During the Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year reception at the Washington Post,Suzanne Planas was asked to speak for all recipients in accepting the honor.
A nine-year veteran educator from George Mason High School (GMHS) is one of this year’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award recipients. The Washington Post recognized Spanish teacher Suzanne Planas (right) as one of the finest teachers in the region by naming her the winner from Falls Church City.
“Suzanne Planas is a dedicated and creative educator who cares deeply about her students and their success in World Languages and beyond," Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Lois Berlin said. “This recognition is well deserved.”
The annual award is presented by the Washington Post to one teacher from each of the 19 metro area public school divisions as well as one private school and one charter school. The award’s namesake, Agnes Meyer, was a staunch supporter and defender of public education and the wife of Eugene Meyer, who purchased the Washington Post in 1933. The goals of the award are to recognize excellence in teaching and to encourage creative and quality instruction.
Planas is credited as being the "go to" person when problems arise in the department, with creating and implementing the Understanding by Design curriculum for foreign language classes at George Mason, and for leading students in both self-directed and group projects aimed at making the mastery of the Spanish language both interactive and fun.
Her tenure with the Falls Church City Public Schools started in September, 2003. In addition to teaching, Planas serves as World Languages Department leader, and is the organizer of the National Spanish Exam and serves as the Spanish Club sponsor for GMHS. During her tenure, she has been the Student Activities director, a teacher mentor and organized the Modern Foreign Language Tournament.
Parents, students and colleagues submitted letters of support for Planas' Agnes Meyer Award nomination.
“Her open door, her sincere interest in all who come through it, and her willingness to go 'above and beyond the call of duty' make Mrs. Planas a person whom students turn for personal advice as well as academic support,” FCCPS Foreign Language CIRT, Linda Johnsen wrote.
“As an educator, Senora Planas works tirelessly to ensure that each and every one of her students - whether they are struggling, excelling, or doing a bit of both - experiences the joy of learning the Spanish language," wrote former student, Amelia Nemitz.
Planas earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Virginia Commonwealth University. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester at Universidad de Valencia, Spain. She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching Language from Georgetown University. Her teaching career began in 1989 in Fairfax County Public Schools, and she has taught Spanish at all levels, including elementary school.