It was in Atlantic City back in November that I started to compose my “voice” for this edition. It was while Joan Pujol, our Membership Chair, and I were manning- yes, it should be womanning - the NJTESOL/NJBE booth at the NJEA convention; we have done this together for the last several years. Joan has to be commended as each year she takes the lead on this not-so-little venture which is not as simple as it may seem. Much thought and preparation goes into getting us to “just” sit there and greet people. The right booth has to be ordered; the right supplies brought along. My big contribution is buying the candy for those who stop by. But Joan has notes and lists from previous years that remind us of what needs to be changed or done to improve our presence there. And, improved it is. We have virtually no glitches as we sit for two days to meet and greet our colleagues. It was a GOOD convention for our organization: we signed-up many new members.
The BETTER job for me is being your editor. Although I am retired, my heart is still with the educators of ESL and bilingual students; I just am no longer in the trenches. I learn so much from the contributors to Voices. The piece in this issue that really struck a chord with me is that by Tina Kern, Safe…at Last. She is now in a high school after spending many years at the elementary level. That is my story, too. My first twenty years were at the elementary level in schools in Paterson; my last five at John F. Kennedy High School. I, too, had to make the adjustment of teaching students who were taller than I; I had to find my comfort zone in a new setting. But it is our students who have the biggest, the hardest, adjustments to make. My students who felt the safest, I think, must have been the brothers that saw their father shot to death in Iraq. But, all of our students have their own stories to tell and what they need to make them feel the safest. Which always brings me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy and our need to be so much more than educators: we need to make our students feel safe and secure before they are able to adapt to a new country and learn a new way of living. We are surrogate family and so important in their lives. Compassion before teaching.
The BEST is yet to come for you as you start to read this edition. There is, as usual, so much to learn from your colleagues. If you are as a voracious reader as I, you will begin with the first article in Features and read all the way through to the Special Interest Groups and then some. We talk about scaffolding our teaching for our students; well, we, their teachers, can scaffold our own learning by reading through all of the SIGs. There is so much to share and ideas spark ideas, all for the betterment of our profession. Happy reading. Happy 2015.
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 .