Submitted by Simsbury Public Schools
Simsbury High School teachers Jan Ferrier Sands and Lisa Berliner recently collaborated with Central Connecticut State University Spanish professors Paloma LaPuerta and Lourdes Casas to write the second and third level textbooks for the publisher Santillana USA.
The teachers were selected because the company wanted the perspective of secondary school teachers for these high school textbooks, which will have online options and audio and video resources.
The teachers created the vocabulary, grammar, and communicative activities, combining many aspects of culture in the Spanish-speaking world. In a recent interview for language educators and administrators, Sands and Berliner said “We teach students at all levels and abilities every day in a high school setting and recognize good strategies for reaching our learners.”
One of the main challenges the pair encountered was designing a textbook that related not just to the Simsbury school district but the entire country. The exercises and activities had to be varied and creative in order to be meaningful and challenging for all students, so essentially they had to adjust their perceptions of what it really means to reach all learners.
Working “basically nonstop” for nearly two years with no chance of ever receiving any royalties for their work, these dedicated high school teachers managed to meet all of the publishers’ deadlines while teaching full time. They were determined to continue to give the energy and planning to their own students in the classroom while turning out a product they could be proud of.
Simsbury High School’s World Language Department is understandably extremely proud of Sands’ and Berliner’s efforts. The two teachers are modest about their accomplishment but proud of their profession. As graduate students at Central Connecticut State University, they took advantage of the vibrant language program, and this recent project is just another testament to the talented faculty and hard-working teachers continuing their education.