HUNTSVILLE TEACHER BRIDGES CULTURAL GAP
"MONTGOMERY, Ala." A Butler High School foreign language teacher, Linda M. Paragone, was named Alfa's Teacher of the Month for January. As this month's winner, Mrs. Paragone will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation. Her school will receive a matching award for its role in encouraging excellence in education.
A 27-year veteran of the classroom, Mrs. Paragone began her teaching career as a translator in Italy after graduating from the University of New York's Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in Spanish. She later taught school in Garden City, N.Y. while earning her master's degree from Queens College. Mrs. Paragone moved to Huntsville in 1992, and today teaches Spanish and coordinates the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Butler.
As a Spanish teacher, Mrs. Paragone said she tries to expose her students to foreign cultures while helping them develop acceptance for other ways of thinking.
"All teachers share the task of being enables and facilitators of learning, but, in addition to that, foreign language teachers literally open new horizons to students who may never leave their geographical regions," she said.
Mrs. Paragone said she "tempts the taste buds of learners" through innovative instruction and practical applications. Her advanced students teach Spanish in elementary schools once a week and assist Hispanic students who may not yet be proficient in English.
Outside the classroom, Mrs. Paragone has earned a reputation as a faculty leader. She has conducted workshops at the local, state and regional levels on ESL and foreign language teaching, and she developed and wrote the ESL manual for the Huntsville City School System. Last year, she also was nominated for the Walt Disney American Teacher Award.
This is Alfa's fifth year as sponsor of the Teacher of the Month program. During the 2002, Alfa will honor one teacher from each of Alabama's eight state school board districts as well as two private school teachers and two principals. Program criteria and application information for the program are available by clicking on "Alfa Teacher of the Month" in the Ag Links section of the Alfa Farmers website, www.alfafarmers.org.