Nicole Kepford and Shane Zumwalt

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence
Oklahoma Mentor Day

Nicole Kepford and Shane Zumwalt

Elementary Spanish Mentor Program, Norman High School

Nicole Kepford and Shane Zumwalt of Norman began teaching Spanish to Monroe Elementary students in 2014 as part of the inaugural class of Elementary Spanish Mentors at Norman High School.

Four years later, Kepford and Zumwalt are OU students and continue to volunteer weekly for the Elementary Spanish Mentor Program at Monroe. In recognition of their dedication, the duo is being jointly honored as outstanding mentors for the program.

“Nicole and Shane have each impacted the learning of hundreds of students in the four years they have participated in this program,” said Darci Pippins, Norman High Spanish teacher and program sponsor. “These elementary students are exposed to Spanish and will hopefully go on to enroll in a language class when they're in middle school or high school. Nicole and Shane are advocating for world language education and for teaching in Oklahoma.”

Kepford is now studying Spanish and health and exercise sciences at the University of Oklahoma, while Zumwalt is majoring in world language education with the intent of teaching Spanish when he graduates. Pippins said the mentoring program was instrumental in Zumwalt’s decision to become a Spanish teacher.

Kepford and Zumwalt plan weekly lessons for the Monroe students and work to instill in them a love for Spanish. They enjoy playing Simón Dice (Simon Says) with the students, giving commands in Spanish and watching them demonstrate understanding with gestures.

“They are both outstanding mentors to their students,” Pippins said. “Nicole does a great job getting to know her students by asking them questions in Spanish. Watching Shane teach these students and mentor them is heartwarming.”

Monroe Elementary teacher Lynette Wilson has been very complimentary and appreciative of Kepford and Zumwalt’s longtime commitment to teaching Spanish at Monroe.

About the Program: Norman High School’s Elementary Spanish Mentor Program is a school-based, peer mentoring program that assigns upper level Spanish language students to local elementary students. The volunteers teach for 30 minutes each week and are responsible for their own lesson plans. The program earned the 2016 Global Engagement Award from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language.