New Mexico Teacher Receives National Recognition for Exemplary Teaching Related to Latin America

June 11, 2015

In 2014, the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) established the CLASP Teaching Award for K-12 Educators to recognize excellence and innovation in the teaching of Latin America and/or the Caribbean among elementary, middle, and high school teachers. "Each year the award process highlights exceptional educators from across the country and brings to light inspiring teaching practices related to Latin America," said Keira Philipp-Schnurer, chair of the CLASP Outreach Committee and outreach coordinator at the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII). "In 2015, the LAII is exceptionally proud to see an Albuquerque teacher receive this distinction."

From among the outstanding teachers in this year's nominees, CLASP recognizes Maria Clara Rekow as the 2015 winner of the CLASP Teaching Award for K-12 Educators. A high school Spanish teacher at Bosque School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rekow has demonstrated an enduring and innovative commitment to furthering awareness of Latin America within and beyond the confines of her classroom. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, she notes that "being Latin American is a significant part of my identity. During my 25 years as a teacher, I have strived to integrate Latin American studies into my classes' curricula. By doing so, I not only share a part of who I am, but allow my students to analyse what makes Latin America so unique. In discovering what characterizes each of the countries of Latin America, the students are better equipped to understand various lifestyles, and develop a more open view of the world around them."

Rekow's students benefit extensively from her personal and professional dedication to the region. Relying on a creative approach to teaching, she has provided opportunities for students to take advanced Spanish language courses related to science, health, literature, history, culture, and film; to interact with Hispanic members of the broader community; and to connect with peers across private, public, and charter schools to collaboratively research, discuss and debate critical topics relevant to the Americas as a whole. Professional colleagues and students alike express profound appreciation for her work.CLASP member institutions nominate teachers for consideration of the award. Rekow was nominated by the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico in recognition of her outstanding dedication to the field of Latin American studies.

The award was announced announced May 29, 2015, at the XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.