TeriWTeri Wiechart, President Elect

Many thanks to all who took the time to submit colleagues for this year’s OFLA Awards.  There were so many strong, deserving candidates it created a difficult task for the selection committee.  In many cases ties needed to be broken.

This year there were five candidates for the Outstanding Administrator in Support of World Language Award.  Each one of them was the sort of administrator with whom teachers would want to work.  For example, the administrator who helped students realize the value of pushing themselves to learn Russian, a challenging yet beneficial language, and who regularly stops into the Russian classroom to ask the students how to say new things and to witness their progress.    Or the one who understands the numerous long-term benefits of learning a less commonly taught language.

Then there is the teacher who saw her administrator as a true global citizen.  And the one who told the parents at the back to school meeting that the language classes are the most important classes that the students will be taking at that school.

Another one who is constantly encouraging the students to speak the languages outside of the classroom as well and who established a school culture where students are not embarrassed about, but fully comfortable with, speaking languages other than English: in the halls, in the cafeteria, in his office, in their classes, and in the presence of their parents.

One more who, in a school with international students, always strives to speak to his students (and their parents) in “their” language—either the one they are studying at school, or a home language. This means taking many risks to attempt to speak Spanish, Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, all of which are currently offered at the school, as well as many obscure African languages.

This administrator will be able to lead his teachers into 21st Century skills and a world of OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) and SLO’s (Student Learning Objectives) by having a good understanding of ACTFL proficiency levels, and “gets it” when teachers speak about moving students up the scale every year.

And teachers who are striving share their passion for language with their students, volunteering time to expand programs into elementary schools, and presenting at conferences around the world to help other teachers grow in the field.

We are certainly in challenging times with the changes in education in general and world language in particular.   Know that there are many stellar teachers, administrators, and leaders who are ready to guide us there.

Ohio Foreign Language Association


Mr. James Kubacki and Dr. Gregg Good, St. Edward High School, Lakewood, OH
Nominated by:  Sherie Gentilli, teacher, St. Edwards High School

Mr. James KubackiDr. Gregg GoodIt is a pleasure to honor two gentlemen who have worked tirelessly at St. Edward High School over the last three years. President James Kubacki and Dr. Gregg Good, executive vice president joined the community in 2010 and have made amazing transformations to many areas of the school, including a revitalization and expansion of the World Language department.  In a school with a strong tradition of academic excellence, but a less than stellar language department,  Mr. Kubacki and Dr. Good made one change that dramatically affected the way the community viewed world language learning.  By initiating the transformation to an accredited International Baccalaureate School, it changed the focus to international-mindedness which immediately lent credibility and weight to the World Language Department.  They see world language teachers as part of a world community that speaks thousands of languages, and as such, the ones taught in high school are a fundamental first step on the way to being responsible global citizens, introducing the students to the concept of “international mindedness.” With the global focus of this program, Mr. Kubacki and Dr. Good have provided the students with a variety of travel opportunities to learn about and identify with other cultures.  These educators understand the importance of acquiring other languages in the 21st century. Mr. Kubacki and Dr. Good did not waste any time, and got right to work developing a complete Mandarin Chinese program, reinstated the French program and are in the process of choosing the next essential language to offer to the students.

“When these men decided to bring back the French language program and introduce Mandarin Chinese, they provided their students with even more options to demonstrate their love for language [They were able to do this while maintaining Latin, Spanish and Italian.].”  Student, class of 2015

“Dr. Good and Mr. Kubacki are both supporters of the newly formed Linguistics Club and significantly encourage around the world trips. . . . They support these trips because they know the significance of international travel, but also promote services trips around the world.” Student, class of 2014


Dr. Charles Hancock, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Nominated by Lee Wilberschied, Cleveland State University

DrCharlesHancockPICAs a lifelong member of OFLA, Charles Hancock served as its President in 1990-1991.  In 1992 OFLA honored Dr. Hancock with the Edward Allen Outstanding Foreign Language Teacher Award, and, in that same year, he received the ACTFL Anthony Papalia Award for Excellence in Teacher Education.  ACTFL also honored him in 1984 with the Florence Steiner National Award for Excellence. These honors represent only a small portion of his lifelong service, research, and commitment within the profession of foreign and second language teaching, and his efforts have had an impact around the world.

He began his career as a teacher of Spanish and French in New Orleans, Louisiana, and served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to having been a Peace Corps trainer, he served as director of the Intensive English Program for the Wuhan University (China). For 10 years, he was Associate Dean at The Ohio State University College of Education. As a teacher educator, he shaped the careers of two generations of foreign and second language teachers and professors from Ohio and around the world.

Even as the author of dozens of publications, a past president of ACTFL, chair of the 2000 Central States Conference, and a civic leader, he is remembered by his students and mentees as one who expected the best from each one, who took an interest in all of them, and who found time to take care of them all. He was inexhaustible in his championship for the underrepresented.  Dr. Hancock passed from this life October 29, 2012.  He was to have retired on June 1, 2013 from a career in modern languages that had spanned 45 years. Mentee, colleague and friend Marjorie Hall Haley wrote in her nomination that Dr. Hancock was a “fine and decent man. Dr. Hancock has touched the lives of many and we are all the better for it.”

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages African American Students Special Interest Group was created under his guidance and direction. This is a prime example of one of his many attributes. He saw a need and then adroitly set about to address it. Dr. Hancock had the amazing ability to bring people together and make everyone feel valued and special.

Dr. Hancock worked in collaboration with The Ohio State University and the Wuhan University Summer Intensive English Program.  He vigorously promoted academic and cultural exchanges between the U.S.A. and China and he exerted tremendous impact on the Chinese faculty and students both in China and the US.

His work has touched the lives of so many, on a worldwide scale, but each week he would sit with middle school students and tutor them one-on-one. He had a vast energy and commitment to the field. He was a mentor far beyond the profession. He set an example that few, if any, will ever be able to match.


Dr. Jeannine Subisak, Columbus Academy, Columbus, OH
Nominated by Na Li, Columbus Academy, Columbus, OH

Dr. Jeannine S.Dr. Jeannine Subisak exemplifies Professional Service for World Language teachers.  Dr. Subisak served as a Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools board member for three years; was president for the Ohio Association of Teachers of Chinese (OATC) for two terms; and has served on the board of OFLA.  In addition, she was a Judge for the National Chinese Speech Contest, Boston, MA; an AP Chinese Test Scoring Table Leader; Associate Director of the Columbus Academy East Asia Institute; LangSource Reviewer and Editor, University of Maryland; Pre-Service trainer for Guest Teachers from China and Visiting Teachers from Taiwan with the Ohio Department of Education;  Ohio FLAP K-6 Mandarin Curriculum Steering Committee member; AP Central Reviewer and Contributor; a participant in the Fulbright Study Abroad Summer Program in China; a Chinese language teacher at the Columbus Chinese Academy’s heritage weekend school; a Coordinator for a Chinese program Summer Camp.  In addition, she taught Chinese Cultural Workshops at several K-12 schools and community groups; and was a Chinese/English language interpreter for industrial/business meetings and a Chinese/English translator for technical documents.

Dr. Subisak helped OATC build a strong relationship with the OSU Chinese Flagship Program. She tied OATC Professional Development with OSU and received a grant to strengthen OATC’s professional development as well. She also helped establish regional meetings in Ohio to reach more Chinese teachers. She established the first Chinese Immersion Day for high school students in Ohio with the OSU Outreach Program. In addition, she worked closely with OFLA and made OATC a part of the OFLA annual conference, which benefited OATC members in receiving professional development hours.

Furthermore, she has several publications, presentations and awards.

Publications and Presentations
Teaching Chinese, All Things Considered, Keynote Speaker, Teacher Training Workshop, Indiana State Department of Education, September 20, 2012.
Culture in Taiwan, ODE Teaching in Taiwan, Teacher Orientation, July 17, 2012.
ACTFL Convention presenter— Differentiated Instructions in Chinese Classroom, 2012.
Finding Authentic Teaching Materials on your Fingertips, 2011.
10 Ways to Guide Students in Performing in Chinese, 2010.
Developing Students’ Proficiencies through Performing, 2009.
Effective Strategies to Enhance Learning in the Chinese AP Classroom, 2008.
Effective Strategies for High School Chinese Classrooms, 2007.
The Effectiveness of Using Digital Images in Teaching Speaking Chinese, 2006.
A Standards-based Module Lesson for High School Students, 2004.
Spiral-up, Building the Language Skills, OFLA Conference, April 3, 2009.
Advocacy for Chinese Programs, Making the Global Connection administrator conference, OSU/ODE, December 13, 2007.
Stone Lions—A Thematic Unit, US/China Chinese Teacher Workshop, Tongzhou, China, July 2005.
Do’s and Don’ts in Chinese Language, CLASS Summer Workshop, Tongzhou, China, July 2005.
Teacher Appreciation Dinner—A Thematic Unit, a Fulbright Summer Study Abroad publication, November 2003.
Outstanding Educator, University of Chicago, 2012.
Teaching Excellence Award, 2009, The Ohio State University K-12 Chinese.
Flagship Program.
Best Buy Te@ch Award recipient, 2005.
iLife Educator Award Honorable Mentions, 2004.
Scholars on Digital Starlight Awards, GKE Foundation, June, 2003.


Mary Jo Behrensmeyer, Mt. Vernon High School, Mt. Vernon, OH
Nominated by Dena Hooley, Mt. Vernon High School, Mt. Vernon, OH

mary jo 1Under Ms. Behrensmeyer’s instruction, students experience culture through hands-on learning, real world application and opportunities to travel, explore and expand beyond expected requirements for the typical Latin class coursework. For a number of years Mrs. Behrensmeyer has taken groups of students on summer archaeological excursions. She has travelled to many foreign lands in her pursuit of acquiring new facts and information to bring Latin to life for her students.

It has become tradition that Latin III students create large wall portrait size mosaics depicting mythological characters based on their studies. Mrs. Behrensmeyer and her Latin III students acquired support to extend the mosaic project to the multiple disabilities high school units of all Knox County Schools.  For the fourth consecutive year, the programs have teamed Latin students mentoring those with disabilities.   Together, these students have shared their artwork with the community via an exhibition during our First Friday community celebrations in Mount Vernon.  Quoting Mrs. Behrensmeyer, she believes that “you learn twice” when you teach others.

Mrs. Behrensmeyer diligently designs grant proposals incorporating funding from industries and educational research, enhancing learning through doing.  Investors become active partners, assuming roles as ongoing participants, promoting projects through continued community involvement.

Mount Vernon City Schools pioneered a state of the art technology pilot program that extended Mrs. Behrensmeyer’s classroom interactive lessons to another school district’s students via videoconferencing.

She has been a recipient of many program honors. In recent years, she was chosen as Ohio’s outstanding Latin Teacher of the Year three times. Additionally she was nominated as one of Ohio’s 22 most influential women.   She received the National Endowment for the Humanities Foreign Fellowship to Avignon, France.   Most recently, she achieved second place for the American Philological Association’s National Teacher of the Year.

“She is an amazing lady who has endless passion for learning and teaching.”  Dena Hooley


Estela Muñoz-Rodríguez, Jackson High School, Massillon, OH
Nominated by Parthena Draggett, Jackson High School, Massillon, OH

EstellaAlthough a beginning teacher, Estela Muñoz-Rodríguez really seems more like an accomplished expert in the classroom. She is well-organized, very caring, and motivated to advance her students’ learning to a higher level of competency. Students are often found with Señora Muñoz before and after school getting extra help. She always wears a sincere, warm smile that makes her very approachable to her students.  The creative lessons that she plans and the engagement level in her classroom are amazing as Estela is very adept at varying the methodology and activities she uses to keep the students’ interest.  Estela exemplifies true collegiality in the way she takes the lead, inspiring other teachers to raise the bar for the students.

She calls parents often for positive and helpful reasons; sometimes just to tell them that their children are doing well in Spanish.   In addition to her six Spanish I, II, and III classes, Estela was asked to be part of the new Jackson Academy for Global Studies.  On the Teacher Based Team, Estela collaborates in implementing project-based learning activities.  Moreover, she is right there to help in any special projects or requests and is a leader in our Professional Learning Community.

Students attest to her qualities.  “Señora recognized my fears and saw that I was struggling and adjusted her teaching style, and life, to help me. I saw how much she loved, appreciated, and used the Spanish language and she inspired me to want to feel the same way.”  Student #1

“She is always providing a listening ear and a warm environment. She has enriched my learning, and now I can’t imagine my life without Spanish. I plan to study Spanish in college and know that I will use the lessons she taught about Spanish and about life.” Student #2

“I was nervous for the first day of school. However, all my butterflies went away when I walked into my first-period class and met Mrs. Muñoz-Rodríguez. She was to be my Spanish teacher, however, she would also go on to be someone I could trust, someone who would create a friendly learning environment, and most importantly, someone who would develop the passion for Spanish that I now have.”   Student #3


Thomas Rutan, Ohio Department of Education, Columbus, OH
Nominated by Ryan Wertz, Ohio Department of Education, Columbus, OH

Tom Rutan (2)Few people working in K-12 world language education in Ohio will likely recognize Tom Rutan’s name, but even fewer will ever impact K-12 language learning on a statewide level as profoundly as this dedicated public servant has done during his tenure as Associate Director in the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum and Assessment. As a former French minor, social studies teacher and high school principal, Tom understands the positive impact that being proficient in a second language can have on students’ lives following graduation. Under his direction, the ODE world languages team has received unwavering support and well-informed guidance, allowing a move forward with an active and innovative agenda in support of K-12 language learners and educators around the state. While Tom would humbly downplay his role in the ongoing innovations within the world language content area, the far-reaching influence of his many contributions cannot be underestimated. It is for these reasons and many more that Tom Rutan is deserving of the honor that comes with being recognized as OFLA’s Educator Friend of Foreign Language.

During Tom’s tenure at the Ohio Department of Education, new learning standards for world languages were created and adopted. Few know that it was Tom who provided periodic updates about the revisionary work of the world language advisory and working teams to the State Board of Education’s Achievement Committee, paving the way for the unanimous adoption of the new standards in June 2012.  During his involvement with the writing of Ohio’s new World Language Learning Standards he came to learn about the realities of language teaching in diverse settings, which led to his unwavering support of the 2012 standards being developed by proficiency rather than grade level. Tom lobbied senior leadership at ODE to see the wisdom in this approach.

In 2006, Tom was an integral part of the ODE team that developed and submitted a successful Foreign Language Assistance Program grant proposal to create a content-enriched K-4 Mandarin Chinese curriculum.

“Tom is a true, dedicated and committed friend to the world languages.”  Sasheen Phillips, Senior Executive Director, Ohio Department of Education

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