Michele Sloan Cheney

When I was 10, my parents took our family on a trip to Mexico. It was the first time I had been exposed to another language and culture on such a large scale. I was fascinated and intrigued. Several years later when I was in high school, our Spanish teacher took a group of us to Spain and Morocco. This trip also was a life changing event. For the first time, I realized that my life was so greatly enriched and enhanced by the experiences and the people who lived their lives very differently from my own. I changed. That was the first time that I knew I wanted to explore the world, learn from others, and spend my professional life working with an international community. I learned early on that the world was not comprised simply of my family or community and its people and rituals. We really do live in a global society and helping to facilitate an understanding and accepting of people across cultures became a passion of mine.

Since then, I have been very fortunate to have spent time in many parts of the world: Mexico (studied there in college at a language institute-have been to Mexico 5 times), Costa Rica, England, Scotland, Spain, Morocco, Canada, and Italy. I became fluent in Spanish and my love for language and teaching led me to eventually obtain a Master's degree in Education/Reading.

I began my career teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in classrooms from kindergarten to university level. I came to work for ESCORT because I wanted to effect change on a larger scale. Teaching afforded me the pleasure of working with children and families and seeing them grow and thrive. But, as I was touching the lives of these individuals, I saw many teachers who did not know how to teach English Learners. Those teachers and the students in their classes were very frustrated and unfulfilled. I transitioned from touching a small number of students' lives directly to working with teachers who could then in turn help greater numbers of kids.

One of my favorite examples of this is when I directed lab schools for ESCORT in partnership with the state of North Carolina. Prior to the opening of a new school year, we held professional development (PD) workshops for teachers for 1-2 weeks at a time in a summer school setting. Teachers were introduced to stages of language acquisition and other core information about English Learners, including how children function in a classroom where they don't speak the predominant language. When school started, the PD providers were in the classrooms with teachers and conducted daily debriefings on the implementation of strategies and planning for the next day. This was fun and rewarding for me as a PD provider. I always have, and always will, love projects where I get to interact directly with kids and families

Michele Sloan Cheney has more than 25 years of experience in the education field. With a background in ESL and Reading, she has taught kindergarten through university levels; provided professional development to teachers and administrators; and served on state committees consulting on program and product design. As a Senior Education Specialist with ESCORT, Michele works closely with state and local education agencies to ensure that English Learners and migrant children have equitable access to a high quality education where practices and programs are grounded in scientifically based research so that all children can meet the academically rigorous standards established under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Email: michele.cheney@escmail.org