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My VATESOL Baker’s Dozen = 13 Reasons Why I’m Grateful This November

23 Nov 2020 12:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Authored by Rebecca Raab, VATESOL President 2019-2020.

When I became VATESOL’s president in September of 2019, I thought I would spend the term hyper focused on one thing—the Southeast TESOL 2020 Conference in Richmond. From October 2019 to about early March 2020, this was the case. Any spare moment I had was spent rethinking budgets, contacting speakers, brainstorming with board members, encouraging presenters to submit proposals, and recruiting exhibitors. However, by mid-March, like most of the world, the pandemic was reality.  Planning came to a nail-biting halt.  The conference was ultimately postponed. Yet, in the chaos of COVID uncertainty, there have been so many wonderful people and partners who gathered around VATESOL to help us not only overcome our pandemic related challenges, but also become a better organization. 

Since Turkey Day is just around the corner, I thought I would serve up a baker’s dozen of yummy nuggets of VATESOL-related gratitude and thanks.

  1. Our Members = We are so grateful for each of you. Thank you for joining our COVID-19 Town Halls, participating in our first book club, attending webinars, voting, and continuing to be members. 
  2. Our 2019-2020 Board Members = Where would we be without this crew of amazing and dedicated volunteers? Thank you to 2019-2020 VATESOL Board = Katya Koubek, Monica Starkweather, Jessica Klein, Jackie Brown, Tori Pierson, Jana Moore, Marie Rose-McCully, Cammie Wilson, Laura Lewis, Pam Rose, Jenn Gooding, Lezly Taylor, Caryn Caurso, April Salerno, and Wendysue Clausson. 

  3. Our 2020-2021 VATESOL Board = I am grateful for our new board members: Rob Donahue, Brooke Boutwell, Sara Goldsmith, and Jeannie Pfautz. Also, thanks to our returning board members Jana Moore, Wendysue Clausson, Jessica Klein, Jenn Gooding, Cammie Wilson, Katya Koubek, Jackie Brown, Tori Pierson, Laura Lewis, and April Salerno. I know we’ve got an exciting year ahead! 

  4. The Virginia Department of Education = Thank you to Dr. Jessica Costa, Jenna Kelly, and Dr. Heidi Silver-Pacuilla.  We so appreciate our collaboration throughout the pandemic and look forward to working together in the future.

  5. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez = I am so grateful for this book, and I am more grateful that I got to read it for the first time in our first ever VATESOL book club hosted by Laura Lewis, VATESOL Secretary. Every educator should read this book. Check out one member’s take on the book here: Summer Book Reflection

  6. ESL Library = ESL Library partnered with VATESOL for 2020, providing a free 2-month subscription of their amazing products to our members. Moreover, they provided an informative webinar in August sharing all the ins and outs of their amazing products. Thank you so much for partnering with us. Check out ESL Library here: https://esllibrary.com/ 

  7. The English Learner Portal = Thank you to Kelly Reider and her amazing English Learner Portal for collaborating with us to provide an awesome workshop for our members in August. If you need PD, check out the English Learner Portal.

  8. Virginia Adult Learning and Resource Center  = VATESOL is so grateful to Hali Massy with Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center for partnering with us to offer a fantastic webinar on adult education in September. We look forward to working together in 2021.

  9. Advocacy October = Thank you to Jessica Klein, our Advocacy Liaison, for curating our first ever Advocacy October.  Check out the awesome blog post and resources from Emily Hemmingson, Certified Health Coach. Additionally, be sure to read our guest blog post from Diane Staehr Fenner on Advocating for Els During Distance Learning

  10. Zoom = Although I long for the day when we no longer need to use you so much, thank you for providing us the real-time connections we needed over the past months. To say you’ve transformed the educational and professional development landscape is the understatement of the century. And yes, I just personified Zoom, my constant COVID companion. 

  11. Tennessee TESOL = You saved the day!  Tennessee TESOL agreed to let VATESOL host Southeast TESOL in 2022, shifting their year to host until 2024.  This allowed VATESOL to postpone the Southeast 2020 conference without any financial losses/penalties. Thank you a million times over.

  12. Our Conference Partners = Thank you for working with us to postpone our big conference until 2022. We look forward to October 2022!

13. All Teachers = I am grateful for you. You are doing it! Whatever level you’re at, teaching practices are being transformed in accelerated real-time, and you are powering through the most challenging time of your career. Treat yourself to an extra slice of pumpkin pie and a nap or ten.


The 2019-2020 VATESOL Board would like to express its enormous gratitude and love to Rebecca Raab for her dedication, professionalism, leadership, courage, and compassion. She will continue to serve on the 2020-2021 Board in the role of Past-President.

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