French Professor Wins Excellence Award for Educators

Dr. Drewelow
Dr. Isabelle Drewelow

From the March 2017 Desktop News Dr. Isabelle Drewelow, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, recently won the Alabama World Language Association’s 2017 Alabama Educator of Excellence Award for post-secondary educators.

Drewelow, a native of Bordeaux, France, began working at UA in 2010 and is also the French language program director.

“I felt really proud when I received the award,” Drewelow said. “French is not just a subject for me; it’s who I am. To get an award for something you do when it’s who you are is humbling and gratifying.”

Following her nomination, Drewelow had to submit three letters of support to potentially win the award, including a letter co-written by a current and former student of hers.

Claire Mitchell, a former UA graduate student who is now an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, said Drewelow’s commitment to her students sets her apart from other professors.

“Isabelle is a brilliant professor who has a wealth of knowledge to share,” Mitchell said. “I think the best thing about her is that she is willing and ready to share that knowledge.”

Drewelow is working to share her knowledge through an experiential learning approach to teaching, which she implements in her two classes this semester. Her Conversation and Culture class focuses on food and fashion in France, and in her Globalization Marketing and Business, students create a conceptual company and a product and a website to sell the product. These courses are taught with the intention of broadening students’ proficiency in conversational French, helping them to understand different aspects of the French culture, and preparing them to manage the cultural differences when working in marketing in France.

“Experiential learning incorporates practical work and opportunities for students to learn from each other’s experiences,” Drewelow said.

Drewelow’s head graduate teaching assistant Maud Barthès agreed that Drewelow was worthy of the award because of “her work ethic, her passion for teaching, and her tireless dedication to her students.”

Drewelow attributed her success as a professor to teaching empathy rather than vocabulary words and always evolving her courses to better fit the needs of her students.

“Teaching a foreign language is all about creating intercultural learners,” Drewelow said. “Foreign languages aren’t all about learning vocab and grammar.”

Drewelow is currently working on an article regarding freedom of speech in the aftermath of France’s 2015 terror attack.  She is using the article to explain to students that freedom of speech means something different to the French people.