Elkhorn public school teacher named National Language Teacher of the Year
OMAHA — An Elkhorn public school Spanish teacher who has long advocated for global and cultural awareness has won a top honor in her field.
Alicia Dallman Shoemaker is the ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year, having emerged from a competitive process that had been narrowed to five finalists from different geographical regions.
According to a media release from ACTFL Language Connects, the process recognizes the most accomplished members of the profession.
Dallman Shoemaker’s win was announced during the 13,000-member ACTFL annual convention last week in Chicago.
It thrusts her into a national spotlight, as she now becomes a spokesperson for the language profession, helping to demonstrate to the general public the importance of learning languages and cultures.
“I eagerly anticipate our collaboration as she takes on the significant responsibility of ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year during a pivotal time for the profession,” said Marty Abbott, ACTFL interim executive director.
Abbott cheered on Dallman Shoemaker’s “unwavering commitment” to her students and the field of language education.
Dallman Shoemaker, 36, is a world language educator with Elkhorn Public Schools, who grew up in the rural Nebraska village of Macon and has taught in South America and Europe.
She currently is president of the Malaika Foundation, which aims to build greater understanding of people and countries throughout the world for Nebraska youth.
She also is a modern language methods instructor at Nebraska Wesleyan University and serves on a variety of leadership committees at the local, state and national levels.
Dallman Shoemaker said that scholarships and other opportunities in college opened the door for her, financially, to study abroad. She said that part of her mission this year is to try and ensure that young people have access to learn internationally about other cultures and languages.
In her new role, she’ll be visiting and presenting in places from Hawaii to New York City.
“My goal is to go around and listen to current needs,” Dallman Shoemaker said. “I’m thankful, honored … and look forward to more to come.”
A nomination letter said Dallman Shoemaker strives to create globally, multiculturally aware students. It noted that she has served as president of the Nebraska International Languages Association (NILA) and was on the team that revised the Nebraska World Language standards.
“Her students participate in the Reach the World program that aims to make students compassionate, curious and confident global citizens,” the nomination said.
Dallman Shoemaker also was 2023 Central States Languages for All Teacher of the Year and the 2022 NILA Teacher of the Year.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University, Dallman Shoemaker holds master of education and education specialist degrees from Doane University.
The ACTFL, founded in 1967 as an offshoot of the Modern Language Association, has become a resource and professional organization for language educators. It has set industry standards, established proficiency guidelines and advocates for language education funding.
The organization’s website says it was formerly known as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, but leadership recognized that the term “foreign” sent a message that learning should be viewed as “strange” or “unfamiliar.”
The group kept the ACTFL and added “Language Connects” — words that it said demonstrate how language acts as a “bridge to cultural competence, career readiness and empathy.”