Margaret Mary Henry, Russian teacher at the Mississippi School for Math and Science, is studying at Middlebury College this summer in a special course funded by the U.S. government.

The by-invitation course, from July 12-23 at the renowned language school in Middlebury, Vermont, focuses on the methodology of Startalk, a program launched in 2006 that is managed by the National Security Agency and administered by the University of Maryland’s National Foreign Language Center. The methodology is designed to help foreign language students develop speaking skills sooner. Startalk offers summer programs for both teachers and students in an effort to foster study of 11 languages that the federal government deems critical to U.S. national security and global competitiveness. The on-campus portion of the Middlebury course was preceded by an online class in June that focused on theories of second-language acquisition.

Henry, who majored in Russian at Georgetown University and worked in Moscow from 1992-1999, began teaching Russian five years ago at MSMS, the only high school in the state that offers the Slavic language. A total of six of Henry’s current or former students won scholarships to study Russian in the former Soviet Union this summer.