This article is the first in our TESOL Experts series where we feature professionals in the TESOL field and share their stories. TESOL International Association provides professional development resources, events, and publications for English language teachers around the globe. We hope this series inspires you to get involved with TESOL!
Dr. Arlene Costello entered the English language education world as an ESL teacher.
She taught multiple grade levels, traveling from one school to another, then later worked for the district, coordinating language programs and delivering training.
Today, she's an instructor and program specialist for the International Affairs Intensive English Program at the University of West Florida. She's also chair of the TESOL Conferences Professional Council—the council in charge of coordinating the sessions, keynotes, and speakers for the upcoming TESOL 2022 Convention.
“It’s gratifying to be able to shape the full program and ensure that we have quality speakers and sessions,” said Dr. Costello.
Making a Lasting Impact
Dr. Costello first joined Florida's Sunshine State TESOL (SSTESOL) as a member. She held various volunteer positions including the roles of Member at Large, secretary, and vice president, before becoming president of SSTESOL in 2019.
As president, Dr. Costello was responsible for representing the organization at the national and international level, implementing the mission, vision, and strategic goals of the organization, and providing leadership to the board.
Some of her proudest achievements include:
Getting the board to approve her recommendation to create the Reimagine and Rethinking Committee, which reinvented the board's structure so that Members at Large are now called "Directors" and have specific job descriptions
Implementing quarterly support meetings for the eight local chapters within SSTESOL
- Revising the constitutions and bylaws to align with new recommendations
“My personal goal was to establish an extended presence in the state and to make the organization a visible organization that supports our members in personal development, advocacy, and leadership," said Dr. Costello. "We have expanded our presence and influence. I’m really proud of that."
From Local to International
As someone who had heavily volunteered at the local level, Dr. Costello grew interested in becoming more involved at the international level.
TESOL’s Conferences Professional Council appealed to her the most since she had coordinated many conferences at the local level and state level already. When an opening became available, she applied.
She held the associate chair position first before becoming the chair. As chair, Dr. Costello guides the professional council, coordinates the work, provides leadership, and advances the strategic aims. She also creates and delivers orientation sessions for all new council members. Since her term ends in April 2022, she’s also been guiding the incoming chair.
“A good leader shares responsibilities,” she said.
When asked what motivates her to do the volunteer work she does for TESOL, Dr. Costello said, “My love of the profession and my love to serve the organization. It’s hard work but it’s satisfying that my circle is so wide.”
Her advice for educators thinking about joining TESOL?
“Expand your circle of influence and network in order to seek the opportunities for involvement," she said. "Getting involved in your profession is satisfying. You can help shape it by being involved. Advocate for your profession because no one else is going to.”
To attend the TESOL 2022 Convention in person or virtually, register online. Advance registration closes March 1, 2022.