GREENVILLE — When Greenville High School Spanish teacher Erin DeWind decided she wanted to teach, it wasn’t to seek recognition.
She just wanted to share her passion with others.
But it is often those with intense passion who make the best teachers, and DeWind was recognized as just that this week.
DeWind was selected by the Michigan World Languages Association (MIWLA) as the World Languages Teacher of the Year for Michigan.
“I was very surprised,” said DeWind, who was notified by the head of MIWLA that she had been selected as this year’s winner. “I was very happy to be recognized for all the hard work I put in. As a teacher, you work really hard and don’t expect to be recognized.”
DeWind, who was nominated for the award by middle school Spanish teacher Amber Guerreiro, said the award was so unexpected, she was ignoring the calls from MIWLA.
“I had no idea until they called me and told me I won earlier this week,” she said, noting it took several attempts to finally get her on the phone. “It was a Lansing number and nobody left a message, so I assumed it was a sales call or something,” she joked.
But she finally answered and was told she was selected as the World Languages Teacher of the Year, something her peers say was well deserving.
“I am beyond pleased to have her working in our world language department and I learn from her each and every day,” Hollie Stephenson, world languages department chair and French teacher at the high school, wrote in her award nomination letter.
Greenville High School Principal Jeff Wright agreed.
“She can teach all levels of Spanish and she does so successfully. She implements teaching strategies that meet the students where they are and she moves them toward the high standards that we set for our students,” he wrote in his nomination letter. “Erin is a staff member for whom I have great respect. Our district has a great asset in Erin DeWind.”
DeWind has been with Greenville Public Schools for seven years, beginning as a part-time Spanish teacher at the middle school, before taking on a full-time role. The Holland native took the high school position four years ago.
As the World Languages Teacher of the Year, DeWind will attend a conference in Lansing in October to receive her award.
But for her, teaching isn’t about recognition or awards, it’s about the students; teaching them about a foreign language is something she loves doing.
“I like the way it opens kids’ eyes to different cultures,” she said. “It gives them a better global awareness so they can compete in the global market.”