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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.

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!


August 2023 - Nichelle Moore

Full of curiosity and enthusiasm, Nichelle has been consistently dedicated to her Spanish studies at Tierra since starting to take classes four years ago. With a passion for social justice, she is motivated to perfect her Spanish skills by her advocacy work and her desire to be able to communicate with people she serves in their native language. A kind and supportive classmate with genuine interest in everyone around her, Nichelle’s joyful energy has a positive impact on any class she joins. Always seeking to deepen her understanding and find patterns in the language, her probing questions often elicit answers that benefit the whole class and reveal fresh nuances of Spanish structure. We feel proud that the language education we provide at Tierra has a positive effect on the lives of the local Spanish speaking community through students like Nichelle who provide vital services to these communities, and we look forward to continuing to see her reach the stars on her path toward fluency.

July 2023 - Martha Warrington

An inspiring example of what can be achieved when one pursues a goal with determination, Martha started her Spanish studies in a Beginner 1 course at Tierra in the fall of 2021 and in less than two years has attained solidly high intermediate skills. A retired violist who played with the Oregon Symphony for decades (as well as a talented photographer), Martha brings an artist’s discerning eye and discipline to her Spanish studies, meticulously analyzing the material learned and delighting in the nuances of the language. Soft-spoken and gentle, she is a kind and compassionate classmate who makes building community in online classes seem natural. She is currently preparing for a trip to Mexico next month where she’ll spend time in Mexico City and do an intensive Spanish immersion program in Oaxaca. We are honored to count Martha among our amazing community of Tierra students and look forward to seeing her continue to blossom as a Spanish speaker.

May 2023 - Matthew Kern

Matthew, who his Spanish classmates know as Mateo, started his studies at Tierra back in the before times, Winter 2020, at the Beginner 1 level. After his first two courses, the pandemic hit and he shifted online with us, where he continued to take a class each term. Incredibly dedicated to his studies, he moved up through our curriculum and has achieved a solidly high intermediate level. A social worker who works in hospice care, his main motivation to learn Spanish is to be able to communicate with his patients and their families in Spanish, as they navigate those challenging circumstances. Full of enthusiasm and love of learning, Matthew eagerly participates in class and is a truly caring classmate who helps build a positive classroom environment. We are honored to count Matthew among our amazing student community at Tierra and look forward to continuing to see him polish his skills and put them to very important use in the Spanish-speaking community.


March 2023 - Laura Nickelhoff

An extremely dedicated student, Laura has put in the time and effort during her studies at Tierra to blossom into an advanced Spanish speaker. Motivated by a desire to exercise her brain and expand cultural horizons, she is thoughtful and analytical, often asking questions with answers that unearth nuance for the whole class. Laura is a calm presence who is a kind and supportive classmate. Particularly interested in literature, she has milked opportunities to take literary immersion classes at Tierra and always engages deeply with the language and story.  With her love of travel being another impetus to improve her ability to communicate in Spanish, she reports finding the skills she’s gained at Tierra to be transformative during a trip last year to Patagonia. We’re honored to count Laura as part of our wonderful student community and look forward to continuing to see her achieve and surpass her fluency goals.


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