Rachel Rivers Parroquín
Rachel Rivers Parroquín, director of Spanish community-based learning and an assistant professional specialist in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, has been named 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year, University Category, by the Indiana Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).
She will now be considered along with teachers of the year in other languages for the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association Teacher of the Year 2015, Central States Teacher of the Year 2017, and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages National Teacher of the Year 2018.
AATSP Indiana Chapter President Israel Fernando Herrera called Parroquín’s teaching “sobresaliente,” or outstanding. He said her dedication to her students, colleagues, and the community—as well as the innovative ways that her classes bring all three together—demonstrate the commitment and creativity that the AATSP looks for in awardees.
Bringing students, faculty, and community together in a shared learning effort is a hallmark of the community-based learning (CBL) courses that Parroquín first developed herself and now helps her colleagues in the department design and teach. Until fall 2013, she taught a CBL course called Community-Based Spanish: Language, Culture, and Community. Since then, she has helped her colleagues in Romance Languages tailor the methods of CBL to various topics in their field.
Students in Spanish CBL courses have worked with Latino community partners like El Campito, La Casa de Amistad, and the Sr. Maura Brannick Clinic to understand the personal, familial, and communal challenges Latinos face. Some recent topics have included the transmission of immigrant family history between generations, first-generation college attendance, and early childhood literacy in bilingual families.
Parroquín holds joint appointments in Romance languages and the Center for Social Concerns. In her role directing the Spanish community-based learning program, she works with department faculty, CSC staff, and community partners to oversee student learning in the Latino community.
She now hopes to extend the culture of community-based learning that has made her own work possible.
“I feel very strongly,” she said, “that if I hadn’t had the support and professional development opportunities offered by Romance languages and the Center for Social Concerns, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now, and the recognition wouldn’t have come.”