President’s Message

Those who know, do…

Those who understand, teach.

Aristotle

Welcome to the New Year in our NYSAFLT family. 2019 marks the 102nd year of leading with languages in New York State. This is an incredible milestone! As educators, we understand the power of language. It is not merely an academic subject or degree requirement. It is a life skill:  empowering us by opening doors and illuminating the complexity of the human experience.

Each day in our classrooms and communities we share the message of how languages matter in today’s world. In her book Dare to Lead, Brené Brown shares the following insight: “Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world”. The first glimpses of this big picture are happening in our classrooms across the state. Together we strive to create meaningful contexts for communication and intercultural understanding. Together we lead with languages.

In 2017, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) launched the Lead with Languages campaign, seeking “to build awareness across the U.S. about the growing importance of language skills to a wide array of careers – and to our nation’s economy, national security and international standing – with the ultimate goal of supporting a new generation of Americans competent in other languages and cultures and equipped to compete and succeed in a global economy” (ACTFL).   Our NYSAFLT family first heard of this campaign in 2015 when we welcomed Marty Abbott, then Executive Director of ACTFL, as our annual conference keynote speaker. Marty reminded us that “language proficiency is no longer a luxury; it is a vital necessity to career success in the 21st century and one of the top qualifications employers are now seeking”.

In 2019, NYSAFLT continues to lead with language through the adoption of our new Strategic Plan. Thanks to the dedication and vision of our past presidents and our strategic planning committee (William Anderson, Committee Chair, Carol Dean, Jenny Delfini, Erin Kearney Ph.D., Lori Langer de Ramirez Ed.D. , Michael Mitchell, and Kennedy Schultz), our organization will focus on three strategic priorities:

  • addressing teacher recruitment and retention,
  • building our members’ capacity for leadership and
  • strengthening our community connections through our advocacy efforts

This challenge to lead with languages touches each and every one of us every single day. It has taken me nearly 40 years to realize that language learning is an ever-changing adventure. Or perhaps I knew it all along and just didn’t have the courage to embrace it. Throughout my journey, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by my incredible NYSAFLT family. This organization has stood strong in tough times of change and uncertainty. NYSAFLT continues to build bridges and foster real-world connections for our students. We believe in the power of languages. As teachers, we are life-long learners – but we cannot thrive in a vacuum. As we begin this New Year together, I challenge you to lead with languages!

  • Follow your heart and share your passion. Share an idea, join a committee, nominate a colleague or submit a session proposal (Annual Conference proposal deadline is March 1).
  • Surround yourself with inspiration and positivity. Participate in a #nysachat, apply for a grant or scholarship and/or come to Summer Camp Institute in August!
  • Believe in the power of language learning by connecting to ACTFL’s Core Practices. World language is not an academic subject. It is a life skill. Use the power of the core practices for language learning to build capacity in our students and ourselves.
  • Ask questions and invest in your strengths. Not sure where to begin? Let’s chat. Send me an email or let’s connect: @SlocumBeth. Together we are NYSA-strong.

Cheers to a New Year with exciting possibilities!

Beth

Beth Slocum