IU lecturer Israel Herrera was elected president of the Indiana chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese for the second time in November 2019.
The AATSP promotes the study and teaching of Spanish and Portuguese and their corresponding cultures in all levels of education, according to the AATSP website.
Herrera said he plans to organize events for the Indiana chapter including a Spanish state conference at IU that will provide a forum for educators to participate in workshops and discussions, an immersion day for Indiana Spanish and Portuguese teachers and students, as well as Spanish cultural events.
Herrera said his term started Jan. 1. His first term as president was from 2013-15.
Herrera said the Indiana chapter of the AATSP has a showcase where students, parents and teachers can learn about the study of these languages and cultures. They can also receive information about scholarships and overseas studies, he said.
“We would like to continue with our mission and with professional development,” Herrera said.
Judith Carlstrand, past president of the Indiana chapter of the AATSP, said the presidency is a six-year commitment where candidates are vice president for two years before their two-year presidency and then past president for the following two years.
Carlstrand said to run for president, candidates first have to have experience on the board of directors. The board consists of officers and volunteer teachers. There is a nomination process in the spring and then the board and chapter members vote in the fall, she said. Carlstrand said the presidency is a merit-based role.
Everyone in the Indiana chapter had been actively involved in AATSP, especially Herrera, Carlstrand said. She said Herrera seems to know everyone.
Carlstrand said she has seen Herrera teach at one of the AATSP’s immersion day events.
“He’s a very engaging and personable teacher,” Carlstarand said. “He’s a master of conversation.”
Carlstrand said Herrera is a regional leader in the AATSP and he tries to bring his experience working throughout Indiana to his classroom. He is focused on active cultural learning rather than simple memorization of verb conjugations, she said.
Doctoral student Ricardo Martins said he met Herrera as a master’s student, and Herrera was fundamental in supporting the development of the Portuguese program. Martins is in charge of the Portuguese programs of the Indiana chapter of the AATSP.
He said Herrera looks for potential in students and teachers, and his influence on their teaching and learning of Spanish and Portuguese is life-changing.
“He is always trying to improve the connections within the Hispanic and the Latino community in general,” Martins said.
Martins said Herrera is resourceful, knowledgeable, patient and humble. He said it was likely Herrera would be reelected president because people recognize those traits in him and his ability to expand AATSP’s reach.