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BALTIMORE March 30, 2012 — Diane L. Rugh, a French teacher at Westmont Hilltop High School in Johnstown, Pa. is the winner of a national teaching award from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY). 

Rugh, a teacher at Westmont Hilltop for 23 years, was selected as the winner of the Friedel and Otto Eberspacher Award for Excellence in the Teaching of a Modern Western European Language. The award was established in 1989 by Liesolette E. Kurth of Johns Hopkins University’s German Department to promote the teaching of modern languages and recognize the dedication of educators who instill in young people the desire to better understand the people and cultures of different parts of the world. The award, which is administered by CTY, includes a $1,500 prize.

Rugh was nominated for the award by Westmont Hilltop student Stacee Glass of Johnstown. Stacee, a CTY student since 2009, took a CTY Summer Program in Logic last summer at our Lancaster, Pa. site, and has spent two previous summers studying such topics as essay writing and etymology with CTY as part of our three-week residential Summer Programs.

Stacee wrote in her nomination, “Madame Rugh has been an important figure at my school for many years. She is thoroughly involved in classes, clubs and student life. Madame is a patient teacher that not only teaches French vocabulary, but important phrases for actual communication. Her traveling experiences also allow her to teach proper pronunciation as well as French history and culture.”

Sixty four teachers were nominated for the prize, and 14 teachers wrote essays discussing their approaches to teaching foreign languages and the importance of learning foreign languages.

In the essay Rugh submitted to the award committee at CTY, she detailed her passion for learning and teaching language, which began when she was a child learning some Croatian from her grandparents and parents and blossomed during a college semester abroad at the University of Rouen.

Rugh, who also serves as advisor to the school’s World Language Club, says she strives to make her classroom a “light hearted, non-threatening, supportive learning atmosphere.” She does this by being animated and approachable, by striving for mutual respect, and by employing her sense of humor. “I just really enjoy being with my students,” she says. “I learn from them. They keep me stimulated. They can amaze me.”


About The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY)

A global leader in gifted education since 1979, is focused on identifying academic talent in exceptional K-12 students and supporting their growth with summer and online courses, family programs, services, and resources specifically designed to meet their needs.  Education Week called CTY “one of a set of remarkable nonpublic institutions dedicated to the discovery and nurture of the most talented young people for the highest levels of accomplishment.”