Winner of National Language Teacher of the Year Award Announced by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages

BOSTON – In an effort to recognize outstanding world language teachers across the country, global education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) today announced the winner of the prestigious National Language Teacher of the Year award. Yo Azama, a teacher of Japanese at North Salinas High School in Salinas, Calif., was named this year’s distinguished winner at ACTFL′s 2011 Annual Convention and World Languages Expo. Azama was a nominee from the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT).
“Students and educators have long relied on HMH to help open the doors of world languages,” said Linda Zecher, Chief Executive Officer of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “As part of this commitment to further the study of language, HMH is proud to support the mission of ACTFL, and to recognize this trailblazing teacher who is introducing students to the many benefits of language learning.”
The National Language Teacher of the Year award is presented to deserving candidates who elevate the status of their profession at the state, regional and national levels. By sponsoring this award, HMH wishes to help recognize deserving teachers who best exemplify the mission of ACTFL.
To spur discussion and further engage the ACTFL community, HMH also recently held a national contest to find the next great mobile app to facilitate the learning of world languages. Out of more than 200 entries, HMH selected Lisa Rodriguez, of Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Natalie Riggs Figueroa, of Albuquerque, N.M., as winners of the competition, awarding an iPad 2 to each contestant.
“ACTFL has been fortunate to have the support of HMH in the endeavor to recognize excellent language teachers, while putting the spotlight on the language profession through national advocacy efforts,” said Martha G. Abbott, Executive Director, ACTFL. “Our Teachers of the Year are making a difference at the local, state, regional and national levels.”
Other finalists for the 2011 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year were:

  • Pacific Northwest Council for Language Teachers (PNCFL)
Susanne Kanning, Inglemoor High School, Kenmore, Wash.

Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) Sherri Harkins, Pittsville Elementary Middle School, Pittsville, Md.

Central States Conference (CSCTFL)  Wendy Brownell, Camdenton High School, Roach, Mo.

Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) Lisa Podbilski, Berkeley Preparatory School, Tampa, Fla.

ACTFL’s 2011 Annual Convention and World Languages Expo took place from November 18–20 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

With education products and services used by 57 million students throughout all 50 U.S. states and 120 countries, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a global education and learning company. The world’s largest provider of materials for pre-K–12 learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is leading the way with innovative solutions and approaches to the challenges facing education today. Through curricula excellence coupled with technology innovations and professional services, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt collaborates with school districts, administrators, teachers, parents and students, providing interactive, results-driven learning solutions. Its Educational Consulting Services group works to increase student achievement in underperforming schools by developing, implementing and supporting education transformation through sustained district partnerships.  With origins dating back to 1832, the Company also publishes an extensive line of reference works and award-winning literature for adults and young readers. For more information, visit