Local teachers honored for building cultural awareness

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By The Staff

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Visiting International Faculty Program has recognized 16 of its visiting exchange teachers with 2009 International Educator of the Year awards.

Two Lancaster County School District teachers were honored with the awards.

Chosen from among more than 70 nominees in six states, these educators work every day to create opportunities for their students to explore other cultures and countries, master new languages, and discuss and contribute to solutions for global challenges.

As Visiting International Faculty Program educators, they build the 21st-century skills and experiences that will ensure their students will succeed in the diverse job markets they will graduate into.

Monica M. Díaz Jiménez was named the 2009 International Educator of the Year for South Carolina. She teaches Spanish at Brooklyn Springs Elementary School.

In just her second year teaching in the United States, Jiménez has made a tremendous impact on the students at Brooklyn Springs Elementary School, as well as in the wider community, the Visiting International Faculty Program says.

Not only does she share her culture during the school day with students through discussions of Colombia’s landscapes, food, music and traditions, but she also organizes special events, such as celebrations of Hispanic holidays.

Jiménez assists in translating printed and verbal communications for Spanish-speaking parents.

Outside of the classroom, she has gone above and beyond her call of duty, serving as vice president of the local Multi-Cultural Information Center.

Jiménez will be honored at a celebration at 7:20 a.m. at the school. She will receive her award and her school will receive free educational materials.

Nélida Verónica Raffin was named an honorable mention by the group.

She teaches English as a second language at North Elementary School.

There Raffin has made efforts to bring Argentine culture to both students and faculty through platforms such as music and food. To help all teachers understand the needs of English-language learners, Raffin guides mainstream classroom teachers on how to use more visual cues and other tools to better convey material.

Raffin assists her school in communicating with the Spanish-speaking community. She often translates at parent conferences, and when the school needs to send home a telephone message to a Spanish-speaking family, Raffin will record it in Spanish.

Both Jiménez and Raffin demonstrate how international teachers bring new cultures and experiences to students, offering real-life exposure to the world beyond their classrooms.