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Citadel News Service
22 Sep 2009

Spanish Teacher of the Year finalists named

María C. Hood of Polo Road Elementary School in Columbia, Elizabeth Sanderson of Lakewood High School in Sumter and Hollis R. Wilkes of Sara Collins Elementary School in Greenville are the 2009 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. 12 in the Greater Issues Room in Mark Clark Hall at The Citadel. All three finalists will receive a plaque recognizing their achievements. The 2009 S.C. Spanish Teacher of the Year will receive a $1,000 cash award courtesy of The Citadel’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi. 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 Eileen Hilera Shields of Academic Magnet School in 2008, 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 five 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. 

A teacher at Polo Road since 2006, Hood previously taught at A.C. Moore Elementary from 1996 to 2006. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year at Polo Road Elementary in 2009 and at A.C. Moore Elementary School in 2001. Noteworthy are her accomplishments in establishing creative curricula for the school, namely her integration of music with her lessons using her own skills as a singer and guitarist. She is also a Mentor of first year/induction teachers at her school. Hood is a graduate of Columbia College where she also earned her M.Ed.

Since 2002, Sanderson has taught at Lakewood High where she currently serves as Head of the school’s Spanish Department. Her related service activities in Spanish education include her her role as Spanish Club co-advisor, past coordinator of the annual Hispanic Cultural Fair and the Service Learning Project at Pocalla Elementary School. She also is co-author of the District Foreign Language Unit Plans, among other notable projects. Sanderson earned her B.A. in Spanish at Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.), and her M.Ed. at Lesley University (Cambridge, Mass.). 

A teacher at Sara Collins since 2002, Wilkes was named the school’s Teacher of the Year in 2007. She is known as a leader of technology implementation in the classroom, and complementing her dedication to Spanish education is her volunteer interpreting for the school, and her planning of extended activities for the school community such as skits in Spanish. Wilkes earned her B.A. in Spanish from St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.), and an MBA from Garvin School of International Management (Glendale, Ariz.).

For more information about the South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year award visit the website at or contact Mark Del Mastro at 843-953-5065 or Nomination forms for the 2010 contest will be available at the website in February 2010.

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