By Sue Robertson, Recognition & Awards Chair
Mark Keith is the David Cox FLAVA Excellence in Foreign Language Teaching Award winner for 2013. This award recognizes a Virginia foreign language teacher in grades K-12 who has demonstrated excellence in foreign language instruction.
Mark graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg in 1987, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics. As an undergraduate, he spent the fall semester of his junior year studying at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. Upon his graduation, Mark began his career teaching Latin in Virginia. Currently he teaches Latin I, II, III, IV, and AP at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg and directs numerous academic activities outside the classroom. Mark is a member of a wide variety of professional associations and a frequent presenter at their conferences. Mark has been co-chair of the National Latin Exam since 2001 and has served on its Steering and Writing Committee since 1999.
Colleagues and former students said of Mark Keith:
“Mark Keith is a dedicated teacher to his students, an energetic colleague with his peers and a tireless supporter of the Classics in his classroom, across Spotsylvani aCounty, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and the entire United States.”
“In every person’s life, there is always one teacher they looked up to and idolized. For me, it has always been Mr. Keith. Having him as a teacher is what convinced me that I wanted to be a Latin teacher myself. “
“Mark Keith is the epitome of what every language teacher should be – well versed in his subject area, motivational and caring, while maintaining the highest of standards.”
Isidoro Kessel is the recipient of the 2013 Marshall Brannon FLAVA Excellence in Teaching Post-Secondary Award. Currently, Isi serves as associate professor of Spanish and department chair at Thomas Nelson Community College. However, Isi started his career in the high-school setting, where he left his mark in so many diverse areas – from AP and IB to the Governor’s Spanish Academy and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
Isi served as FLAVA’s president from 2005-2009, and was the recipient of the Old Dominion University Shining Star Award in 2010 for having the most impact on students’ success academically, personally, and professionally.
The following tell of the influence that Isidoro Kessel has had over the years upon students, colleagues, and peers alike.
“He is a serious, hardworking and very devoted teacher who strives for excellence in all that he undertakes, always using the most up-to-date methodological approaches of teaching a foreign language.”
“From the first encounter with Professor Kessel, I could see how passionate he was about teaching Spanish. He didn’t just do it because it was his job, but because he loved it. He made use of every single 110-minute class to thoroughly explain the material making sure that everybody understood it. One thing that I wish many teachers understood is that your dedication and passion for a subject is what will allow your students to do well in the class. When students see how much the teacher loves what he does and loves to help a student succeed, it makes the student want to put her all into it. This is the exact feeling I got out of Professor Kessel’s class. He inspired me to learn and grow with the Spanish language.”
“As a history teacher now I try every day to be as much like Isidoro Kessel as I can be. I greatly admire the man and hope that I can one day be as good at teaching as he is now. I not only learned Spanish from him but I learned skills so that I could be a successful person and that is as important as learning knowledge.”
Norah Jones is the 2013 Helen Warriner-Burke FLAVA Distinguished Service Award winner. One hardly knows where to begin in honoring Norah for her tremendous influence and service. She served as president of FLAVA twice and as president of SCOLT. Her countless workshops and seminars at ACTFL, NECTFL, SCOLT, and FLAVA have made a difference in so many teachers’ lives over the years.
Norah is responsible for so many initiatives, innovations, and has contributed greatly to the vision and mission of FLAVA. Without her insight and careful guidance, our organization would not be the “powerhouse” it is today!
Of Norah, colleagues said:
“Norah’s contributions are not limited to serving in leadership positions in local, state, regional, and national conferences and boards. Norah is responsible for creating textbooks that serve the needs of students and instructors. She was a contributor to the original SOL for foreign languages and has endeavored to create materials, textbooks, and workshops that assist students in gaining the proficiency required by the SOL and beyond.”
“My first memory of Norah goes way back – I actually do not remember her topic that day, but I remember that twinkle in her eyes and how important she made everyone in the room feel. She knows how to motivate and to encourage each and every one of us to achieve our best. Norah Jones serves and leads by example.”
Chester Technical Services, Inc is the winner of the 2013 Friend of FLAVA Award. Bob Grewal accepted the award in behalf of CTS.
Kathryn Murphy-Judy recently wrote, “As times and te(a)chnologies have changed, CTS has partnered with FLAVA to show Virginia's teachers how to provide leading edge world language affordances for 21st century learning. The Sony/SANS systems, media services, lab equipment, and furnishings, which many of our schools, colleges and universities use, are an important part of our educational landscape.”
Norah Jones wrote in her nomination of CTS, "Patiently and collegially, Chester Technical has been FLAVA’s partner in bringing good quality concepts and products to the attention of annual conference attendees for many years. This partnership has always been in the spirit of support for excellence for both teachers and students, and has therefore made a powerful difference in Virginia’s overall excellence in world language education."
FLAVA looks forward to many more years of support and friendship with Chester Technical Services, Inc.
This year the Jocelyne Couture-Norwak Scholarship went to Sarah Oertel. The Jamie Bishop Scholarship went to Kevin Hopkins, Brian Neel, and Matthew Reihing.
The Best of FLAVA winners were:
- Benjamin Cory Holec of Norview Middle School in Norfolk. His topic was "Commodity Wars: Exploring Economies of the Roman World." He will represent FLAVA at NECTFL,
- Karine Boulle of St. Anne's-Belfield in Charlottesville. Her topic was "Turn Students into First Time Authors!" She will represent FLAVA at SCOLT.