A Year in Review…And the Year to Come!

Beth Hanlon, 2017-2018 OFLA President
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School

Dear OFLA colleagues,

I hope your 2017-2018 school year is drawing to a close on a positive note! I also hope this summer will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated to head into the 2018-2019 school year.

I would like to take this opportunity to look back at the 2017-2018 OFLA year. It began with the August board retreat at the Cleveland Marriott. During the retreat, board members discussed and planned for the year as well as created goals. Each board member has been working on accomplishing their goals during this school year based on their board position. In creating these goals, we considered the data that was provided to us from the OFLA member survey that was available in May 2017.

In October, the Fall Extension workshop took place at Lexington High School. Julie Frye, Becky Shick, and Angela Gardner led workshops. At the board meeting later that month, the OFLA board approved its 2018 Teacher of the Year, who was vetted by the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. Lee Bishop, Japanese teacher at Columbus North International School, was selected to represent OFLA at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Throughout the fall and into the winter, the Conference Planning Committee members, Alan Turner, Rich Emch, Lesley Chapman, Lucas Hoffman, and Teri Wiechart, were working with The Meeting Connection to assemble the 2018 conference schedule, put together the conference program, and to attend to the many conference planning details. Simultaneously, award nominations and scholarship applications were being accepted and the 2018 election was being organized. The OFLA board met in January and February to approve the award and scholarship winners, to approve the election slate, as well as to continue planning the conference.

We cannot recap this year without mentioning the much anticipated roll out of Ohio’s Seal of Biliteracy, with many thanks to Martha Halemba (Hudson High School) and Ryan Wertz and Kathy Shelton (Ohio Department of Education) for their hard work. With the Seal approved, Ryan began regional workshops to inform us on how implementation should look in our districts. Earlier this year, Kathy and OFLA’s executive vice-president, Lesley Chapman, began working with Avant to provide a cohort opportunity for teachers to assess their students this year for the Seal.

April brought the 2018 OFLA conference in Cleveland. Our featured speakers as well as our amazing Ohio teachers shared and collaborated all weekend, which made the unanticipated hotel construction and valet parking hiccups tolerable. The OFLA board met at the conclusion of the conference to discuss aspects of the conference while it was still fresh in our minds. Post-conference feedback by attendees provided the board additional information on how we can improve for future conferences. The session and workshop feedback we were able to collect in Attendify was distributed to presenters.

The OFLA board met for its final 2017-2018 meeting in May. The board continued to discuss follow-ups to the conference and has begun looking ahead to the upcoming year.

Now, let’s look ahead to the 2018-2019 school year! Before we even begin the new school year, OFLA will host three summer workshops in various areas of the state to help rejuvenate and prepare you for the upcoming year! The first, titled “From Surviving to Thriving: Revive your Thematic Units” will take place in Chillicothe on June 8th and again in Hillsboro on June 11th. On June 15th in Avon Lake, the third workshop, entitled “The Basics and Beyond: Re-June-vate,¨”, will take place. Other summer professional development opportunities include the Ohio Department of Education’s World Language Summer Institute in July and the Ohio 8 World Language EdCamp at the end of June. As we begin the school year, watch for details about the OFLA Fall Workshop! It is currently in the planning stages. And, in 2019, with Alan Turner as OFLA president, we will host a joint conference in Columbus with the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Make sure to mark your calendars for March 14-16, 2019!

Before concluding, I would like to acknowledge Martha Halemba, Spanish teacher at Hudson High School, who is retiring this year. Martha has served OFLA as Professional Development Chair and as OFLA president, in addition to helping the Ohio world language community navigate the implementation of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System and Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and working with ODE on Ohio’s Seal of Biliteracy. Martha is a household name in Ohio world language and we owe her much gratitude for her work. Thank you, Martha, for all that you have done!

As teachers, we give a lot of ourselves in terms of time and energy. We often forget how the world is moving around us during the chaos of the school year. I hope this summer you are able to put your feet up, read, take longer than a 25 minute lunch, use the bathroom when you want, travel, catch up with friends and family, clean your house, stay up late, and much more! These simple things let us refocus so that we are ready for the next year!

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your president this year – Have an amazing summer!


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