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Alexandria Language Instructor Recognized by Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Teacher Awards

In his nominating letter, former student Kenneth da Silva wrote about Susanna McPhilomy, “Her lessons transcended the classroom and revolved around universal topics that made me want to understand every word.“ (Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.)

Alexandria resident and English language instructor, Susanna McPhilomy, is one of the 10 to be recognized nationally in the 2017 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards.

Susanna stated, “I am honored to receive this award from such a prestigious organization. It will serve as a constant reminder of the profound effect teachers and students can have on each other.”

The award is given to teachers annually who have inspired students outside of the classroom and have made a meaningful impact on their lives. Winners are featured on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts website and are awarded $10,000 each. According to the website, the Kennedy Center created the awards in 2010 in honor of the American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday. Sondheim attributed his success to the teachers in his life.

After dedicating 40 years of teaching English as a second language to thousands of international students, Susanna received this well-deserved recognition due to a nomination from a former student, who submitted an essay detailing how Susanna motivated him to overcome the barriers that came with studying abroad. To read touching letter of nomination written by Kenneth da Silva, click here.

Susanna continues to teach today at Forum Intensive English Center, an accredited language school in Old Town Alexandria, which she co-founded with her daughter in 2013. Forum provides English and test preparation courses to Virginia residents, visitors, diplomats and international students from abroad.

Before moving to Virginia, Susanna worked at a number of universities and private schools as well as co-founded a school of her own in her home state of Utah. Her experience dates back to her native country, Armenia, where she worked as an interpreter for the president and chaired the language department of the pedagogical institute of the state.

With a doctorate of education, today Susanna not only teaches but also trains faculty and develops curriculum at Forum. She hopes to continue inspiring students and training her faculty to do the same!


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