Madame Campbell Receives Prestigious Award

Mercy High School

Barbara Ort-Smith Award

Each year, the Executive Board of the Michigan World Language Association nominates candidates for the Barbara Ort-Smith Award. This is the most prestigious award a professional in the field of world languages can receive in the state of Michigan. The award honors those who have shown a strong commitment to the profession, manifesting itself in leadership and the promotion of excellence in world language education. The first recipient of this award was Barbara Ort-Smith in 1988. She served as the first Foreign Language consultant in the state of Michigan.

2018 Barbara Ort-Smith Recipient
Joyce Smetanka Campbell

Joyce Smetanka Campbell received her BA from Michigan State University in French Education and her MA from the University of Michigan in Curriculum Design and Instruction. She is currently Chair of the World Languages Department and senior French language teacher at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. As Department Chair, Joyce leads a vibrant team of language professionals offering French, Spanish, and Latin courses at all levels including Advanced Placement courses. In her role as Mercy teacher for 42 years, she has taught an array of French language and culture courses and also serves as Moderator of the French Honor Society and Co-Moderator of the French Club. In addition, Joyce was formerly an adjunct professor at Mercy College in Detroit and an instructor in adult education evening programs at local colleges.

Joyce is known for her innovative programs- including courses on French theater, opera, art and architecture, poetry and literature- and is an advocate for technology in language education and was instrumental in the installation of two language labs at Mercy. Of particular note is a program she introduced, Passport to France: An Immersion Experience, which proved to be successful in introducing middle  chool students to French as well as Mercy High School. She regularly conducts student field trips to special exhibits at the Detroit Institute of Art and local French restaurants, and she celebrates National French Week every year, focusing on a region of the Francophone world with guest speakers and cultural explorations of cuisine, art, cinema, music, and dance. She believes that such experiences contribute to her students' understanding of the local and global influence of French culture. In addition, Joyce is especially recognized for the high academic standards she establishes and the leadership skills she develops among students, many of whom have pursued successful careers in government, the law, business, and education using the French competence they achieved in her programs. Her efforts were recognized in 2009 when she was honored as Mercy High School's Teacher of the Year.

Joyce's contributions to the profession include her affiliations with the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages, the American Association of Teachers of French, the Oakland World Language Advisory Council, the French Institute Alliance Fran9aise of Michigan, and, most notably, the Michigan World Language Association. She has presided at sessions and made several presentations at MIWLA meetings on project­ based learning experiences and thematic units of study with a focus on cultural understanding. She was awarded the MIWLA Teacher of the Year Award in 1995 and the Intercultural Student Experiences Language Matters Award in 2009.

Finally, Joyce has worked closely with the American Council on International Studies (ACIS) in Paris and the US in coordinating trips for students and adults to all regions of France and other Francophone countries.  She also designed and implemented for ACIS a unique immersion program for American students studying French in Paris during the summer. She truly believes that travel and living and studying abroad lead to a greater understanding  of other cultures and a greater sense of our shared humanity.

Read Hometown Life Observer article here.