Ms. Desa Dawson came to the Oklahoma State Department of Education in 2006 as the Director of World Language Education after having taught Spanish in Mid-Del Schools for over 32 years. Desa has been a constant advocate for second language education, working with teachers and administrators throughout the state to find the means to offer quality instruction in languages in order to improve students’ global competency. She presented professional development to world language teachers, provided resources for public schools, and assisted in the implementation of the world language standards.
Desa served as the American Council of Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) as President in 2017. Prior to serving as President, Desa was a member on the Review Board for the National Standards project in world languages and spent four years on the Board of Directors of ACTFL. She is a Past-President of the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) and has been active in the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers’ Association (OFLTA) since 1974, serving as President in 1989-90. She received the Alfred L. Gage Professional Service Award in 2002, the Golden Apple Teaching Award for Excellence in Education in 2003, the Lowell Dunham Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 2004, and was named as the OFLTA Teacher of the Year in 2004, the SWCOLT Regional Teacher of the Year in 2005, and was a finalist for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in that same year. On April 3, 2009, Desa was honored as Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the Consul General from the French Consulate in Houston for promoting French language and culture in the United States, and she was named Outstanding Educator of the Year in 2011 by the College of Education at the University of Oklahoma. As a world language consultant, Desa has traveled to China and Spain to select guest teachers for Oklahoma and has served as a program evaluator for the National Security Agency’s STARTALK initiative. Another important element of her work was the promotion and support of the revitalization of Native American languages within Oklahoma. Most recently she received recognition as the recipient of the OFLTA World Language Advocacy Award in 2019.
An ex-offio member of the OKGIT, Desa represented the international aspect of PK-12 education for the OKGIT from 2007 – 2019, and has served on the membership committee in recent years. She continues to support and participate in OKGIT activities whenever needed.
Desa received a BA in Spanish and an MA in Latin American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and did post graduate work in Teaching and Curriculum Leadership at Oklahoma State University.