Kimberly Russell

2015 WAESOL President
2015 WAESOL President

Kimberly has been teaching English as a Second Language for over twenty-five years. She is a faculty member  of Clark College in Vancouver, WA, working with IBEST programs, teaching ESL and ABE/GED courses as  well.


How did you get interested in TESOL?

After being a Peace Corps Volunteer, I knew what it is like to not be able to communicate easily with those around me upon first arriving in a country. So, after I got back to the US, I started to volunteer as a tutor in an adult ESL classroom in Minnesota. When I saw how children in Minnesota were thrown into adult roles, translating for families and trying to negotiate services and systems in place of their parents who were not receiving language instruction I decided that I wanted be a more integral part of educating adult immigrants in English language. So I searched for a graduate program in ESL for adults, and nearly thirty years later, I’m still teaching. It has been quite the journey. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, and still enjoy the excitement of seeing students develop and reach their goals- not only in the area of language, but in career and college majors as well. I know I’ve taught well over 8,000 students.


Why do you serve on the board?

I believe in service to my community, and the WAESOL board has given me the opportunity to serve the TOEFL community. I find it exciting to work with the amazing folks on the WAESOL board, and to make connections with the larger community of TOEFL practitioners in the region, as well as the international TESOL association. I like providing professional development opportunities for instructors with our annual conferences, and am always amazed by the quality of presenters that we draw.


What are you most excited about at this conference coming up?

Tri-TESOL this year has been just an astounding conference to work on, and I look forward to seeing presenters from around the US!  Working with ORTESOL and BCTEAL is so energizing. I look forward to networking with folks from around the Cascadia/Northwest region. We are drawing nationally known authors Keith Folse, Nina Weinstein, David, and Peggy Kehe -just to name a few. We also have three dynamic keynotes with Carol Numrich, Scott Douglas, and Elaine Tarone presenting. Not only that but one of our presenters this year is Yilin Sun -last year’s President of TESOL International and WAESOL President twice in 2003 and 2007.


What do you think is a major challenge for the field today?

Both K-12 and Community Colleges face the challenges of meeting new standards and redesigning curricula to meet those standards. We are seeing some amazing work in the region as schools and colleges rise to meet this challenge. At the college level, dropping enrollments have have been met by innovative programing which combines levels of students, teaching them in meaningful ways in spite of combined levels. At my home college, Clark College, I have seen some amazing team-teaching of very low-level language students.


Tell us something unexpected about you.

One of my favorite non-language related jobs was working for the USDA. My job was to release lady bugs. Well, actually it was a bit more than that as a plant protection worker. However, I shall always recall vividly one particular warm summer evening walking through a waist-high fields of fragrant, purple-blooming alfalfa, just at sundown, shaking ladybugs into the field.


Where do you think WAESOL will be in 10 years?

In ten years, I hope that WAESOL will continue to be a leader in the Northwest Cascadia region. It is my goal to continue to strengthen connections between K-12 and Higher Ed. I would love to see WAESOL help new instructors make connections with mentors around the state, as well as help classroom instructors get practical information from new research. I see the seeds of this now in our current WAESOL board and membership, so I expect more as time goes on.