GATESOL Newsletter

Spring/Summer 2021 Issue

Fun in the Sun!

Hi friends!

Our first issue was a great success! We thank you for your support and warm feedback.

This month we are back with a packed newsletter to keep you thinking, participating, advocating (, and acting in meaningful ways to support our students until next fall. We also want to call your attention to the upcoming deadline (May 17, 2021) to submit proposals to SETESOL, which will take place virtually from 10/13-16, 2021.

In this issue we celebrate accomplishments, honor retiring colleagues, share a summer reading list, and quietly sit for a moment with quotes of gratitude from our readership in completing this very challenging academic year. We also include a poem and a reflection piece from our readership, a video from our President, Jennifer Pendergrass, who this time chats with one of our GATESOL Board Members, Elizabeth Webb, and much, much more. Enjoy!

As a reminder, it is our goal to make our newsletter a place for dialogue and where we share, celebrate, and highlight the wonderful work we are all doing.

Interested contributors should follow these guidelines and contact our 2021-22 newsletter editor Lou Tolosa-Casadont at

We look forward to hearing from all of you!

Spring/Summer Newsletter Message from the Board

New Advocacy Effort

On April 26 2021, GATESOL joined with LCF Georgia, GALAS, and GALEO to publish a call for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to acknowledge that all K-12 teacher preparation programs should require ESOL courses, including cultural and linguistic knowledge and methods that reflect current research and best practices in teaching multilingual learners. The full statement is available at:

You can also find a video highlighting educator voices:

We appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you at the 2021 GATESOL Advocacy Days coming up on June 11 and 12.

SETESOL call for proposals!

Please consider submitting a proposal for SETESOL by May 17, 2021:

In 2021 SETESOL will take place virtually from October 13-16. We look forward to seeing you there!

Click on this link to see the amazing Keynote Speakers line-up:

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Starting Strong

Under the vision and guidance of our incredible 2021 GATESOL board and President Dr. Jennifer Pendergrass, 2021 has began with a bang! You can find an updated list of all upcoming events here:

One of the highlights has been the outstanding Town Hall meetings that have taken place this semester. They have been highly vulnerable and powerful and have helped us gain deep insight on how to better collaborate to support TESOL in Georgia.

A number of initiatives have come out of these meeting and we share a few below:

At the higher education Town Hall, our international students expressed feeling isolated, discriminated against, and unsupported in several other critical issues. To support their social/emotional wellbeing and at their request, a student-led community within GATESOL for international and transnational undergraduate and graduate students has been created ( At present, its appointed temporary leader who has begun building that community is Ethan Trinh (they/them), a panelist in this town hall.

A decision that came out of our Town Hall meetings was a vote by the GATESOL Board to introduce a new membership level for all retired, part-time, and community volunteer teachers! Now, you'll be able to join at a 50% discounted rate of $15 per year.

The following poem also comes out of the Town Hall meetings and was written by Saurabh Anand (he/him), a current PhD. student in the Department of Language & Literacy Education in the Mary Frances Early College of Education at the University of Georgia.

Saurabh Anand

I ain't not right

Though I walked many paths, but when we strike,

you, my dear neofascist, proclaimed I ain’t right.

I presented every proof in challenges & dogfights,

But you kept your eyes shut and declared I ain’t right.

I might have more Melanin; hence, my skin is not so light.

Please erudite. Stop spreading hate mites, spieling I ain’t right.

You judge me for who I date, the god I preach, say my English ain’t precise.

Don't forget, "Out of many, one,' is not just a motto but also my right.

There are small little worlds within this world. To know them, you just need unbiased sight.

Why don't you try tonight? Because I might be different, but I ain't not right.

A look back... It looks like we made it!

We would also like to share a reflective piece by one of our members and readers, Jill Schmidt, who teaches K-5 ESOL at Bay Creek Elementary School in Walton County.

This is my story.

Teaching is what I do. It’s my livelihood. Going to the little red schoolhouse each morning results in me having the things in life I need and want. All that’s great, but that’s not just what teaching is for me. Teaching has become a part of who I am.

My path to becoming an educator is deep and wide. Teaching was not one of my first jobs, although my life experiences carried me as my journey led me here. All roads lead somewhere and my road led me to the elementary classroom. So by the grace of God, here I am in the thick of what no one could have imagined. Possibly, a sci-fi movie could have depicted what teachers and students have experienced this past year. Although, unless you lived it, you might not understand. Certainly, we are not finished with this chapter, but we are far enough into and on the way out for me to pause for a moment to look back.

In order to finish reading Jill's work, please follow this link:


We are excited to recognize and thank many institutions and people who are making a difference in our state:

Kudos to Bartow County School District and their Coordinator Kristy Mitchell, for assisting and supporting all stakeholders in the county with the hiring of a bilingual parent support liaison and for making it possible for the entire ESOL staff to join GATESOL as 5-Year Members.

Bravo to our very own Cynthia Bohannon-Brown for starting an education support business specializing in resources for multilingual learners at the entering, emerging, and developing levels!

A shoutout to Gwinnett County, for successfully engaging, inspiring, motivating, and supporting students who participated in the Hispanic Mentoring Priority Program. Those interested in launching a mentoring program for Latino learners or ESOL students please connect with Nury Castillo Crawford ( who just published a guide titled: Hispanic Mentoring: Hispanic Mentoring a quick guide to jump start your own mentoring program (

A special thank you and congratulations to Brenda Fox from Floyd County on her retirement. Feel free to connect with Brenda to thank her for her many years of service (

Her colleague, Alicia Payne, wrote: "Congratulations in your retirement! We'll miss you."


I am thankful for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic with good health and sanity (Cynthia Bohannon-Brown).

This year I'm thankful for the support of the community. They saw the need and supported us. We were able to provide one on one tutoring for many of our students (Nury Castillo Crawford).

I am thankful for Jennifer Pendergrass and Ashlee Brown. With this being my first year as an ESOL teacher, Jennifer has been a wonderful mentor to Ashlee and me. She has such patience and a gift of encouragement that you feel like you can do anything. Ashlee has been a blessing to work with throughout this year, and I love bouncing off ideas with her. A great big thank you to these two ladies for making this an amazing year! (Wendi Van Leuven).


1. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

2. Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman

3. How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

4. Come On In (15 stories about immigration and finding home) by Adi Alsaid

THANKS to Lakisha Edwards, Cynthia Bohannon-Brown, and Nury Castillo Crawford for sharing a few powerful suggestions.

GATESOL Interest Sections

Join us in our newly created Interest Sections message boards and share your experiences, needs, and questions.

Ms. Happy Farber - Congratulations on your retirement!

In this edition we feature Ms. Happy Farber an ESOL teacher at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens, GA, for her many contributions to the profession, her impactful work with children at OAES, and for the undying support she provided her colleagues, preservice teachers. Happy, we are going to miss you and are delighted to know that your impact will not stop with your retirement. Your seeds have been planted and, in a ripple-effect fashion, they will continue touching many lives in the future and positively leaving your indelible mark.

Happy Farber embodies her name. She exudes passion and lives largely and without excuses. Her impact in CCSD and the larger community has made her an icon in the Athens-Clarke County school community. A pre-service teacher who worked with her commented: “Happy Farber's shoes are too joyful for anyone else to fill. While I was a teacher candidate in her classroom, she gave me just the right amount of cheerleading and positive guidance. Her delight in the language learning process was contagious with her students meeting her energy with an eagerness to learn. (Susan Lane).

Ms. Happy, as her students call her, started her teaching career in 1990 as a Special Education teacher. After a few years she transitioned into teaching Reading Recovery and shared her classroom with Marilyn Murphy, who recognizing the many attributes Happy brought to teaching recruited her to teach ESOL. Since then, Ms. Happy has been reaching, teaching, and impacting many lives in CCSD through her work as an ESOL teacher. The main highlight of her teaching career, she tells us, has been her students whom she absolutely loves. In our interview she shared how much she enjoys bumping into current and former students in the community and added with a satisfied smile on her face: It is always a great feeling to run into students when they are grown. I see previous student at their places of employment (my doctor’s office…) and out with their own children. One of the students I taught is now in my family! Her sister is married to my nephew. In her classroom Happy creates a safe space for all students. Children move freely in this space, lay on the floor to work, sit on bean chairs, and many choose to take their shoes off to be more comfortable. She turns up all the lights, she LOVES a well-lit room, and laughs wholeheartedly with her children while they learn, grow, and endeavor and learn to love learning, speak their new language, celebrate their uniqueness, and become more comfortable with the many identities they bring with them. Happy doesn’t talk about this but she is also a deeply impactful mentor. She worked with a number of ESOL preservice teacher candidates who will forever remember the many lessons she taught them.

Teaching during the pandemic taught Ms. Happy many important lessons, the first one is that she is capable of working with technology, something she had not considered closely and intentionally yet. She now feels confident using online tools like Zoom and other tools such as document cameras. Most importantly, however, is that Ms. Happy realized how crucial it has become in this virtual space of education to deeply connect with the learners. To her own amusement, she realized it is good practice to laugh at oneself when teaching, she said: I realized how silly I am. I would see myself dancing on the screen and making hand gestures while talking! I looked so funny…

At the conclusion of our interview, I asked Happy for a message to share with new and incoming ESOL teachers, and with a very kind smile she replied: The most important part of our job is to love our kids. Many times, the only place they feel comfortable enough to be themselves is in the ESOL classroom. Before they can learn, they have to feel like it is okay to try and make mistakes. You also have to be an advocate for your students. Sometimes other school staff do not understand that our students may not understand what is being said. Others think because the kid speaks to friends at recess that they understand everything. Never forget that it takes 5 to 7 years to become proficient in academic language. Finally, never give up on your kids!

Thank you, Happy Farber, for taking the time to chat with me and answer my questions. I’m honored to have known you and to have had the opportunity to see you do magic in your classroom. The TESOL profession is better for having had you among its ranks. Now go and continue transforming the world with your kind demeanor and your passion for life. We are eternally grateful for your contributions.

Newsletter editor call for contributions

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Wishing you a peaceful summer filled with special moments.