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Articles by: Susan Spreitzer

Academic Family Tree: TESOL 2023

Academic Family Tree: TESOL 2023

Hello WinkWorld Readers,

Academics on various campuses sometimes talk casually and lovingly about their own Academic FamilyFor example, those who taught me become my Academic Parents, and those who taught my teachers are my Academic Grandparents.  As with all families, it soon becomes quite complex, as the Academic Family is always growing.

My own Academic Family is sprawling and filled with all who influenced my own development: high school teachers, undergrad and grad profs, and colleagues scattered hither and yon in the US and throughout the world.  In addition, my many years of teaching enriched my life with many Academic Kids, from my first students at Great Valley High School near Philadelphia, to my students at Yankton College, SD, to TX A&M, to CSU Stanislaus, to Black Hills State University, and to South Dakota State University. If you are a regular reader of WinkWorld, you have met the Benson (AZ) Kids and know what a powerful effect they have had on my life.

This is the idea that we will explore at TESOL next week in Portland. The fun in this presentation is that it will be intergenerational.  Who/what/where/when is posted at the end of this WinkWorld.

The idea of an Academic Family blossomed for me one night in 2007 when a grad student, Areli Dohner Chavez, turned in an image of a Pedagogy Tree.  Her classmates and I were thrilled as she explained what she had  learned in our foundations class.  It was like looking at a syllabus of the content of the class.

  • Meet Areli today, who is still working in a school  in the Central Valley of California. Today she graciously told me that it was The Foundations of Education class which made her decide to be a teacher.  The foundations covers all of the really Big Ideas of teaching and learning.

However, the truth is that while Areli and her colleagues were excitedly talking about her Pedagogy Tree, I was thinking about how that bare tree would hold my Academic Family. A-ha!

The Academic Family Tree took root for me. I suddenly saw a branch for Mrs. Johnson (Mobridge  High School (Latin and Spanish teacher); Dr. Ehrensberger (Yankton College, Shakespeare prof); Dr. Dolores Brown (extraordinary Spanish prof, U of A); Querido Beto, a.k.a., Doctor Adelberto Guerrero, el Bilingüe de U of A; Dr. Hermán García , (TX A&M) and then the students, Oh, the students!   I could never begin to express how they have enriched my life.  Think how my treasured colleagues have touched my life.  Mentoring is at the heart of all  of teaching and learning.  Sometimes I mentor others, and sometimes others mentor me. It is reciprocal.  I want to also acknowledge my colleagues whom I have met in professional groups: The list is too long. 

To each of my mentors, I send a heartfelt “Thank you.”   And, one last one I must mention.  I first learned of the work of Noam Chomsky in 1966 from dear Dr. Ehrensberger at Yankton College.  Chomsky has been my intellectual  hero since that day.  I continue to stalk him on the U of A campus, where he still works.  If/when I have a sighting, guaranteed you will know. 

The Academic Family Tree is all about mentoring.


Thank you, Areli, for helping me understand this.


Intergenerational Highlights and Conversations About Our Lives in TESOL

Thursday, 23 March, 2023 10 a.m. to 11:15, PST, D136, Oregon Convention Center, Portland

Dawn Wink (Convener) and Joan Wink,

Yvonne and David Freeman, Mary Freeman Soto, Ann Ebe Freeman

Sonia Nieto and Alicia Nieto Lopez

Shelley Taylor and Ted Taylor


TESOL 2023, 3/14/23

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Created for Intergenerational Highlights and Conversations about our Lives in TESOL,




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