(PRESS RELEASE) The Kansas Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages today announced a new program to recognize excellent ESOL practitioners across the state of Kansas. A dozen ESOL endorsed teachers in P-12 schools, ESL teachers and teacher trainers at the state's institutions of higher education and adult learning centers, will be honored at the annual KATESOL/BE Conference in Emporia, Kansas, on Friday, February 18, 2005.
"Academic success for English language learners is rapidly becoming the number one priority in our public schools, community centers, colleges and universities," explained Robb Scott, KATESOL President. "Hundreds of teachers have retooled their classroom practices to incorporate ESOL strategies."
The Kansas immigrant population is growing at three times the national rate, according to numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education. Five percent of all public school P-12 students in the state are English language learners. More than 60 percent of the students in Liberal USD 480 are Hispanic. The same is true in Dodge City USD 443, where an initiative is underway to get every classroom teacher for every content area endorsed in ESOL. In Kansas City USD 500, reading specialists are getting their ESOL endorsements so that schools can respond to a growing trend where many children who qualify for Title I support services, such as reading recovery, are also culturally and linguistically diverse.
"Getting the State of Kansas ESOL Endorsement is a time-consuming and intellectually challenging task," said Scott, an assistant professor of special education and ESOL at Fort Hays State University. "Even for teachers with years of experience, the process of changing our own mind-sets to be more inclusive can prove very frustrating."
Kansas colleges and universities also continue to see high numbers of international students, in contrast to a downward trend in these numbers nationwide after 9-11. "Kansas has a great reputation around the world," explained Scott, who has lived and taught ESL in Ecuador and Japan. "Families send their children here to receive a high quality university education in a friendly, relatively low-cost setting."
These international students, as well as immigrant Kansans, are changing the dynamics of life in the state, according to Scott. "The KATESOL Honor Roll is being established to reflect the importance of the work done by ESOL professionals on behalf of these learners," he said. "Thanks to the efforts of our ESOL endorsed and other ESL teachers, Kansas is experiencing a smooth transition to a more multicultural and multilingual society."
Anyone wishing to nominate a teacher for this year's KATESOL Honor Roll may do so by sending an e-mail to HonorRoll@katesol.org , including the nominee's full name, contact information, current teaching assignment, school/institution/agency, and a 50-75 word statement regarding the difference he/she is making for English language learners.
KATESOL Press Release
2004 ESL MiniConference Online