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BALTIMORE, MARCH 26, 2014 — Svetlana Grier, a French teacher at Chinese International School in Hong Kong, is the winner of a teaching award from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) in recognition of her commitment to and love of teaching. 

Grier 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 Lieselotte E. Kurth of Johns Hopkins University’s German Department to promote the teaching of modern languages and to recognize the dedication of educators who instill in young people the desire to better understand the people and cultures of the world. The award, which is administered by CTY, includes a $1,500 prize.

She was nominated for the award by Chinese International School student Joseph Wan of Hong Kong. Joseph, a CTY student since 2012, has taken two CTY three-week residential Summer Programs—Model United Nations and Advanced Geography, and Logic: Principles of Reasoning. This summer, Joseph, 14, plans to take International Politics at CTY’s Los Angeles site.

More than 80 teachers were nominated for the Friedel and Otto Eberspacher Award this year, and 11 teachers wrote essays discussing pivotal moments in their modern language education and their decision to teach language as a career.

In her award-winning essay Grier detailed her passion for learning and teaching languages. Born in Russia, she dreamed of traveling and learning about different cultures as a young girl. She spoke Russian at home and learned English in school, and her father encouraged her language learning by providing her with language games on the computer, copies of classic novels and plays in English, and pop records from the United States. At college and graduate school in Russia and England, Grier specialized in French, English, German, and linguistics.

“I am Russian teaching French and Theory of Knowledge in English at a Chinese school in Hong Kong, where I am learning Mandarin,” says Grier, a teacher at Chinese International School since 2005. “My daily life is lived in four languages.”

Grier says that for her, learning languages has long provided an escape into an entirely different world. “Some people do exercise. Other people read books. For me, learning languages provides a much needed way to escape from everything and catch up with myself.”

And teaching languages gives her the opportunity to interact with students and colleagues and impart her love of language to others. “When I interact with my students I learn something new in every class.”

A photo of Svetlana Grier is available on request.

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

A global leader in gifted education since 1979, CTY 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.”