Southeast Bulloch High Spanish teacher Bobbi Lyn Moreno was selected recently by the Foreign Language Association of Georgia as its teacher of the year for 2011.
She received the award during the FLAG conference in Atlanta in March.
"Once I opened my notification letter, you could hear my excitement all the way down the hall," Moreno said. "I'm honored to receive this award. I moved from teaching English to Spanish eight years ago, and after one semester, I knew this is what I wanted to teach."
According to FLAG President Elizabeth Combier of North Georgia College and State University, there were 900 K-12 and post-secondary teachers of foreign languages in Georgia that were eligible to receive this award.
"Your community should see this as a great honor for Ms. Moreno and a testament to her dossier of work," Combier said.
Combier said her committee looked at Moreno's teaching philosophy, her approach to language learning, her strengths of using technology and collaboration, how she incorporates culture and her promotion of foreign language learning outside the classroom to the community, parents and administrators in making their selection.
Moreno holds a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish education, a master's in Spanish education and a specialist's degree in teaching and learning with a Spanish emphasis all from Georgia Southern University.
"With a name like Moreno, most people think that Spanish is my native language, but I learned it the hard way beginning in high school just as they're doing," she said.
Her fluency in the language and her degree is what allowed SEB administrators to call on her to reestablish the school's foreign language program.
"I'd been teaching English for two years, and before we left for Christmas Break that year, I was asked to assume this role," she said. "I had three weeks to prepare curriculum, lesson plans and my classroom."
It's that tenacity and creativity that her peers say makes Moreno stand out.
"Her classes are very interactive and fun," said fellow Spanish teacher Cathy Chappel. "I take every idea I can from her. She's fun to teach across the hall from."
Moreno is an avid grant writer, incorporates technology in her teaching and actively seeks ways to partner with fellow teachers at SEB and a high school in Oaxaca, Mexico.
"With a foreign language, you immediately know if your students are learning," Moreno said. "I love using technology to make learning fun."
Moreno recently used free Internet software to allow her students to create virtual characters of themselves, called avatars, who they then could speak Spanish through. She also had students translate their personal Facebook profiles and friend comments into Spanish and depict them on posters since the site is blocked on school computers.
"Mrs. Moreno is always telling us how important foreign language is, and that being bilingual is a valuable asset in the job market," said SEB student Joseph Strickland. "Because of Mrs. Moreno, I'm going to make sure that I study a foreign language until I am fluent."
After Moreno was recognized for excellence in foreign language education at the World Language Awards, at the Georgia State Department of Education, David Alley, Ph.D., a professor at Georgia Southern said: "Mrs. Moreno is one of the best teachers in her field of study."
She also received the Fostering Partnerships Award from FLAG last year for her collaborative work with GSU and SEB teachers. She received two grants to help fund collaborative projects that help students see the value and practicality of learning a second language.