Spanish faculty member earns prestigious MIWLA award

Spanish professor Michael Braun posing for his University photoOct. 24, 2017

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Michigan World Languages Association (MIWLA) has announced a faculty member from the WMU Department of Spanish is this year’s winner of the MIWLA Barbara Ort-Smith Award. The honor is the most prestigious distinction an educator in the field of world languages can receive in the state of Michigan.

Michael Braun, who is the state’s first recipient to hail from WMU, was commended by the association for his leadership in the field of language education. He received his award during the MIWLA 53rd Annual Conference in Lansing Oct. 12.

“Teaching for me has always been about being creative,” Braun remarked. “I hardly ever do the same lesson plan or teach a class in the same way. My goal is to have my students speak, listen, read and write on a consistent basis.”


As the state’s highest honor for educators in the field of world languages, the Barbara Ort-Smith Award recognizes those who have shown a strong commitment to the profession. MIWLA selects and honors the professional who best demonstrates leadership and the promotion of excellence in world language education. The award is named for Barbara Ort-Smith, who received the inaugural honor in 1988. Ort-Smith served as the first foreign language consultant in the state of Michigan.


Braun joined the WMU Spanish faculty full time in 2004 after teaching Spanish methodology on a part-time basis for three years. Prior to WMU, he taught all five levels of Spanish for 12 years at Portage Northern High School and implemented the school’s International Baccalaureate Curriculum.

With a combined 25 years’ teaching experience at the secondary and postsecondary levels, Braun is recognized for providing students with one-on-one mentorship and invaluable first-hand knowledge combined with real world application. He has been honored by WMU as the recipient of 2015-16 Arts and Sciences Teaching Award.

Braun has presented award-winning workshops and conference sessions for local school districts and national organizations including MIWLA and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. He is also a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Braun earned a Master of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Business Education from WMU.