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ESL Elementary

Starting Over in New Brunswick

By Noreen Drucker

The NJTESOL/NJBE 2011 Conference is over.  From my perspective, it was a raging success. I enjoyed the different kinds of workshops and presentations, from those involving the latest research to those involving the latest initiatives from the Department of Education. I learned a lot and met some very interesting people from all over the state.

Our new venue was beautiful and exciting. It was time for a change. We had outgrown the facilities at the Garden State Exhibit Center and the lure of a conference in a college town was enthralling. With a clientele of people from all over the state, we had to choose a central location. Of course, there are always trade-offs and compromises in life as well as conferences, but rest assured that your Executive Board worked relentlessly to make everything as pleasant as possible.

Parking was tough; it always is in a city. But the city also offers so much more- a downtown area to explore at lunchtime or after the conference, a choice of hotels and public transportation.  A few people came by train and a small number of people car- pooled. The town lots filled up fast and the lines were enormous. Maybe next year each of us can make a serious commitment to car pooling. Just think- if there are two people in every car, we can cut the number of cars coming in by 50%. Everyone could find a spot and the environment would thank you for it.

I was delighted to see such a range of presentations and highly qualified presenters. There were technology offerings for almost all grade levels, interactive workshops and presentations dealing with WIDA. Even though I couldn’t go to all of them, I now know that there are Power Point presentations available on line for at least two dozen of them.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I ran two SIG meetings for elementary ESL teachers. Teachers shared ideas, exchanged stories and provided assistance for problems all of us are dealing with. In one of the sessions, a teacher explained how her district has a report card aligned to the WIDA CAN DO objectives. She promised to send it in to the hot topics list. I can’t wait to see it.

And let’s not forget the food. It was simply marvelous! As a person following a gluten free diet, it was a welcomed change from the sandwiches and pasta that was the standard fare at the previous hotel. Not only was coffee and tea available throughout the conference, but cold drinks and bottled water were as well. Recently renovated, the hotel was sparkling and the staff was extremely accommodating in every sense of the word.

I hope everyone enjoyed the conference as much as I did. Now, it is time to relax, sit back and enjoy the summer. See you at NJTESOL/NJBE 2012!

Noreen M. Drucker, Elementary ESL SIG Representative

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