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  • 03 Mar 2020 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Cammie Wilson, Adult Ed Special Interest Group leader for the VATESOL Board of Directors.

    For me, 2019 was a year of many goodbyes and many endings, some painful, some hopeful, and I welcome 2020 as a year of beginnings, open doors, new paths, and new opportunities.

    Three years ago, when I accepted the position of daytime ESOL instructor, I was hopeful that our program might be able to buck the trend of employing mostly part-time, mostly K-12-certified instructors.The field of Adult ESOL is full of highly-skilled, highly-qualified, passionate, enthusiastic, inadequately-compensated instructors.

    Over the years, I've been told time and time again how lucky I am to have work that I love, for which I have a passion, for which I felt a calling, and from which I have gained deep satisfaction. Unfortunately, as those of you know who have struggled as adjuncts to find enough teaching credits, as part-time employees to rely on a spouse for benefits, as underpaid K-12 teachers who've agreed to teach night classes for additional income... the satisfaction that comes with student success can be overshadowed by growing workloads, income instability, and the general demands of life and family.

    We are good at our jobs, and we deserve to be fairly compensated for our work. We deserve sick time, holidays, and snow days without worrying about how we're going to make up that income because we're in a don't-work-don't-get-paid situation. We deserve opportunities for advancement, professional development, and at the very minimum, cost-of-living pay increases.

    This was the year I realized that my Adult Ed program was in no better situation than others across the state. In December, after a year of watching our program struggle with cuts to local funding, including the reduction of our staff by over 40% and the potential dissolution of the ESOL program entirely, I made the difficult and painful decision to leave my position. I initially balked at the idea of having to leave the field of Adult Education to find a permanent full-time job with benefits, but now I find myself in a position where my schedule and salary allow me the freedom to volunteer with a local literacy organization, keeping me connected to the ELL community and continuing to support adult learners in my region and beyond.

    I am hopeful that in 2020, my colleagues in Adult Ed will be able to find meaning in their work while also being fairly compensated for their time and skill; that the adult ELLs of Virginia will find growing opportunities for education and employment; and that VATESOL can provide additional avenues to connect practitioners and learners across the state.

  • 21 Feb 2020 8:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's official... 2020 is the Year of VATESOL! With a fully staffed Board of Directors working hard to host the annual SETESOL conference this year, we are so excited to be building our membership base at our state affiliate. Here are a few fun facts about VATESOL!

    Did you know...

    • that our first state affiliate began in 1983 as the Tidewater-Peninsula TESOL affiliate?
    • that our first newsletter was published in 1984, when the organization had 61 members?
    • that our name officially changed to VATESOL in 1997?

    It has been a fun 37 years with you! To celebrate, we are selling VATESOL items - everything from t-shirts and baby onesies to coffee mugs and stickers.

    This is a great opportunity to financially and publicly show your support for us as a non-profit organization. VATESOL will receive about 15% of every sale.

    Share the link and consider purchasing today for a great cause!

  • 18 Feb 2020 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Tori Pierson, Newsletter Editor for VATESOL and 6th grade ESL teacher and advocate in Richmond Public Schools

    This Sunday, February 16, was “Budget Sunday” at the Virginia General Assembly. Members of the House and Senate gathered to report their proposed amendments to the Governor’s budget for 2020-2022. This year, a group of education advocates attended both the House and Senate hearings wearing red and carrying signs to send a message to legislators: We are here; we are listening; and we are holding you accountable.

    As an ESL teacher, I have always believed that advocacy is an integral part of my work as an educator. I try to stay informed on current policy and be an active member of organizations who are advocating on behalf of our English learners, their families, their communities, and their schools. With that in mind, I have attended several committee meetings during this year’s General Assembly session. Overall, I have learned that we have a hard battle to fight and our English learners need our advocacy now more than ever.

    Education advocates in Virginia rallied fiercely in support of HB1316 and SB728 this year. These were identical bills proposed by Delegate Aird and Senator McClellan to fully fund the Virginia Board of Education’s Standards of Quality. Among many excellent improvements, the bills included smaller student-teacher ratios for English learners based on their English proficiency level. The current ratio is 59:1.

    HB975 also proposed to reduce student-teacher ratios for English learners, but it was cut in the House education committee to only fund a ratio of 50:1. Disappointingly, this is the ratio reflected in both the House and Senate versions of the budget.

    Overall, the proposed budgets from both the House and the Senate provoked disappointment and even anger from education advocates. Teachers are challenging the 2% salary increase, saying that it barely covers inflation. The average teacher's salary in Virginia is about $9,000 lower than the national average, even though Virginia is the 12th wealthiest state in the country. 

    For me, it is both energizing and exhausting to attend these meetings and participate in these organized actions. On the one hand, I have built friendships with so many amazing advocates - teachers, parents, and community members - who are doing great work on behalf of our students. These friendships keep me informed and motivated. On the other hand, it is discouraging to have to rally and fight for our students to have access to a quality educational experience.

    We have so much work left to do, but I am certain that we have a lot of incredible people ready to keep working. As educators, it is imperative that we do our part by staying informed, communicating with our representatives, and never settling for less than excellence for our students.

    I am grateful to VATESOL Advocacy Liaison, Jessica Klein, for publishing informative updates during the General Assembly sessions and throughout the year. I am also grateful to The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis for providing information and analysis in partnership with our advocacy efforts.

    Photo from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

  • 01 Feb 2020 7:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week, several of our VATESOL board members attended the annual Virginia ESL Supervisors’ Association (VESA) conference in Norfolk. We hosted an information table where we registered new members and encouraged presentation proposals for SETESOL 2020. Conferences are a great opportunity to meet and reconnect with professionals in our field, and we were grateful to see so many familiar faces!

    VATESOL President Rebecca Raab connected with one of our members, WendySue Clausson, an ESL teacher at Cooke Elementary School in Virginia Beach. Check out their conversation and join us in congratulating WendySue on her exciting news!

  • 30 Jan 2020 8:59 PM | Anonymous member

    In Japan every January the Grand Sumo Tournament is held. This year's event concluded January 26th with quite the historic underdog story! Wrestler Tokushoryu is the first bottom-ranked sumo wrestler to win a top-division title since March 2000. WOW!

    I was quite excited to be gifted Sumo Joe by Mia WenJen to review for theImage result for sumo joe Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 event. The easy-to-read book highlights the sport with a clever character face-off: a brother vs. sister martial arts challenge.  One of my newcomer LOVES, I mean is honestly infatuated with Japanese culture, and the illustrations by Nat Iwata allow so many opportunities for learning also.   Sumo Joe would be a perfect choice as part of a quad text set leading up to a target text on martial arts or Japan.  The  rhythmic text structure appeals to new and intermediate readers  along with building vocabulary outside the martial arts theme.  As if that wasn't enough, the illustrated glossary and author's note adds to the uniqueness of Sumo Joe.  Find a quick flip-through of Sumo Joe by clicking the cover image above!

     MCDB 2020 is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  

    Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

    MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

    Super Platinum

    Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings


    Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls


    Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press


     Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe


    Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot BooksTalegari Tales

    Multicultural Children's Book Day Official 2020 Poster

    Author Sponsors, including recent ALA Award winning author Jerry Craft AND creator of MCBD 2020 Official Poster.

    MCBD would like to also give a shout-out to their CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View MCBD CoHosts HERE.

  • 25 Jan 2020 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Year, VATESOL!

    As we continue to ring in 2020 together, we are launching VATESOL Together, a brand new platform for sharing information, resources, strategies... and maybe a few surprises with our favorite English language practitioners ⎯ YOU! The 21st-century is moving us further away from the traditional newsletter outlet. The VATESOL Together blog will provide more concise, frequent, and timely updates related to our field throughout the year.

    Whether you’ve been a member of VATESOL for 20 years or are learning about us for the first time, we are excited for this fresh new start. And what better way to celebrate a new year than with sharing our New Year’s Resolutions?

    Each of our current VATESOL board members uploaded a quick video introduction using an awesome ed-tech resource called Flipgrid. By sharing an easy-to-remember link, we could each record, edit, and upload our videos from any device in any location with no hassle. Then, we compiled our videos into a Flipgrid MixTape to share it with you in just one file. 

    Flipgrid is an excellent resource for multilingual classrooms. Students can practice speaking skills in their own videos and collaborate with peers by responding to other videos. Click here to learn more about using Flipgrid as an educational resource in your classroom!

    It’s time to meet your current VATESOL board! Then, comment below and share your New Year’s Resolution with us!

    Check in regularly with our social media pages and website for future posts. We look forward to collaborating with you in this exciting decade!

    If you are interested in writing for VATESOL Together, please email 

  • 18 Jan 2020 12:04 PM | Anonymous

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