Broadneck High School’s Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year candidate Shelby Ledger hopes that all her students “look back at Spanish class like they look back at a football game, with lots of long-lasting memories and positive experiences.”
Ledger is an integral part of the world language department at Broadneck High School and has been a part of the Broadneck community for six years as the department chair of world languages for the school. She is the only Advanced Placement teacher for Spanish classes at Broadneck, and she also teaches other Spanish language courses, and runs Broadneck’s chapter of the Spanish Honor Society.
When asked about her experience at Broadneck High School, Ledger answered, “I love it here. I feel really happy at Broadneck.”
Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Ledger developed a love of languages and learning from a young age to get where she is today. Her passion for teaching stemmed from family members, including her mother and grandparents, who were teachers in various subjects. She recalls how her mother inspired young children with her warm demeanor, which has inspired her to carry on her ideas and represent herself as a “warm person” in the classroom.
To continue pursuing her passion, Ledger double-majored in Spanish language and Spanish education, and double-minored in French and Latin American studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She then moved back to Maryland and began her teaching career in Anne Arundel County Public Schools at North County High School for one year, then two years at Southern High School, before she transferred to Broadneck High School.
When asked about her teaching philosophies, Ledger emphasized how much she strives to build an inclusive classroom environment. Specifically, she shared that she “creates routines where speaking Spanish is equitable and everyone feels like they are contributing at the same rate, but at different levels.”
Ledger also aims to ensure that every student feels comfortable, valued and confident in themselves and their Spanish speaking abilities.
“I think learning should be fun,” Ledger said. “It's important to remember to have fun in the journey of learning.”
Ledger has also coordinated two abroad trips to Spanish-speaking countries to further her students’ knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. In 2019, she took a group of students to the Dominican Republic for a service-learning trip, where students volunteered in impoverished communities and educational programs for young children. This past summer in 2023, she took a more advanced group of students to Costa Rica and Panama for the opportunity to build their fluency in Spanish and see sites.
Ledger added that going on trips with students and being able to connect to students along the way “were moments that I know I love what I do.”
Mack Watkins, a former student of Ledger’s and a current sophomore at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, co-majoring in Spanish, had quite a lot to share about her.
“Mrs. Ledger is the most impactful educator I’ve ever had,” Watkins said. “I could always tell how much she cared individually about all her students.”
Watkins also was able to receive an internship right when graduating in 2022 and holds a current job as a legal services and outreach coordinator at a clinic catered to Latino immigrants, all because of the guidance Watkins received from Ledger during and after high school.
Madeleine Stern, another former student of Ledger’s and a current sophomore at Northwestern University stated, “Even now in college, what I learned in her AP Spanish class has built an excellent foundation for everything I have done since then.”
Ledger’s love of language learning has not diminished. She is learning American Sign Language and Vietnamese, alongside being well-versed in both Spanish and French.
“I love the idea of continuing to be a learner,” Ledger said. “It’s kind of like I have a forever love of learning!”
Ledger is proud to continue working with students and helping them create long-lasting memories.
“I am very, very fortunate to wake up each morning and love what I do,” Ledger said. “It means the world to me.”
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