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Literacy Symposium for Faith-Affiliated Programs 2024 – Reconnecting

Symposium Program Details

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8:45 AM: CHECK-IN OPENS ONLINE

9:00 AM: WELCOME

Lester Meriwether, Executive Director, Literacy ConneXus
Dr. Jenny McCormack Walker, Executive Director, Literacy Texas

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM: Session 1 (60 min)

Reaching & Teaching Low-Literacy SLIFE Students

ESL students’ home languages are considered linguistic assets that teachers can build upon. But, what happens when students have limited literacy in their home language due to war, poverty, refugee status, etc.? These students are referred to as SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education) and usually require additional support, as they often do not have foundational literacy skills to transfer from one language to another.

In this session, we will learn about the unique needs of SLIFE students and how their educational backgrounds impact language acquisition. We will also consider ways that ESL teachers can provide instructional scaffolds and supports to accommodate SLIFE students.

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): LIT

Presenter: Katie Welch, Ph.D.

Literacy ConneXus

Katie Welch, Ph.D., is a university instructor, teacher trainer, and active volunteer in adult ed classrooms. In addition to teaching international students in UT-Arlington’s English Language Institute and volunteering weekly in a faith-based ESL/GED program, Katie currently provides professional development to language teachers through partnerships with the U.S. Department of State, Cambridge University Press, and Literacy ConneXus. 

Katie’s innovative classroom ideas have been published in academic journals such as Language and American Speech, and she presents regularly at national and international conferences, including TESOL International, COABE, and the National Center for Families Learning.

Ministries of Excellence

In helping begin new literacy ministries in communities, Literacy ConneXus promotes the use of a twenty-point checklist developed by Robin Feistel. For example, Step 1 is Conduct a Community Assessment – make sure that what you are planning fits the needs of your community.

But many faith-affiliated literacy programs in Texas have existed for 20 or more years. Several more than 50.

For existing ministries, we recommend a 15-item checklist based on ProLiteracy’s Quality Standards. In our breakout session on Ministries of Excellence, Lester Meriwether will review the 15 standards used by Literacy ConneXus to assist churches in addressing existing programming and making decisions about helpful changes.

John Spear, Director of ESL at Southcliff Church in Fort Worth, was the first person to lead his church to do this self study. John will offer feedback about the process during the session. Workshop participants will receive materials developed by Literacy ConneXus as well as links to ProLiteracy’s model.

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): OTHER

Presenter: Lester Meriwether

Literacy ConneXus

Lester Meriwether has been the Executive Director of Literacy Connexus since May 2004. Literacy Connexus is a not for profit organization that helps churches help persons with literacy needs in Texas and beyond. In this capacity, Meriwether represents and advocates for hundreds of volunteers who each week teach English and basic literacy or conspire to provide beginning home libraries for families with no books. He works with talented volunteers across Texas who serve in a variety of ways to help churches help people with literacy needs. Lester and his wife Donna have three children and five grandchildren and live in Fort Worth.

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM: Session 2 (60 min)

DART: Digital Access & Resilience in Texas

Know that you need to include digital literacy in your adult English language classroom but not sure how? This session was created just for you!

Adult English Language Learners in 2024 need more than reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. They need to know how to safely navigate the increasingly digitized landscape, a task that is hard to do when you have to understand both the screens and buttons as well as the English on them!

This session looks at basic concepts for including digital literacy in an easy way that does not take away from time spent acquiring the four basic English skills. Plus, discover the completely free Digital Access and Resilience in Texas (DART) Curriculum with lessons you can implement immediately.

DART was written specifically for adult English Language Learners, including those with limited or no Roman-alphabet experience, so let’s get digital!

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): LIT

Presenter: Dr. Glenda Rose

GREAT Consultants

Dr. Rose began teaching English to immigrants in High School and started working as an adult education teacher while attending college in 1987. She is currently the Adult Education Director for Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas and also shares her expertise through GREAT Consultants.

She works on local, state, and national projects in adult education, including improving distance learning and digital literacy instruction for adult learners.

Introducing Resource Partners: Literacy Texas, TCALL, and TexTESOL

Are you looking for resources for teaching and training? Come get connected with key organizations that can help build success for your program!

Many ESL programs need additional resources to help build capacity in their programs and provide training for teachers, but finding the right ones can be a struggle. This presentation will provide an introduction to several key resources that are available for faith-based programs. First, we will examine the resources available on the TCALL website and discuss how programs can use these resources effectively. Second, we review the teacher trainings offered by LIteracy ConneXus as a training resource for faith-based programs. We further extend teacher training to professional development through regional TexTESOL organizations that host annual conferences whose content is relevant to teachers in ESL programs. Finally, we offer an overview of the services, trainings, and resources provided by Literacy Texas and discuss their relevance for faith-based ESL programs.

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): OTHER

Presenter: Dr. Cindy Kilpatrick

Literacy ConneXus

Cynthia Kilpatrick is a TECs trainer for Literacy ConneXus, where she trains teachers in faith-based programs in the DFW area. In addition, she is an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Linguistics and TESOL at The University of Texas at Arlington, where she trains future English teachers enrolled in certificate and degree programs for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). At UT Arlington, she also directs the English Language Institute and helps build English language knowledge for international students from around the globe. Cindy is a long-term ESL teacher who has taught English in Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, El Paso, Dallas, and San Diego. She has a passion for supporting ESL students and faculty and is excited to join the symposium today.

Presenter: Dr. Jenny McCormack Walker

Literacy Texas

Dr. Jenny McCormack Walker joined Literacy Texas in January 2024, after a successful run as the Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties, a small non-profit that made a big impact on the Texarkana community during her tenure. Dr. Walker helped the organization find financial stability and expanded innovative academic and workforce program options for adult learners at her center. She and her team launched the first 100 Families Alliance in Texas, and this innovative approach to holistic support for students led to impressive growth in enrollment and goal completion rates for those she serves.

She was named the 2023 Outstanding Literacy Council Director from the Adult Learning Alliance of Arkansas, an organization that supports more than 50 counties across the state. Under her leadership, the Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties was named Non-Profit Organization of the Year by the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, and it also received a Meritorious Service Award from the Texas Council on Family Relations for its work with 100 Families.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM: Session 3 (60 min)

What do you need beyond the basics?

Join us for a transformative time to discover how to teach the needs of the higher-level student. You will walk through ideas, tips and examples of how to implement higher level strategies as you teach ESL.

The session includes an interactive time for questions. At the end of the session you will leave equipped with practical knowledge to elevate your teaching “beyond the basics”.

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): PAL

Presenter: Karen Peiser

Literacy ConneXus

Karen is the volunteer ESL Coordinator at Literacy Connexus and the Director of ESL Ministry at Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo. There she teaches ESL classes and tutors students to get their Citizenship. Karen has 25 + years of ESL teaching under her belt and has 3 of her own workshops.

Presenter: Kathleen Yarborough

Crosspoint Church

Kathleen Yarborough is the Director of Community Ministries at West University Baptist and Crosspoint Church in Houston, TX. She leads the ESL ministry and coordinates the local mission efforts. Kathleen began teaching ESL in 2001 and has served as a volunteer teacher and program director and full time staff. She has also taught English in China for several summer programs with high school students. Kathleen is a trainer with Literacy ConneXus which assists faith based programs in developing ESL and literacy programs and training teachers

Language Hospitality: Connecting Church Leaders With Literacy Experts

In an increasingly multilingual society, language hospitality is an important consideration for the Church. Kristyn Kidney, creator of The Language Hospitality Project, is currently leading a group of Church leaders and literacy experts through a deep dive of language hospitality, with the goal of equipping local churches to more effectively welcome multilingual people.

In this session, join Kristyn as she unpacks the Biblical call to engage in intentional, radical, and reciprocal hospitality. Then, hear from representatives from 3 different churches in the DFW metroplex as they describe how they are applying the principles and practices of language hospitality in their own ministry contexts.

PD Category (assigned by TCALL): OTHER

Presenter: Kristyn Kidney

Multnomah University & Language Hospitality Project

Kristyn Kidney serves as the TESOL Department Chair at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. Her teaching career has taken her to a variety of places all over the world and allowed her to dialogue with diverse learners from a variety of cultures and contexts. Teaching allows her to serve students, build and establish relationships, and engage in multicultural dialogue.

In collaboration with Dr. Derek Chinn, Kristyn has recently launched a non-profit organization, The Language Hospitality Project. This educational project seeks to bring language teachers and ministry leaders together to address needs of multilingual community through intentional and reciprocal acts of Christ-centered hospitality.

Presenter: Katie Welch, Ph.D.

Literacy ConneXus

Katie Welch, Ph.D., is a university instructor, teacher trainer, and active volunteer in adult ed classrooms. In addition to teaching international students in UT-Arlington’s English Language Institute and volunteering weekly in a faith-based ESL/GED program, Katie currently provides professional development to language teachers through partnerships with the U.S. Department of State, Cambridge University Press, and Literacy ConneXus.

Katie’s innovative classroom ideas have been published in academic journals such as Language and American Speech, and she presents regularly at national and international conferences, including TESOL International, COABE, and the National Center for Families Learning.

Presenter: Matthew Johnston

Literacy ConneXus

Matthew Johnston is an ESOL and Outreach Catalyst at Forefront Experience. He has a decade of experience teaching adults, working in non-profit, church-based, and college programs. He is now a Teacher-Trainer with Literacy ConneXus in their Teaching English with Excellence (TECs) training. He and his family live in a Dallas neighborhood where they have many neighbors from refugee backgrounds.

Presenter: Janice Long

Literacy ConneXus

Janice Long is a volunteer ESL teacher and director at her church. She volunteers with Literacy ConneXus providing support to the teacher trainers.

12:15 PM: FAREWELL

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