French Teacher Wins Best Language Teacher in the State


McKenna DeRiese

French teacher Sasha Van Zandt won the state best language teacher award by NILA. Each year the board picks the best teacher for each language: French, Spanish and German.

McKenna DeRiese

LPS world language teacher Sasha Van Zandt was honored with the Best Language Teacher in the state award at the fall conference by the Nebraska International Languages Association (NILA). 

Each year, Nebraska honors three different language teachers: one for Spanish, French and German. They are scheduled to be honored at the Feb. 11 Lincoln Board of Education meeting as well. 

“I just remember being really surprised,” Van Zandt said. “The people were listing off all the accomplishments the nominee did and I remember thinking, ‘I did that. Wait, I did that too.’”

Although Van Zandt was surprised she received the award, her students were not. 

“She makes all of her classes feel like more than just learning French,” senior Lauren Epp said. “She’s the kind of teacher that lets me discuss the things that I want to talk about like issues over the environment.”

A key factor that makes Van Zandt’s class unique is how she is known to incorporate different values in her French lessons. 

“She’s more than a teacher to me,” senior Morgan Maseth said. “I think of her like a second mom. I know I can talk to her about anything and I won’t feel judged.”

Along with Van Zandt, North Star’s Jami Holbein Swanson and Southeast’s Kelleen Browning won the award for Spanish and German teaching.