Voices Vol 42 No 3


From The Editor

Unlucky Me/Lucky Me

By Roselyn Rauch

Too bad for me that this year I was unable to attend our annual spring conference; it wasn’t because of anything terrible, thankfully, just a big change in personal responsibilities.

I would miss the camaraderie of being with the executive board members who gathered at the Hyatt the week before the event to take care of all of the nitty-gritty. There is counting and sorting of badges, lunch tickets, stuffing envelopes and folders, and  doing whatever administrivia  was critical to getting the conference off the ground: 4 or 5 hours of sitting-on-the-floor-work with buddies on a team with a cause. Go NJTESOL!

I would miss the conference itself. Usually, I work at the registration table in the morning meeting and greeting peers and getting them ready to enjoy their day. After registration, I would walk the conference floors to meet the vendors, chat with them, see their current wares and encourage them to place an ad in Voices. Later on, whatever, wherever, whenever…

One other thing that I would miss, too, would be staying at the Hyatt over night: a working mini-vacation, rooming with another executive board member chatting about things professional and personal. Girls’ night out. Sigh…

Lucky me and, if you were unable to attend, lucky you, too, that we have Voices.

This issue, thanks to many of our contributors, reprises the conference and opens a window for us to peak through to see what we unfortunately missed. There are photos scattered throughout the articles as well as grouped in the Photo Gallery

I always encourage the readers of Voices to read across all SIGs to get a balanced and well-rounded picture of what is affecting all ELLs. In this issue, I am encouraging you to go from this page to the Contents page and read through the titles. There are the conference articles, personal musings, introductions by new SIG representatives, election results, a new technology site to dig into, some how-to’s and more. This edition runs the gamut of what affects us and our ESL/bilingual community. I won’t say something for everyone; instead, it is much for all.

Happy reading and relaxing through the rest of the summer. See you in the fall.


Roselyn Rauch, Ed.D, retired from the Paterson Public School District as an ESL teacher and District ESL Resource Teacher, is a consultant with ESL Unlimited. She may be reached at rrauch@njtesol-njbe.org.

Cassy Lawrence

President's Message

By Cassandra Lawrence

Hard Work and Stick-to-it-iveness


Summer is finally here! The end of the school year stuns us into remembering how quickly time flies.  It also brings us some relief – we can now relax a bit. We’ve been busy with our students, working intensely, making every moment count while also juggling personal responsibilities and commitments. Those hours of lesson planning, contacting parents, correcting papers, navigating the new Core Standards, being teacher/counselor/nurse/parent/friend, advocating, supporting, participating in PD, and managing paperwork – they’re all part of a year’s work. Meeting all of these obligations, while maintaining professionalism and our students’ best interests in mind, are what perseverance is all about.

I’m pleased to report that the 2013 Spring Conference, a result of group perseverance, was a success! The keynote speakers – Nonie Lesaux and MaryEllen Vogt – were both informative and inspiring. A variety of quality workshops was available to our participants, as well as a broad range of educational materials and well-known publishers in our exhibitor area. Conference participants repeatedly expressed their appreciation of the keynote presentations, the workshop topics, the overall organization of the conference, and of course, the fabulous lunch buffet.

The Spring Conference is the result of many, many volunteer hours. Our Executive Board members, most of whom work full-time, are to be commended for their contributions to the conference. I’d like to thank and congratulate Sandee McHugh-McBride, our Vice president and conference chair, for the fine job she did in planning this conference. I’d also like to acknowledge Damian Medina, our former liaison, for his work in organizing the exhibitors and their booths. I thank Maria Jaume for organizing the conference volunteers, Mary Curran 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 a very informative Legislative Session. As always, I sincerely appreciate the meticulous behind-the-scenes support of Gwen Franks and Lisa Palin. I’d also like to recognize Candace Butler and her staff at the New Brunswick Hyatt for their exceptional support and service.

Many of us are just starting to enjoy the beginning of summer. Let’s work hard at relaxing and enjoying the gifts of this time of year. Stick to a slower pace, an easy kind of attitude. Refresh and revive, ready to take on a new September.

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

2013 Scholarship and Award Winners

By Cassandra Lawrence

The organization acknowledged the 2013 Scholarship and Award winners at the evening awards reception on May 29. These four young ladies, with their dedication and dreams for the future, are great examples of what we as teachers hope for all of our students. Congratulations go to:

Valeshka Parraguez, Linden – 4th grade Writing Challenge Winner
Amelia Peter, Dumont – 8th grade Scholarship Winner
Andrea Cano Sanchez, Linden – Pedro J. Rodriguez High School Scholarship
Elva Rivero, Elizabeth – Hector Villafañe Memorial Scholarship


NJTESOL/NJBE presents a President's Award and a Leadership Award to individuals who exemplify the ideals and goals of our organization each year. This year we awarded the President's Award to Dr. Laura Morana, Superintendent of the Red Bank Borough School System. The Leadership Award went to Lori Ramella, Bilingual/ESL Education Program Specialist for the New Jersey Department of Education. Both Dr. Morana and Ms. Ramella are dedicated in their work to promote opportunities for ELLs.








The President Speaks

Complete Election Results and Board Changes

By Cassandra Lawrence

Sincere thanks go out to the membership who participated in the online vote for Executive Board officers. We extend a warm welcome to our newest members: Eva Rogozinski, ESL Elementary 1-5 Representative; Marcella Garavaglia, ESL Secondary Representative; Howard Pomann, Higher Education Representative; and Sharon Hollander, Special Education Representative. We also thank existing members of our board, who were voted in to serve in new positions, and who graciously agreed to another two years of service. Please take a moment to look at the impressive list of professionals on our Executive Board webpage. Familiarize yourself with the names of your Special Interest Group representatives, and reach out to them.

Vice President's Message

Some Thoughts and Thank You's

By Sandee McHugh-McBride

Thank you for the opportunity to be your conference chair this spring. It was quite a challenging task. I would like to thank the Executive Board, who worked very hard to review workshop proposals, make endless preparations, and provide ongoing support and assistance throughout the duration of the conference itself. In addition, they assisted with many decisions to be made about keynotes, workshops, scheduling, signage, technology, room space, volunteers, vendors, booklet production, menu choices, and everyone’s favorite topic: parking.

At this year’s Spring Conference, we welcomed approximately 800 attendees each day. That’s the good news! The unfortunate news is that during this time of increased participation, renovations were taking place in the parking area of the Hyatt, which resulted in fewer parking spaces and some inconvenience to our conference participants. While it is unlikely that there will be parking renovations next year, we are looking at improving the available parking options to make this aspect of the conference more ‘user friendly’ and stress free.  

Currently, the Executive Board is in the process of reviewing the conference survey comments and suggestions that you have submitted. Thanks to all of you for your input and support and thank you for taking the time to fill out the online survey. Your contribution and involvement is much appreciated. Our Executive Board met one Saturday in June to discuss various ways in which we can use that information to make our conference even more successful and valuable to our members.

Sandee McBride, Vice President/Conference Chair

KaHlaw Meh's Story
(Reprinted from Spring 2013 Issue)

By Natasha Agrawal

Klaw Meh with Loom

KaHlaw Meh’s story of struggle and survival begins in 1996 in a small village in the Kayah State in Burma. The Karenni community that lives in Kayah State has long sought independence from the military rule of the Burmese generals. Thus, a civil war rages between the rebel Karenni army and the Burmese military.

KaHlaw’s family consists of rice farmers, all without any formal schooling. KaHlaw was only 19, and pregnant with her first child, when the Burmese Army invaded their village. Numerous families, including KaHlaw’s, were forced to flee on foot into the bamboo jungle to escape the Burmese Army. They headed to the Thai border where the Thai government and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) set up temporary refugee camps. En route to the border, KaHlaw Meh gave birth to her first child in the bamboo jungle, a baby girl.

Once in the refugee camp, KaHlaw and her family built a bamboo hut, their home for the next fourteen years. These camps are surrounded by barbed wire and Thai police who ensure that no refugees escape. Returning to the village is out of the question, and entering Thailand is not permitted either.  Refugees are forced to remain on the border until eligible for resettlement in another country. Resources are also scant; in KaHlaw’s camp, Ban Mai Nai Soi, there is no electricity or plumbing. Additionally, only a fixed amount of rice, beans, and oil comprise UNHCR’s rations for each family. Several refugee agencies work on the Thai-Burma border. They provide limited healthcare, schooling, and aim to resettle some families in other countries.

In her fourteen years at the refugee camp, KaHlaw acquired a new skill--weaving cotton yarn into fabric on a traditional “back strap loom”. Her expertise soon expanded to crafting skirts and bags, all with varieties of designs and patterns. She developed a keen eye for color and the ability to weave English and Karenni letters into her work. This talent eventually led to selling her hand-woven and hand-sewn bags. She says some were even exported.

In 2011, KaHlaw’s family was eligible for resettlement to the United States. Following a lengthy bureaucratic process, the family left the border camp and was taken to Bangkok for a pre-departure orientation. On November 3, 2011, they landed in the United States. Part of the family is resettled in Omaha, NE while KaHlaw and her children are resettled in New Jersey.

Weaving Skills

It takes years to adjust to a new culture and language. KaHlaw and her husband are now employed at Wal-Mart, where she works as a cleaner. While KaHlaw speaks only hesitant and broken English, reliant on her daughter for interpretation, she is excited. Excited that her skill as a weaver can once more become salient, supplement the family income, and express her creativity.

Natasha Agrawal, ESL teacher, Robbins Elementary School, Trenton, NJ

Editor’s note: Come and meet KaHlaw Meh at our Spring Conference where she will demonstrate her weaving skills.

Socio-Political Concerns

The 2013 Legislative Workshop Report

By Elizabeth (BJ) Franks

NJTESOL/NJBE hosted several honored guests and dynamic speakers during the legislative session. Eudes Budhai, President of NABE, www.nabe.org ; Stan Karp, Director of the Secondary Reform Project for NJ Education Law Center, www.edlawcenter.org; and Giancarlo Tello, Chair for NJ United Students’ Tuition Equity for DREAMers (NJTED) campaign, http://www.usstudents.org shared their expertise and experiences.

In addition, NJTESOL/NJBE presented the Advocacy Award to Dr. David Kirp for his celebration of the academic achievement of Union City’s public school students through his book, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools. Dr. Kirp highlighted Union City’s systemic approach to bilingual education, early childhood, and whole school reform efforts. Any district or program searching for a model program, look no further than our own Union City Public Schools. Congratulations to Superintendent Sanger!

We were so pleased to welcome Eudes Budhai, the president of the National Association of Bilingual Education. NABE endorsed the Seal of Bi-literacy in California and is assisting other states in pushing forward this initiative. Mr. Budhai also provided an update of other national issues and encouraged NJTESOL/NJBE members to join NABE.

As always, Stan Karp apprised our members of the many school reform initiatives occurring in New Jersey: teacher evaluation, new assessments and accountability measures. Stan is a tireless advocate who continuously monitors the effects of these initiatives on English language learners.

One of the highlights of the session was Giancarlo Tello, an inspiring student from Rutgers-Newark who spoke passionately about passing the Tuition Equity for DREAMers bill in NJ. We encourage you to follow his activism and get involved!

Our last discussion centered on the joint initiative between NJTESOL/NJBE and FLENJ [Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey] in sponsoring a Seal of Bi-literacy. California and New York have already adopted a seal of bi-literacy which is granted to students who demonstrate proficiency in English and one or more languages. During the 2013-2014 school year, several districts will pilot the criteria set by the two professional organizations to vet the suggested process before offering the Seal of Biliteracy to all NJ students and seeking legislative support.

Please stay informed about all of the new school reform initiatives and how they will impact bilingual and ESL students and teachers. An advocacy link will soon be posted on the NJTESOL/NJBE website.

Elizabeth (BJ) Franks is the Socio-political Concerns Representative for NJTESOL/NJBE.

ESL: A "Fortunate" Freedom — A Personal Musing
By Brigid F. Lundy

It was a beautiful spring day in Mexico in the year 2000.  I was a relaxed passenger riding in a luxury vehicle while being transported from Acapulco International Airport to one of the most visited beach resorts in the world.  This was my first trip to Mexico, but not as a tourist.  I was the Mexico and Latin America marketing coordinator for a travel company and was sent to Acapulco to conduct meetings with various hotel managers in the area.  As we began our journey along the Boulevard de las Naciones, I recall thinking how blessed the individuals of Mexico were to be living in such a beautiful place, surrounded by the glistening sun, stunning shorelines, and spectacular mountains.  I couldn’t imagine a more serene and perfect place to live. 

However, this gleeful feeling soon evaporated as I began to witness poor families with small children standing barefoot outside of tiny, tin-roofed shacks situated directly along the busy roadway on which we were traveling.  My shock and sadness intensified when I realized that these shanties were also located across the street from elaborate and luxurious hotel properties.  I was aware that Mexico was an underdeveloped country, but this experience made me question why there was such a visible social class division in Acapulco – a detail I noticed within only a ten-minute drive.

As our vehicle approached the valet attendants at the hotel entrance, I asked my colleague her opinion on this concept.  Her response to me was, “I don’t know, it’s unfortunate, I guess.”  As she breezily exited the car, I remained seated for a while longer, pondering on her response. An immediate and intense feeling overcame me and I realized that the lives of these unprivileged people don’t have to be “unfortunate.” 

Upon returning to the United States, I began researching the various ways in which I could support the international community, and I was soon introduced to the world of English as a Second Language.  I quickly became an English tutor to a brother and sister from Ecuador.  From this experience and my constant exposure to immigrants in family and work-related atmospheres, I fell in love with teaching ESL.  A few years later, I graduated with a master’s degree in Education and a TESOL certificate from the University of Pittsburgh.  I am now employed with ELS Language Centers teaching English to a wide variety of individuals from countries all over the world.  I have truly found my niche.

I have come a long way since that spring afternoon in Mexico.  I’ve learned not only much about the field of ESL education, but I have also acquired a lot of knowledge about myself as a teacher.  However, I am aware that I will always have more to learn about ESL methodologies, and I am certain that continued participation in NJTESOL/NJBE and national professional development organizations will continue growth in my ESL career. 

Although I may never have the chance to return to Acapulco and specifically help those poor individuals out of an “unfortunate” situation, I feel that now I am supporting the global community at large with a “fortunate” freedom: English as a Second Language.     

Brigid F. Lundy, M.Ed., Instructional Specialist, ELS Language Centers at Fairleigh Dickinson University; Teaneck, NJ, E-Mail: brigid5nj@gmail.com , Phone: (201) 790-4800


By Tina Kern

Y es, it’s true. Everyone has their secret and mine is not a secret anymore:  I’m hooked on NJTESOL/NJBE, especially hooked on our conferences.  But wait, I want to share the particulars of my compulsion:

(1) I check my email constantly for emails from The Hotlist. Now I look for emails a few times a day.  The information is just so timely.  In fact, I was just thinking about SGOs, and there it was: an email about SGOs.  I read it quickly, so no one saw me,  but it was so exciting to think there were others out there interested in finding answers to their questions about bilingual and ESL education,  too.   I used to just be an observer but now I actually have gotten involved.  Yes, I use my expertise for an excuse, but I just have to share what I know with our colleagues. I’m careful to check my information: I don’t want to mislead anyone.  But the first time I saw my name, it was great.

(2) I read Voices, too.  Yes, not just the first page.  I really read it. Oh, what I have learned!  The places I go in my mind, the information: sometimes, it’s too much.  I can’t absorb it all.  I learn so much.  And I actually find myself sharing the information in my school, and even my district.  Wait…there’s more.

(3) Every year I plan on attending the NJTESOL/NJBE Conference.  Yes, I attend it every year.  I can’t help it because I learn so much.  For example this year, the Conference was called “Language, Heritage and Culture: The Magic in English Language Learning.”  I counted the days until it was May 29.  I was so tense I zoomed down the highway to grab my breakfast and visit the presenters before the keynote began.

The keynote speakers were fantastic! Nonie Lesaux from Harvard Graduate School of Education discussed her research on Language Development and Vocabulary. I was able to feed my need for a short time as I gained valuable information.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the Breakout Session, because I couldn’t be in two places at once. (Maybe by the next conference, there will be a way to clone myself.)  I had to juggle my schedule in order to ensure I didn’t miss  the next keynote (and I did!).  On Thursday, the keynote was MaryEllen Vogt from California State University.  Her presentation of the “Top Ten Reasons Why English Learners Can Succeed” was presented in an educational, yet entertaining manner. 

Later I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information flowing all around me: SIG meetings, Hot Topics, State Initiatives, the Legislative Session, workshops on  Team Teaching, Evaluation Models, Immersion Programs…need I go on? I’m reliving my frustration because I could not go to every session, every minute. 

Don’t forget about the NJTESOL/NJBE Scholarship Awards – the amazing students who through their diligence were celebrated at the Awards Reception.  Did I mention the food, the ever-flowing coffee, the tables of publishers, the Poster Sessions? I could continue on for pages about the high quality presentations.  I hope you, too, enjoyed the surge of activity and energy that perpetuates the reputation of our conferences.  They are unforgettable  and I’m positive next year’s will be, too. 

Yes, I’m a NJTESOL/NJBE Conference junkie.  I get my “fix” once a year; ideas for the classroom, methods, regulations, everything to plan a new and better year. 

I admit that I’m hooked on NJTESOL/NJBE, and that’s great.  I hope you’re hooked on it, too.  Join me, and if you haven’t told your friends, tell them to join, too!

Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE



Favorite Websites: Share My Lesson

By Marilyn Pongracz

Share My Lesson, www.sharemylesson.com is a free platform for educators to share their best resources such as PowerPoint lessons and presentations, activities, interactive websites, videos, learning tools, and lesson plans.  There are also three forums for suggestions and advice.

Immediately after signing in, I found and downloaded a PowerPoint presentation simply called “Creative Writing Prompts.” The estimated grade range was 6-8, but one teacher had used it for grade 5, and it has a good number of the prompts that are suitable for college students.  Often college writing and topics are as dry as sand, and these imaginative and fun prompts could awaken latent abilities.  If students cannot respond individually, group work is an option. 

The resources can be found by searching or browsing.  They are arranged by grade and subject and additionally classified by subjects/ skills/ and types.  For example, “Describe that Character” is classified as English Language Arts / Writing / Narratives / Sensory details, and includes links to similar lessons and activities.  The content is extensive, but it is also rated by users, and those with the best ratings appear first. 

Some of the resources include Common Core Standards.  Many can be used to enhance lessons such as the PowerPoint about the Chinese New Year.  The category of special populations includes ELLs, but the materials in that list are limited, so it is better to search the broader topic of English Language Arts for something that could be easily differentiated.  Not every resource is spectacular, but there are enough good ones to make the site work exploring.  They could save a busy teacher time since rather than having to invent new materials, these can be downloaded and adapted.

Of the three forums, the first provides help and information.  The focus of the general forum is to share best practices and ask for advice about school-related questions, and the third is for discussions about the Common Core State Standards: new developments, what has worked, and how the standards influence lesson plans.  I found informative replies to a posting about the standards and ESL here: http://community.sharemylesson.com/forums/t/136.aspx

Share My Lesson was developed by AFT and TES (think, educate, share), the largest online worldwide network of teachers sharing resources.

Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College