Richard Sturges Receives Intercultural Student Experiences Language Matters Award


Richard Sturges received the ISE Language Matters Award for his hard work both in and out of the Spanish classroom.

Melanie Weber

Richard Sturges received the ISE Language Matters Award for his hard work both in and out of the Spanish classroom.
Richard Sturges received the ISE Language Matters Award for his hard work both in and out of the Spanish classroom.

The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) honored a special teacher from Walpole High School at the annual MaFLA fall conference in Sturbridge, MA on October 31. The Intercultural Student Experiences Language Matters Award is given to any high school teacher of a world language that has been successful in getting his or her students to speak the target language through creative methods and impeccable motivation. The winner must have also provided authentic immersion experiences outside of the classroom that require students to apply their speaking skills.

 Due to his outstanding planning throughout the Costa Rican exchange program, as well as his talent in implementing culture into his class lessons, Spanish teacher Richard Sturges received this year’s ISE Language Matters Award.

 “Mr. Sturges is an awesome teacher who is always finding new ways to entertain his students while ensuring that they learn the material. He comes to class each day with so much life and energy, which makes learning Spanish extremely enjoyable,” said AP Spanish student Sarah Rockwood.

 Every two years, Walpole High participates in a foreign exchange program with a school from Costa Rica. Throughout the 2015 year, Sturges, with the help of Mrs. Bacon and Ms. Flaherty, worked with Costa Rican English teachers Crisia Fernández and Lidio Castillo allowing 17 students and families to participate in this exchange.

  “Mr. Sturges was very organized throughout the program,” said junior Audrey Lynch, “He did a phenomenal job planning events for us, making the experience both fun and educational.”

 Sturges put an extensive amount of time into making the matches between both schools, planning excursions such as tubing, ice skating, and a trip to New York for the Costa Rican students. In addition, Sturges met with parents throughout the year to advise them on what to expect with their children traveling to Costa Rica.

  “The best part [of the Costa Rican exchange program] was seeing friendships develop across cultural and linguistic boundaries. It is encouraging to see how much students learn by being a part of the exchange program, both linguistically and culturally,” said Sturges.

 In addition to his excellence working throughout the foreign exchange program, Sturges strives to teach the spanish culture in the classroom. He does ample research looking for current events, activities, songs, online sources, and games to bring culture to life in his classroom.

 “When I observe Mr. Sturges’ classes, I always see high energy, high engagement, and a commitment on Mr. Sturges’ part to give his students a linguistic workout,” said Osborne.

 “I would like my students to be both confident speakers of Spanish and globally aware people.  In addition, I encourage my students to enjoy learning languages and to visit and/or live in places where Spanish is the primary language,” said Sturges.

 The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association awarded Sturges with $250 on behalf of his award. Sturges always goes above and beyond both in and out of the classroom, enabling his students to reach excellence. Both Sturges’ students and colleagues would agree that he fits  the description of the Student Experiences Language Matters Award perfectly.