PAA Teacher Honored by COFTL

June 18, 2016 | Liesl Vistaunet

Rita Barrett, Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) Spanish teacher, was named 2016 Honor Roll Teacher by the Confederation in Oregon for Language Teaching (COFTL). The COFTL board annually recognizes one K–12 language teacher who has made significant accomplishments and contributions to language acquisition and education.

Besides growing PAA’s Spanish class offerings from two levels to four, Barrett formed PAA’s chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica, a national honor society sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Her graduates are often awarded impressive scholarships and many succeed at the challenging College Level Exam Program (CLEP).

Beyond PAA’s success, Barrett is an ambassador for all language educators. Barrett successfully launched a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in 2011 for language teachers in the region. Her PLC colleagues nominated her for the COFTL honor.

“It was met with unanimous support from our PLC,” said Ann Cedeño, a PLC member and Vancouver (Wash.) Public School Home Connection teacher, in her nomination letter to the COFTL board. “Each of us is better equipped to promote student learning as a direct result of Rita’s outstanding, ongoing dedication and contribution to our professional growth as teachers of world languages.” 

Barrett’s dedication to her colleagues’ success feeds her own professional growth. “Our PLC has been such an encouragement and help to me on this journey,” says Barrett. “Together, we are smarter, more creative and have a lot more fun!”

“Rita is a true leader,” says PLC member Michelle Nicola, a Spanish teacher at Portland Public School’s Bridger School. Nicola was one of many who wrote statements to the COFTL board as part of Barrett’s nomination. “She has given herself wholeheartedly to her profession and wants to be the best teacher she can be for her students. I have grown tremendously, thanks to her collaboration, and I consider it an honor and privilege to be her colleague.”

Statements like these, as well as the COFTL award, shine a light on the value of Adventist education. Christ-centered and character-driven teaching is recognized as a core value held by Adventist teachers like Barrett.

“I know Rita has touched many lives both in her classroom and out of it,” says Tina Hargaden, a Portland Public Schools Language teacher and member of the PLC. “I’m so glad to know her.”