Barbara Ort Smith Award

Each year, the MIWLA Executive Board nominates candidates for the Barbara Ort-Smith Award. This is the most prestigious award a professional in the field of world languages can receive in the state of Michigan. The award honors those who have shown a strong commitment to the profession, manifesting itself in leadership and the promotion of excellence in world language education. The first recipient of this award was Barbara Ort-Smith in 1988. She served as the first Foreign Language consultant in the state of Michigan.

Congratulations to our 2023 Barbara Ort-Smith Award Recipient, Michael Vrooman!

Michael is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Grand Valley State University. He has been teaching for over 30 years, including ESL, Spanish, and Yucatec Maya. Michael holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics with a focus on Second Language Acquisition from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His teaching, research, and scholarly interests include world language teacher preparation, second language proficiency, and Spanish language and linguistics. When study abroad came to a complete halt in 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, he helped to expand opportunities for students to participate in Virtual Exchange in eight different languages via collaborations between GVSU faculty and students, and GVSU’s international partners around the world.

Michael has served on the Michigan Department of Education Seal of Biliteracy Council since 2018. Through his on-going work with the MDE and at GVSU, Michael continues to seek opportunities for holders of the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy to receive recognition in employment and higher education for the skills they have developed.

Michael has presented at MIWLA with several undergraduate students pursuing world language teaching licensure as well as colleagues from GVSU and the MDE Seal of Biliteracy Council. He served on the MIWLA Executive Board from 2016 to 2019. As President in 2019, he established a mini conference held in Traverse City to share many of the most highly rated presentations from the October conference with world language professionals in northern Michigan and others who could not attend the annual conference.

Past Recipients of the Barbara Ort-Smith Award

2023 Michael Vrooman 2010 Irma Torres 1997 Anne Nerenz

2022 Marci Harris 2009 Margrit Zinggeler 1996 Charles H. Ahnert

2021 Viviana Muriel de Bonafede 2008 Robert Lee Bowbeer 1996 Barbette Kitchen

2020 Melissa Dalton 2007 Flora Maria Ciccone Quintanilla 1995 Ruth Moltz

2019 Angelika Kraemer 2006 Cindy Kendall 1994 Dianne Mahalak

2018 Joyce Smetanka Campbell 2005 Marge Mandl 1994 Alice Herman

2017 Michael Braun 2004 John Sanford “Sandy” Dugan 1993 Sarah Juntune

2016 Laura Nork Bradshaw 2003 Susan Knight 1992 Claude-Marie Baldwin

2015 Anne Violin-Wigent 2002 Emily Serafa Manschot 1991 JoAnne Wilson

2014 Bill VanPatten 2001 Jackie Moase-Burke 1990 Emily Spinelli

2013 Susan Buffa 2000 Donald Riddering 1989 George Mansour

2012 Norma Richardson 1999 Tom Lovik 1988 Barbara Ort-Smith

2011 Jennie Frazier 1998 Gisela Moffit