SEOUL, Korea – At midnight on Friday, September 10, voting ended and The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK) had a new president elect. As outgoing president Greg Dolezal?s term expired on September 12, Jae-Hee Oh, ATEK?s ?rst Korean member, and ?rst Korean of?cer, also became the second president of ATEK elected by its general members.
ATEK, an all-volunteer organization established to improve life for English teachers, and to improve English education in Korea, ?rst formed in early 2009. Ms. Oh is the third president in the organization?s history, and its second elected by general members.
President elect Jae-hee Oh, an English tutor from Busan, has been teaching English in
Korea for ?ve years, after graduating from an American university and living in the United
States for eight years. She joined ATEK this spring, and has worked as Busan?s
Employment and Legal Issues Of?cer, helping teachers with work problems, since then. “I
used to help my English teaching friends informally, but ATEK had a system, and more
resources I could use to help teachers in need. It was natural for me to join.”
Along with her experience with teachers, Jae-hee Oh is a fully bilingual Korean citizen.
Robert Ouwehand, ATEK?s National Communications Of?cer, sees this as a huge asset.
“She can bring ATEK?s message into areas where non-Korean speakers never could;
there?s so much potential for ATEK to increase its pro?le in Korea with Ms. Oh as
Ms. Oh takes the helm of ATEK during a period of steady growth for the organization. After starting with only three members in early 2009, at latest count, the group has over 1100 members and upwards of 30 of?cers across Korea, in all levels of Korea?s education
system. ATEK?s increase in membership gives Ms. Oh many options. “The more members
we have, the more authority our voice has when ATEK speaks out on issues,” explains
Darren Bean, ATEK?s vice president. National Communications Of?cer Robert Ouwehand
is also excited about the growth. “As the organization grows, its capabilities grow: we can do some things now that were fantasies a year ago.”
Ms. Oh plans to recruit more Korean nationals into ATEK?s ranks. “So far, most ATEK
members are expats. However, any legal English teacher in Korea is welcome to join, and
I?m convinced that Korean citizens who teach English stand to bene?t as well as expats
do, from ATEK?s resources.” She says her ?rst actions as president will be to provide
opportunities for foreign and Korean teachers to get together.
Meanwhile, departing president Greg Dolezal considers his one-year tenure as president a
strong success: his accomplishments as president include forming contacts between ATEK
and the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, and initiating contact with other English
education-concerned groups, including KOTESOL (Korea Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages) and the Korean Prime Minister?s Of?ce, reorganizing ATEK to
prepare it for long-term growth, working with Kangnam Labor Law Firm to provide legal
advice to English teachers through the “Legal Assurance Program,” establishing an ethics
committee to ensure the organization?s accountability and transparency, and the day-to-
day work of providing help and information for hundreds of English teachers dealing with
work or culture issues. However, “There?s always more to be done,” says Mr. Dolezal.
Jae-Hee Oh also spoke well of her predecessor: “I want to thank Greg for the work he has
done so far and all the work that he will do for ATEK in the future. He has always been a
good friend and advisor.”
Mr. Dolezal?s parting advice for Ms. Oh is to maintain a collaborative approach. “Foreign
and Korean English teachers, parents, students, policy makers and even school owners
can agree that we want to provide Korean students with an improved educational
atmosphere. As long as we emphasize that, we can see eye to eye, and work together.”
Anybody can become a member of ATEK, and ATEK welcomes members of any career or
nationality. Any person who legally teaches English in Korea, or who legally teaches other
subjects in English in Korea, can become a general member, eligible to vote in ATEK
elections, or to hold an of?cer?s position in the organization.
The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK) is an all-volunteer national
support and information-sharing network for professional English teachers. Its stated
mission is to improve the lives of teachers through online and human resources by
developing partnerships with government of?ces, recruiters, employers, and other
organizations that aid teachers.
To learn more:
The press release about the election in progress can be found here:
KoreaBridge.net hosted a podcast where Jae-Hee Oh, outgoing president Greg Dolezal,
ATEK Communications Of?cer Rob Ouwehand, and blogger Chris Backe discussed ATEK and Jae-Hee Oh discussed her candidacy here:
Jae-Hee Oh’s biography and letter of intent can be found here:
Jae-Hee Oh can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com