Jennifer Eik, a graduate from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Second Language Education was selected for the prestigious Rising Alumni Award for 2017. The award is presented by the CEHD Alumni Society to a CEHD alum who has achieved early distinction in their career (15 years or less since graduation), demonstrated outstanding leadership or shown exceptional volunteer services in their community.
Eik is a Spanish teacher at Roosevelt High School where she has pioneered a new curriculum teaching Spanish as a heritage language, along with Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Jenna Cushing-Leubner. Their work has been profiled in the MinnPost and has made a huge impact for students who speak Spanish at home or come from Spanish-speaking households. Eik’s Spanish Heritage curriculum spends the first year teaching students Spanish with a different historical perspective — one that delves into Latino ancestry, culture, and historical figures – and identity exploration.
“Students of color are yearning for curriculum that they can connect to,” Eik says, noting that it helps students to think of themselves in a more positive light when they hear stories of historical accomplishment and contribution from their communities and ancestry.
Cushing-Leubner believes that Eik’s contribution to the field of teaching Spanish as a heritage language, for both pre-service and practicing teachers, is “remarkable and certainly deserving of recognition. I’m sure Minneapolis Public Schools and Roosevelt High School are very proud of the tireless efforts and powerful impacts that she, her students, and her teacher candidates/mentees are making in the area of justice-oriented language education.”
Learn more about the teacher education programs in the area of Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.