Editor’s note: The following piece was published on the website of TESOL International Association’s website on November 2nd and was authored by Stephanie Johnson. (Click here to view the original copy.) However, the quote from Dr. Andy Curtis was not included in the original and is unique to this article.

Dr. Andy Curtis

TESOL International Association (TESOL) is pleased to announce that Dr. Andy Curtis is the 2022 recipient of the James E. Alatis Award for Service to TESOL. The award honors outstanding and extended service to the Association and the profession by TESOL members at international, regional, and local levels. The award will be presented to Dr. Curtis at the James E. Alatis Plenary during the 2022 TESOL Convention & English Language Expo in Pittsburgh, PA.

Dr. Curtis has been an active member and leader within TESOL for over 20 years. Much of his work has focused on the intersectionality of color and race within foreign language teaching. He has co-authored and co-edited 200 articles, book chapters, and books, and his work has been read by over 100,000 language educators in 150 countries. From 2015 to 2016, he served as the 50th Board President of TESOL, the Association’s first board president of Indian origin, and the first from the Afro-Caribbean Pacific. In 2016, as one of the 50 most influential figures in the field during the first 50 years of the Association, he received one of the Association’s 50 at 50 Awards. In recent years, he has focused on addressing the critical need of training and developing the next generation of leaders in language education.

TESOL Board President Gabriela Klečková reflected that “Andy’s service to TESOL and the profession resembles a fine art collage masterpiece. It’s a striking assemblage of a range of professional activities from volunteer leadership roles to presenting and publishing in TESOL on a variety of topics creating a unique and outstanding professional portfolio. Like any great art, it is inspirational and moving.”

From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Curtis was the director of the ELT Unit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a professor in the Faculty of Education. Prior to 2007, he was the executive director of the School of English at Queen’s University in Canada, and a professor at the School for International Training in Vermont, USA. He lives in Ontario, Canada, and is an independent consultant for language education organizations worldwide.

Asked to comment on receiving TESOL’s Alatis Award, Dr. Curtis stated, “Those of you who have read my recent article in the TESOL International Association Supporting Students with Disabilities Interest Section newsletter will now know a bit about my life on the ASD (Autistic Spectrum, but I reject the term ‘Disorder’, as it has been, for me at least, as much a blessing as a curse). Due to my ‘neuro-atypicality’, my mind made the connection between the sci-fi show I am watching now, ‘Salvation,’ and being only the 35th person in the 55-year history of the Association to be presented with the James E. Alatis Award for Service to TESOL, and I think that the TIRF Board of Trustees may represent the highest concentration of Alatis Awards recipients of any group.”

He continued, “To return to the extraterrestrial cognitive connotations, ‘Salvation through Service’ sums up what this award means to me and to my family, who come from generations of poverty, slavery, and indentured labor (courtesy of the Great British Empire in India and South America in the 1800s and 1900s). Given that background, serving on the boards of the TESOL International Association, TIRF and other non-profit, international language education organization, has helped save me from a life doomed to repeat history – were it not for access to education. I am truly surprised, humbled, and profoundly grateful to receive this award – and the next time you are asked to serve, perhaps do so as much for your sake as for those whom you serve.”

The James E. Alatis Award for Service to TESOL was established in 1987 to honor James E. Alatis for his 21 years of devoted service as TESOL’s first executive director. Alatis was a charter member of TESOL International Association and Dean Emeritus of the School of Languages and Linguistics at Georgetown University. He was also a founding member of the TIRF Board of Trustees. Learn more about the award here.