Introducing Parthena Draggett (Episode 6)

How does your background form your language and cultural identity?

In what way does language “count for something” in your life?

How do you envision your contributions to the world through your language and culture?

Parthena Draggett inspires educators across the country and across the world with her passion, focus, and humane approach to excellence in language and culture education. Come along with her vision shared in this Episode 6 of It’s About Language, as she shares how to bring languages to life.

Parthena reminds all of us, “Language is the way people conduct their lives in a community. We need to understand why people see the world the way they do.”

And she adds: “What has inspired me and motivated my teaching (and work as department chair) was always searching for how to bring language learning to life for my students, making it meaningful and real, rather than a course requirement. When students see the value of language learning, for them and for others, it matters so much more to them. Their passion and engagement made me always search for a way to do more for them.”

Parthena Draggett has had a long career as a professional educator: 39 years teaching a wide variety of Spanish and French courses at the secondary and university levels. She earned her B.A. with majors in both Spanish and French from the Mount Union College (now the University of Mount Union) and her M.A. in Spanish and French Pedagogy and Applied Linguistics from Kent State University.

Parthena recently retired from the Community School of Naples, Florida, where she also supervised Pre-K to 12 world languages, building Vertical Alignment and Pre-AP Strategies across languages and levels. Prior to being recruited to the Community School of Naples, Parthena had spent 30 years teaching in Ohio, the last 24 at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, where she also served as Department Head and had founded the AP Spanish Language and Culture and the AP Spanish Literature and Culture programs. An enthusiastic AP and Pre-AP teacher, Parthena regularly participates in the AP Spanish Language and Culture Reading, serving as a Table Leader for writing.

Passionate about her work with both students and teachers in the quest for increased proficiency in language communication, Parthena was named “Ohio’s World Language Teacher of the Year” for 2015. She is also among the first teachers to earn National Board Certification in World Languages Other than English, in 2002. Although earning many awards and distinctions over the years, Parthena’s greatest professional achievement is to have inspired many of her students to become teachers, especially world language teachers.

Parthena is lead author of the AP Spanish Language and Culture textbook, Temas, published by Vista Higher Learning, as well as co-author of Thèmes, for AP French. In addition, she has contributed as a writer and editor of pedagogical materials for the College Board and served on the College Board’s AP Consultants’ Advisory Panel.  Parthena is a Praxis II Spanish Language Chief Scoring Leader for ETS, for whom she has also been an item writer.

Parthena is a member of the AATSP, serving on various committees and initiatives, and was elected to the Board of Directors as Secondary Representative from 2015-2018. She was named John Temple State Director of the Year for the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica in 2012. Parthena maintains membership in ACTFL, the Florida Foreign Language Association, and the Ohio Foreign Language Teachers Association. In addition, she regularly presents sessions and workshops at world language conferences, including AATSP, ACTFL, FFLA, OFLA, ICTFL, NECTFL, COFLT, and the AP Annual Conference.  

Although retired from the classroom, Parthena is passionate about her work in academia, promoting world languages and cultures as an independent national and international professional development consultant, as well her dedication as a College Board AP Spanish consultant. Parthena also continues work with Vista Higher Learning as both an author and a National Language Consultant.

Resources recommended by Parthena:   The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese has enabled me to offer so much for students, such as the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica chapter that I established. From there blossomed the many volunteer initiatives I described that gave students such meaningful connections to language and culture. Lead with Languages is an initiative that I have shared with my students and continue to support. It provides students with careers and opportunities available to them as a result of dedication to proficiency and growth in language and culture. It features information, videos, scholarships, and opportunities for 19 different languages! The U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program is a government sponsored scholarship program that offers an amazing opportunity for High School students to study “critical” languages in summer and academic year immersion programs in locations where the eight NSLI-Y languages are spoken. I always shared with my students, since they are often interested in studying more languages. I had students chosen for scholarships to study in China, Egypt, and Morocco. There are also university level counterpart opportunities through the U.S. Department of State.  STARTALK is another federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency that offers summer programs for high school students (and also professional development for teachers)  interested in studying a critical language. I have had students study Russian, Chinese, and Arabic in this program.

To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.

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