Bilingual - ESL Education Association of the Metroplex
BEAM is dedicated to promoting educational excellence for both emergent bilingual learners and education professionals through education, collaboration, and advocacy. BEAM represents nearly 700 educators from more than 40 districts across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and is TABE's 2nd largest affiliate.
BEAM organizes an annual symposium as well as meetings and various events throughout the year focused on improving instructional practices for linguistically and culturally diverse students.
BEAM is your connection to an extensive network of colleagues to support you in the pursuit of educational excellence and equity through education.
As an affiliate of TABE, BEAM is committed to advocating for educational policies, research-based programs, and legislation that affects English learner students and educators.
The Birth of BEAM
The birth of the Bilingual/ESL Education Association of the Metroplex (BEAM) was the result of a fusion of professional development efforts already in place throughout the north central Texas region. Texas Woman’s University, University of North Texas, University of Texas at Arlington and Southern Methodist University were working with school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area to provide university classes and professional development in the area of bilingual education and English as a second language.
Early on, Texas Woman’s University, under the leadership of Dr. Rudy Rodriguez, had taken a strong leadership role in the late 70’s and early 80’s to implement and sustain professional development activities with both Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs. The Title VII grants secured and managed by TWU were a vehicle for providing these training opportunities. These efforts came shortly after the 1968 Bilingual Education Act and the 1974 landmark case, Lau vs Nichols.
The first Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) conference held in the northern part of Texas was held at TWU in 1976. It was good to see the Texas Education Agency and the rest of the state take notice of the instructional challenges pertaining to second language learners in this part of the state. TWU and the BESO students deserve a great deal of credit for the initial work.
The major professional development activities at the school district level at that time were centered in Fort Worth and Dallas. The recognition to combine these similar and yet, separate training events led to a couple of significant meetings held in the Dallas area designed to bring the two districts together. One was held at the TWU Parkland campus and the other at the Ramada Inn on Mockingbird and Central Expressway. Arturo Salazar and Jose Angel Gonzalez from Dallas ISD, Rudy Rodriguez, Frank Davila and Irma Guadarrama from TWU, and Alicia Contreras, Angelina Olivares, and Anita Castaneda from Fort Worth ISD, were the primary representatives.
During this same period of time, many suburban school districts were coping independently with professional development efforts on their own. The suburban school districts were experiencing a new phenomenon: second language learners. The threat of English-only initiatives, the politics of immigration, and the growing number of children whose first language was not English was increasing exponentially adding another layer of concern for some folks and a tremendous challenge for others.
Both Dallas and Fort Worth school districts historically held separate annual conferences for their respective teachers and administrators. The surrounding school districts, universities and the regional education services centers were invited to attend either the Dallas or Fort Worth training institutes. Unfortunately, the two largest school districts themselves were reluctant to travel to the other side of the Metroplex to attend the other’s conference.
iving this backdrop, we continued to dialogue with Dallas and Fort Worth ISD and representatives from other school districts to discuss the option of having one combined conference in our geographic area. The benefits to a blended conference were obvious: more nationally recognized keynote speakers, more research based presentations, more sessions with emphasis on best practices, a more diverse and representative set of presenters, more widespread support increased attendance, more publishers and more organized human labor.
The result was the North Central Texas Bilingual/ ESL Spring Conference. We held many of our conferences in the Green Oaks Inn, in Fort Worth, at Texas Woman's University, and other sites. Some early keynote speakers were Gloria Zamora, Samuel Betances, Mari Luci Jaramillo, Tomas Arciniega, and Rodney Short. The North Central Texas Bilingual/ESL Spring Conference however, was still perceived as a TWU and Fort Worth ISD joint revenue.
The leadership group in charge of the annual conference decided we needed to refine the direction of the conference to make it more inclusive given the expanding academic and linguistic needs of the school districts. It is fitting to commend Region 1 in Edinburg and Leroy Jackson for their successful bilingual/ESL annual conferences prior to the birth of BEAM. Some of us attended their migrant conferences, and took careful notes so that we could improve on it. They were the models for our school venue.
And then, came BEAM. We realized there was a growing interest and a need from school districts such as Lewisville, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Denton, Garland, Stephenville, Irving, Decatur and others which provided a broader base of professional development activities with emphasis on classroom practices. At that time, these school districts had an emerging ELL students population and limited resources.
A new round of discussions began in Fort Worth among Ramon Magallanes, Anita Castaneda, Rudy Rodriguez, Irma Guadarrama, Angelina Olivarez, Frank Davila, and Genna Edmonds. These were later expanded to include, Jo Ann Canales, Liz Martin, Arnie Molina, Pam Creed, Sylvia Lopez-Beavers, and other school and university professionals. The group was interested in:
Crafting an organization led by representatives from school districts, universities and education services centers
Focusing on classroom based instructional needs
Seeking leadership that would commit to designing professional development that was high quality, relevant and research based
Creating a structure that was well grounded and financially secure
It was at UNT when we began the focused discussion of re-naming the organization. We wanted a shorter name and one in which the acronym would have a positive and inspiring connotation. We each offered a variety of words that would carry the message related to second language learners and the classroom. Some possibilities that emerged that day included:
BETA - Bilingual/ESL Training Association
TBET - Training Bilingual/ESL Teachers
LINC - Language Instruction and Nurture in the Classroom
CLAS - Classroom and Language Acquisition Support
ALA - Association of Language Acquisition Support
BEAM - Bilingual/ESL Education Association of the Metroplex
BEAM was the choice of the day. It identified a geographic area and directly and intentionally mentioned bilingual education with the understanding that ESL is a key component, and it carried the message that this is a new organization dedicated to enhancing bilingual and ESL instruction with emphasis on teacher preparation leading to increased student achievement.
We developed a constitution and by-laws to govern the organization. We opened a bank account and we elected officers. The conversation on the constitution and by-laws started at one of the NABE conferences when Ramon and I worked on these documents while we sat at a coffee table enjoying some refreshing beverages. For some reason, the committee didn't read Ramon’s notes.
The decade of the 90’s is significant for BEAM. In the early 90’s the University of North Texas hosted the first official BEAM conference. Although it now had a new name, the original organization, the North Central Bilingual/ESL Spring Conference, was the genesis for this renewed effort. Many more of you across the Fort Worth and Dallas Metroplex were invited and answered the call to take part in the leadership of BEAM.
So today, in this place, on this day, and at this hour, we recognize all the dedicated bilingual and ESL leaders, teachers, and publishers who began to actively participate in the creation and transformation of the Bilingual Education Association of the Metroplex in the early 80’s.
It is “you” who transformed BEAM into the quality and highly respected organization it has become today.
Originally published in 2014