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July 22, 2005

ULM Professor Named Outstanding Professor

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) named Maria Blanca Wortham, a professor in the foreign language department at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Outstanding Spanish Professor at the university level.

The AATSP awards three teachers nationally each year, one at the elementary level, one at the high school level and one at the college level. Wortham was nominated by the local Antonio Margil chapter of the AATSP for her contributions to the chapter, especially her coordination and work on the Spanish Festival for the region.

Wortham is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University and ULM. She has been an instructor in the Foreign Language Department at ULM since 2000. While at ULM Wortham has been part of the mentoring program, guided two freshmen Emerging Scholars, and is very active in recruitment and retention for the department and the university. She is also a member of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Foreign Language Teachers Association (LFLTA), which she serves as university representative for the northern region.

"This is an incredible and humbling honor. I have received this award because of the colleagues with whom I work, the mentors that I have been fortunate enough to have, and, of course, the students who have inspired me to find ways to reach them and share my passion for the language and culture," Wortham said.

"Professor Wortham has empowered students to be very active participants in the learning process, and the result is that more students have chosen to continue their studies of Spanish," Dr. Ruth E. Smith, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at ULM, said.

"The Department of Foreign Languages at ULM has a strong reputation for excellence in the classroom, and when members of the department, like Professor Wortham, receive such an award, it is visible recognition of the quality of instruction that is found in the ULM language programs," Smith said.

The purpose of the award is to bring attention to teachers who demonstrate and instill a love of the language and Hispanic cultures. Wortham is the third nominee of the Antonio Margil Chapter to receive the national award. Dr. Charles Holloway, Professor of Spanish at ULM, and Ruth Rosenow, Spanish teacher at Neville High School, have also been chosen as Outstanding University Professor and Secondary Teacher respectively in previous years.

Over 70 local chapters of the AATSP exist in the United States and Canada. The AATSP was founded in 1917, and is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive language-specific professional association in the United States. The association's 12,500 members help promote the study and teaching of Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian, and other related languages, literatures, and cultures at all educational levels. The AATSP encourages heritage and second-language study and supports projects to that end.

The AATSP publishes a highly acclaimed quarterly journal, Hispania; a general newsletter, Enlace; and a Portuguese Newsletter. The association also sponsors Phi Lambda Beta (college Portuguese honor society), the National Spanish Examinations (for secondary school students), the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (secondary school honor society), and the Sociedad Hispánica de Amistad (middle school community service honorary society).

Wortham will be presented with the award at the Awards Luncheon July 31, during the Annual Meeting of the AATSP to be held in New York City at the Sheraton Hotel, July 28-August 1.

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