New Year 2021 Greetings to everyone!!!!! from Ginger Collier and Wayne Thomas and


Ginger narrating: We have not sent out a Christmas/New Year letter since July 2017 because we have been taking care of our daughter Cathy, who crossed over on September 6, 2020, at the age of 56. For the past two years she made a valiant effort to stay with us, after she was diagnosed with metastasized cancer. We honor and love her dearly, knowing that as an Old Soul she is happy now to be free of her body. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and love for Cathy and our family throughout these past two years. It has been quite a journey! Our favorite tribute to her was this one written by David Rogers and posted In Memoriam at La Cosecha this year: “Wonderful healer, gardener, cook, dancer, artist, and bilingual educator. Daughter of Ginger and Wayne and mom to Julian. Cathy was a wonderful friend to many, including Milagros.” Our church hosted a Celebration of Life service in honor of Cathy in October via Zoom, and it was truly wonderful to have family and friends join us from all across the country. Her sister Karyn wrote an incredible tribute to Cathy and chose music that Cathy loved, with photos of Cathy’s many life experiences.






Cathy as bilingual school administrator              Wayne, Cathy & Ginger at Christmas service 2019


Wayne’s and Ginger’s professional life: It’s so interesting how much better our professional speaking works when doing it from home via Zoom! We were scheduled to do seven keynotes for conferences in 2020, and one by one the conferences were postponed or became virtual. After doing five Zoom speaking engagements during the second half of 2020 (facilitated by the wonderful tech staff of Dual Language Education of New Mexico (DLeNM) —thanks Emilio and David!), we feel almost like pros. Advantages: you only have to dress up a little bit; no travel—and that’s HUGE!; I can sit and sip my green tea and Wayne his coffee while we’re speaking; we’re more relaxed and can add more humor; we don’t have to stand for 1-3 hours!; you can get more immediate feedback from attendees since you’re not sitting up on a stage, removed from the audience; immediately afterwards you’re home, going about daily tasks and work. Wow, this is great!


Our five books—David Rogers calls them our legacy series—are available from

  • Educating English Learners for a Transformed World (English & Spanish & digital editions)
  • Dual Language Education for a Transformed World (English & Spanish & digital editions)
  • Creating Dual Language Schools for a Transformed World: Administrators Speak (English & digital)
  • Why Dual Language Schooling (English & Spanish & digital editions)
  • Transforming Secondary Education: Middle and High School Dual Language Programs (English & digital)


A new product: Our second publisher, Velázquez Press, has collaboratively produced videos with DLeNM that we have narrated to go with each book, for professional development training and book study groups.

Teachers and school administrators can now study chapters of our books as they watch our video commentary and explanations for each chapter.

At La Cosecha November 2017                      Producing videos in the back yard at our Farm


Ginger is now working on her next professional book, a memoir of her childhood experiences in Mexico and Central America, including historic photos taken by her family from 1946 through the 1950s, written for secondary bilingual educators to use in Spanish/English language arts classes. (Of course she’s hoping it will be a best seller similar to Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.)


Check out our website ( for our most recent publications, including journal articles, and if you’d like to be entertained, go to Hablando y tomando (in our website, click on “online publications” and scroll down) for an impromptu interview with us that Arthur Chou of Academic Learning Company/Velázquez Press arranged.


Wayne’s & Ginger’s life on the farm: Wayne and I returned to our farm from our last speaking trip of 2020 on March 3, 2020, and have been home ever since, grounded by the pandemic. As bizarre as this year has been, it has helped our family complete our vision of all of us living together at the farm. Karyn (our other daughter), Vince (her husband), and Cory (their son, age 20) accomplished their big move from urban northern Virginia (near Washington DC) to our farm in mid-April since Cory could complete his courses online; and then Julian (Cathy’s son, age 22) decided to move back to the farm to live with all of us. So we now have a multigenerational household again and we are immensely happy with the way this has all worked out. Karyn was able to be here and take care of her sister in the last months of Cathy’s life. Before they moved here, Karyn & Vince had been living with and taking care of Joe (my first husband), who died of cancer in October 2019, and recently one of Vince’s brothers died of Covid-19, so it has been quite a year of challenges for our family.

Karyn and Vince celebrating their big move to the Farm


In our farmhouse built around 1790, we are currently reorganizing all of our living spaces so that we can enjoy family activities together. The old living room has become our music-sharing area, with my piano and guitars and collection of world instruments (drums, indigenous flutes, shakers, etc.), and Julian’s keyboards and drums and Cory’s violin. Wayne just purchased a turntable for us to re-visit our collection of old vinyl records. And we enjoy singing parts to choral pieces (Wayne bass, Ginger tenor), while Julian is fond of whistling. We’ll let you know when we’ve produced our first CD (just kidding).


The big round table in the kitchen is still our favorite family meeting place, where lots of lively conversations take place, while we prepare our home-grown organic crops from the garden and greenhouses. We’re setting up a workout room in the basement, and outside the guys have rebuilt the old basketball half-court next to the old chicken coop. Since the University of Virginia won the NCAA basketball championship in April 2019, Grandpa Wayne has been saying to the guys that he’s going to show them all how to play the same “true old- school UVA basketball, packline defense and all” (from his student days there in the late 60s and early 70s).

The two grandsons glance significantly at each other, and say “we’ll see.” However, Grandpa regularly bests them at shooting free throws, and also at playing H-O-R-S-E, although he freely admits he doesn’t move with or without the ball “quite as well” as he used to in his UVA days, now a half-century in the past.



Grandson Julian moves               Ginger and the 2020 Seminole pumpkin patch

back to the Farm

One day’s tomato harvest!                      Ginger and her tromboncino squash under the arches

The proud tromboncino farmer         First harvest of Seminole pumpkins and butternut squash



Julian and Karyn harvesting more pumpkins – these last in storage for a year!

An exotic experiment for this year — Nigerian spinach – delicious!         One day of fig harvesting


Our cat family of three is now five again, with Cory recently deciding to adopt two kittens from the shelter. Cory is working on coursework to possibly become a veterinarian and wildlife healer. He has promised Grandpa Wayne that he will become the steward of the farm when Wayne steps down from that role, and Cory is already using his environmental knowledge to help us manage the land as a nature preserve. Karyn is equally knowledgeable and visionary as she works on new landscaping strategies that create havens for pollinators and other wildlife. Julian and Vince venture out into the work world each week, Julian at Wegman’s and Vince in charge of all technology setups for 15 Best Buy stores in Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia.




Cory with his new kittens                               The Clan Laird with his familiars Cassandra and

Lord Calvin in Karyn’s new flower garden


When Vince is home from work, he helps immensely with all the chores of the farm. He is rapidly converting from urban to rural living, discovering the exhilarating fun of “farm surprises,” such as mowing our river meadow when suddenly the tractor tilted into a potential sinkhole near the site of the old iron furnace that had existed in the 1700s. He was also astonished at watching his son Cory rescue a black snake from the cats and give the snake love and then send it on its way into the woods.


Our 90-foot greenhouse needed a new plastic roof cover, so that became a whole-family project. All six of us planned to carry out the maneuver on a beautiful warm sunny day, when no wind was predicted. It took all our efforts to pull it successfully over the length of the greenhouse without tearing the strong plastic, but all of a sudden a great gust of wind came from nowhere and you should have heard us as the cover blew off and we had to start over. After strategizing again about who would stand where and how we would pull it, with Julian running back and forth inside and underneath the cover to pull it along, We Got it! What a team!



Teamwork! Securing the cover for greenhouse #2            Vince leaps into difficult farming chores

Vince and Cory driving Mad Max                         Cory learning to till with the 16 gear farm tractor



Our kitty Rogue was a fantastic mouser, but when she died at age 19, our three remaining 11-year-old cats decided they preferred catching mice outside but not inside. We had these cute little have-a-heart mouse traps that our mice were too well fed to fit in. It was Cathy who discovered on the Internet a have-a-heart rat trap that she thought might work for catching the mice that invade and roam the walls of our old farmhouse and chew on wires and insulation in the middle of the night. Well, the rat traps are great (we now have four stationed in different outlying rooms). We were catching a lot so we decided to start a mouse count, and within less than a year we have now caught 196 mice, sometimes 2 or even 3 at a time. Wayne gives each a good talking to and then he drives them in the truck down to our woods close to our river, releases them, and he even gives them the almond butter cracker that attracted them into the trap! There, they have plenty of water and plant seeds for food, and logs and brush piles for shelter, but they do have to be wary of the owls, hawks, snakes, raccoons, and other predators that also live there. We could tell lots more farm stories but it’s time to end this letter.



Ginger with mouse #192                                Our river – the mice now live nearby


Our back yard at sunrise


Our back yard at sunset


Happy New Year!! We can all hope for a much better year than 2020, but we note that 2021 is already off to a ragged and uneven start. But there are reasons for hope. Also, Wayne (as a statistician) is a great believer in the regression effect (regression toward the mean) — extreme events tend to be followed by more typical events afterward, especially in the long run.


Thanks for sending your wonderful updates on your lives—we love hearing from all of you! We send loads of good wishes, health, peace, blessings, and love to everyone in these years of great change. Please keep in touch!


Ginger & Wayne

Lauren Harris
Author: Lauren Harris

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