Voices Vol 41 No 3

Cassy Lawrence

President's Message


By Cassandra Lawrence

After months of planning, the 2012 Spring Conference was a great success! Our conference participants enjoyed a wide variety of quality workshops, as well as an opportunity to peruse a broad range of educational materials in our wonderfully planned exhibitor area. Many people that I spoke with during the conference stated how much they appreciated the keynote presentations, the workshop topics that addressed their interests, the opportunities to exchange ideas, and the delicious lunch buffet.

As the conference chair for the past two years, I know first-hand that the annual Spring Conference is the result of endless hours of volunteer work. Our Executive Board members, most of whom work full-time, are to be commended for their contributions to the conference. I’d especially like to acknowledge Sandee McHugh-McBride for the great work she did in organizing the exhibitors and their booths. I thank Maria Jaume for organizing the conference volunteers, Gail Verdi for facilitating the poster sessions and Graduate Student Forum, Marilyn Pongracz for providing technological support, and Joan Pujol for her work with membership. Thanks go to BJ Franks for organizing the Legislative Session and Rutgers Student Forum. I sincerely appreciate the behind-the-scenes support from Gwen Franks and Lisa Palin. I’d also like to recognize Matthew Pures and his staff at the New Brunswick Hyatt for their exceptional support and service. Special thanks go to Judie Haynes for her leadership and guidance as well.

The organization acknowledged the 2012 Scholarship and Award winners at the evening awards reception on May 30. Congratulations go to:

4th Grade Winner - Jill Zheng, Trenton Public Schools
8th Grade WinnerMariela Ramirez, Long Hill Township Public Schools
High School Scholarship Eva Jean, Rahway Public Schools
Higher Education ScholarshipNayhelie Fermin Taveras, Kean University
Héctor R. Villafañe Memorial ScholarshipSandra Alvarez, Essex County Vocational Technical Schools
Elizabeth Claire Teacher’s GrantLisa Rose Johnson,
Fernwood Ave. Middle School, Egg Harbor Township

Every year, NJTESOL/NJBE bestows a President's Award and a Leadership Award to outstanding leaders in our field. This year we awarded the President's Award to Elizabeth Claire, who has been teaching ELLs for 44 years. Elizabeth is the author of 26 books in the field of TESOL, and currently produces Easy English News. The Leadership Award went to SPAN – Statewide Parent Advocacy Network – which advocates tirelessly for language accessibility, special education, and immigrant rights for language minority parents.

I’d like to thank the Board members whose terms ended this May – Maggie Manson (Bilingual Elementary SIG), Gail Verdi (Teacher Education SIG), Janet Kaback (Bilingual Secondary SIG), Regina Postogna (Supervisors SIG), and Senovia Robles (Adult Education SIG). Your contributions to the organization were very much appreciated.

We extend a warm welcome to five new members to the board. Damian Medina is our new liaison, Nora Torres is our new Bilingual Elementary 1-8 Representative, Yasmin Hernandez-Manno is Bilingual Secondary Representative, Mary Curran is our new Teacher Education Representative, and JoAnne Negrin is our new Supervisors Representative. We look forward to working with them.

As the new president of NJTESOL/NJBE, I urge you to make frequent use of the Web to educate, associate, and advocate. Take advantage of the Internet’s wealth of resources, websites, lessons, and professional reading materials. Use the Web to expand your personal and professional learning community and connect with practitioners outside of your own school. Motivate and mobilize your students and colleagues online. Make your voice heard! Join us on our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, visit the NJTESOL/NJBE website often, and contribute to discussions on our hotlist.

Have a happy and safe summer.

Cassandra Lawrence is President of NJTESOL/NJBE. She is a bilingual elementary teacher in Perth Amboy.