By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Donna Albrecht, associate professor of education and director of the IU Southeast New Neighbors Education Center, has been elected as Higher Education Representative to the board of the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL).
Albrecht will serve in the role for the next two years. Besides advocacy and serving as the voice of higher education, she will assist in coordinating the yearly INTESOL conference.
INTESOL is a statewide professional association whose mission is to strengthen the effective teaching and learning of English as a Second Language in the State of Indiana while respecting individuals’ language and cultural backgrounds.
According to the organization’s website, INTESOL supports and seeks to inspire those involved in English language teaching, teacher education, administration and management, curriculum and materials design, and research; provides leadership and direction through the dissemination and exchange of information and resources; encourages access to and standards for English language instruction, professional preparation, and employment. It supports the initiatives of its international parent organization TESOL, Inc.
“This is an advocacy group that is working to strengthen connections between professionals, raising awareness of issues that affect our English learners in the state, such as funding, licensure requirements for educators, family support and so on,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht has been an active member of INTESOL since 2007. This is the first time she has held office, but she has co-organized the ENL Leadership Pre-Conference for the past four years. And in 2017 she co-edited a TESOL white paper calling for action on educator professionalism and licensure requirements in the preparation of teachers of English language learners. This paper had an immediate impact: New policy guidelines issued by the Indiana Department of Education incorporated recommendations from the paper, including specific input contributed by Albrecht.
“This is something I’m really proud of,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht’s role will benefit teacher preparation at IU Southeast and heighten the visibility of the campus at the forefront of critical conversations in education, she believes.
“This is an important election for IU Southeast because of the continuing demographic changes in the state and nation, increasing numbers of English learners in our society and the need for IU Southeast to know how to respond to this need, both in terms of preparing teachers and in meeting the needs of our increasingly diverse IU Southeast student population,” Albrecht said. “This election provides the university with a voice and status on this stage.”
That voice is already considerably enhanced through Albrecht’s energetic participation in the organization.
At the most recent INTESOL conference, Albrecht presented on subjects ranging from English Learner Advocacy and the Indiana Language Roadmap in to the “I Am From” identity awareness project and ENL licensing revision, alongside ENL coordinators, university colleagues, state ENL specialists and teachers.
For Albrecht, the election is another step in a relationship that she hopes will inspire teacher candidates to explore aspects of their careers that go beyond the classroom.
“My goal for my students is that they will become involved in INTESOL as professional members, and also as presenters,” Albrecht said. “We need to elevate the Southern Indiana region and provide opportunities for our students to become involved on a larger scale.”