Find your Larry Pace

Yesterday, I was honored to sit at the table of a world language teaching GIANT.  The recipient of Iowa World Language Association’s (IWLA) Educator of the Year, a Golden Apple winner, and now finally the holder of a Distinguished Service Award from IWLA, Larry Pace is worth so much more than the accolades he has accumulated over his 41 year teaching career.  I cannot begin to count the number of individual lives and families he has affected over those years.  I am so lucky to call this man my colleague, my mentor, and mostly important my friend.

My wish for you is that you find your own Larry Pace.  I hope you find someone who makes sure to say good morning to you before students come in, and someone who is concerned when you called in sick.  I hope you find someone who makes you feel smarter and stronger when you are able to spend time together.  I hope you have someone with whom you can discuss your students’ strengths and weaknesses, instead of gossiping about and/or with your students.  I hope you find someone that can offer you seasoned advice, while still supporting your own wild classroom endeavors.  I hope they inspire you to be an excellent educator.  I hope you find that your mentor is your partner in crime and mutually respects you.

Here are all of the lessons that Larry has taught me in our very short 4 years together:

  • Choose your students over administration, other teachers, etc. Always.
  • Care about your students.
  • Listen to your students. Genuinely listen.  
  • Build deep, albeit professional, and caring relationships with your students.
  • Advocate both for your students and to your students.
  • Teach your students to advocate for themselves.
  • Encourage your students to love reading, regardless of language.
  • Invoke passion from your students for your content area.  
  • Open your students’ minds to Spanish-speakers within the community.
  • Travel with your students to foreign lands.
  • Hook students with culture.
  • Teach your students the value of service.
  • Promote what your students are doing from both within and outside the classroom.  
  • Support other world language teachers because teachers already have it hard enough.
  • Involve yourself in meaningful organizations, such as the IWLA.
  • Share your successes and failures with others.
  • Advance your education with graduate coursework, preferably in your content area.
  • Thank those who have made you great.

Thank you, Larry.  Thank you for everything.  I hope I can mold at least half of the lives you have.  

7 thoughts on “Find your Larry Pace

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