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TEC Student of the Month Award

Student of the Month

We at Tierra are continually inspired by our students' hard work and dedication to learn, and so to share their successes with you, we recognize one outstanding student each month with a "Student of the Month" award. With such diverse interests, projects, and reasons for studying Spanish, our students are the lifeblood of the school, transforming our center into a true community.

June 2024 - David Killeen


David is a true poster child for a motivated Tierra student and what can be achieved in a short amount of time. Having just started in a Beginner 1 class this January, he’s been breezing through our Beginner series, fully dedicated to his twice-weekly classes. With a stellar attitude and locked in commitment to spending significant amounts of time studying Spanish on his own each week, it’s no wonder he’s making great progress at a brisk pace! A kind and encouraging classmate, David helps build a welcoming atmosphere in any class he’s in and his probing questions lead to a greater depth of understanding for all. We’re delighted to count David among our amazing community of students, and can’t wait to see what his skills will be like a year from now!


May 2024 - Andra Henriques

Full of energy and enthusiasm, Andra’s dedication to learning Spanish and enjoying the process is unwavering. Motivated by her appetite for exercising her brain as well as the desire to communicate easily in Spanish with her Argentinian in-laws and extended family, Andra approaches her Spanish studies with abundant curiosity and takes every challenge as an opportunity for growth and deeper understanding. As someone who thrives in a social environment, she takes a real interest in getting to know her classmates and contributes to creating a warm atmosphere where everyone feels valued and welcome. We are honored to count Andra as part of our amazing student community and look forward to continuing to see her polish her skills and revel in having a achieved an ever higher level of fluidity.

April 2024 - Mckinzy Powers

An extremely dedicated student, Mckinzy is full of joyful energy and enthusiasm for learning Spanish. Having started as a low intermediate student, she’s made impressive progress as she’s achieved an advanced level and continues to strive toward fluency. With an immense interest in expanding her cultural understanding, Mckinzy has taken advantage of many of our cultural immersion courses, always engaging deeply with the material and bringing fresh perspectives to class discussion. Passionate about travel, she recently had the opportunity to travel around Mexico and South America for her work and the experience only inspired her to want to spend more time speaking Spanish abroad. We are honored to count Mckinzy among our incredible community of students and look forward to continuing to see her exceed her goals and make her travel dreams come true!

March 2024 - Zeenia Junkeer

Three years ago at the height of the pandemic, Zeenia started her Spanish learning journey at Tierra in a Beginner 3 course. Since then, she’s been wholly dedicated to her studies and her skills have truly blossomed, having become a high intermediate student and even travelled abroad for immersion study experiences. A naturopathic doctor whose passion for helping to make healthcare equitable and accessible to all has brought her to the non-profit world, Zeenia’s interest in gaining a deep understanding of other cultures and perspectives informs her approach to language acquisition. Zeenia has an authentically positive attitude and is a supportive, empathetic classmate; she brings laughter and joy, along with poignant questions, to any class she joins. We are honored to have Zeenia as part of our amazing student community at Tierra and can’t wait to continue to see her soar in her quest for fluency.


January 2024 - Alexis Buschert

Full of vitality and positive vibes, Alexis came to Tierra already an advanced speaker, having significant experience learning and even teaching Spanish. But she wanted to keep up her skills and had a huge thirst for expanding her cultural knowledge. Her authentic interest in Latin American and particularly Mexican history, culture, and literature has led her to take numerous literary immersion courses in which she’s deeply engaged with the reading material, always enthusiastic as she explores the implications of both the language and story. Naturally friendly and inclusive, Alexis forms strong, lasting connections with her classmates and contributes to building a sense of community in any class she joins. We are honored to have Alexis as part of our vibrant student community at Tierra and look forward to continuing to see her challenge herself on the never ending learning journey.


December 2023 - Chris Kurtz

With a deep and genuine interest in the Spanish language and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries, Chris is an extremely dedicated student who has worked hard to achieve impressive progress. A retired elementary school teacher who also writes children’s literature, his passion for learning is ever-present and inspirational. An avid traveler, he’s been eager to use his blossoming Spanish skills while abroad, seeking authentic interactions and opportunities to connect with locals. Kind and welcoming, Chris is a fantastic group-oriented classmate whose great curiosity and enthusiasm have a positive impact on any class he joins. We’re honored to count Chris among our amazing student community and look forward to continuing see him strive toward fluency and to hearing about how he applies his skills in his fantastic adventures abroad.

September 2023 - Nathan Smith

An educator who is passionate about his work,  Nathan was inspired to improve his Spanish skills by a desire to connect with the Spanish speaking students and families in his school district. While in the first classes he took at Tierra back in 2016 he commuted from his home in Hood River; since the pandemic hit, he’s been able to drive a lot less and enjoy taking his Tierra classes online. A meticulous and dedicated student, Nathan’s authentic interest in language and culture is always apparent and his contributions in class help tease out the nuances of the material covered. We are delighted to have Nathan as part of our amazing school community and wish him and all educators (and parents!) a wonderful start to the new school!



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