Cobb ESOL Teacher Leads in CCSD and Statewide

Dr. Jeff Terrell of City View Elementary has a Heart for Teaching.

Veteran ESOL Lead Teacher Dr. Jeff Terrell has travelled the world but now spends his time on what matters most.

Jeff Terrell is an adventurous soul. In the summer of 1995, he packed up his wife and three children: two sons, ages 3 and 5, and a daughter, age 7, and moved to China to teach English. He had learned some Mandarin Chinese during a previous 8-week stint in the country and had to do all of the communicating for the family, while at the same time teaching English to his students at school. Twenty-five years later, he looks back on the seven years he spent teaching English in China fondly. “We loved our time in China! It transformed us. We are different than typical American families because of that experience being immersed in a new language and culture and having to learn how to communicate and to navigate very different cultural norms.”

Today, Dr. Terrell is a veteran ESOL teacher in the Cobb County School District, where he serves as the ESOL Lead Teacher for City View Elementary School. When he and his family returned from China in 2001, he worked for Campus Crusade for Christ and served as a volunteer teacher for a period of time before realizing that teaching was his true calling. He began working as an ESOL and Early Intervention Program Supply teacher in CCSD and in Marietta City Schools in 2006. Within a year, he was working fulltime teaching ESOL in CCSD, and he hasn’t looked back since. “Working for Campus Crusade for Christ was phenomenal, but what I really loved was the teaching part. After a while, I realized that I needed to be teaching, not doing other things.”

After transitioning to teaching fulltime, Terrell realized that he needed to learn how to better meet the needs of this students. He went back to school at Kennesaw State University and earned his M.A. in TESOL in 2008. He credits an influential KSU professor for inspiring him to become a highly engaged professional: “This professor was passionate about the need for teachers to be involved in their professional organizations, so I started looking for what was available in the ESOL field. I found International TESOL and met some members of GATESOL through that experience. Then I attended a GATESOL Conference and loved it! The strategies were so useful and practical, and the colleagues were just amazing.”

Dr. Terrell has served on the Executive Board of GATESOL for 9 of the past 10 years in the roles of Member-at-Large, 2nd Vice-President, 1st Vice President, President, and Past President. He took one year off after his year of service as Past President but was quickly recruited to come back on board to fill a vacant Member-At-Large position. He has made more than 12 presentations at state and regional conferences, including GATESOL, the KSU ESOL Conference, and the SETESOL Conference. He will present at the first-ever Virtual GATESOL Conference on October 29 on “Integrating Phonics and Phonemic Awareness for Upper Elementary Grades.”

If he did not already have enough to do serving in a state leadership role for GATESOL and leading the ESOL program at City View Elementary, Dr. Terrell has taken on a new challenge this year: teaching a cohort of the ESOL endorsement program offered to CCSD teachers in partnership with Metro RESA. Asked why he took on the additional challenge and work, he responded, “If I can help teachers learn how to teach content in such a way that their English Learner students understand it, I am directly contributing to the long-term success of many more.”

The original adventure that Dr. Terrell and his family embarked on all those years ago has borne so much fruit. In addition to his legacy as a valued teacher-leader within the Cobb County School District and as an engaged leader for the GATESOL organization, Dr. Terrell’s daughter is a high school teacher for Cherokee County Schools. Guess what she teaches? Chinese!

Dr. Elizabeth Webb
Supervisor, ESOL & Title III

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