Iowa World
Language Association

At the 2019 Conference, the following officer positions will be voted on:

Candidate for Vice-President (2019-2020)

Christina Cortez, Spanish Teacher at Denver Community Schools, Denver, IA

I am running for Vice President of IWLA because I have a passion for helping other world language teachers and advocating for our profession. My love of languages started when I began studying Spanish my sophomore year of high school. During my senior year I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Mexico on a missions trip and my life was forever changed. When I started college in the fall I was assigned to my first field experience opportunity.  I had the privilege to be in a HS Spanish classroom and an ESL classroom with ELL learners. I saw how hard the ELL students worked to learn English and how learning another language opened doors for them. It was in that moment that I knew my calling was to spend my life helping others learn languages. This desire to help others led me to the University of Northern Iowa where I graduated with a B.A. in both TESOL/ Spanish teaching. This is my 9th year of teaching ESL and Spanish. In my current position I have had the opportunity to work with K-12 ESL students as well as Spanish language learning students in grades 6-12. In my classroom I have a passion for connecting and building community with students while fostering a love for the target language and culture.

In addition to sharing my love of languages with my students, I love connecting with other teachers. Through mentoring local student and practicum teachers and presenting at conferences I have been able to connect with so many others who share the same passion for language learning. After presenting at the IWLA conference, I desired to be more involved in IWLA and began serving on the IWLA grant committee. I have witnessed what an awesome job our current and past presidents have done in advancing initiatives such as the Seal of Biliteracy and world language competencies in our state. I hope to continue these efforts growing our membership, connecting IWLA teachers year-round, creating more professional development opportunities, and striving to help advocate for Iowa world language teachers. Thank you for your consideration!

Candidate for Secretary (2019-2021)

Melissa Newell, K-12 French/Spanish Teacher at Van Meter School District, Van Meter, IA

Hello!  I am Melissa Newell, K-12 French/Spanish teacher, currently teaching elementary Spanish in a proficiency-based program for the Van Meter School District.  I hold a Master’s in Spanish from Central Connecticut State University and a Bachelor’s in French and Spanish from Iowa State University. I began my teaching career in 1997 in Ankeny before moving to Connecticut, California, Austria and then back to Iowa!  Some of you might recognize me from my .03 seconds of fame in the Señor Wooly video, Feo!

I reside in Waukee where I am entertained by my two children.  Outside of spending time with family, I love singing, playing musical instruments, writing, reading and talking about the wonders of life!  I love teaching and am passionate about sharing ideas regarding language acquisition. Since moving back to Iowa in 2013, I have been presenting with my team from Van Meter around the midwest.  I have aspired to be part of the IWLA team for several years and am at a stage in my life where I now have time to dedicate to and further explore my professional passions. I believe that I have the experience and the skills to excel in the position of secretary.  I am positive, organized and as I mentioned before, I LOVE writing! If elected, I will organize the minutes for all IWLA meetings, maintain IWLA email blasts, update the IWLA website, and be prepared to assist at any time! I view this position as a long term commitment and look forward to working with the IWLA team for years to come!   

Candidate for Advocacy Chair (2019-2021)

Jen Tovar, Spanish Teacher at Newell-Fonda High School, Newell, IA

Hi! My name is Jen Tovar.  I am currently teaching Spanish at Newell-Fonda High School.  Newell Fonda is in northwest Iowa. I have been teaching for 20 years.  I have taught ESL and was the director of a Family Literacy Program for 13 years.  I am running for Advocacy Chair because I feel that it is important to be aware and make others aware of what we do in our programs.  I also feel that it is important for northwest Iowa to be represented in IWLA. I have learned and grown so much from IWLA and would like to share that with teachers in northwest Iowa.  Thank you for your consideration.

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