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Holliston Honored at ACTFL Conference

by Superintendent Brad Jackson

This weekend, over 7000 teachers of foreign languages from all across North America descended into Boston for the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) for three days of professional development and sharing of best practices. This conference represents the best of foreign language educators in America and is the highlight of the year for these talented professionals.

On Friday evening, the ACTFL Conference paused and honored extraordinary achievement in the area of Foreign Language programming at its Annual Awards Ceremony. Eight prestigious awards are given including Awards for Best Doctoral Dissertation Research in Foreign Language Education, Best Research in Foreign Language Education and Outstanding Leadership in Foreign Language Education both K-12 and Post-Secondary. In 2005, ACTFL added a new award – The Melba D. Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program. Previous award winners include the Eisenhower International School of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the East Grand Rapids Public Schools, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Forsyth County School System in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This year, the Melba D. Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program was given to the Holliston Public Schools, in Holliston, Massachusetts.

For over 30 years now, the Holliston Public Schools have offered incoming Kindergarten students the option of entering our French Immersion program – a K-12 program of instruction where all instruction takes place in French in Grades K-2, half the day in grades 3-5 and students attend advanced French classes though Middle and High School, culminating in Advanced Placement French in Grade 12. Over 10 years ago, the Holliston Public Schools added a FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) program where every non-French Immersion student in grades 1-5 receives a minimum of 30 minutes of Spanish instruction per week.

At the awards ceremony before a packed auditorium, Alisha Samples, Chairperson of the Committee who selected Holliston for this honor, told the crowd that “the Holliston Public Schools is nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding elementary foreign language programs in America” and specifically noted that ACTFL waited until the annual conference was held in Boston to make this award to Holliston so all of Holliston’s teachers could be part of the celebration.

In his remarks accepting the award on behalf of the Holliston Public Schools, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bradford L. Jackson noted the leadership of both the late Dr. Sam Placentino and current Foreign Language Coordinator Madame Therese Caccavale as well as the outstanding teachers who form the “nucleus of our program.” He expressed his concern that programs such as those in Holliston are “becoming a dying breed” and that the foreign language leaders present at ACTFL need to “remind policy-makers that research tells us that early language acquisition students do better on standardized tests than students with no such opportunity.”

Lisa M. Galeaz, Chairperson of the Holliston School Committee expressed Holliston's pride in receiving this national recognition. "Not only is this award a tribute to the outstanding work of our teachers and administrators, it also reflects Holliston's commitment to provide its children with the best education possible. This award validates the support and sacrifices of a generous town and school community.”

Congratulations to the Holliston Public Schools, winner of the 2010 ACTFL Melba D. Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program.

Comments (1)

C'est si bon!

Paul Saulnier | 2010-11-22 19:25:36