News Brief: Two World Languages Education Majors Honored by Their Peers

From left, Larissa Guido Swenson and Lora Calise

Larissa Guido Swenson (left) wins student teaching scholarship and alumna Lora Calise (right) named RIFLA Teacher of the Year.

Larissa Guido Swenson, an M.A.T. world languages education graduate student, who is earning her pre-K-12 certification to teach Portuguese and Spanish, was awarded a $1,000 NECTFL Future Language Educator Scholarship at the 2024 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL). This scholarship is designed to support her student teaching semester.

Guido Swenson, who will be graduating with her M.A.T. in May, says, “Being nominated and recognized by colleagues and the wonderful educators participating in this year’s NECTFL conference holds profound significance for me. Attending NECTFL 2024 complemented and enriched my graduate studies in Portuguese/Spanish by offering professional development opportunities, networking connections, exposure to diverse perspectives and access to various resources tailored to language educators.”

Lora Calise, a Spanish teacher and department chair at Smithfield High School, is a two-time RIC alumna, who earned her B.A. in secondary education Spanish in 1989 and her M.A.T. in world languages education in 1994. Calise was named the 2023-24 Rhode Island for Languages Association (RIFLA) Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for the NECTFL Teacher of the Year.

RIFLA Teachers of the Year are honored for being dedicated language teachers who promote high levels of proficiency in the classroom. They are noted for excellence in teaching; enthusiastic advocacy of world languages learning; their vigorous sense of collegiality; their concerns for self-improvement through on-going scholarly pursuits and other appropriate activities; and for striving for equity, inclusion and respect for cultural diversity.

Sarah Steverman, past president of RIFLA and a RIC world languages education adjunct faculty member, says, “The selection committee was most impressed with Lora’s enthusiasm, dedication and leadership in language learning for the past three decades and is pleased to honor her with this prestigious award.”

Calise notes, “I am thrilled to be named Teacher of the Year by the Rhode Island for Languages Association. I’ve taught in Smithfield for over 30 years, and I love bringing the language and culture of the world to my students. It is a privilege to spend my career in the classroom.”

More than proud of these two awardees is Assistant Professor and Director of the World Languages Education Program Erin Papa. 

She says, “As world language educators at different stages in their careers, Larissa and Lora both exhibit a deep commitment to and belief in the ability of all students to become multilingual for full participation in our Rhode Island community and beyond.

“As an emerging world language educator, Larissa has been a leader in our program, seeking out opportunities to learn from experienced language educators and community members and integrating authentic Portuguese, Spanish and K’iche resources into her lessons.

“And Lora has been a wonderful partner for our program, hosting teacher candidates at various stages of preparation in her school. 

“This regional-level recognition from NECTFL shines a light on the strength of world language education in Rhode Island, from emerging to experienced educators.”