St. Thomas Academy French teacher named regional honoree in 2018 Outstanding Educator Awards program

Caroline Little

Caroline Little, French teacher at St. Thomas Academy, has been named a regional honoree in the WEM Foundation’s 2018 Outstanding Educator Awards program. 

Little is being honored by the WEM Foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student learning. She is one of two regional recipients of the Teacher Achievement Award, which recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement.

Little has been teaching for 17 years and currently teaches high school French at St. Thomas Academy. She takes great pride in bringing STEM into her French language classroom. Translating commands involves not so much about telling someone to wash their hands or brush their teeth, but more of where to put the solder or how short to cut the wires. Little finds these and other unique ways to marry STEM into the world of language. Her French students hear about the International Space Station and the newest advances in engineering.

“Madame Little combines hands-on, active learning with listening skills as well as written text to create a unique learning environment that my child benefits from,” said a parent. “One of my child’s favorite activities in class was the opportunity to build a robot. All directions and interactions with other students and Madame were done in French. Students in her class learn and enjoy learning.”

Most recently, Little completed more than 50 hours of professional development at NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators. She worked with her advisory students to develop and build a Satellite Launching Experimental Device that was tested on the Precision Air Bearing Floor at Johnson Space Center. Little connected with her students during a virtual meeting and showed them how well their SLED design worked. Always thinking of ways to engage others, Little has created a series on Twitter, tweeting out new and original pieces of artwork to connect with people around the world and build excitement for space travel.

“Little’s success is due to her acute ability to understand adolescent and adult learning styles, ability levels and technology comfort levels, as illustrated in her daily interaction with students and faculty at various grade levels,” shared Michelle Mechtel, director of academic life at St. Thomas Academy. “She has a warm style that results in being uniformly loved by students, parents and faculty.”

In addition to the Teacher Achievement Award, other Minnesota educators are being honored with the Academic Challenge Coach Award (teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges), Ethics in Education Award (exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum) and Athletic Coach Award (teachers who are exemplary coaches of athletic teams).

Educators are first nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees.

Six educators received statewide honors, and six educators were named as regional honorees for the 2018 WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Awards. Synergy & Leadership Exchange is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering collaboration to advance the development of ethical citizens, providing educational resources, and celebrating achievement and best practices in Minnesota schools, businesses and communities. For more information on the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program and Synergy & Leadership Exchange, visit

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