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Tom photo - finalOn this day of his retirement, a shout out to Tom Hanley, Assistant Direct of ESCORT (the migrant professional services organization at the State University of New York Oneonta), dean of the consultants and advisors that work with migrant education programs throughout the United States, and a trusted partner of Arroyo Research Services.

For the past 30 years Tom has been a tireless advocate for migrant students and the people and programs that work with them. His impact has been both structural and personal: affecting how migrant education programs organize and execute programs, motivating and inspiring people to find meaning and passion their work, and directly engaging with migrant youth.

Tom tried to give his own valedictorian at NASDME this year, but the right way to have done this would have been a round of drinks followed by storytelling among the crowd. Like a wake, but for the living. Among the less colorful of the stories, you would have heard of Tom identifying young people with heart and talent and helping them gain the experience they needed to become migrant education leaders; connecting people who should be talking to one another to solve a shared problem or just because they should be connected; of Tom never, ever, eating a hotel breakfast — why do so when there are so many interesting people and so much good food in town? — of Tom himself meaningfully connecting with new people everywhere he went; of how Tom discovered and never forgot something personal about them…and likely used that to draw them into the work at hand; of receiving emails on Sunday morning when Tom organized his work for the week. I received about two dozen of those, and I’m not in the same organization. I also saw first hand when Tom called every member of a task force before a meeting, reviewed the list of attendees to make sure he’d remember every name, and mulled over what was important to each person who was going to be in the meeting, because he respected each one’s contribution and value, which started with recognizing them individually. Among the more colorful of the stories? That would be Ray Melecio’s brief…

The migrant education community is stronger for Tom Hanley’s work and presence, and also more human. Well done, Mr. Hanley.

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