Congratulations to MIDTESOL members Mary Christensen, Erica Clements, Tara Friga, and Gretchen Meinhardt who have each been awarded a free year-long membership to the TESOL International Association.
Mary Christensen, Associate Professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Mary always knew that her passion was bridging cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication gaps. At 12, she was telling teachers that her dream was to be a translator at the United Nations. It wasn't until after graduating from university that she realized she could pursue that goal in ESL. After spending 6 years teaching English in Japan (and one in Iowa teaching basic Japanese), she decided to get her MA in Linguistics. She has now found a home at the University of Iowa as an Associate Professor in both the IEP and EAP programs working with students who are usually ages 18-24. Her particular interest is research that focuses on helping students learn to navigate university expectations successfully (including getting them involved in the larger community, teaching strategies to avoid plagiarism, etc) and empowering students with the skills and tools to communicate their own perspectives (Critical Pedagogy, for instance).
Erica Clements, K-12 Teacher, USD 250 Pittsburg Community Schools, Pittsburg, Kansas
Erica has been an educator for 15 years. For the past 10 years, she has taught ESOL classes and provided core program support at Pittsburg Community Middle School in Pittsburg, KS. She serves all of the ELLs in grades 6-8. She currently lives in Arma, KS with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Addison. She received both her BS in Elementary Education (2002) and MS in Teaching with certification in ESOL (2005) from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS.
Tara Friga, K-12 Teacher, Nixa Public Schools, Nixa, Missouri
Tara works in Nixa, Missouri as an ELL specialist. She has been teaching as an ELL specialist for 3 years. Before going into ESL, she was a special education teacher for more than 5 years. She has presented her research at different conferences in Missouri in regards to ELs with disabilities. She currently works with Kindergarten through 6th ELs with varying levels. She teaches, assesses, researches, and works with staff to assist her ELs and their families.
Gretchen Meinhardt, Assistant Professor, Donnelly College, Kansas City, Kansas
Gretchen is an assistant professor of preparatory education at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. She has taught ESL at the college level for the past 8 years, and her students have ranged from beginning to advanced. Currently she teaches college success classes and developmental writing classes for students who need a bit more skill work before Comp I & II. Approximately half of her students are high-level English language learners. She is so appreciative of MIDTESOL and TESOL which help her remain current in the field and best serve her students.