there.

Angela has sponsored many language-related activities, including the Spanish Club, which has evolved into the World Language Club. With her department she worked hard to bring back German and French. She is most proud of their World Language Department philosophy. She credits her professional development experiences with OFLA, CSCTFL and AATSP for the sharp increase in her AP program.

The words “passionate” and “enthusiasm” resonate in all the letters of recommendation for Angela. Her principal speaks of her innovation, her use of technology, and her compassion for her students. Her principal also says that Angela teaches her students to be world-class citizens, to be thoughtful and respectful, and that her classroom, while rigorous, is full of fun and laughter. One of her students describes the passion and enthusiasm that Angela displays in her classroom, and states that Angela is the reason that she studied Spanish in college. A parent praises Angela’s knowledge and organizational skills as well as her dedication and passion in her teaching.

We congratulate Angela on being Ohio’s nominee for CSCTFL Teacher of the Year!



Andrea Behn




Andrea Behn has taught French at Parker High School and Fox River Middle School in Janesville, Wisconsin. She is the sponsor of the French Club and the Société Honoraire de Français. Andrea has led student trips to France and coordinates French family stay programs.

Andrea earned her Master’s Degree in French from Carthage College. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in World Languages. She is a frequent presenter at WAFLT and an active member of AATF.

Her principal writes that he continues to be impressed by her ability to develop relationships with students and deliver curriculum in an engaged and meaningful manner, and admires her quest for continued professional development. A parent praises Andrea by saying that her program is exemplary, she is an exceptional educator, and that she provides a creative variety of media to promote learning and student success. She is a role model not only to her students, but also to her peers. A former student describes her by saying, that she uses the tools at her disposal to introduce the French language and culture. Not only does she introduce these topics in various ways, she is also very adaptable. She constantly pushes for practice and

critical thinking while also changing her plans to fit the academic needs of the students of her classroom.

Congratulations to Andrea on all of her achievements




The 2016 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year

The 2015 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year

The 2014 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year

The 2013 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year

The 2012 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year

The 2011 Central States Conference
Teacher of the Year





© 2019 Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

P.O. Box 404
Ishpeming, MI 49849 
Email: csctfl.exec.director@gmail.com

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