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Alabama-Mississippi Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (AMTESOL) - an affiliate of the TESOL International Association – held its 2024 conference on January 11-13 in Tupelo, Mississippi. This year's conference focused on opportunities to 'shake up' teaching, researching, collaborating, and advocating for English Learners across the Alabama and Mississippi footprint.

spezzini award amtesolAs in previous years, the UAB School of Education's teacher education program in English as a Second Language (ESL) was heavily involved in the AMTESOL conference, with three faculty members serving on the affiliate board. The ESL program was also well represented during this year's premiere event, from faculty presentations and lifetime achievement awards to plenty of alums in attendance.

Drs. Susan Spezzini, Josephine Prado, Lori Edmonds, and Julie Flannery presented their research at this conference. In fact, the UAB ESL program had a significant representation at the conference, with 38% of the conference speakers being faculty, students, or alumni of the UAB ESL program. 


AMTESOL was founded in 1982, and membership is open to everyone interested in and or involved in teaching and learning English as a second language in Alabama and Mississippi. Members come from universities and school districts across both states and diverse ESL settings for adult learners. AMTESOL strives to serve the English teaching needs of PK-12 teachers, intensive program teachers, administrators, and graduate students. 

Prado Spezzini AMTESOL AwardSpezzini, a full professor in our ESL teacher education program, received AMTESOL's inaugural lifetime achievement award for serving the Alabama-Mississippi teaching communities since 2003. This award recognizes Spezzini's uninterrupted service on the AMTESOL board since 2005. In addition to serving in numerous leadership roles—including affiliate president, she chaired AMTESOL's 2016 conference and its 2017 Southeast TESOL conference. Spezzini also supported 13 ESL educators from Alabama and Mississippi by encouraging them to write chapters for a book—Teaching English in Global Contexts: Language, Learners, and Learning (2023)—that she edited as a Fulbright Scholar. Now in her final year of service with AMTESOL, Spezzini is mentoring the chairs of the next AMTESOL conference—Montgomery, January 16-18, 2025.

Spezzini was presented this lifetime achievement award at AMTESOL's 2024 annual conference by other board members, which included UAB colleague Dr. Josephine Prado. In addition to receiving this inaugural award, AMTESOL also established the Susan Spezzini stipend to support rural teachers in attending the organization's annual conferences, something Spezzini is passionate about continuing.

"It has been my honor to help AMTESOL grow and reach out to increasingly more ESL professionals over the past 22 years," states Spezzini. "English learners of all ages, from preschool through college, need the support of well-trained ESL teachers who are actively involved in a professional organization like AMTESOL. I am especially excited about the stipend to help ESL teachers in rural schools to attend AMTESOL conferences in the future."

Click here to learn more about the UAB ESL program.