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Top Illinois honor for JHHS Spanish teacher

Published: 12/7/2021

Dr. Michael Ayala, world languages teacher at John Hersey High School, was named the 2021 Paul T. Griffith Illinois Foreign Language Teacher of the Year. Mike was honored at a virtual awards ceremony in October. He will represent Illinois in the regional World Language Teacher of the Year selection process, at the Central States Conference for world languages teachers in March. 

Mike is in his 28th year at Hersey, where he teaches all levels of Spanish classes. A native Spanish speaker himself, he created the Native Speaker program at Hersey. Says Mike, “I work hard to inculcate the love for the language to all my students, but especially our Latino students whose parents have gifted them a talent and ability to speak two languages. They are bilingual and bicultural, trying to navigate between two worlds. As a Heritage speaker, I understand the importance of having a program that meets the needs of our Latino students.”

Mike also serves as first vice president of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and is slated to become the group’s president in 2023. Congratulations to Mike, and good luck in the continuing selection process!