Spanish Teacher Nilda Villalta Receives Prestigious Award From Northwestern University

Upper School Spanish teacher Nilda Villalta is one of five recipients of Northwestern University’s Distinguished Secondary School Teacher Award, which “honors excellent high school teachers around the world for their professional and personal commitment to their students."

Emmeline Leggett ‘18, a senior at Northwestern, nominated Villalta for the high honor. “She was known for being the teacher that you could go to for advice and help for issues outside the scope of her class,” Leggett says in a news release published by the university. “Students who never even enrolled in her class would come to her, and she would never turn them away. Doctora Villalta not only challenged you as a student, but as a holistic person, to think critically and ethically. She made her students feel valued, giving special attention to those she noticed needed it most.”

Villalta appreciates this opportunity to consider the lifelong impact that NCS educators have on their students. “When I first heard about the nomination, I was really moved. The frantic pace of the school does not give us time to reflect on the true impact of our work,” says Villalta. “I am honored to receive this award because, to me, it serves as a recognition of the work done by many faculty members on the Close.”

Head of School Dr. Elinor Scully says, “I continue to be inspired by Nilda’s commitment to NCS, both in and out of the classroom. For 18 years, Nilda has been a source of support and encouragement for students in the Upper School. Focusing on students’ emotional well-being as much as their Spanish language education, she truly values the whole person. I am grateful to Northwestern for recognizing Nilda’s immeasurable impact on our community.”

To accompany the award, Northwestern will issue stipends of $5,000 to NCS and $5,000 to Villalta. She will be honored at the university’s commencement ceremony in mid-June.

Congratulations, Dra. Villalta!
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