My name is Kathi Bailey, and I work in the TESOL and TFL Programs. TESOL, T-E-S-O-L, is Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and TFL is Teach Foreign Languages. Some years ago, the TESOL Association started an initiative called the Leadership Mentoring Program. And every year, at the beginning of the TESOL Convention, there was a really nice lunch that was given to honor the people who were serving as leaders in TESOL.
So I got to the lunch early, and I found a table at the back of the room, and I took a seat off to the side so I could see what was going on. But as I was sitting there and the room filled up, lots and lots of people came over and were talking to me.
Most of them are graduates. They were hugging me and telling me about their accomplishments, their publications, their families, their jobs, their raises. It was really exciting. And after a few minutes of this, one of the wait persons who’d been standing just behind me. She came up to me and she said.
Excuse me, are you the person being honored at this lunch in? Shouldn’t you be sit at the head table? And I said, no, I’m not the guest of honor. Why did you think so? And she said, well, because everybody’s hugging, and thanking you, and telling you about how great and difference you made in their lives.
And so then, the program began and everybody settled down, the lunch was served. And I kind of thought to myself in a quiet private way, I am the person being honored here. I’m honored by the promise fulfilled by our graduates. They’re working all around the world, as program administrators, materials developers, authors, editors, teacher educators, test developers, researchers.
And of course, they’re excelling as language teachers worldwide. This is what I find so rewarding about working in this program. The students that come here, the students we attract have the capacity for leadership. They make a difference. It’s a great, great place to study, and it’s a great place to work.
And my hope is to continue this legacy of leadership so that our graduates will continue to influence language education worldwide.