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SWR teacher receives scholarship to attend foreign language conference

Shoreham-Wading River High School Spanish teacher Maryanne Agius won’t be on Long Island this weekend.

Instead, she’ll be attending a three-day conference in Manhattan catered to the needs of new teachers — for free.

The Shoreham-Wading River alumna will attend the 65th annual Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Feb. 7-9 at the New York Hilton Midtown. The conference will host discussions, workshops, sessions, exhibits, speeches and awards.

The world languages teacher, who began working at the high school in 2016, was one of 25 recipients of the New Teacher Conference Mentor Scholarship. Northeast applicants are required to have less than five years of classroom experience. Recipients, from Maine to Virginia, will be guided by teachers with over seven years of education experience.

“It’ll be a great way to have a connection with somebody, hopefully long-lasting, too, outside of the conference,” Ms. Agius said.

This year’s theme, “Authentic Language, Authentic Learning,” places emphasis on communicating effectively and “interacting with cultural competence to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world,” according to the NECTFL website.

The teacher, who discovered she received the scholarship mid-December, said she aims to learn how to more effectively utilize authentic sources for information.

“I’m really hoping there will be a lot of ideas on how to use actual readings, images, videos from Spanish-speaking countries in my teaching and how to adapt them in a way that my students can understand,” she said.

Ms. Agius, of Middle Island, said her teaching style focuses on engagement, which she believes ties into the theme of this year’s conference.

“If we’re using authentic resources, I feel like students will really understand why it’s important to learn foreign languages and how they can use them outside the classroom and out in the field,” she said.

Ms. Agius graduated from SUNY Geneseo, and started at Shoreham-Wading River after covering two leave replacements in Huntington High School and Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School.

The NECTFL scholarship comes from a grant from Vista Higher Learning and the NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network at New York University.

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Photo caption: Maryanne Agius will attend the 65th annual Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages this weekend. (Kate Nalepinski photo)