Meet NECTFL Foreign Language Teacher of the Year Katrina Griffin

Recently, we learned one of our program leaders, Katrina Griffin, was named Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language Teacher of the Year. We were thrilled to learn of the honor, as we know firsthand how dedicated she is to her students and their knowledge of both the German language and culture. She is now one of five national finalists for National Foreign Language Teacher of the Year which will be awarded at the ACTFL National Conference in Boston in November.

“It is a big honor,” Griffin said. “I’m not always sure that my school understands what I do. Having colleagues in the field recognize me for the work I do means a lot to me. There are so many great teachers doing really neat things, it seems very surreal that I am now one of five national finalists.”

Griffin is planning her fifth WorldStrides tour this summer. This time, Griffin and her students will visit Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland. They will begin their adventure in Berlin, then travel to Dresden, Prague, Terezin, Krakow, and end in Auschwitz.

“I’m really excited to go to Poland,” she said. “I’ve never been before. Prague is obviously really beautiful. It will be great to take the kids, just because we cover a lot of the history. It’s really exciting to see the things that I taught the students about. Krakow looks beautiful. I’m also interested in seeing Auschwitz because I’ve studied it for so many years.”

As a seasoned WorldStrides Program Leader, Griffin has many memorable experiences from past trips. Some of the best moments weren’t necessarily on the itinerary.

“I really liked some of the unplanned things we did with students, such as the House of Music in Vienna and a winery we stopped and had lunch at between Prague and Vienna,” she said. “In Munich, we went to a beer hall and watched soccer during the World Cup, which was really wild! On a teacher tour, we stopped and made tortillas at a rest area in Guatemala and rode a chicken bus with the locals. The Prater in Vienna was also very fun, as was taking waltzing lessons at the Elmayer Dance studio. Most of the LEAP activities in Germany focus on dancing, so we do folk dancing in Munich and the kids love it.”

As an educator and an avid traveler, Griffin believes travel is crucial for students. Introducing them to cultures and countries outside of their own helps them grow and develop, as well as appreciate what makes their own country unique.

“Travel changes people in that it opens them up to new perspectives and ideas about the world and how we live,” she said. “It helps them be more open minded about others. It also helps build self-esteem and confidence in many of my students, because they are really pushed out of their usual comfort zones and given responsibilities that they wouldn’t have at home. Students create more than memories that will last a lifetime, they develop an understanding of who they are in relation to another culture.”

Griffin works with WorldStrides year after year to plan her trips due to the ease of trip planning and our ability to customize programs to the needs of her and her students. She also speaks highly of our tour directors.

“WorldStrides is great because you can be as hands or hands off as you want to be,” she said. “If there are areas on the trip that you are very familiar with, you can work with the tour director to do some things that were not in the original plan. They are usually excited to hear about new things to see or do in a city.”

Congratulations once more to Griffin on her NECTFL Teacher of the Year award!

Interested in traveling abroad with your students? Learn more about our international travel programs.

Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.