Since June of this year, you have
been serving as president of the Kansas
Association of Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages. What has that experience
I was born in Kansas City, Kansas. I grew up
and graduated from high school in Great Bend,
Kansas. My B.A. in English and M.A. in TESL are
from the University of Kansas, in Lawrence. It
means everything to me that I have this opportunity
to make a positive difference for ESL professionals
across the state through my service as KATESOL
president this year.
My first priority, starting during my year as
first vice-president of the organization, was
to increase awareness of KATESOL, raise our
membership numbers, and build a more effective
advocacy group for ESL teachers and the growing
population of English language learners in Kansas
schools and communities. KATESOL membership has
grown eight-fold, from 25 two years ago to 200
We had 300 participants at the annual
KATESOL conference this past March, six times
the maximum number anyone remembers during the
quarter of a century KATESOL has existed. I will
be giving a "break-out" session this spring at
the TESOL Affiliates meeting in San Antonio, on
how to build an effective local and regional TESOL network,
based on the success of our efforts in Kansas.
What have been your major challenges as
president this year?
KATESOL now functions as a key partner with
universities, school districts, the Kansas
Department of Education, and the Kansas Board
of Regents to raise awareness regarding the
needs of culturally and linguistically
diverse learners of all ages. This means
it is more important than ever to serve
as a communication system between our members
and these entities. For example, the directors
of ESOL Endorsement Programs from eight or nine
different institutions of higher education meet
annually at a Roundtable sponsored by KATESOL,
as an important event at our spring conference.
District leaders, including principals and
superintendents, are becoming more involved
in KATESOL, as evidenced by several sessions
being offered at this year's conference, February
18-19, 2005, in Emporia.
KATESOL works in tandem
with KSDE to help disseminate information on
laws, policies and resources, to support the
important work our members are doing in their
schools and communities. We are also beginning
to reach out more effectively to groups like
KAEA (Kansas Adult Education Association) to
share expertise to help meet the learning needs
of growing numbers of adult English language
learners entering literacy programs.
is also advocating for English language learners
and immigrant Kansans at every opportunity,
including our strong participation--through
letter-writing, phone-calling, and faxing--
in this past spring's successful efforts to
lobby state legislators to pass one of the
best laws in the country giving qualified
immigrant Kansans resident-status for lower
tuition costs at state universities, colleges
and community colleges.
In recent months, I
have been in contact with leaders of our
sister organizations, K-NEA and Kansas World
Language Association, in efforts to bring
together a proposal that would add an ESOL
component to all teacher licensure programs
in Kansas. These are some of the challenges
I am enjoying working on this year as president
of KATESOL. I'll be giving it my all through
to early June, 2005, when the next president
You have lived and worked as an English
teacher in several countries, with different
languages and cultures. You have served in various capacities
for professional organizations, including JALT,
New York TESOL, and now Kansas TESOL. You promote
the ESL/EFL profession in so many ways, as a
teacher educator and as editor of the ESL MiniConference.
It seems as if you have done nearly everything there
is to do in ESL. What is next for you?
My experience is still rather limited, compared to
so many of my peers in the ESL/EFL profession. I do
consider myself fortunate to have been able to live
in South America and in Japan during my first decade
of service as an English teacher. It also made a big
difference to me that I was able to receive some
training in cross-cultural communication at the
Fletcher School, Tufts University, about ten years
The biggest challenge I face now is to finally
bring together the time and energy to help me focus
on achieving an important educational goal: the
doctoral degree. I believe that the learning and
research I do within the context of that project
will enable me to make a very positive contribution
to the TESOL profession over the next 20 years of
my career. It seems that there has always been
something else engaging my attention and I have
not been successful yet in pushing my doctoral
aspirations to one of the top rungs on my list
of priorities. That activity will enhance the
quality of everything else I am doing and my
further projects. By this time two years from
now I am determined to be writing my dissertation.
What research area are you most interested in?
I am hopeful that I can contribute in the area
of creating effective transition programs for
culturally and linguistically diverse young
people with special needs. I believe most of
the emphasis today is on working with very
young and young children who are learning
English as their second language. I look forward
to becoming more familiar with research on
what can be done to help older students, ages
14-18, where language and culture are also
But I have a number of pre-requisites to complete
before I will be able to focus on a research project
in the area of transition programs for ELLs.
In the Achievement Profiles, you have interviewed
many important and well-known ESL/EFL professionals.
Who has won your personal admiration, and why?
Of course, the well-known professionals have been
very exciting to "meet" via e-mail interviews. And
I have been able to actually meet several of them
in person afterwards, including three who came and
spoke at this past spring's KATESOL conference. Some
of the people I have interviewed were at one time my
teachers, so that was also a special honor and joy
for me. And perhaps some of the most insightful
interviews have come from individuals whose names
are not widely known but who are doing such important
things to make a difference where they live.
There are also people I've talked to in the past
several years who, after enjoying 20 years of successful
activity in ESL, are leaving the field to pursue
other work. In one case, this was for personal
growth; in another case, it was the result of yet
another intensive English program closing.
I am working to try to find publishers to sponsor
the printing of several hundred or perhaps a thousand
copies of a book, "Transition, Turmoil, and Hope,"
so that I can provide the book for free to prospective
teachers, practicing teachers, and veteran teachers.
This book, which collects the comments from the first
several years of Achievement Profile interviews, will
refresh the spirit and recharge the batteries of anyone
who reads it, if they are anything like me. Every
person I interviewed has won my admiration, my
respect, and my deepest gratitude for sharing of
their time, thoughts, and insights from experience.
Interview by Meribel Osorio
2004 ESL MiniConference Online