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Meyer Award Goes to Mason High Spanish Teacher Suzanne Planas

George Mason High School Spanish language teacher Suzanne Planas was announced today as the winner of the annual Agnes Meyer Award for the Falls Church school system. The annual award is presented by the Washington Post to one teacher from each of the 19 metro area public school divisions as well as one private school and one charter school.

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George Mason High School teacher Suzanne Planas won the Agnes Meyer Award for the Falls Church school system. (Photo: FCCPS/John Brett)

George Mason High School Spanish language teacher Suzanne Planas was announced today as the winner of the annual Agnes Meyer Award for the Falls Church school system. The annual award is presented by the Washington Post to one teacher from each of the 19 metro area public school divisions as well as one private school and one charter school.

Planas is credited as being the “go to” person when problems arise in the department, with creating and implementing the Understanding by Design curriculum for foreign language classes at GMHS, and for leading students in both self-directed and group projects aimed at making the mastery of the Spanish language both interactive and fun. Her tenure with the Falls Church City Public Schools started in September 2003. In addition to teaching, Planas serves as World Languages Department leader, and is the organizer of the National Spanish Exam and serves as the Spanish Club sponsor for GMHS. During her tenure, she has been the Student Activities director, a teacher mentor and organized the Modern Foreign Language Tournament.

Parents and colleagues submitted letters of support for Planas’ Agnes Meyer Award nomination. “Her open door, her sincere interest in all who come through it, and her willingness to go ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ make Mrs. Planas a person to whom students turn for personal advice as well as academic support,” FCCPS Foreign Language CIRT, Linda Johnsen wrote. “As an educator, Senora Planas works tirelessly to ensure that each and every one of her students – whether they are struggling, excelling, or doing a bit of both – experiences the joy of learning the Spanish language,” wrote former student, Amelia Nemitz.

Planas earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Virginia Commonwealth University. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester at Universidad de Valencia, Spain. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching Language from Georgetown University. Her teaching career began in 1989 in Fairfax County Public Schools, and she has taught Spanish at all levels, including elementary school. Planas is among eight Falls Church City Public Schools teachers nominated for the award.

She and all the nominees will be recognized by the school board at a reception on May 16, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School. Planas will also be recognized along with other winners from the region at a Washington Post reception on May 10.