A Breath of Fresh Air
By Roselyn Rauch
What a breath of fresh air. And, no, it isn’t one of those chemical air fresheners. I am writing this sitting at the Membership Table at our Spring Conference. There is electricity in the air, like among the fans at a sporting event; a buzz, a contented hum of participants as they move through the Hyatt from vendor to vendor and workshop to workshop by way of the food and beverage stations, too. We are here in record numbers for recent years, a very good thing considering how districts have been cutting back on allowing teachers to participate in outside professional development days.
It is at this time of the year that we have the changing of the guard: new Executive Board members sign on for the next 2 years. We welcome Sandee McBride into the President’s slot as Cassy Lawrence becomes our new Past President. Joanne Negrin assumes the post of VP and Conference Chair. Gregory Romero was elected for Bilingual-ESL1-8 Special Interest Group (SIG); and Bilingual Secondary SIG Representative will be Yasmin Hernandez-Manno. And Judie Haynes fills the newly created position of Social Media Coordinator.
Last night, we had the Awards Reception when we get to see some of the fruits of our labors. Several deserving students entered winning essays into our writing “contest” that added the exclamation points to their bilingual/ESL school efforts. See the photos and read the items by their proud presenters.
Personally, I feel reinvigorated. I have been retired from the Paterson Public School District for over 3 years and am enjoying my retirement immensely. I am busier than ever before doing what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do it: no bells, no deadlines, and no restrictions on when I can go to the bathroom. But after these 2 days here in New Brunswick, among colleagues, I feel that I want to jump back in. After all, teaching is part of my persona, part of my DNA, my fabric. We’ll see what the future brings.
For this edition, I will not give a quickie synopsis of each writer’s piece: there is so much to read for everyone across the board, not just in your SIG. However, one sentence that Noreen Drucker wrote resonates, We teach them the way they learn, not necessarily the way we were taught to teach. So true. By belonging to NJTESOL/NJBE, we are each other’s support system to teach them the way they learn. Use our Hotlist as a continuing network support and spread the news to others who are not yet members.
On a different note, please see our new advertiser WCEPS, Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services. Their ad is located between the Elementary and Secondary ESL SIGS. With WIDA on your mind, you should look to see what they have to offer you. There is also a special discount through September 15.
Enjoy this issue, enjoy the summer, and check out the Calendar page for great things to come.
Roselyn Rauch, Ed.D., is the editor of Voices and a retired ESL/ESL Resource teacher from the Paterson Public School System. She is a consultant with ESL Unlimited and may be reached at email@example.com .
By Sandee McBride
Transition and Transformation
Many transitions have taken place in the last few years of my life. The commitment to NJTESOL/NJBE has been one of the most exciting parts of those transformations. It has given me the opportunity to meet talented, passionate educators, and advocates and has allowed me to work with dedicated, knowledgeable professionals who volunteer their time on our Executive Board.
I joined this organization at the start of my career through the encouragement of my administrator, Mr. Hugh McCullough, who advised me to join NJTESOL/NJBE. His recommendation turned out to be a very valuable piece of advice. Soon after joining, I attended my first conference which provided many useful strategies. I remember thinking that there seemed to be at least 500 people. People were hurrying to get a ‘good seat’ for the State Initiatives workshop. All these years later, I’m still rushing, but now it’s to make sure that everything is going as planned.
In comparison to my first conference with NJTESOL/NJBE, this May we had almost 1,000 participants, many workshops, Internet access throughout the hotel, and social media connections. We have expanded collaborations with the state, universities, publishers, and organizations. We send a representative to international TESOL Advocacy Day in Washington, DC each June to give a voice to our students. Today our Voices newsletter and scholarship applications are available only online.
While progress has improved our organization, the conference remains a challenge, as an event of this magnitude takes a great deal of organization and a tremendous amount of support. The Executive Board has been steadfast in their support of a successful conference. I thank them and the numerous people who have helped make this year’s event a success. Thanks to all of you who carpooled, used public transportation, and parked in Highland Park in order to alleviate the parking situation. So many people pitched in and worked together. It is this type of collaboration that allows NJTESOL/NJBE to continue to be strong. Our new conference chair will have a strong network to rely on as she takes over that position. As for me, I look forward to beginning my term as president of this great organization.
Sandee McBride, President NJTESOL/NJBE
The Seal of Biliteracy: One District's Experience
By JoAnne Negrín
On Thursday morning [of our Spring Conference], we were honored with a dynamic keynote speaker who is a preeminent member of our field. Given that I was presenting at the same time as Diane August, I had managed expectations about turnout at my session. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people join me for my presentation on the joys and pitfalls of being a Seal of Biliteracy pilot district. Given the competition, I know that they were there because they were extremely interested in bringing the Seal of Biliteracy to their own schools and districts. My goal was to share Vineland’s experience and give them some insight about what to do – and what not to do – as they implement the program.
When students meet the requirements for the Seal of Biliteracy, they prove that they are college and career-ready in English and in a language other than English. This initiative has been jointly sponsored by NJTESOL/NJBE and FLENJ, our counterparts for the World Languages. It celebrates bilingualism no matter what the student’s L1. It both encourages ELLs to maintain and nurture their L1 while learning English and encourages English-speaking students to attain proficiency in a second language. As World Languages programs fall prey to budget cuts and English-only initiatives threaten the development of L1 literacy in our ELLs, the Seal of Biliteracy gives the community reasons to cherish and advocate for bilingualism.
In Vineland, we found that our community embraced the Seal of Biliteracy initiative. In fact, it was so well embraced that I ended up having to go to my Superintendent to help me finance an additional 100 tests that I had not anticipated. Such was the reaction by students to the opportunity to prove their language skills and have something tangible to present to colleges and employers attesting to their bilingualism.
We learned a lot about ourselves in this process. Above all, we learned about things we need to improve. For example, in several languages, our students scored solidly just below the cutoff for the Seal. Thanks to the testing, however, we have large amounts of data on student performance that the teachers will be examining this summer as they look to find ways to give students that extra push. We also found that many students took the test in their heritage language (mostly Spanish) and in a World Language they were studying (such as German) in order to attain the Seal in two languages.
Being a Seal of Biliteracy pilot district was a lot of hard work, but it had tangible benefits for us. It helped us to protect our smaller World Languages programs. It has given us data to improve our practices. It has engendered Board and community support for additional language pilot programs and for scheduling changes that improve the delivery of language instruction. It gave our ELLs a tangible reason to be proud of their first language. It gave our English-speaking students a tangible reason to continue their L2 study.
If you would like to view the presentation, it is available for download on the NJTESOL/NJBE website.
JoAnne Negrin is Supervisor of ESL, Bilingual Education, World Languages, and Performing Arts and NCLB/Title I Coordinator for the Vineland Public Schools. She is also Vice-President and Conference Chair of NJTESOL/NJBE.
Our 2014 SPRING CONFERENCE
Scholarship and Award Winners:
Fourth Grade by Grethe Ridley — Dailyn Visoso
At 5:30 P.M. on May 28th, 2014, at the Awards Reception at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 2 Albany Street, New Brunswick, NJ, my Grade 4 ESL Student, Dailyn Visoso, was awarded the NJTESOL/NJBE FOURTH GRADE WRITING AWARD by the President of NJTESOL/NJBE, Mrs. Cassy Lawrence, as well as a $100.00 Gift Certificate at Barnes & Noble. Dailyn Visoso was selected by the NJTESOL/NJBE Award Committee based on her award winning essay on “An Interesting Experience I had because I am bilingual.” Dailyn was very happy and looked beautiful in her new pink dress, and she proudly thanked NJTESOL/NJBE for this great honor and award, and thanked her ESL Teacher, [me,] Mrs. Ridley, for teaching her English, and her parents for their love and support.
Mr. Austo Visoso and Mrs. Claudia Visoso were seated at the same table as my husband, Mr. Vincent W. Ridley, and myself. In my speech, I pointed out that Dailyn Visoso really deserves this important honor and award, as she always completes all her assignments WITH GREAT CARE AND ON TIME. She is highly motivated, very conscientious, and believes that “EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.”
Dailyn and her family are from Mexico, and the home and native language is Spanish. Since her entry in the ESL Program, on January 20th, 2012, Dailyn has made outstanding progress in English Speaking, Reading, and Writing . It has been a great pleasure teaching Dailyn English, and facilitating her academic success.
Higher Education by Sharon Hollander — Lovena Felix
Every year, NJTESOL/NJBE awards a $1500 scholarship to a student in ESL classes at the post-secondary level. Students, both traditional and non-traditional, full- and part-time, are welcome to apply. Scholarship applicants must be referred by a current member of NJTESOL/NJBE. Additional requirements include a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and a plan to continue studies at a college or university in New Jersey.
NJTESOL/NJBE scholarships are awarded during the annual spring conference. As an executive board member, I always attend the awards ceremony, and it is the high point of the conference. This year, it was my honor to present the 2014 ESL/Bilingual Higher Education Scholarship to Lovena Felix.
Lovena came to the United States from Haiti in 2009. At present, she attends Union County College, where she is studying to be a Physician Assistant. Her goals include graduating in 2016 and then using her skills as a PA to treat patients in a clinical setting.
The Awards Committee was impressed by Lovena’s motivation, diligence, and willingness to help other students. In her application, Lovena clearly communicated that she has “serious goals which would benefit myself, my family, and the society.” As a clinician, I was moved when Lovena wrote that “...a patient who doesn’t speak English would not feel left out when I’m there.”
NJTESOL/NJBE is proud to support Lovena on her journey to becoming a medical professional. As a member, you helped make this scholarship possible. If you work in a post-secondary setting, please encourage your students to apply [for this scholarship/award.] New faces are most welcome at the ceremony next year.
Sharon A. Hollander is a Psychologist and Special Education SIG Representative for NJTESOL/NJBE.
Leadership Award by Barbara Tedesco — Judie Haynes
This year NJTESOL/NJBE honored Judie Haynes with its 2014 Leadership Award. When asked to make the presentation, I immediately asked myself, “What is a leader?” So like the teacher within me, I went to my trusty dictionary. There it said, “A leader is a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” That definition fit Judie to a T!
So many would ask, “How has she led a country?” Well first of all, she is actively involved in TESOL International. Judie served as past chair of TESOL's Elementary Interest Section as well as on the Nominating Committee. Secondly, she has authored and co-authored many publications on helping classroom teachers and administrators with English language learners that have been read by educators across the country and beyond. With Betty Claire they have written the following: Newcomer Program Grades K–2, Newcomer Program Grades 3–6, Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Kit #1, and Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Kit #2. She wrote Getting Started with English Language Learners-How Educators can Meet the Challenge published by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). With Debbie Zacarian for ASCD they wrote The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners and for Corwin Teaching English Language Learners Across Content Areas. Judie also co-authored a chapter in TESOL's Integrating Standards into Classroom Practice PreK–2. She was a columnist writing about elementary ESL entitled “Circle Time” for TESOL's magazine, Essential Teacher. Of course, let me not forget to mention that she is the past editor of “Voices,” the newsletter of NJTESOL/NJBE.
As a result of her writing books, Judie travels extensively providing professional development to school districts and universities throughout the United States on topics on providing effective school and classroom environments to English language learners. She has presented at TESOL's International Conference every year for the past 20 years plus at our own conferences here in New Jersey.
Judie was at the forefront when it came to technology. She is the content editor of the award-winning Website http:www.Everythingesl.net which she co-founded along with her son, Charles. If you are on Linkedin, then you are one of over 500 people following her. In June 2010 she and Karen Nemeth co-founded and co-moderate #ELLCHAT on Twitter. To participate go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/ELLCHAT/10565612947763 .
As for leading organizations, let me begin with our own NJTESOL/NJBE and where Judie’s story continues. It was in the late 1980s at the annual Fall Conference in Atlantic City (NJEA) during the Presidency of Wilma Cubero (me being Vice-President at the time) that Judie Haynes and Judy O’Loughlin spoke with us about wanting to get involved in the organization. They were the ones that started the chapter in North Jersey specifically Bergen County and surrounding areas. The rest is history. Chapters have opened and yes, some have closed but Bergen/Passaic Counties’ Chapter is very active. Please visit http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/bulletin/chapternews.htm for Chapter News. Judie was elected to the Executive Board as chair of the Elementary ESL Special Interest Group (SIG) before becoming Vice President and President. Her official term ended this May 2014 as Ex-officio. It has been a great 22 years of service. Regardless of her position, she has led her SIG and the entire membership with professionalism. In addition, she was a member on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standard's Committee on Standards for ESL and bilingual teachers.
Judie has received a few accolades in her lifetime, such as: Recipient of TESOL's Newberry Award for Excellence in teaching (1993); and, New Jersey ESL Teacher of the Year in 1992 from NJTESOL/NJBE.
Judie has been a leader in her former district, River Edge. Working with her colleagues they created an ESL program which earned them a New Jersey Best Practice in 2002 and a 2003 New Jersey Model ESL Program award. So the title teacher is synonymous with teacher –leader.
I can go on and on about our leadership recipient but I am limited to 700 words. But you can read for yourself why Judie Haynes merited this honor. I am sure she is not done leading yet.
Barbara Tedesco, Past President and current Historian
An Evening to Remember
By Tina Kern
The NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference is definitely one of the highlights of the year. The conference was at the maximum number of participants and the energy was electric. Our keynotes, workshops on every subject relevant to the bilingual/ESL population, and diverse materials presented by exhibitors made the conference unforgettable – but still one of the most memorable moments occurred on the evening of the May 28, 2014 at the President’s Award and Scholarship Reception. In a world of SGOs, NJASKs, PARCC, WIDA, and other acronyms, this event is a wonderful respite. This year was no exception.
It is a privilege to choose worthy recipients of awards, and especially this year, with an additional award, The Jessie Reppy Memorial Scholarship, added to those already established. Those of us choosing winners agreed that there were many worthy applicants. Eventually we were able to bring together the best of the best, and honor students who have distinguished themselves in our field. As a result, the reception was certainly memorable.
This year we would like to wish the best of luck to the following winners:
- Dailyn Visoso of Little Falls School #3, winner of the 4th grade Writing Challenge
- Salam Said of Lumberton Middle School, winner of the 8th grade Scholarship
- Marwa Al Sheikh Yousef of Washington Township High School, winner of the Pedro J. Rodriguez High School Scholarship
- Dorali Taveras-Contreras of Colts Neck High School, winner of the Héctor R. Villafañe Memorial Scholarship
- Lovena Felix of Union County College, winner of the Higher Ed Scholarship Award
- Michele Tomchak of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Asbury Park, winner of the Elizabeth Claire Teacher Grant
- Alyssa Skiff of Kean University, winner of the Jessie Reppy Memorial Scholarship
We would like to congratulate our winners!
With our conference behind us, now is the time to anticipate the coming year and a new group of winners at our NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference 2015. It could be any of your students accepting one of our scholarships. It definitely is inspiring, especially if you accompany one of your students as they accept one of the following:
- A $100 award for a fourth grade English language learner
- An iPad for an eighth grade English language learner
- A $1000 scholarship for a high school student to pursue study in an institution of post-secondary education in New Jersey.
- A $1500 scholarship for a current NJ college student to continue his/her post-secondary studies
- A $1000 scholarship through the Héctor R. Villafañe Memorial Scholarship for a college-bound Hispanic student
- A $1500 scholarship through the Dr. Jessie Reppy Memorial Scholarship for a graduate student enrolled in an accredited Master’s in teaching English as a Second Language Program
- A $500 grant from Elizabeth Claire for a teacher.
When you start the year once again at breakneck speed, and start preparing the students for the rigorous curriculum, the new demands of updated standardized testing, and as you produce exceptional lessons, allow your mind to wander and reflect on the NJTESOL/NJBE annual conference. Imagine one of your students at the podium, validating everything you taught and believed. As a result of “practicing” essay writing for testing, your students can produce a brilliant essay about being bilingual. The result can be an essay that ultimately might win them a NJTESOL/NJBE scholarship to reward their efforts.
What a worthy way to support our students and our ESL/Bilingual community of students and educators.
I hope you can join us next year as we continue the tradition of bringing the community of ESL and bilingual educators together for another unique experience at our 2015 Spring Conference.
Tina Kern, Liaison, NJTESOL/NJBE
Challenges and Conference Reflections
By Luisa Athanasakos
Ihave been teaching for the past nine years at Colonia High School. We belong to the Woodbridge School District of Middlesex County. The district has three high schools with one single ESL teacher at each high school. Although sometimes it feels a bit lonely, I have the advantage of instructing a very small population. Having only a few students gives me the opportunity to get deeply involved in many of their academic endeavors. It is not rare to find me doing history, health, or math homework after school with my young language learners who may need additional assistance fulfilling their school requirements. Other times, I work with them via email, my evenings and weekends often interspersed with back and forth communication as they complete content area assignments. I do not mind these “interruptions” because they provide opportunities for learning and recharging my own pool of knowledge. If I have trouble with a specific topic, I reach out to content area teachers and I usually find quick and willing collaboration.
However, this year has brought us many unexpected challenges. The extra demands and paperwork created by new observation protocols, SGOs, and heavy emphasis on testing have increased our frustration levels, tested our patience, and challenged our time management skills.
The Spring Conference was a welcome reprieve to gather inspiration, strength, and essential tools to win the battle. So many great workshops, so little time! The NJTESOL Spring Conference of 2014 was another amazing success. As I sat down with my yellow marker trying to make difficult choices, I came to the realization that I had to make some sacrifices. The presenters covered subjects of great relevance to my teaching, but there were so many… It was obvious I had to bypass some. The topics included Universal Design for Learning, the Common Core connection, differentiation, advocacy for our students, recent state initiatives, language and culture, writing and evaluating SGOs, storytelling, readers theatre, poetry, technology, and many more. After attending some of the workshops, I also became keenly aware and impressed by the quality and thoroughness of each presenter. I came out with copious notes and fresh ideas to incorporate into my daily teaching. In addition, I was reassured by the thought that many of the handouts of sessions I had to miss, would be later posted on the website.
However, knowledge was not the only thing the conference had to offer. Having the chance to meet and share the space with similar-minded teachers, added meaning, a sense of comfort, and energy to the overall learning environment. Running into old colleagues from my graduate school days and having the chance to catch up was also amazingly gratifying.
The hotel facilities, the courteous hotel employees, the food, and the variety of exhibitors added to a sense of harmonious pampering that all participants certainly welcomed.
Thank you to the people who worked so hard to make all this happen. In the back of my mind, a secret wish lingers: I would love to see a similar conference, even a mini version, offered in the summer or fall to catch up with presentations some of us were not able to attend.
Luisa Athanasakos, Colonia High School, Cell phone 732 826-7424
Favorite Websites: Learn NC http://www.learnnc.org
By Marilyn Pongracz
Learn NC is a website developed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, with lesson plans, professional development, and web resources for K-12 educators. The site was highlighted in an email newsletter which described a lesson called “Be the Sentence.” In the lesson, children become parts of speech and build sentences. This activity, http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/3247, seems well-suited for English language learners.
There are lessons for a wide variety of subjects such as language arts, math, and science and also some for music and art. The Common Core Curriculum Standards are listed for each one. Lessons also contain practice pages, rubrics, and assessment tools. The only drawback is that some lessons require special software or specific books.
Teachers can search for lessons by standards or by entering their own search criteria. Typing “lessons for ELLs,” yields 82 lessons on various subjects for different grades which include language development and modifications for ELLs. One of these was “Invention Convention,” a six-week series of lessons to provide hands-on application of science concepts and writing practice after lessons about electricity and magnets. The entire series uses a fill-in the blank format for the writing activities for beginning English language learners.
A search of the site for professional development results in a list of classes on topics such as “A crash course in ESL for administrators” and “Mission possible: Classroom teachers effectively teaching English Language Learners.” There is a contact link at the bottom of the frequently asked questions page for LEARN NC Professional Development, http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4060?ref=search, through which an administrator of school can request a class for his or her teachers.
In addition to classes, there are articles for helping classroom teachers understand the obstacles ELLs face and strategies they can use to help them. There is a very good series of articles on “Differentiating instruction,” http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/every-learner/?ref=search, another on “Reading comprehension and English language learners,” http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/ell-readcomp0708/724, and articles about teaching writing, assessment, WIDA, and more.
The resource page on English language learners, http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4205?ref=search has an informative series of articles on the Latin American immigrant experience and a Spanish-English picture dictionary of school survival vocabulary.
The value of the information and lessons on Learn NC make examining the site worthwhile.
Marilyn Pongracz is the Technology Coordinator for NJTESOL/NJBE and the English Language Resource Center Supervisor at Bergen Community College
Weaving Wonders in Second Grade
By Natasha Agrawal
Ask second graders about warp and weft, spinning wheels and bobbins, weaving techniques and traditional textiles and many hands will fly up in the second grade class at Robbins Elementary School. When art, science, math, culture, and history come together with a hands-on project, it is truly an intense learning experience. Through a grant provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, twenty-five bilingual and ESL students learned Guatemalan weaving techniques from Artist-in-Residence Master Weaver Armando Sosa. This was a collaboration with the New Jersey Arts Council involving the Art Teacher, Ms. Riukas; the ESL teacher, Ms. Agrawal; and the bilingual teacher, Ms. Soles.
Hailing from the weaving town of Salcajá, Guatemala, Master Weaver Armando Sosa learned to weave with his grandfather. At 5 years old, his first job was keeping the inquisitive cows away from the freshly dyed yarn drying in the sun. As with all folk art, he sat alongside his grandfather and father on a big floor loom, observing and learning the techniques of Guatemalan weaving. Before long, he began to excel and began selling his work in other Central American countries.
A majority of our bilingual children have Guatemalan heritage. They viewed Mr. Sosa as an ambassador of their culture, heritage, and language. As an artist-in-residence, Mr. Sosa visited the second grade classroom once a week for 12 weeks. Accompanied by Ms. Beth Daly of Projects Unlimited, Mr. Sosa taught the children basic weaving techniques. While Mr. Sosa used four table looms and a spinning wheel to instruct and provide hands-on instruction, Ms. Daly provided additional weaving experiences with paper, wool, and straw. Her parallel projects included paper weaving to understand basic designs, straw weaving to make bracelets, and cardboard weaving to make bags. Mr. Sosa brought traditional Guatemalan shirts, skirts and pants for the children to wear. They learned about different textiles: cotton, silk, and polyester, and looked at clothing labels to understand where their clothes were made. This project was perfectly aligned with the Common Core, Journey’s (Houghton Mifflin) non- fiction unit which included leveled texts entitled “Textiles from around the World” and “Weaving”. Technology was a big part of the project too, as the children took turns to use iPads and digital cameras to shoot still and video pictures.
In one session, the students welcomed a guest weaver from Burma. Ms. Ka Hlaw Meh, a Karenni-Burmese weaver demonstrated using a back-strap loom, traditionally used only by women. The children gathered around her, eager to try weaving on a different loom. Interestingly enough, a very similar loom is used by Guatemalan women weavers too. This provided an opportunity to compare and contrast weaving styles and techniques all over the world.
As word of this unusual project went around in the community, several families stepped in to observe, wonder, and assist. One parent was amazed that there was a successful Guatemalan weaver in New Jersey. Another was intrigued that a traditional Guatemalan art was being taught in an American classroom. A mother came to assist the children, just as she assisted her own mother who is a weaver in Guatemala. This project touched the hearts of our many Guatemalan families in Trenton.
The culmination of the project was celebrated by the children singing, dancing, wearing traditional attire, and inviting their families to see them weaving on the table looms. A big exhibition of photographs, lovingly documented and curated by Ms. Daly, was installed in the auditorium. The exquisite hand-woven bags, and textiles were exhibited on stage. When asked how the children felt about this project, they yelled “Proud to be Guatemalan!”
Natasha Agrawal, ESL Teacher, Carroll Robbins Elementary School, Trenton, NJ
Second Grade Photos of the Weaving Project
By Natasha Agrawal
Here are a few glimpses of the 12 week project with Armando Sosa, Guatemalan weaver from Salcaja. He worked with the 2nd grade bilingual students for 3 hours each week, teaching them about the culture, traditions, patterns, clothes, and weaving techniques of the country most of the students came from.
A big collaborative project, it involved the art teacher, bilingual teacher, ESL teacher (yours truly!), 2 student teachers, school secretary, parent liaison, 25 children, community volunteers, and surprised parents. The grant came from the NJ Folk Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and was documented by Beth Daly of Projects Unlimited, Trenton.
It was a powerful project, touching the hearts of many families who came to visit the classroom and meet Armando. Most importantly, the children learned to have pride in their language, culture, and traditions. Parents wanted to sing, and dance and talk about their flag and we managed to do it all in the final celebration!
Looking Back as I Head into Retirement
My Teaching Reflections
By Grethe Ridley
(Editor’s Note: Your editor learned that Mrs. Ridley retired this year; she and her husband have been delightful “fixtures” at our annual spring event. She probably didn’t know it but the board always looked forward to seeing the couple, smiling and enjoying the conference together. Your editor decided that it was about time that we learn something about Mrs. Ridley, a long-time supporter of NJTESOL/NJBE. Mrs. Ridley, Grethe, we wish you and your husband a long and healthy, happy retirement.)
As a certified English as a Second Language Teacher, and a proud member of the Kappa Delta Pi and Pi Lambda Theta Honor Societies, it has been my great honor and pleasure to teach students from all over the world English and facilitate their academic success for 25 wonderful years at the Little Falls Township Public Schools No. 1, 2, and 3.
I was born and educated in Denmark, and hold a Masters Degree in International Business Administration from the College of Commerce, Ealing Broadway, London, England. My certification as a Teacher of German, business background, and previous job as Principal of the German Language School of Morris County, Morristown, NJ, have been instrumental in developing effective ESL teaching strategies.
Due to my husband’s overseas assignment in Kobe, Japan, designing the first oil storage and refining plant in the world, I was forced to learn Japanese, as only a few people spoke and understood English where we lived. Landing and living in a country for the first time not understanding a word helped me better understand and help my English language learners solve their language problems.
Among my proud reflections are:
1. Achieving ESL Model Program K-8 2006 – 2008, and being extended through 2009 by the New State Department of Education, due to my training 22 ESL Teachers in the State of New Jersey.
2. Being selected “2003 WOMAN OF THE YEAR IN RECOGNITION OF MY EXCEPTIONAL COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY SERVICE ” by the Zonta Club of Passaic County and Clifton.
3. Successfully preparing 23 Little Falls Residents for US Citizenship through my Family Literacy Evening Program and Summer Fairy Tale Program, and facilitating full scholarships at Rutgers University and NJIT for my outstanding ESL Students who came with their parents to my Tuesday Evening Family Literacy Program classes after having attended my ESL morning classes.
4. My Family Literacy Program and Fairy Tale Program Presentations at the NJTESOL/NJBE Conferences and at the Superintendents & Principals Conferences in Atlantic City, NJ.
5. 2008 NJTESOL/NJBE WRITING AWARD TO MY GRADE 4 ESL STUDENT FRANCISCO COCHING FROM THE PHILIPPINES.
6. 2014 NJTESOL/NJBE WRITING AWARD TO MY GRADE 4 ESL STUDENT DAILYN VISOSO FROM MEXICO.
I commend NJTESOL/NJBE for organizing annual excellent educational conferences from which I have benefitted greatly.
I am thankful for being able to teach ESL for 25 memorable years, it has been a labor of love, and I keep all my English Language Learners in my heart.
A future goal or wish would be to share my experience developing ESL Curriculum, Three Year Plan, ESL TESTS, AND EFFECTIVE TEACHING STRATEGIES, AS AN ESL CONSULTANT.
Grethe M. Ridley, MAT
District ESL Teacher, Little Falls Township Public Schools No. 1, 2, and 3
560 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424