From the President, Summer 2015

May 20th, 2015 | By | Category: Messages, President's Message
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Spring Events Spark a Summer of Reflection

Kimberley Briesch Sumner

Kimberley Briesch Sumner


—What a busy and exhilarating spring this has been! From the mind-blowing TESOL convention in Toronto, Canada, to our three incredible regional CATESOL conferences to our many successful chapter events, CATESOL members are staying engaged at many levels of our teaching community, all while maintaining quality service and teaching to our students. But now that the conferences and events are over and summer beckons, what’s a CATESOL member to do?

Well, this is the time of year when it’s (perhaps?) a bit easier to wax philosophical and actually mull over those great thoughts and ideas exchanged at the last chapter event or regional conference we attended and think of ways to implement our new knowledge. It might also be a great time to introspect about who we are as teaching professionals and to reflect on what CATESOL means to us as an organization. I’ve found all three reflections on my mind lately, and perhaps they’ve stimulated you too. Here are some questions to reflect on during this post-spring chapter event/regional conference season.

During this spring 2015 season what was your favorite idea? Which speaker truly resonated with you or your teaching context? Which conference or event made its mark on your mind? Was it the many presentations enhancing our understanding of the Common Core Standards, that stimulating IEP Level Rap or ICIG session discussion at the regional conference, the workshop you attended that helped you flesh out that new lesson idea, the career advice you got from a teaching mentor, the new app you learned about to help facilitate student learning, or a research-informed insight from one of the amazing lineup of plenary speakers this year? If you are anything like me, you’ll find it impossible to choose just one from so many choices, but all of those ideas, presenters, and events have had a great impact on me as a teaching professional.

Speaking of teaching professionals, let’s think about who we are and who we strive to be. Who are we, those of us who comprise CATESOL? I came to ask myself this question at the Los Angeles Regional as I mingled and networked with other attendees like myself. As I looked around, I noted that CATESOL is rich with a wide range of teaching professionals, language researchers, and publishers. We are a dynamic group of professionals. We have a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of expertise, yet we all work toward a common goal—improving the educational life of ELLs. We are dedicated to our students, and we are committed to improving ourselves and our methods. I’m continually impressed with the amazing people I have worked with and with those whom I have met throughout my 15 years of affiliation with CATESOL.

The final reflective question I have is regarding CATESOL itself, so I ask, “What is CATESOL?” Now that’s a silly question coming from the president! We all know what CATESOL is, right? Of course! But perhaps the better question is: What can CATESOL become? I’ve been mulling this over for quite some time now and frequently ponder this question. There are lots of things that our CATESOL professionals can do to educate and improve the lives of their students. Now we must ask what can CATESOL do to educate and improve the professional lives of its members? The answer lies within each of us. The teaching professionals of this organization can continue on their current successful paths of encouraging student growth, but like our students we must also continue to evolve and grow. With growth can come the need for fresh ideas and techniques.

So, as we enter this lovely summer season and move toward the annual conference in the fall, consider taking some time to evaluate your needs as a professional and CATESOL’s offerings as a provider of your professional-development and teaching-network needs. As you take inventory, note what CATESOL does well and then make note of what CATESOL might do to grow and help you grow as a professional. Then don’t hesitate to share those thoughts with the CATESOL Board member most appropriate to your teaching level or interest group (go to for a brief description of the board and a current list of board members). We have these board positions for just that—to afford our members an opportunity to communicate with the CATESOL Board on a human level so that growth may come to this organization, allowing it to remain relevant for each member.

Of course, you may decide that you’d like a more active role in shaping CATESOL’s future—the person who is interested in answering the question “What can CATESOL be?” more directly. If you wish to be more involved, I strongly encourage each and every one of you to express your interest in running for the CATESOL Board of Directors, where you can become part of the movement to shape CATESOL into the organization of your future dreams. If you are that person, please go to to learn more about running for office (don’t be intimidated!). Then fill out and submit a (short) Expression of Interest Form before the July 1 deadline. We need dedicated people from all levels and interests to join the team in shaping our beloved organization. I hope to see your submission soon. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

Yours in CATESOL,
Kimberley Briesch Sumner

Kimberley Briesch Sumner is president of CATESOL 2014-2015.


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