More than 100 Long Island educators gathered at Stony Brook Southampton on Tuesday morning for the first East End English as a Second Language and Bilingual Teachers Academy, a professional development conference organized by East Hampton’s ESL department.
Attendees included teachers from Montauk, Springs, Southampton, Pierson and Hampton Bays, as well as Shelter Island, Smithtown, William Floyd, and others traveling from as far west as Valley Stream and Roslyn—a turnout that East Hampton’s ESL Director Elizabeth Reveiz said she never expected.
“It’s the first year we’re doing this,” she said by phone on Monday, while making the final preparations. “Every year, there are three conferences available to the ESL community, but so many of them are far west, and there’s really nothing out here that’s accessible for our teachers.”
The conference’s focus, she said, was on Common Core and how it affects English language learners. “Every workshop is geared toward the shift to Common Core and how to implement those strategies in teaching ESL students,” she said. “We’re trying to modify it for ESL students and figure out how to break down the information and make it presentable to that group of kids.”
The workshop kicked off with a lecture from keynote speaker Dr. Annette Shideler, a professor teaching ESL for kindergarten through grade 12 at Stony Brook University’s Linguistics Department. A graduate of Columbia University’s education program, Ms. Shideler also worked with individual school districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties to help implement technology in ESL students’ curricula.
“She was so instrumental in making this happen,” said Ms. Reveiz of Dr. Shideler. “I worked with her in a previous district, so I hired her as a consultant [in East Hampton]. She’s integrated technology with ESL strategies, and I don’t really know anyone else that does that. She’s done some wonderful stuff with iPad integration, and she’s just phenomenal.”
Tuesday’s conference also included a presentation by Dr. Maria Dove, an associate professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, where she teaches courses to educators in the graduate education for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages program, according to her biography on Amazon.com. She is also the author of five textbooks written specifically on Common Core strategies and how to implement them in ESL programs.
“They’re used nationwide,” said Ms. Reveiz of Dr. Dove’s books prior to the conference. “The idea [that] we have her coming here is amazing.”
The idea for the conference came about last February, when she and others reviewed statistics of an annual regional ESL meeting, Ms. Reveiz said. “One of the things they said was that Suffolk had increased so drastically in their ELL [English Language Learners] population that we’re up to 16,252 students,” she said. “We’re a significant number.” The ELL enrollment in Nassau stood at 12,151 students—surprisingly, less than the Suffolk population.
“Nassau was always higher than us,” she said. “And I don’t really know what prompted the change. But we have to address those needs, and the only way we can do that is through professional development. And now that Common Core is in play, we really need to make that shift.”