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Kansas Master Teacher Award Program


1999 Winner

(visit 1999 winners home page)


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Mary Porterfield

Spanish/Business Teacher
USD 352, Goodland High School
Goodland, KS

Teaching Philosophy

"My goal is for students in my classroom to leave with a working knowledge of the Spanish language and an appreciation for other cultures in the world.  In order to develop that appreciation, I try to expose the students to authentic encounters with the Spanish culture."

Career Highlights

Kansas Partners for Paraguay has made an impact in Kansas and Goodland. Students from the high school have yearly contact with students from Paraguay and elementary students have helped prepare bi-lingual books to be used by children in the countryside of Paraguay.  Students at GHS donated new and used books for the projects, then translated the stories into Spanish and printed the translations on the computer.  In 1994, two adults and 10 high school students from Paraguay spent a month at Goodland High School thanks to communication between Porterfield and Colegio Eaglenest in Asuncion, Paraguay.

The first international video conference held in Goodland occurred in 1998 as part of a pilot project sponsored by World Bank.  The video conference connected people from several Latin American countries through satellites and telephone lines.  The students not only spoke with others around the world, but saw them as well.  It allowed for communication and learning about other countries and cultures while remaining in the classroom.

Her efforts to provide Spanish culture activities for her students have included field trips to the Cinco De Mayo celebration in Denver, Colorado, and the Ballet Folklorico performance in Oberlin.

Porterfield's development of a foreign language program for the lower grades was unique to Kansas.  When she began establishing it in the early 1980s, less than 10 school systems in the state offered foreign language classes in the lower grades.

What People Say

"Regardless of which perspective one takes to observe the life and activities of Mary, she is an individual who is quickly identified as a person of excellence, be it as a human, as a professional, or as a teacher."

Linda VanLoenen, colleague


"We both enjoyed our trips to Mexico, and we thought of you while we were there.  We learned enough in our two years of Spanish to communicate very well with the children down there.  We went to Mexico not expecting to be able to talk very easily with the people, but because you were such a good teacher to us we did much better than we thought." 

Diane Walters, Jennifer DeMauer, former students


"Mrs. Porterfield takes advantage of every learning style to help her students learn.  She delivers Spanish lessons through music, culture, customs, artifacts, food, and films. She also expected students to practice speaking the language.  We have a dog that understands Spanish, thanks to my daughter."

Gail Walter, parent