Welcome to SMC - A Message from the Academic Directors

June 23, 2019

Greetings from the Middlebury Interactive Languages Summer Academies at St. Michael’s College! We are Clara Hoellerbauer and Theresa Bruns, the Directors of Academics, at the Middlebury Interactive Languages Summer Academies. Clara will work with the academic staff of the Arabic, Chinese and German academies, and Theresa will support the French and Spanish academies in the same way.

Clara is excited to be back for yet another summer, the first of which was in 2010. Over the years, she was a teacher for the Spanish Academies and also in her “normal life.” Over the years, she applied many of the great things she learned about language learning through MILSA/MMLA in her own classroom and saw drastic increases in student growth. After teaching Spanish for 7 years, she attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she earned her Masters degree in School Leadership. Since 2013 she is an assistant principal in Colorado Springs, CO. While she loves her administrative responsibilities, she is happy to be back at the Summer Academy where she works with some of the best language educators she knows.

Theresa served as the Senior Director of Professional Development at Middlebury
Interactive Languages (MIL) from 2011-2017. During her time at MIL she worked with teachers across the country on effective implementation of MIL’s online World Language and ELL courses. Additionally, she was responsible for the professional development of the Summer Academy staff. For the last 8 years she has continued to work closely with the Director of the Summer Academies to evaluate the Academy experience each summer, collaborate on curriculum and to continue to deliver professional development to the Academy staff. Her career in education began as a teacher of high school Spanish and ELL, including 7 years of online education experience at the Ohio Virtual Academy. She also taught at the university and community college level after receiving an M.A. in second language acquisition and Spanish and a second M.A. in technology integration in the classroom. Theresa and her husband live
in Ohio with their four children.

We are working with an amazing team of educators, both inside the classroom and the residences. Many of our staff members have worked with the Academies in the past or are former students of the program. Our Teachers have many years of language teaching experience and come from various states and countries. Our Residential Advisors, who live in the dorms with your children, have traveled extensively and many of them have lived abroad for extensive periods of time or are native speakers. We are excited to support your child’s language learning during language classes, cultural exploration classes, afternoon activities, assemblies, field trips, and much more.

We want to thank you for entrusting you with your son and/or daughter’s care for the next few weeks. Over the course of their stay at the Summer Academy, your children will have the opportunity to participate in daily lessons, activities – everything from playing soccer to “watching the clouds” – dances, and chat with their new friends, RAs, and teachers. Students will also experience the culture of countries that speak the language they are studying through Cultural Exploration (CE) classes and other academy programming. Students will be able to select 3 of these courses. Beginner language students will start their summer with a Survival CE class that supports their learning of the writing system, phonics, phonetics, etc. of the target language and gives them specific tools to express their needs without breaking the Language Pledge.

This morning your children participated in our Student Orientation, which was similar to the parent presentations you may have attended on site on Sunday. We spoke about the daily schedule, the ups and downs (challenges and successes) of language learning, their goals for their stay with us at the Summer Academy. We also discussed how the way they have been taught a language in the past may be significantly different from what they will experience here at the Summer Academy. Please look for a follow-up blog post with further details and tips on supporting your children in maximizing their learning this summer.

This evening, our students learned about the Language Pledge and what it means to enter into an agreement with a group of people. We discussed the commitment to the community that is necessary for our experience here to be a true immersion experience and how we (students and staff) can support each other. Your children also learned different ways to communicate (circumlocution, approximation, word coinage, and the use of gestures and sounds) when they may not be able to express their needs or thoughts in the target language.

We hope you stay updated with what happens at the Academy through our blog. As you can see, updates are frequent since we love to share what your children are learning at the Summer Academy. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns and do not hesitate to contact us with academic concerns either through email - Clara (choellerbauer@middleburyinteractive.com) and Theresa (tbruns@middleburyinteractive.com) or by leaving a message at the SMC Site Office.

We look forward to meeting many of you at the end of the Academy!

Take care,
Theresa Bruns and Clara Hoellerbauer