Pre-Conference Institute

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Friday January 28, 2022: Pre-Conference Institute

Only $60, including lunch


9:00am-12:00pm Pre-Conference Institute: Choose 1 of 3 great workshops!

12:00-1:00pm       Lunch

Workshop A: What Every K-12 Teacher Should Know About ESL

Sandra Elliott and Michele Lee

If you have ever been asked to prepare a training or lead a PLC related to English learners in your building and wondered exactly what to include, then this session is for you! This presentation is designed to provide educators of English learners with support in providing professional development or leading professional learning communities (PLCs) for other school educators. This highly interactive session will focus on:

  1. High leverage topics that will provide classroom teachers with background information and strategies to support English learners in content areas,

  2. Strategies for actively engaging adult participants, and

  3. Leveraging the knowledge base of your audience.

Participants will receive topics and slides for leading PLCs or other professional development opportunities as well as resources for further training ideas.


Sandra Elliott has served as a classroom teacher for over 25 years for grades 2 through middle school in Ohio and in Mississippi. She has also served as an educational program facilitator and a building interventionist. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to meeting the needs of English learners and struggling students. She is currently the English Learner Intervention Support Specialist for the Mississippi Department of Education (Pre-K-12). In this role, she provides professional development and technical support to teachers and administrators throughout the state on best practices, instructional guidelines, intervention strategies and instructional strategies to support English learner students.


Michele Lee is an Education/EL Specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education where she provides professional learning and technical support to educators and administrators on best practices, instructional guidelines, and instructional and intervention strategies to support English learners. She has been in education for 24 years as a high school teacher, 3rd grade teacher, special education teacher, ESL teacher, and as a regional ESL coach for the state of Alabama. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Michele received her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, master's degrees in Collaboration and English as a Second Language, and an Educational Specialist's degree in Teacher Leadership. Michele serves on the board of the Alabama-Mississippi TESOL affiliate (AMTESOL) and has given presentations at conferences in Alabama and nationally.

Workshop B: Overcoming Low Literacy Levels and Limited Educational Backgrounds

Jennifer Bolorin, Nancy Turbyfill,  Joni Sue Bair, & Kelly Waters Elmore

Low literacy compounds the challenges of "doing school" for EL students. Many EL students are not just learning the language, but also are learning how to participate in a classroom setting. Literacy for EL students means learning the educational culture as well as navigating their new community. Participants in this workshop will experience ways to connect literacy to content learning to help English learners develop literacy through authentic experiences. This workshop will teach strategies for English learners to develop literacy along with cultural connections and perspectives. An emphasis will be placed on the main components that help ELs become successful readers, including both technological tools as well as language literacy.


Jennifer Bolorin is an ESL teacher at Austinville Elementary, Decatur City Schools, Alabama. She currently holds a B.A. in English as a Second Language from the University of Cupey, Puerto Rico, and is currently working on her M.A. Ed. in Reading and ESL with an emphasis in dyslexia from Dallas Baptist University. She has recently finished her certification as a dyslexia therapist with June Shelton's Take Flight program.

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Nancy Turbyfill teaches sheltered instruction reading and language arts to high school students at The EXCEL Center, Decatur High School, and Austin High School in Decatur, Alabama. She holds a B.A. in English from Athens State University, an M.A.Ed. in secondary language arts from The University of North Alabama, and has completed additional graduate coursework in TESOL from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of West Alabama.

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Joni Sue Bair is an EL newcomer teacher at The EXCEL Center, Decatur City Schools, in Decatur, Alabama. She has 16 years of experience teaching, coaching, and mentoring EL students and content teachers K-12. She holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education from the University of West Alabama and a Master's in ESL from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She is currently working on an Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership from the University of West Alabama.

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Kelly Waters Elmore is the ESL coach at Decatur High School in Decatur, Alabama. She holds a B.A. in social studies from the University of Montevallo and an M.A.Ed. in differentiated instruction with an emphasis on ESL instruction from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She holds certifications in secondary social studies and K-12 ESL instruction.

Workshop C: Shifting Demographics in the Postsecondary Context: Who We Serve and How Best to Serve Them

Dr. Andrea Word

This workshop focuses on identifying the increasing diversity of needs among nonnative English-speaking students in postsecondary settings. Traditionally, in the U.S. colleges and universities, nonnative English-speaking students were synonymous with 'international students.' However, in recent years policy shifts at the national, state, and local levels have led to shifts in the population of students who need support as nonnative speakers of English pursuing advanced degrees. In our region, there are growing numbers of English Learners (ELs) who are completing high school here in the States but need support as they matriculate into our colleges and universities. As international student numbers decline and EL numbers increase, ESL specialists in postsecondary settings are faced with a new challenge: identifying exactly who we serve and how best to serve them.

Participants will be presented with strategies to ensure that all students from diverse language backgrounds are identified as they enter the institution, program offerings are responsive to the range of needs and backgrounds these students represent, and outreach to institutional faculty and staff is effective in providing support for students as they move into academic programs. The session will encourage sharing of current policies and programming across institutions as well as specific steps for implementing comprehensive support for our students.


Dr. Andrea Word has worked in the field of TESOL for over 25 years. As Director of the Intensive Language and Culture Program (ILC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), she created the unit that met the needs of nonnative English-speaking students as they prepared to enter undergraduate and graduate programs at the university. In 2016, her responsibilities shifted to focus on P-12 teacher training in ESOL within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in UAH's College of Education, where she delivers core courses for the M.Ed. ESOL, MAT ESOL, and TESOL Certificate programs. She has remained a resource in ESL at UAH and consults regularly with administration on issues pertaining to the shifting demographics and needs of nonnative English-speaking students entering the university, as well as the evolving design of programs to serve linguistically diverse learners.