On the evening of Wednesday, November 16, Fairfield University welcomed members of project SETTELL, project BiSEP, and the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions for a celebration of bilingual and special education, as well as the project SETTELL advisory board meeting. The event was hosted by Dr. Anna Campbell, Director of project SETTELL, and Dr. David Zera, Principle Investigator of project SETTELL.
Attendees gathered for dinner and a speech delivered by guest speaker Marie Salazar Glowski, English language learner and bilingual consultant for Connecticut State Department of Education.
Dr. Zera gave the opening speech for the evening, going into detail about the impacts of the grants, of which he was author for, on the University and its associates. He stated that over the last 8 years, the project has recruited excellent people to the graduate school, putting it on the map nationally. Enrollment and participation has increased steadily every year.
Guest speaker Glowski delivered her talk to the audience of graduate students and members of project SETTELL, sharing her experiences over the years as a student and eventual mentor for others learning English as a second language. Her own disappointments and struggles as a Mexican-American student, trying to learn English in a system which failed to recognize her specific learning needs prompted her to continue pursuing education and lead to the work she does today.
Glowski stated that she was “lucky to become a success story,” and spoke to audience members, asking them to “take a moment to reflect how fortunate we are all to be sitting in these seats.”
Following Ms. Glowski’s speech were several presenters, members of both project SETTELL as well as BiSEP participants. Charlene Benoit, who was accepted into BiSEP and is a special educator now, shared her thanks for all that the program has given her as far as life skills and the ability to give back to her students and other teachers. Heather Coladarci and Marilyn Roberti, both members of project SETTELL, also shared their experiences and overall growth as educators and students since their participation in the program.
In closing, certificates of achievement were presented, and the closing remarks were made by Dr. Zera, who was honored for all of his work for the programs, and who thanked the community for all they have done as well to help make these projects possible.