The 2022 NNELL Award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning

And the award goes to…! NNELL is seeking nominations for the NNELL award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning that will be presented at the ACTFL 2022 Conference, in Boston MA, November 18-20.


The NNELL Award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning will be given to an individual or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding support of early second language learning of languages other than English. Nominees may be actively involved in their efforts in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, the following: principal or other school administrator, district or state school superintendent, classroom teacher, parent, school board member, businessperson, civic leader, politician/elected representative. Nominees should be individuals whose primary job responsibilities are not related to the field of second language education.

The nomination for this award will be in the form of two letters of recommendation (a letter of recommendation and a letter of support) from individuals who can attest to the nominee’s work in the field of early language learning. The letter of nomination must come from a current NNELL member, and the letter of support should be written by another individual who is very familiar with the nominee’s work for early language learning. The letters should include documentation that clearly demonstrates evidence of the ways in which the nominee supports early language learning and that is clearly separate and distinct from the individual’s primary job responsibilities.

The nomination may also include up to five photocopied pages of supporting evidence such as copies of newspaper articles that recognize the nominee’s work for early language learning (brochures, pamphlets, etc. will not be accepted). The following are examples of criteria that can be considered in writing the letters of nomination as they apply to the nominee’s work on behalf of early language learning:

  • Demonstrates commitment to early second language learning in the school and the community, e.g., seeks ways to inform the community of the need for beginning language study early as an integral part of the school curriculum and in an uninterrupted sequence
  • Provides visibility to the second language program, e.g., seeks media and/or newspaper publicity of school foreign language events, sends newsletter with second language program updates to parents
  • Provides leadership in establishing and maintaining early second language programs at the local or state level
  • Supports and provides professional development opportunities for early second language specialists
  • Advocates for early second language programs at the local or state level, e.g., represents his or her foreign language program at local or state school board meetings
  • Serves on local or state committees for early second language learning, e.g., advocacy projects, state world/foreign language association committee or board, PTA
  • Supports exemplary ongoing second language instruction in his/her classroom, e.g., collaborates with the world language specialist on interdisciplinary projects

Three copies of the nomination packet including the two letters of nomination and up to five pages of sample supporting evidence should be emailed as one nomination submission with a postmark date of no later than July 30  to:  Andrea Boyd  presidentelect@nnell.org

2021 NNELL Award for Outstanding Support of Early Language Learning



Senior Federal Grants Specialist

Indiana Department of Education

Nicole Leach is the recipient of the 2021 NNELL Award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning. This award is reserved for individuals who have demonstrated outstanding support of early second language learning of languages other than English. Nominees are individuals whose primary job responsibilities are not related to the field of second language education but who have made significant contributions to early language learning opportunities for children.
Nicole  began her career in education with fifteen years in the classroom teaching Spanish, English language arts, and English as a New Language. Time in the classroom enhanced her passion for languages and culture as she had the honor of working with English Language Learners from twenty countries in addition to teaching Spanish. She completed her master’s degree in English as a New Language, and this led her to her work at the Indiana Department of Education in 2017. She began work on her EdD at Indiana University during the fall of 2019 for educational leadership.
Currently Nicole is an English Learner and Dual Language specialist at the Indiana Dept. of Education. Her work involves administering the Indiana Dual Language Pilot Program grant and Title III, facilitating the Indiana Certificate of Multilingual proficiency program, providing professional development in the areas of dual language, cultural competence, strategies for ELL programming and instruction, and other areas. During her first year at the IDOE, 75 students received the Certificate of Multilingual Proficiency, and now the number is over eight hundred students.
The primary area of focus for Nicole at the IDOE has been her work with dual language education. Indiana now has programs in Spanish, Mandarin, and French, and new programs are implemented each year. Nicole works diligently to create relationships within and between the various language programs in Indiana. Nicole has also contracted with organizations such as CAL to bring in professional development for local programs.
Ms. Leach has always been responsive to the needs of the programs and the educators she has worked with. Thus, two years ago, she worked to create a tripartite partnership, with the Indiana Department of Education, a curriculum director in a district with numerous dual language programs, and a representative from Indiana University. The partnership consisted of developing online modules for dual language educators and aimed at providing free quality professional development.
Presenting nationally and bringing attention to Indiana’s programs is something that Nicole seeks out.
During the spring of 2019, she was elected as secretary for NAELPA (National Association of English Learner Program Administrators) for a three-year term. She has been able to collaborate with other state dual language leads through this organization which has furthered her work in dual language for Indiana. Nicole is also part of the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association board.
Nicole’s leadership style fosters a culture of understanding while making sure that the underserved, less privileged and marginalized voices are given opportunities to voice their opinions and experiences. Through nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with teachers and administrators from rural as well as urban areas, she has demonstrated how flexible yet strategic she can be while having the needs of the less advantaged students in mind. In addition to working extremely effectively within and across different teams within the Indiana. Congratulations, Nicole.

Past Award Winners

2020 Award Winner- Dr. Vesna Dimitrieska, Coordinator of Global Education Initiatives, Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Education and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Please click here to see more.

2019 Award Winner- Ms. Krissy Brown, Principal, Mount Rose K-8 School of Languages, Washoe County School District,  Reno, Nevada. Please click here to see more.

2018 Award Winner – Dr. Steven Garcia, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Personnel for Pelham Public Schools, New York.  Please click here to see more.

2017 Award Winner —  Rep.​ ​Peggy​ ​Mayfield, Assistant​ ​Majority​ Floor ​Leader,​ ​House​ ​of​ ​Representatives​ ​in​ ​the Indiana​ ​General​ ​Assembly. Please click here to see more.

2016 Award Winner — Dr.​ ​Renee​ ​Foose  – Superintendent,​ ​Howard​ ​County​ ​Public​ ​Schools . Please click here to see more.

Please click here to see who won our awards in the past.


NNELL Award Chair 2022-2023

Andrea Boyd

2022 NNELL Awards Committee

Thank you to the 2020 Awards Committee:

Northeast Region –  Marissa Coulehan

Southeast Region – Michelle Olah

Central East Region – Kathleen Priceman

Pacific Southwest Region – Teresa Kennedy

If you would like to serve on the 2022 Awards Committee, please contact Andrea Boyd,  presidentelect@nnell.org.


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