When organized in 1975 the genesis of SSTESOL originally was a four state group: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida TESOL. In 1980, this group adopted the name Gulf TESOL and had about 300 members. At the same time another group with membership focused in Southeast Florida retained the name Florida TESOL.
In 1990, Broward separated from Florida TESOL in the southeast, formed the Broward TESOL Council, and joined Gulf TESOL as its first chapter. The next two chapters to join were Northeast Florida TESOL and Treasure Coast TESOL. By 1995, there were about 450 members in Gulf TESOL. A controversial and unifying issue for TESOL folks in the state in the 1990’s was the implementation of the Florida Consent Decree (see summary attachment).
In 1995, the membership voted to become Sunshine State TESOL. In 1997, SSTESOL hosted the TESOL International Convention in Miami Beach, giving the organization publicity and a financial boost. That year SSTESOL officially defined board member roles and responsibilities. At the same time, the once separate Florida TESOL organization moved to dissolution and Miami Dade TESOL was established as a chapter affiliate; thus, SSTESOL came to represent the entire state of Florida. In October 2000, SSTESOL hosted the Southeast Regional TESOL Conference in Miami.
Also at this time, the board began work on the development of a strategic forward plan. Organizational development, professional development, and advocacy were identified as three key planning areas. Annually, short and long term goals are created and reviewed by the board in these categories.
Currently, SSTESOL has eight active chapters, and membership has generally stayed close to 750-800. This past year that figure dipped as the organization is transitioning to an online enrollment management system. In September 2010, SSTESOL will host the Southeast Regional TESOL Conference once again in Miami. It is anticipated that a surge in membership will result.