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UMFK's Gil Albert attends NABE 2003 Conference in New Orleans

February 14, 2003


University of Maine at Fort Kent assistant professor of education Gilbert Albert recently attended NABE 2003, the 32nd Annual International Bilingual/Multicultural Education Conference, sponsored by the National Association for Bilingual Education, held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

LoriAnn Cyr, a part-time faculty member at UMFK who teaches a course in Multiculturalism and education also attended the workshop. The trips were sponsored by Project Mainestay.

Over 5,000 participants attended the five-day conference, which featured business, board and membership meetings, student artwork exhibits and entertainment, school visits, keynote speakers, featured breakout sessions and hundreds of workshops hosted by leading experts in the field of bilingual education.

According to Albert it was difficult to choose between the many informational workshops provided. Among the workshops he attended were Preparing Teachers and Schools to Implement Bilingual Two-Way Programs in Two States presented by David Freeman; No Bilingual Child Left Behind?-Reading Between the Lines of Texts and Tests K-12; Big Words for Big Minds: Teaching the Language of Social Studies, both presented by Jim Cummins; and Our Truth to the Two-Way Dual Language Program-Dare to Do It!, presented by five educators in a rural school district on the United States/Mexico border.

The plenary keynote speakers were Jim Cummins, a professor in the Modern Language Centre and Curriculum Department of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Toronto, Canada, and Lily Wong Fillmore of the University of California at Berkley, who addressed the participants on the third day of the conference.

A third speaker, Kurt M. Landgraf, president and CEO of Educational Testing Service, the world's largest private educational testing and measurement organization and a leader in educational research addressed the group on the last day of the conference.

Cummins' research focuses primarily on the challenges educators face in adjusting to classrooms where cultural and linguistic diversity is the norm.

He has published numerous books related to language learning and cultural diversity. Among his most recent books are Brave New Schools: Challenging Illiteracy through Global Learning Networks, which focuses on the applications of computer networks for educational policy and practice; and Negotiating Identities: Education for Empowerment in a Diverse Society. Cummins is also a consultant for the Scott Foresman Literature and Integrated Studies program.

Fillmore spoke about the acquisition of academic literacy for both English and minority students. She used items from standardized tests to demonstrate the complexities involved.

Landgraf, received his bachelor's degree in economics/business administration from Wagner College. He also earned three master's degrees: in economics from Pennsylvania State University, in administration from Rutgers University, and in sociology from Western Michigan University. He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

Landgraf is a former CEO of DuPont Pharmaceuticals, and has been an instructor in economics, sociology, and labor relations in various colleges throughout the United States. He was associate director of marketing for Educational Testing Service prior to becoming its president.

Albert, who joined the education faculty at UMFK in fall of 2000, began his career in education as a French teacher at Caribou Junior High School in 1967. Since then, he has served as director of the Caribou bilingual education program, as an instructor of French for the University of Maine at Presque Isle, assistant professor of French and bilingual education at UMFK, director of the MSAD 33 (Frenchville/ St. Agatha) bilingual education program, and director of the Northern Maine bilingual education program.

From 1995 through the spring of 2000, Albert served as director of L'Acadien du Haut St-Jean, the kindergarten through eighth grade French immersion program in the Madawaska and SAD 24 (Van Buren area) school districts. In 1998, the program was one of five in the nation honored as a "Portrait of Success" by the National Association of Bilingual Education and Brown University.

The former director of French immersion program L'Acadien du Haut St-Jean points to the continuation of the program beyond the grant's expiration date as further evidence of a Valley that has changed its attitude toward its native tongue.

In July of 1999, Albert was named the recipient of a study grant from the French Embassy to attend methodology institute in Royan, France.

In 2001, he was awarded the "Palmes Academiques Award", the most prestigious honor the country of France bestows upon individuals who promote the French language abroad.

In November of last year, Albert was awarded the Maine English as a Second Language (ESL) award from the ESL network.

The award was given to Albert at the statewide 22nd Annual Bilingual Education Conference held in Portland.

Other awards he has received include a recognition award in 1996 by members of the Maine Senate and House of Representatives for dedication to the preservation of the St. John Valley's Franco-American culture and inclusion in Who's Who in American Education by the National Reference Institute.

In recent years Albert has spearheaded efforts to add French children's books to local public and school libraries throughout the St. John Valley.

Albert is currently a member of Le Club Francais and the National Association of Bilingual Educators.

He holds a masters degree in French from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and two certificates of advanced graduate studies, one in English language arts and one in bilingual education, from the University of Maine, in Orono.