Spring 2012 Profile — Harold B. Allen award winner Debbie Hadas
Debbie Hadas

Debbie Hadas moved to Minnesota in 1979 with a teaching license in Latin and French. She started to substitute teach in the St. Paul schools, and soon found her true calling: teaching ESL. In 1981 she joined the almost-brand new MinneTESOL, and never looked back!

From 1982 to 1984, Debbie was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, where she worked as a resource person for local English teachers. After returning home, she earned her MAT in ESL at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Debbie has taught at Apple Valley High School since 1987, and continues to love helping her students become better readers, more fluent writers, and able to take charge of their lives.

MinneTESOL has long been central in her professional life. Debbie has presented numerous times, chaired and co-chaired the secondary interest group, worked on the proposal committee, stamped hands at the State Fair, and had the thrill of representing MInneTESOL at the 2010 TESOL Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Through MinneTESOL, Debbie has had the chance to work with, and learn from, some of Minnesota’s finest educators.

Teaching ELL in the public schools has allowed Debbie to indulge her love of languages and her passion for social justice. Collaboration with wonderful colleagues, interaction with fascinating students, and at least one good laugh a day – they all add up to a great career!

Fall 2011 Profile — MinneTESOL member Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson

I didn’t play “ESL teacher” when I was a child, nor did I show any particular interest in linguistics as an undergraduate.  But during one of life’s more interesting turns, I found myself in Germany just as the Berlin Wall opened; my introduction to English language teaching took place in community education classes in East Berlin.  My feelings are mixed when I look back at those early days of teaching: embarrassed at how much I did NOT know when I stood in front of those adults in that evening program, but thrilled and grateful to have stumbled upon a love of teaching adult learners through that experience.  After that, I taught English to adults in  university-level intensive English programs as well as community-based adult education before moving into teacher education.

The twists and turns of my career path have landed me today at a wonderful place, as the director of the ATLAS program in the Hamline University School of Education in St Paul, MN.  ATLAS is the Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System and is funded by a grant through the Adult Basic Education (ABE) office at the Minnesota Department of Education.  Our mission is to provide resources and professional development to advance adult education throughout Minnesota, and we work closely with the state ABE office to design, deliver and evaluate the professional development activities for ABE teachers, administrators and support staff across our state.

Many may not realize how important ABE is in our state.  Almost 80,000 adult learners were served by ABE in 2010-2011, and nearly half are adult ESL students.  Many thousands more are in need of education services.  And although ABE is part of the MN Department of Education, there doesn’t exist the same career pathway for teachers that one finds for P-12 education: most ABE teachers are licensed in K-12 education, many of the jobs are part time, and we expect a turnover of perhaps 1/3 of the teaching force in the next 5 years.  That means that the need for professional development on effective teaching of adult learners remains critical – whether someone is teaching adult immigrants in a community program, Minnesota-born English speakers in a correctional facility, or dislocated workers who never completed high school and are in desperate need of new skills.  This is where ATLAS fills a critical niche.

Now in our fifth year, we at ATLAS design and facilitate research projects, such as our reports on teacher needs and challenges.  But primarily, ATLAS designs and delivers professional development on the topics most needed by ABE teachers, such as the Study Circle for Low-literacy Adult ESL for teachers of emergent readers;the annual Adult ESL Institute providing intensive workshops for ESL professionals; the Minnesota Numeracy Initiative for teachers of math; or the STudent Achievement in Reading (STAR) project for teachers of learners reading at 4th-8thgrade levels. To support adult ESL teachers working with low-literacy ESL learners, ATLAS is co-sponsoring the LESLLA (Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition) symposium coming to Minneapolis on Set 29 – Oct 1.

I am proud to be part of ATLAS, and proud to work with many wonderful people in adult basic education in Minnesota.  I’ve enjoyed the journey that has brought me to this place in life, and look forward to what the future may bring.

Visit the ATLAS Website: http://www.atlasabe.org/

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