Professor Spencer Salas Honored by U.S. State Department

Professor Spencer Salas
Thursday, January 21, 2021

UNC Charlotte professor Spencer Salas has been announced as a recipient of the English Language Specialist Program 30@30 Award by the United States Department of State in honor of the Specialist Program’s 30th Anniversary. The award recognizes Salas as one of a select group of thirty specialists who have made a lasting impact on the specialist program and on the TESOL field since 1991, building English teaching capacity abroad and bolstering mutual understanding through English language education. 

Spencer Salas, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education at UNC Charlotte, where he leads the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Urban Literacies/TESL sub-concentration. He has been a Fulbright Fellow to Romania (1998), Guatemala (2007), and South Africa (2013); a U.S. Department of State Senior English Language Fellow to Peru (2001-2003). A frequent U.S. DoS English Language Specialist (2003-present)—Salas’ most recent assignment was to Tunisia (2019) for a year-long collaboration with the Ministry of Education surrounding the development and launch of a primary grades English Language curriculum.

“The English Language Specialist Program has been a sustained opportunity to internationalize my scholarship of engagement. I am grateful to my U.S. Department of State colleagues for this honor,” he said.

The English Language Specialist Program is the premier opportunity for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) with funding provided by the U.S. government. Specialists work with local teacher trainers, educational leaders, and ministry of education officials to exchange knowledge, build capacity, and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities in the United States and overseas. Since 1991, over 800 English Language Specialists - representing the best of America’s educators from all 50 States - have encouraged critical thought and erudition, celebrated their cultural diversity, and showcased their American values and civic engagement strategies to millions of educators and students. In 2020, the program saw a 3000% increase in virtual programming in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The 30@30 awardees will be honored throughout the anniversary year with featured stories on the English Language Programs website, in presentations at the Virtual 2021 TESOL International Convention, as expert panelists in online webinars, and at an Appreciation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony in October at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., conditions allowing.