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Congratulations to the 2022 Participate Learning Teachers of the Year

As the 2021-22 school year ends, we are filled with gratitude for the dedication to global education displayed by Participate Learning Ambassador Teachers this year. Their commitment to students, colleagues, and the wider educator community is to be commended and celebrated.

This year, Participate Learning recognized three incredible Ambassador Teachers with 2022 Teacher of the Year awards. They each create a culturally responsive environment where students are valued and included. They are masters of instruction who generously share their expertise and resources with others. They integrate their culture and that of their students into instruction, embrace leadership opportunities, and strive to make an impact. Take a peek into their classrooms and learn more about these amazing educators below.

Congratulations and a heartfelt “thank you” to our three winners!

Meet our 2022 Teachers of the Year

Anayansi Young is a rising third-term Ambassador Teacher from Honduras. She teaches fourth graders in the Spanish Dual Language Program at William H. Owen Elementary in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Anayansi is also an Ambassador Teacher Alumna, and this is her second tour teaching at Owen Elementary.

Anayansi is a veteran educator who found her calling 20 years ago when she became a teacher. She brings global perspectives to her students by exposing them to different cultures in her classroom. As an avid proponent of STEM, she leads such efforts at her school and regularly incorporates STEM components into her students’ language learning.

Anayansi also emphasizes social-emotional learning with her students and encourages them to practice respect and kindness to their peers. The well-rounded instruction she provides her students is perfectly summed up in her description of this experience:

“Just yesterday during a STEM expo, where my students were presenting and I was the STEM lead teacher, I found two former students who were as excited as I was to see them again and reconnect. They told me how they valued the way I made them feel and always remembered me with a smile. They did not highlight my latest reading strategy or the math jingle I had created to help them learn a topic. They remembered how I cared about their well-being as well as their academics.”

Hanxuan (Karena) Zhang is a rising fifth-term Ambassador Teacher from China. She is currently a kindergarten teacher in the Mandarin Dual Language Program at Stough Elementary in Wake County, North Carolina.

Karena wants her students to feel a sense of love and security when they walk into her classroom, especially during their first year of school. She makes all students and their families feel welcome by fostering a strong sense of community and respect.

Not only does she help students acquire a new language, she also exposes them to many different cultures. This past year, her students connected virtually with other students from countries like Japan, Australia, and England. She also spends time teaching her class about Chinese customs, food, clothing, and celebrations.

Karena mentors other Mandarin immersion teachers in her professional learning community (PLC) and works alongside them to develop curriculum and pacing guides. She enjoys helping new teachers get acclimated to the school environment.

Karena is truly an ambassador for her culture and language. She wants all her students to develop global perspectives as they learn Mandarin Chinese.

“Learning another language builds confidence for students and creates strong building blocks for their future,” says Karena.

Orosia Cortez is a fourth and fifth-grade Spanish immersion teacher at an elementary school in Union County, North Carolina. Originally from Peru, she is a rising fifth-term Ambassador Teacher.

Orosia infuses all of her lessons and activities with global themes. She uses tools like international music, visuals, props, and traditional clothing to show students different cultures, including her own Peruvian culture. She ensures that her students’ identities are respected and valued by asking them to share about themselves:

“I have students from Mexico, Colombia, Israel, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and Ethiopia. In the winter holidays, I invited these students to share the way their families celebrate together. My student from Israel felt so happy that she made slides with photographs to [share with] her classmates and other classes, explaining her culture.”

Orosia also embraces opportunities to share her culture with fellow teachers and the broader community. She attends festivals and events in the Charlotte area where she educates people about Peruvian traditions and customs.

In addition to all of the above, she is an education leader, speaking at conferences (such as those held by FLANC) and showing other teachers best practices in dual language immersion, such as math scaffolding strategies and the use of total physical response books to develop grammar skills.

Participate Learning would like to thank all our Ambassador Teachers for another successful school year. We are so grateful for your commitment to uniting our world through global learning. Thank you for educating the next generation of thoughtful, engaged citizens who will have such a positive impact on our future.

Again, congratulations to the 2022 Teachers of the Year! If you’d like to learn more about teaching in the U.S. with Participate Learning, see our requirements and application process.