You are here

TEC Student of the Month Award

February 2014 - Althea Sails

Althea Sails
A diligent student equipped with an ever-growing stack of color-coded flashcards, Althea demonstrates the will and perseverance it takes to acquire second-language skills as an adult. Driven in her quest to learn Spanish by her desire to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients at the clinic she manages, her cheery dedication and meticulous study habits have set her on the path to success. Having started in a Beginner 1 course at Tierra, she’s impressively advanced through the Beginner and lower Intermediate levels and has taken advantage of our Student Support Session and Conversation Nights to get extra practice. Gracious and kind, Althea’s presence makes the classroom a more welcoming and friendly place as she and her classmates support one another in their learning processes.


January 2014 - Cole Brown

Cole BrownA committed student with a stellar attitude, Cole’s presence charges the classroom with positive vibes. A pastor at a local church, he was inspired to acquire Spanish language skills by the desire to communicate and connect with Spanish-speaking congregants and neighbors. A fan of our twice-weekly intensive courses, he has impressively advanced from the Beginner 3 level to High Intermediate courses in less than one year of classes at Tierra. Cole’s creative approach to learning has manifested itself in countless ways, from instructing his classmates how to decorate calaveras for Día de Muertos (when they were practicing giving commands) to composing and performing a rap about the process of learning Spanish with his teacher and classmates. This New Year we want to express our gratitude to Cole and to all of our students for you are the lifeblood of the school who make Tierra a dynamic and stimulating community!

December 2013 - Julie Pietila

Warm and generous, Julie (“Julia”) brims with enthusiasm for learning Spanish and takes every opportunity to use her burgeoning skills and connect with Spanish speakers and learners of all walks of life. She is a dedicated and hard-working student with a special interest in deepening her knowledge of Latin American culture, and her travels have only whetted her thirst for discovering new places and peoples. Innately sociable and driven to practice, she not only frequently attends Tierra’s conversation nights and fiestas but also hosts her own bi-weekly Spanish conversation events, offering her home to friends and classmates as a special venue in which to get to know one another and exercise their speaking skills. We congratulate Julie for her boundlessly positive attitude and proactive determination, and feel lucky to count her as part of our community at Tierra!


November 2013 - Marissa Dorais

With a broad smile and seemingly limitless enthusiasm for learning, Marissa brings positive energy and constructive focus to the classroom. An adventurous spirit whose travels have led her around the world, her genuine desire to communicate with the locals she encountered in Spanish-speaking countries was the impetus that sparked her dedication to develop her Spanish skills. In her professional life, Marissa works to restore and maintain natural areas along the Willamette River, and her passion and concern for the environment and world around her shine through in thought-provoking classroom conversations. A committed student who clearly enjoys diving into the depths of Spanish structure, her natural sense of humor perfectly balances her resolute drive. Through her open and meaningful contributions in Spanish class, Marissa reminds us that language is what connects people and every moment is an opportunity to share and learn from one another.

October 2013 - Steve Leven

A student who’s advanced with extraordinary speed, Steve (“Esteban”) embarked on his journey to learn Spanish just one year ago in a Beginner 1 course at Tierra and is now a Higher Intermediate student. Inquisitive and thirsty for knowledge, he spends sizable amounts of time studying Spanish outside of class and always takes advantage of his instructors’ expertise to ask pertinent questions and solidify his understanding. A doctor who’s now (semi) retired, he’s been able to apply his newly-acquired language skills to better serve his Spanish-speaking patients. A jokester at heart, he revels in the camaraderie established among classmates and misses no opportunity to test out his humor in Spanish. As he plans for a future immersion experience south of the border, we applaud Steve for his impressive drive to master the Spanish language in all its nuances.

September 2013 - Lana Gelman

Lana GelmanWholeheartedly committed to learning Spanish, Lana is a student who sets the bar high for her goals and whose unfailingly positive attitude is truly an inspiration. A speech-language pathologist helping elementary school children to overcome speech impediments and communication barriers, she’s already fluent in Russian and English and is driven to master the Spanish language by her desire to connect with and best serve her Spanish-speaking students and their families. In her time at Tierra, her notable dedication to studying Spanish outside of class has facilitated her impressive progress. In her genuine desire to use Spanish to build bridges between English speaking and Spanish speaking communities, Lana embodies the spirit of our mission at Tierra. We wish Lana and all educators and youngsters a wonderful start to the new school year!

August 2013 - Reed McDowell

Reed McDowellWith an infectiously upbeat attitude, Reed’s presence inspires all around him to adopt a rosier view of life. Since retiring from his career as a civil engineer, he has pursued learning the Spanish language with remarkable intent, utilizing a winning combination of group and private classes at Tierra, self-study, and immersion abroad. Motivated in part by his desire to explore the Spanish-speaking world, this year he enjoyed several weeks of studying Spanish in the Basque city of San Sebastián in northern Spain. Always up for a challenge, Reed is comfortable in environments that push his skill level and rises to the occasion with grace.  His enthusiasm for Spanish and commitment to learning shine through in every activity, assignment, and conversation, making Reed a model student we’re delighted to have in the Tierra community.

July 2013 - Mary Laughlin

Passionate about learning and fascinated by everything to do with Latin America, Mary's eyes sparkle with curiosity as she discovers the nuances of the Spanish language and deepens her cultural understanding. A particularly committed student, she has a penchant for joining two back to back courses at a time and exudes enthusiasm throughout the four straight hours of Spanish classes. Motivated to sharpen her language skills in part by her love of travel, Mary's an adventurer who treasures exploring new territory and is always seeking to cultivate her knowledge and appreciation of the people, places, and cultures she encounters. Having taught for decades, Mary's love of education is unceasing and she's become an esteemed member of the Tierra community!


Subscribe to TEC Student of the Month Award