Westdale Elementary Spanish Teacher Wins Study Session in Spain
- July 16, 2009
Lulu Ribas, a Spanish teacher for pre-K through fifth grade at Westdale Heights Academic Magnet Elementary School, was shouting olé recently when she found out the Spanish Embassey is sending her to Spain this summer to study the language and culture. Ribas won the prestigious Spanish Embassey Award for Teachers of Spanish in Louisiana, which is sponsored by the Embassey’s Consulate of Education. The award was sponsored in part by the Louisiana Foreign Language Teachers Association.
Ribas was the only teacher from Louisiana to win the award, which also is offered in other states and Canada. The organization covers the cost of room, board and classes. She left July 3 for Spain and is staying in a dorm at the University of Salamanca, the oldest university in Europe (established in 1218).
Between July 6 and 24, Ribas will be studying “Languages & Culture: Images of Spain” at the university, which is 100 miles northwest of Madrid. It will be an especially special trip for Ribas for several reasons: it’s her first trip out of the United States, and both of her grandfathers are from Barcelona. Because she was born in Cuba, moved to the United States as a baby with her parents (as political refugees) and lived in the United States all this time under a permanent residence visa, she was not allowed to travel outside the country until now because she recently became a U.S. citizen.
In addition to her teaching post at Westdale Elementary via the Teach Louisiana Consortium, Ribas also serves as a language mentor for other language teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District with the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators. She feels what she learns and experiences during this program will assist in her educating not only students but also other Spanish-French language teachers she mentors in the district.
“I can bring back to teachers and students a more well-rounded understanding of the Spanish language and culture by experiencing it first hand,” Ribas said. “This also is a great opportunity for me because I’ve never traveled, and I’ve always wanted to go to Spain because my grandparents are from there. They were both deceased before I was born, so I’ve heard stories about them and their homeland all my life.
“I’m excited about going, but also scared about traveling alone. Fortunately, my sister, who also became a citizen recently, will be joining me for a few weeks after the program ends.”
Ribas is in her fourth year teaching at Westdale Elementary School and her seventh year in education – always as a language teacher. Her students can’t wait to hear about her experiences in Spain, which she hopes will include attending a bull fight. She’ll also be visiting areas that manufacture strands of Majorca pearls, a type of jewelry she loves to wear as bracelets and necklaces.
Her studies will include heavy lifting involving textbooks and maps, which is much different from the weights she has used in her other hobby – power weightlifting. Ribas weighed 114 pounds and could bench 125 pounds as the state’s state bench pressing record weight champion when she was in her 30s. She also was the state’s racquetball doubles champ for a year in the state tournament. However, it’s an easy hand with students rather than a hard backhand with a racquet that makes her a success today.
“The students just love her, and we are very proud of her,” said Westdale Elementary Principal Cheryl Singer. “She is innovative and makes learning language an intrinsic part of the education process so students relate to it on several levels.”
Singer has every reason to be proud of Ribas, whose philosophy of education "can be summed up with three small words -- firm, fun and effective." "My students know that they will learn by doing fun educational hands-on activities," she said. "They know they will be stimulated and challenged not only to learn the language but also the culture. Learning Spanish and Latin culture in my class is fun. ... I feel we are called to teach the whole child, academically, physically, socially and spiritually. As teachers, we should be a positive role model for the students we are called upon to teach."
Ribas' other education awards include: Teacher of the Year in Ascension Parish and the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award.
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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