Voices Vol 41 No 3



The Supervisors’ New SIG Representative

By JoAnne M. Negrín

Iwould like to thank you for voting for me to be your new Supervisors’ SIG Representative. I was not expecting it, and I am humbled by and thankful for your confidence.

As a high school senior, I rejected a New Jersey Teachers’ Scholarship because I was absolutely not going to become a teacher and because there was no way I was going to ever live in New Jersey. I moved to Washington, DC and planned to become an attorney. I followed the right course of study, and then decided to get experience at a large, New York-based corporate litigation firm. I soon realized that I hated my job, so I decided to teach ESL as a volunteer. That led to a Title VII fellowship, an M.A.T. in TESOL/Bilingual Education from Georgetown University, and a radical career shift. I taught ESL at the University of Pennsylvania, Florida International University, and the University of Buenos Aires. I ran my own ESL and educational consulting company in BA, doing workshops and presentations all over Argentina. I ran the operations of a company that opened bars in Spain, studied Russian in Moscow, and trained my Lab to be a therapy dog in Mexico City. When I moved back to NJ in 2005, I was hired to teach Spanish. This prospect terrified me because as a heritage speaker I had the usual inferiority complex. I was amazed by how well my skills transferred and how effective an advocate I was able to become. My activism led to the pursuit of an Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a supervisory position where I feel I can really effect change.

I often describe Vineland as an urban district in a rural setting, full of contradictions. Unless you work here, it is easy to overlook that this section of the state is where the action is. According to reliable sources, growth in the ELL population of the southern counties (Burlington to Salem) has ranged between 50-150% per county during the past decade. This population has been increasing dramatically not only in numbers, but in variety of languages spoken. The need to connect the districts of South Jersey to the state professional organization has never been more urgent. I ran for office because I would like to improve communication among chapters in the state and increase involvement in the state organization in the southern counties.

I also foster communication among language professionals with a Facebook page/Twitter feed called Borderless Learning. This page was started to help me feel productive while avoiding my dissertation proposal, and is now approaching 1,000 followers who receive all the latest and greatest about bilingualism, language, and anything else I find interesting. It still succeeds in helping me avoid proposal writing.

Speaking of social media, I don’t know if you’ve seen David McCullough’s commencement speech yet, but the best part of it goes something like this, “…The fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.” (David McCullough is the author of the "You Are Not Special" commencement speech that is currently all over the Internet. It has created a lot of controversy but once you get past the initial snarkiness the message is quite powerful. http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2012/06/13/graduation-speech-your-are-not-special/)

I have made a life of having fun while trying to leave things a little better than I found them, and I plan to carry on that tradition while executing my duties for NJTESOL/NJBE.

JoAnne M. Negrín, Supervisor of ESL, World Languages, and Bilingual Education
Vineland Public Schools, 625 Plum Street, Vineland, NJ 08360