2020 End of Year Message from CEA Chair, Susan Carkin
CEA’s engagement with the historical and singular events that characterize 2020 challenged the agency, staff, and board on numerous fronts. We witnessed closures, transformations, innovations, and regrouping among jobs, program modalities, positions, curriculum, teaching, and testing. Overshadowing every aspect of the changed educational environment were health concerns and safe practices. We experienced a wide range of these events within our own CEA microcosm, affecting staff, commissioners, our programs/institutions, and our professional lives and futures. Overall, the Commission got its work done, met the challenges with effective responses, from personnel to policy, and took on some progressive and future-oriented work on behalf of English language programs around the world. We want to acknowledge, with understanding and compassion, that while this year was extraordinarily difficult overall, it was especially challenging for English language programs and professionals across our global educational setting.
All CEA meetings were held on Zoom in 2020: our three annual meetings, several follow-up meetings, all the standing committees, the Executive Committee, a task force, various professional development activities, and weekly meetings between the executive director and chair. It was quite a transition year for CEA’s new executive director, Dr. Heidi Vellenga, who assumed her role on February 1, 2020. One of her first official acts as executive director involved the release of the CEA Statement on COVID-19. Taking into account guidance from the USDE and SEVP, CEA addressed the next immediate need brought on by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: development of protocols and guidance documents to programs and institutions to support them as many sites transitioned to online and hybrid formats. Heidi also successfully oversaw the office transition to work from home, and quickly reorganized the April Commission meeting format with its professional development activities revised for online engagement using Zoom. New protocols were developed to accommodate the virtual environment and the work took off. As one of the commissioners noted with appreciation for Heidi’s leadership in 2020: No balls were dropped. What follows is a brief summary of the Commission’s work under Heidi’s first year of leadership.