The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Sidney High's Avila Recognized for Language Approach


November 28, 2018

When a teacher sees a student "get it," it is a moment of excitement for the teacher and the student. It is a moment that often follows a series of failures in the process, failures that become teaching opportunities.

When the teacher is recognized by his or her peers for insight in the profession, it is a stage moment uniting student and teacher success.

Brett Avila, Sidney High School Spanish and Human Development teacher, was recognized in 2016 as Best of Nebraska at the Nebraska International Languages Association (NILA). In 2017, he was recognized as the New World Language Teacher.

"It's been very exciting," Avila said. "The school district, including Mr. (Jay) Ehler, has been very supportive."

Since his recognition in 2017, Avila spent the summer training with three teachers, developing a world language course in the elementary grades. He is working with Suzanna Guerrero and Trissha Siler to develop a program teaching students a language in addition to their native speech. He said the reason for focusing on youth is young children learn a second language easier than older students and adults.

He recently returned from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) 2018 session. His session was on his experiences teaching world language, stepping away from what he was taught and seeing an increase in student proficiency, making teaching more fun. He said it is an updated version of the presentation that earned him the Best of Region honor. He said he is excited to have a Spanish-only conversation in his classroom, with students.

"It is so exciting. I am absolutely in love with what I do," Avila said.

Courtesy Photo

Sidney High School Spanish Teacher Brett Avila recently addressed the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages 2018 session while a sign language speaker intreprets for him.

Also attending the conference were World Language Specialist Stephanie Call and Ali Moeller of the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Avila worked with Moeller on a Department of Education advisory board for state standards. In his presentation, Avila explained that some of his barriers, challenges, as a teacher were "I taught how I was taught," "Verb charts, drills and vocab lists were comfortable," "Other teachers are doing it so it must be okay," and "I spent so much time on my lesson plans."

"She is a professor at UNL. It is an exciting year for Nebraska," he said.

He added one of the high points of education is sharing with other teachers, and seeing what they can do.

"For me, it is very humbling. I want to offer other teachers the experience," he said.

His presentation at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL) was selected as the "Best of CSCTFL."

The Nebraska Department of Education developed the Nebraska World Language Essential Learnings in 1996.


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