(Orlando, FL) — The Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) held its annual conference in Orlando, FL from March 16 - 18, 2017. During the conference, Brenna Byrd, an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky, was awarded the 2017 SCOLT Teacher of the Year Award. Each state in the thirteen state SCOLT region may send one state language Teacher of the Year to the regional conference..
Brenna was selected on the basis of her innovation in instruction, her strong contributions to language learning, her letters of recommendation, and an interview. She will now advance to the national competition sponsored by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). During the ACTFL convention in Nashville this coming November, she and four other regional teachers will vie for the title of ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year. The teacher selected in November will serve as the national spokesperson for language learning in 2018.
Since 2010, Dr. Byrd has helped to design and oversee the beginning and intermediate German program as an instructor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literature and Cultures at the University of Kentucky. She has involved her graduate teaching instructors in the conceptualization and redesign of a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking where students connect with artifacts from the culture. She says, "We engage our students with the why as much as the what." For her outstanding contributions in teaching, both the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) and the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) named her Outstanding Teacher in 2016.
In the words of her recommenders, "Dr. Byrd has been instrumental in reenvisioning and redesigning the traditional Beginning German sequence in response to the innovations in the fields of world language instruction, advancements in instructional technology, and changing student expectations in the 21st century.” Another said that she "believes in the power of giving students more choices to fit their own learning styles and personalize their education." According to another associate, Dr. Byrd's goal is to create speakers who "can move in between languages and cultures. These are ambitious goals, but if anyone can achieve them, it is likely to be my colleague, Brenna Byrd." SCOLT congratulates Brenna on this award and thanks her for her efforts to promote world language learning.