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A Brilliant Blend! 2003 State Conference
ESOL/Bilingual/Migrant/Refugee Education

A Brilliant Blend and a Brilliant Success!

"A Brilliant Blend" was the theme for this year's Kansas Migrant/ESOL/Bilingual/Refugee Conference, held from June 4 to June 6, 2003, at the Airport Hilton Hotel in Wichita, Kansas. A record crowd of than 260 Migrant Directors, ESOL teachers and ESOL teacher educators registered for the event, which was sponsored by the Kansas Association of Migrant Directors, the Kansas State Department of Education-State and Federal Programs, the Kansas Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and the Midwest Equity Assistance Center.

Cynthia Adcock, Cathy Ludwick and Steve Wolf, from the Kansas Association of Migrant Directors, and Melanie Stuart and Ron Johnson, from the Kansas Department of Education, moved ubiquitously from venue to venue, coordinating concurrent sessions, touching base with publishers on display, interacting with conference-goers on a personal level and guiding everything with seemingly effortless grace.

The goal of the conference, according to the program book, was "to increase statewide collaboration and awareness for all professionals and community members who serve Kansas migrant students and English Language Learners; to provide opportunities for lifelong learning and professional development in areas of ESOL techniques, literacy development, assessment and resources through delivery of high quality workshops and keynotes."

The conference committee hit the target squarely.

Kay Toliver kicked things off with a dramatic keynote, "Teaching and Learning: What Works," which showed how her personal style and bravado has helped her connect with kids and colleagues over the past 30 years, as a math teacher in Harlem, New York City, and as an inspirational speaker. She started by giving honor to her parents, whom she referred to as "King John" and "Queen Cleopatra" and she used to demonstrate how hard-working parents without much formal education can instill in their children a respect and desire for learning.

Ms. Toliver said that teachers need to be willing to take risks and try something different in the classroom to catch the attention of their students. She showed a video clip of a lesson on fractions from her Harlem classroom, where she dressed up as a pizza chef and used pizza-based activities to review equivalencies and addition of fractions. The film, from her staff development series, "The Kay Toliver Files," made it clear that this 1992 Disney Outstanding Teacher for Secondary Math is a true master of the teaching art. Her students were simultaneously challenged and encouraged to apply their knowledge of fractions to activities such as "the great pizza swap," in which these middle-schoolers exchanged pieces of pizza made of construction paper and decorated with cut-out toppings.

There were a total of 37 concurrent sessions taking place in six different meeting rooms during the course of the three-day Migrant Ed conference in Wichita's Airport Hilton Hotel. Several universities from the state system offered one-hour credit courses to participants based on the rich blend of topics represented by the concurrent sessions. Migrant Program ID & R credit was given to attendees who attended nine selected sessions, on everything from enrollment of the binational child to meeting migrant children's health needs under No Child Left Behind.

Ten different sessions dealt with the "No Child Left Behind" legislation and how it impacts those who teach and assist English language learners in Kansas schools. Ron Johnson, of KSDE, discussed how the new law will affect identification and recruitment of migrant students. Roger Rosenthal, of the Migrant Legal Action Program, gave a three-hour double session on "Immigrant Children and ELLs in Public Schools," focusing on the rights of these students under current U.S. laws. Nancy Kraft, of the Kansas Parent Information Resource Center, spoke on new NCLB regulations regarding inclusion of parents in school policy for English language learners. Judi Miller, of KSDE, explained how Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) impacts Quality Performance Accrediation for all public schools, districts and the state. Cyndi Treaster and Robert Stiles, of the Kansas State Farmworker Health Program, spoke on "Meeting Migrant Children's Health Needs Under No Child Left Behind." Joyce Lancaster, of Ballard & Tighe Publishers, showed participants how to use Ballard & Tighe's IDEA Proficiency Test (IPT) to determine skills in English or Spanish at different grade levels. Stephan and Linda Jackson, of Stephan L. Jackson & Associates, gave a session entitled, "Exploring the Multiple Uses of the Language Assessment Scales Proficiency Test (LAS)." The LAS is published by McGraw-Hill. Another publishers session was "Meet Adequate Yearly Progress and Make Quick Gains with QuickReads and BookTreks," presented by James Mayfield-Smith, of Pearson Learning/ Modern Curriculum Press/ Celebration Press/ Globe Fearon.

For a complete list of presenters and session abstracts, click here.

At the Wednesday evening banquet, attendees were honored by the presence of Akot Arec, whose keynote address "My Life As a Refugee" described the harsh realities of his experiences as a young man fleeing political and religious persecution in Sudan. He made an eloquent and persuasive case for greater involvement by the U.S. government as well as private citizens to help improve conditions in his homeland. Today Akot Arec is a caseworker for Catholic Charities in Kansas City and is Executive Director of Jump Start Sudan.

For more information or to reach Akot Arec, call (913) 558-7976. Donations may be sent to: JumpStart Sudan, P.O. Box 4470 Olathe, KS 66063-4470.

The Wednesday evening banquet was also an occasion to honor Steve Wolf, who is retiring this year as Director of Federal Programs for the Great Bend School District, USD 428, where he has worked for nearly 40 years in a career which included teaching 5th grade, being an elementary school principal and his years of dedication as Great Bend's point person for Migrant Education and English language learning. Ron Johnson, of KSDE Migrant Programs, read more than a dozen heartfelt e-mails he had received from current and former colleagues and friends of Steve Wolf's, describing his many contributions to the Great Bend community, including his vigorous support and spearheading involvement in Great Bend's "Cinco de Mayo" celebrations. Ron Johnson presented a plaque from the Kansas State Department of Education and said, "Steve Wolf will always be part of the Migrant Education family in Kansas."

The Wednesday banquet also included three sets of Mexican folkloric dancing by the Newton High School Azteca Dance Troupe, under the direction of Patrice Olais and Crystal Sanhueza. At times nearly everyone in the audience was clapping in rhythm and tapping their feet in unison with the Azteca Dance Troupe's spirited and beautifully rendered dances from three different regions of Mexico: Vera Cruz, Northern Mexico and Jalisco.

Throughout the three days of this year's Migrant Ed Conference, the publishers display area was continuously abuzz with conference-goers interacting socially as well as learning about the latest materials and resources to help schools and teachers meet the positive challenge of engaging culturally and linguistically diverse newcomers in the English learning process as well as ensuring continuity in their cognitive development. Here is a complete list of the publishers' representatives who helped to generate a three-day-long series of learning exchanges as everyone shared their experiences together:

Joyce Lancaster, for Ballard & Tighe Publishers
Robert Fanning/Margaret Walpole, for Diverse Educational Solutions, Inc.
Beth Hanschu, for Emporia State University's ESOL Lending Library
Susan Martinez-Riphahn, for Grandma's Tortillas
Marsha Krabbenhoft, for Great Source Education Group
Dorothy Hagen, for Hampton Brown
Nancy Kraft, for Kansas Parent Information Resource Center
Robert Stiles, for Kansas Statewide Farmworker Health Program
Matt Dow, for Lakeshore Learning Materials
Mona Stivers, for MetriTech, Inc.
James Mayfield-Smith, for Pearson Learning / Modern Curriculum Press / Celebration Press / Globe Fearon
Barbara Sihombing, for Pearson-Longman ESL
Stephanie Troglin, for Rosen
Angela Carroll, for Scholastic
Emilee Rose, for Scott-Foresman
Evelyn Dillon and Dorv Conell, for World Book Educational Products

At the noon dinner on Thursday, Cynthia Adcock, Chair of this year's ESOL/Migrant/Bilingual "A Perfect Blend" Conference, announced the winners for 2003 of the Kansas Association of Migrant Directors "Gerry VanDaveer Scholarship" and the "Kansas ESOL/Bilingual Education Scholarship." Both of these scholarships are awarded from the proceeds of the Migrant/ESOL/Bilingual/Refugee Conference, proceeds from the "silent auction" at the conference and door prize drawings.

The scholarships are for $250 a semester for four consecutive semesters at a post-secondary institution in Kansas. The money is sent directly to the institution for the use of the student. If the student does not attend school, the money is returned to the Association for future scholarships. Students must enroll in at least 12 hours. Winners are selected based on financial need, grade point average and the numbers of applications received.

The Kansas Association of Migrant Directors has awarded migrant scholarships to 55 current or formerly migrant students since 1990. Since 1999, ESOL/Bilingual Education Scholarships have been awarded to 10 ESL students currently in an ESL/Bilingual program. "Thanks to your participation," Cynthia Adcock told those at dinner on Thursday, "we have been able to award $65,000 in scholarships over the past 13 years."

This year's scholarship winners are:

2003 Gerry VanDaveer Scholarship

Anh Hoang, Salina
Bao-Tran Nguyen, Liberal

2003 Kansas ESOL/Bilingual Education Scholarship

Phuong Tao T Le, Wichita
Ana Guadalupe Montanez, Ulysses
Anh Truc Ngoc Nguyen, Shawnee

Application letters from each winner can be viewed at: http://www.katesol.org/winners.html .

At Thursday's noontime dinner, Cynthia Adcock was also recognized by the Kansas Association of Migrant Directors for her years of dedicated service to the organization, and key role in planning the annual Migrant/ESOL/Bilingual/Refugee conference. "This conference would not exist if it were not for Cynthia Adcock," said Steve Wolf, in presenting the honor.

Other highlights of this year's Migrant Ed conference in Wichita were the following sessions: "Perspectives of the Hispanic Community in Kansas," by Jaime Lopez; "The Learning Needs of ELLs from Vietnamese Language and Culture," by Anh Tran; "Understanding the Mennonites, Their History, Culture, Language and Learning Abilities," by Don Blackman and Lisa Mays; "Refugee Children's Mental Health, Coping with Acculturation and Trauma," by Burna Dunn and Myrna Ann Adkins; and "ESOL Materials and Instructional Strategies Using Multiple Intelligences," by Chris Renner.

For a complete list of presenters and session abstracts, click here.

Any report on the Wichita conference would be incomplete without a mention of the behind-the-scenes work of Judi Kutzke, at the Kansas State Department of Education, whose help made everything possible for this year's event.

The 2003 Kansas Migrant/ESOL/Bilingual/Refugee Conference was indeed "a brilliant blend" of activities and exchanges among many of the individuals who labor selflessly throughout the year on behalf of the culturally and linguistically diverse children of Kansas. This was a wonderful place to renew friendships, learn new teaching approaches, appreciate the needs and rights of immigrant families and experience ideas and sensations which refresh our spirits and strengthen us to continue advocating for English language learners in our schools and in our communities.

The conference was a "brilliant blend" and a "brilliant success."

Report by Robb Scott

This page was last updated on 06/10/2003.