Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bolles Veteran Is Top Spanish Teacher in U.S. She Came to Love a Language Far from Her Roots, and Has Let Others Do the Same since 1977

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bolles Veteran Is Top Spanish Teacher in U.S. She Came to Love a Language Far from Her Roots, and Has Let Others Do the Same since 1977

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

Cathy Soud fell in love with the Spanish language when she was a student at Episcopal High School of Jacksonville more than three decades ago.

Since 1977 she has shared that love with her students at The Bolles School, with the exception of five years away teaching at Maryville (Tenn.) College.

On Saturday she will be recognized as the nation's top Spanish teacher on the secondary school level by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. She'll be honored at the association's 2009 conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

So how did a tall, green-eyed blonde from a Southern family who had to learn the language at school, not at home, come to love the language?

At Episcopal, one of her favorite teachers was her Spanish teacher, Emily Cristofoli.

"I was good at Spanish and did better in that class than in math," Soud said. When a person enjoys a subject and does well in it, that can influence a choice in careers, she said.

After graduating from Episcopal, she headed to Vanderbilt University where she earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and graduated magna cum laude in 1975. She remained at Vanderbilt to earn a master of arts in teaching degree in Spanish in 1977.

"Years ago people would ask me why in the world would I want to teach Spanish," she said.

Now that it is the second most-spoken language in the United States, people don't ask that question anymore.

When she returned to Jacksonville to begin her teaching career, she applied to Episcopal as well as Bolles, but Bolles had an opening.

During her first 19 years at Bolles, Soud initiated student participation in the state Spanish competition and established the school's first Spanish language exchange program with a high school in Costa Rica. She also founded the school's chapter of Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica.

Since returning to the San Jose school in 2001, Soud is the lead teacher in a Spanish faculty of seven and coordinates the Spanish curriculum. …

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