Iowa World
Language Association

Press Release for the 2017 IWLA Distinguished Service Award

19 Oct 2017 5:36 PM | Pamela Wesely

Des Moines, IA—The Iowa World Language Association (IWLA) is pleased to announce that the 2017 Distinguished Service Award has been given to Kerisa Chung Baedke, a Spanish language teacher in the Prairieview School in Waukee, Iowa. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a world language educator who, throughout her/his career, has demonstrated professional growth; extensive involvement in IWLA and in other professional organizations; leadership; and excellence in teaching. The award presentation was held during the luncheon of the 2017 Iowa World Language Association Annual Conference at the Des Moines Downtown Marriott in Des Moines, IA on Friday, October 13th. 

Beyond her experience teaching in Waukee, Ms. Baedke was a dean at Concordia Spanish Language Village El Lago del Bosque for 16 years.  She has been an IWLA Executive Board Member, and she received the IWLA Educator of the Year Award in 1997.  She has been Program Chair for the IWLA conference for many years.  She has spent many years getting people nominated for awards, bringing people to the conference, encouraging them to present, and representing Iowa at our regional conference.  In her words: “Building the relationship is key. I want my students to see me as a person, to know who I am and what I’m passionate about. And I want to know those same things about them.”

Kerisa’s nominators wrote letters that speak directly to the amazing impact that she has had on them and on her students.  Stephanie Prine stated, “She showed me what it means to be a caring, committed, an effective educator. She does not do this with lip service; her life is a testament to the power of world language education.”  Loni O’Grady, a former colleague, stated, “I can honestly say that thousands, yes I say thousands of hearts have been touched, all because of this one woman. If there really is a Superwoman, I think we have found her.”  Susan Sandholm-Peterson, a longtime friend and colleague, stated:  “For 30 years, Kerisa has opened the door to authentic and successful language learning for her students. For 30 years, she has challenged both students and teachers to continual learning and excellence. For 30 remarkable years, Kerisa Baedke has challenged us all to create community by gifting her extraordinary dedication, leadership, and service to students and teachers, to world languages education, and to the Iowa World Language Association--and always with that “sonrisa,” and with joy.”

Pictured: Kerisa Chung Baedke (holding plaque) and family and friends

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