"Wow - my kids love learning Spanish! Thanks, Yak Academy."
Yak Academy is proud to team with a strong group of advisors that provide input into our curriculum and teaching approach. Our advisors share our passion to provide second language for young children collectively. Their deep experience and access to a broad set of resources helps Yak Academy not only offer fun and exciting foreign language classes, but do so in a way that enhances the overall learning experience.
Dr. Emily Spinelli received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages from Ohio State University. Currently, she is Professor of Spanish at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she teaches courses in all levels of Spanish language, literature, language of business, culture and civilization as well as foreign language methodology. Professor Spinelli has written several college-level Spanish textbooks including Encuentros, Interacciones, and Mejor dicho, as well as the manual English Grammar for Students of Spanish. She has also published many articles and reviews in scholarly journals. Emily is a frequent speaker and presenter at local, state, and national conferences and has given numerous in-service workshops to school districts and universities throughout the United States. She is also the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious Florence Steiner Award Post-Secondary for Leadership in Foreign Language Education. Through the years, Professor Spinelli has been very active in professional organizations. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Central States Conference for the Teaching of Foreign Languages and was the Program Chair for its 1992 conference held in Michigan. She has also served on the Executive Council of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and was the 1999 President of that organization. Currently, Dr. Spinelli is serving as Editor for Foreign Language Annals and is the President of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).
Dr. Thomas Lovik is Professor of German at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) and supervisor of German teaching assistants. He has an MA in Linguistics/ESL from the University of Minnesota (1976) and a Ph.D. in Germanic Linguistics from UC Berkeley (1983). He has published on TPR, German-English pragmatic differences and the German teaching profession. He is lead author with Douglas Guy and Monika Chavez of a first-year German language textbook Vorsprung: An Introduction to the German Language and Culture for Communication, Updated Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). He currently serves on the Executive Council of the American Association of Teachers of German as well as the only U.S. member of the Internationaler Wissenschaftlicher Beirat (International Advisory Board) of the Institute for the German Language in Mannheim, Germany. He was the President of the Michigan Foreign Language Association in 2003 and received that organization’s Barbara Ort Smith Award in 1999.
Connie Zucker graduated from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) with a BA in English and Spanish and is endorsed in teaching English as a Second Language. She earned a Masters of Education with a major in Foreign Language Education from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) and is currently a doctoral candidate for a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a major in Foreign Language Education. She has taught Spanish for 25 years, the last 18 at the middle school level for the Livonia Public Schools, and teaches courses in applied linguistics and classroom teaching methods in the College of Education at Wayne State University. Ms. Zucker has served on committees for the Michigan Department of Education in designing teacher preparation standards for foreign language, ESL, and bilingual programs, as well as being a member of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Wayne State University Academy. She belongs to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, has presented workshops at Michigan Foreign Language Association conferences, and is a member of the National Network for Early Language Learning.
To learn more about the rest of the team behind the scenes, click below: