PHS teacher named state Foreign Language Teacher of the Year


Lucy Solano, a Petal High School teacher, was named 2017 Mississippi Foreign Language Association Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi.

She was honored with this award at the 2017 Foreign Languages State Conference held at The University of Mississippi.

Solano, a Colombia native, teaches Spanish at Petal High School, where she teaches levels 1 and Dual Credit 1 Spanish. She has taught for 27 years in a variety of areas, from middle school to university-level Spanish to K-12 English.

Solano was recognized as Petal High School Teacher of the Year in 2015 and Petal School District Teacher of the Year the same year.

Solano said it means so much to her to be recognized with awards like these as a teacher of an elective subject.

After teaching in Colombian public and private schools for several years, Solano was offered a full scholarship and assistantship by The University of Southern Mississippi to do a master of arts degree in Teaching Languages with emphasis in English as a Second Language and Spanish, while teaching first and second levels Spanish in the foreign languages department.

After graduation in 1997, Solano taught Spanish at Hattiesburg High School for several years before accepting a full-time position as a language consultant for Command Spanish, Inc.

There she helped write numerous manuals for Spanish training for specific purposes. Her voice and likeness were used for audio and video materials.

Solano traveled nationwide to places like the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC), the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center (MCTC), and the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy (RCTA) at the Naval Air Base in Meridian for 14 years to help train thousands of law enforcement officers and military personnel on Spanish as well as cultural issues.

This includes the National Guard and Special Forces, as well as the Hattiesburg Police Training Academy.

She has served as an interpreter and translator for the Forrest County Jail and court, Pearl River County Jail, Federal Public Defenders in Gulfport and Jackson and City of Petal court and police department for several years.

She also sponsors the Spanish Club at Petal High School and hosts the Hispanic Flamenco Ballet every spring.

Solano has acted as head of the Foreign Languages Department in her district since 2013. She is also a member of the Petal High School Leadership Committee and serves as a member of the Mississippi Department of Education World Languages committee which reviews and writes the state standards for teaching foreign languages. 

Solano became National Board Certified in 2014. She also serves as the Mississippi VP of elementary and secondary education.

Solano earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philology and Languages: Spanish and English from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages with an additional emphasis in Spanish from Southern Miss.

Solano will serve as the representative for Mississippi as the state’s nominee for the 2018 Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) Teacher of the Year competition in Atlanta in the Spring.