Ziemann wins prestigious award


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Spanish teacher Jody Ziemann holds up her engraved plaque after receiving it in the mail the night of the virtual conference. Ziemann has officially been named the 2021 Distinguished Language Educator. “I’m also going to get a $500 honorarium, but I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do with that,” Ziemann said.

Camdyn Rohde, Business Manager

Spanish teacher Jody Ziemann received the Distinguished Language Educator award from the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers (WAFLT) on Friday, Nov. 5 during a virtual conference. The acceptance speeches were pre-recorded and many awards were presented that night. The ceremony began with the smaller awards and eventually led up to Ziemann’s award, the highest award that the state gives out. 

To receive the Distinguished Language Educator award, one must be a current WAFLT member in good standing with a minimum of five consecutive years as a WAFLT member and a minimum of ten years’ experience as a world language educator. A history of service to WAFLT is also required. Additionally, award candidates must be nominated by a member of the organization in order to be considered. Ziemann’s nominator, WAFLT executive board member and previous recipient of the Distinguished Language Educator award, Linda Havas, nominated Ziemann because of her tireless work advocating for language learning.

“Her hard work and positive impact on countless students over the years deserves to be recognized. In the letter I wrote nominating her for the award, I stated the following: ‘While I have not had the opportunity to observe Jody in her classroom firsthand, her passion for teaching is apparent in every conversation we have had,’” Havas said. “‘She is wholly committed to ensuring that her students learn beyond simply the mechanics of the language, expanding their experience to recognize their roles as global citizens. One might expect that an educator with over 40 years of experience might become complacent at this stage of their teaching career. Jody instead serves as an example for her students.’”

The Distinguished Educator Award is WAFLT’s highest honor of recognition, established in 1980. Ziemann says that others watching the virtual conference were allowed to comment on her picture with words of congratulations or well-wishes. She says the support was immense. 

“My jaw dropped when I found out that I was nominated and tears came to my eyes. The nomination in itself was just amazing, but the fact that I actually got the award was overwhelming,” Ziemann said. “I’ve gotten the most wonderful support from teachers in this school and other schools and friends in other countries. It has just been a wonderful experience. It’s very humbling and just a huge, huge honor.”

Ziemann’s dedication to the field of education is no secret. Even previous students reached out to let her know their excitement, with current students congratulating her as well. Senior Karisa Tesaro says Ziemann deserved this award because of how good she is at teaching and her extensive knowledge of the topic.

“She’s a really fair teacher. She’s really friendly and always makes class fun, and she’s always so bright. It’s always nice being in her classes and she is always so energetic,” Tesaro said.