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Citadel News Service
11 Nov 2008

Three teachers named S.C. Spanish teacher finalists

Eileen Hilera Shields of Academic Magnet High School in Charleston, Gloria Maria Ham of Spring Valley High School in Columbia and Jessica Martinez Johnson of Lone Oak Elementary in Spartanburg are the 2008 finalists for the South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year, an annual distinction sponsored by The Citadel’s Tau Iota Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.

The winner will be announced at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 in the Greater Issues Room in Mark Clark Hall at The Citadel. All three finalists will receive a plaque recognizing their achievements. The winner will receive a $1000 cash award courtesy of Citadel Investments, LLC and Stewart Title. Each finalist also will receive one night’s complimentary lodging at the Francis Marion Hotel in historic downtown Charleston.

This program of recognition was created in 2005 to honor K-12 teachers from across South Carolina for their work as Spanish educators. Past winners include Renée C. Love of Gaffney High School in 2007, Celina P. Anthony of West Ashley High School in 2006 and Jennifer Bryant of Eastside High School (Greenville) in 2005.

This year’s finalists were selected from nominees statewide on innovation in teaching, initiative in Spanish curriculum development and extracurricular activities related to teaching and professional development. Judges are Spanish professors from six South Carolina colleges and universities with a representative from the South Carolina Department of Education, the current student president of The Citadel's chapter of Sigma Delta Pi and the past two South Carolina Spanish Teachers of the Year.

For more information about the South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year award visit the website at www.scspanishteacheroftheyear.org. Nomination forms for the 2009 contest will be available at the website in February 2009.

South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year 2008 nominees

Eileen Hilera Shields of Academic Magnet High School, Charleston, S.C.

Shields has taught Spanish at Academic Magnet High School since 1998 and served as the department chairman from 1999 to 2006. She is also the school's sponsor for the National Spanish Honor Society, and during the 2007-2008 school year she collaborated in the development of a high school Spanish curriculum for Charleston County. An author of a book of Spanish short stories published in 2007, Shields is a graduate of the College of Charleston, and she earned her M.Ed. from The Citadel.

Gloria Maria Ham of Spring Valley High School, Columbia, S.C.

Since 2000, Ham has taught Spanish at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. For the past seven years she has served as the school's Department Chair of World Languages, and she has also lead in other academic activities such as sponsor of Spring Valley's chapter of the National Spanish Honor Society and as a student supervisor for World Languages competitions across S.C. A graduate of Northeastern University (Boston), she earned her Masters in Education at Lesley University.

Jessica Martinez Johnson of Lone Oak Elementary School, Spartanburg, S.C.

Johnson has been teaching Spanish since 2004 at Lone Oak where she founded their thriving Spanish Club, the first Spanish elementary school club in Spartanburg District 6. She secured various outside grants for Lone Oak, and she serves her community with such activities as providing volunteer Spanish instruction to a local daycare facility. For the past two years she was runner-up for the Lone Oak Teacher of the Year. Johnson is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and she earned a graduate degree from Gardner-Webb University.

For more information about the South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year award or The Citadel’s Tau Iota Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society contact Mark Del Mastro at 843-953-5065 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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