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MAFLT Alumni Profiles
The brief bios below are in alphabetical order, grouped by graduation year. Visit these graduates’ final portfolio sites to see their accomplishments and find materials, ideas, and recommended resources.
Verónica was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, and moved with her family to the United States in 2007. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture. However, however the love for her language and traditions pushed her to pursue a career as a Spanish teacher. Since then, she has taught Spanish to a variety of students in her current home state of Pennsylvania.
Teryn is a high school Spanish teacher in Holt, Michigan and is in her third year of teaching through continuous learning. Teryn is also certified to teach English to speakers of other languages and overall has a passion for languages and language-learning. Teryn completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and is thrilled to be a Spartan again. Teryn is also one of the cheerleading coaches at her school and cheered for the all-girl team at Michigan State University during her undergrad.
Melanie Vander Ploeg
Melanie is a Second Grade Spanish Immersion Teacher in West Michigan. During her undergraduate years, she completed two semesters abroad: first, in Arequipa, Peru, where she absolutely loved the community and the Andes Mountains; and later, in Oviedo Spain, where she enjoyed volunteering in a second grade classroom. In her free time, Melanie enjoys running and windsurfing. She also likes to cook with her husband, Robert, who is the better cook.
Makiko Yamamoto Border
Born and raised in Japan, Makiko moved to the U.S. as an adult. She went back to school wanting to contribute to her children’s education. While homeschooling, she majored in linguistics at UNC, where she found her passion of becoming a Japanese teacher. Having acquired English as an adult, Makiko understands how learning another language can profoundly enrich one’s life experiences. She wants to help others experience the joy of seeing a new world through language.
Jake Berrey lives and teaches in Santa Ana, California. During his ten years at the Orange County School of the Arts, he has taught levels 1, 2, 3 and 5 to middle and high school students using TPRS methods and CI strategies. He acquired Spanish through local work and school, starting in seventh grade and continuing at California State University Long Beach in the Spanish Literature and Linguistics program.
Brittany Brenner is a French and Spanish teacher at Odessa High School in Odessa, Missouri, USA. She earned a BA in Secondary Education (emphasis French) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2010, added her Spanish certification in 2020, and graduated from the Master of Arts in Foreign Language Teaching program at Michigan State University in 2022. Brittany has also been honored with a few awards, including the national Certificate of Excellence in Education. She lives in Kansas City with my husband, who is an American Government teacher, and their son.
Jaime earned a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies. She was able to study and live in Mexico for a semester during her undergraduate program. Jaime has returned to visit Mexico many times with family and friends. She has taught high school Spanish (levels 1-4) for 15 years at a small, rural school in Minnesota. Jaime loves to travel and lead a student trip to Spain with students every other summer. She completed her Masters of Foreign Language Teaching through Michigan State University in Spring of 2022 and plans to continue my education by pursuing a Masters in Spanish.
Amanda Ferris teaches Spanish at Coloma Junior High School in Michigan. She graduated from Central Michigan University in 2016 and started the MAFLT program at MSU in spring of 2021. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. She is eager to learn more about languages and use the knowledge she gains in the classroom.
Mikaela is a High School Spanish teacher in the Denver Metro area with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Spanish, and is certified to teach Spanish in both New York and Colorado. She has a passion for languages, and strongly believe that learning another language opens so many opportunities to meet new people, explore new places, and experience new cultures in a meaningful way! She loves to travel, hike with her dog, and read mystery/ suspense novels in her free time. She’s also recently developed an interest in making her home more eco-friendly, sharing tips with family, and saving the planet by doing small things everyday.
James is currently teaching Italian 1, 2-3, 4 and AP at Lenape High School in Mount Laurel, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia. He received his BS in International Business and Minor in Italian from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). He became a certified Italian teacher through New Jersey’s Alternate Route program in 2016. When he is not teaching Italian or travelling to Italy, James is passionate about cycling, meteorology, rooting for the Nets and Yankees, and spending time with his family and friends.
Toni Stillman Greer
Fall 2020, Toni enrolled in her 5th MAFLT course. She is a graduate of Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, 1998. She majored in International Studies, with a minor in Japanese Language. Upon completing a study-abroad program at Kansai Gaidai, Osaka, Japan in 1997, she returned to a successful career in the private sector. Now, at age 60 years, Toni is excited about her new career path to becoming a foreign language teaching. She is married to Alfred William Stillman, Jr. and resides in Saucier, Mississippi (Gulfcoast) and Hawaiian Gardens, CA. As a volunteer, she teaches Japanese to cohorts throughout the year and attends language schools during summer. Her free time includes nature walks, playing the piano, and spending time with her grandchildren.
After graduating with a BA in Business, Matthew began his career in 2006 teaching English as a Foreign Language at public schools in Japan and Korea through the JET and EPIK programs. In 2009, he received a Chinese Government Scholarship to study Chinese and applied linguistics at the graduate level in Xiamen, China. In 2014, Matthew returned to the US where he began teaching multiple levels of Chinese at a boarding school in Virginia.
Mirielle is a French and Arabic language teacher, currently serving as a Curriculum Chair for the Language and Culture department at Appleby College. Her career as a language teacher started in 1999 in Lebanon, where she taught Arabic language and literature for young learners. In 2003, she moved to the U.S and taught Arabic as a foreign language for all levels, young and adult learners. Since 2010, Mirielle resides in Canada, teaching French and Arabic Studies, working with talented students, and amazing colleagues.
Anna Rose Moore
Anna has taught Chinese Immersion in a public elementary school in Utah since 2013. She began studying Chinese in high school and went on to earn a degree in Chinese at Brigham Young University. She loves teaching children with games and stories. Her top bucket list item is to visit every province and administrative region in China; twelve down, twenty-two to go!
Cassidy Ott Ringholz
Graduated from Mount Union with University Spanish and Education degrees, Cassidy is a 4th year high school Spanish teacher in Ohio. She stays busy while teaching all four levels and coaching year-round. Aside from work, Cassidy enjoys spending time with her fiancé and family, running, traveling, and rooting for Cleveland sports.
Pablo Rocha Vázquez
Pablo Rocha Vázquez teaches Spanish 1 and 2 in New Hampshire and also serves as the Assistant Director of International Relations for Spanish-speaking students and their families. Pablo grew up in Madrid, where he graduated from the CEV (Escuela Superior de Comunicación, Imagen, y Sonido) before moving to the US to continue his studies. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire.
David grew up in Peoria, IL and graduated from Illinois State University with a Technology Education degree. His teaching career has had many twists and turns. David has lived and taught in three different countries and traveled to 23 different countries. In 2009, he married his wife, and they now have two wonderful kids. In 2022, David graduated from the MAFLT program at Michigan State University. He now lives in Chillicothe, IL, where he teaches Spanish and maintains his website where he trains teachers on best practices with videos. He loves teaching Spanish and researching second language acquisition.
Tammy Schmidt teaches Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL). She has taught high school Spanish levels 1 – Dual-Credit, as well as Preschool – 12th Grade ESL and EFL in the US and Spain. Tammy is also the co-founder and a director of Pandhandle Language Teachers Association (PLTA), located in the Texas Panhandle. She is also the Program Coordinator for ELC Educational Travel, a division of European Learning Centre, which is a language academy and professional education center in Ubrique, Spain.
Kaitlyn graduated Clemson University with a BA in Spanish and International Trade. During college, she moved to Córdoba, Argentina to immerse herself in the Spanish language and culture. She is currently teaching at her alma mater, York Comprehensive High School. When she is not teaching, she can be found at 36,000 feet, working as a flight attendant.
Edward is a San Diego native, and has been a Spanish teacher in San Diego for more than 10 years, mostly with San Diego Unified School District. Having grown up around the Spanish language, and surrounded by his family’s rich Mexican culture, Edward had many years of language input before formally starting his Spanish studies as a freshman in high school. He is committed to proficiency-based teaching methods and pedagogy. When not teaching, Edward enjoys browsing in used bookstores and enjoying new coffee houses throughout San Diego.
Patricia Wyza is currently a Spanish teacher to grades 3-5 in Pontiac, Michigan. She completed her undergraduate degree in Spanish K-12 education, as well as a minor in ESL, and a Spanish translation certificate through Oakland University. She is excited to continue her education to become a better Spanish teacher. She likes to use authentic resources, and promote vocabulary acquisition through interactive games and activities. She also coaches the Color Guard and Winter Guard for her high school. She enjoys traveling, learning about new cultures, as well as attending sports games and hanging out with friends.
Josh is a high school teacher from Baltimore, Maryland. His received his BA in German and has taught German since 2012, but in recent years has also begun to acquire and teach French and introductory guitar. He is passionate about language acquisition and teaching. Outside of work and school, he enjoys biking, gardening, traveling, music, and cooking.
Rebecca Diaz currently teaches high school Spanish in Northwest Ohio. She lives with her husband and 3 dogs in a very small town also in Northwest Ohio and likes to read and be outdoors when she is not teaching or studying. She is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and has lived in Chile and Spain. She enjoys using what she learned in the MAFLT program directly in the classes she teaches and hopes to improve her teaching skills to be a more effective instructor.
Originally from Ludington, Michigan, Kaleigh is so excited to continue her education in her home state as a Spartan. Kaleigh received her BA from Hope College in English and French Education in 2016. Following graduation, she worked as an English teaching assistant in France, which gave her the opportunity to do two of her favorite things: teach and travel! Kaleigh is currently a high school French teacher in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., where she enjoys sharing her love of language with a very diverse group of students. Kaleigh was recently honored with her school district’s Outstanding New Secondary Teacher of the Year award.
Trisha Funk is a Spanish teacher in Okemos, MI . She completed her undergraduate degree at CMU. Trisha loves engaging her students with interactive games and activities that improve their communicative competence, but also give them confidence speaking the language. Trisha serves as the freshmen class adviser and enjoys building relationships with kids outside of the classroom. In her free time, Trisha loves to read and spend time with friends and family.
Chelsea Gordon currently lives in Hokkaido, Japan, and is following her dream: teaching English in Japan to about 200 kids, from first grade to twelfth! Hailing from a tiny town in Connecticut, finding the rural mountains of Hokkaido is an adventure everyday. Not only is she a TESOL-certified English teacher, but as the only foreigner, she is a cultural ambassador for her town. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around Hokkaido, writing, reading and studying Japanese. She misses her dogs very much, but skypes with them almost every day.
Jenelle was born in Georgetown, Guyana. She studied Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Guyana. She lives in Philipsburg, St Maarten, which is a small island in the Caribbean. From 2002 she has been teaching Spanish and French to predominantly English speakers at a high school called Milton Peters College. Her students are between the ages of 12 and 19 years. She is enlightened with all of the different strategies and techniques she has learnt in the program, and her students are definitely benefiting from the new knowledge she has acquired.. She loves to cook travel and spend time with her family.
Agnieszka Makles received her second MA in 2021 in Foreign Language Teaching from Michigan State University following an earlier MA in pedagogy from Jan Długosz University in Częstochowa, Poland in 2006. She has also taught Polish in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and privately, both in-person and online. Her research interests include the application of corpus linguistics to language teaching and authentic texts. Agnieszka is also a co-founder/field researcher in the Texas Polish Dialect Project focused on documenting the Polish language in Texas. Finally, she directs the Kościuszko Squadron, a Polish culture club for students at the United States Military Academy.
Eda is currently a K-4 Title 1 Reading teacher in Brainerd, MN. She has just completed her 8th year teaching; 3 in Title 1 Reading (English), 4 in Spanish Immersion (Grades K and 4), and 1 in a bilingual school in Mexico. She has recently set plans in motion to start a Spanish program in her elementary school. She studied Spanish, Elementary and Secondary Education at Luther College in Decorah, IA and added a K licensure through Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. She is passionate about acceptance and understanding across cultures and strives to grow lifelong learners that are excited and curious.
Charlotte Nevin is a German teacher from San Diego, CA. She earned her BA in Modern Languages from Northern Arizona University in 2016, writing her capstone project on her original English translations of selected poetry by Hilda Stern Cohen. Since 2018, Charlotte has worked as a flight attendant for a major airline while planning a transition into the field of education. She is extremely excited about everything that she has learned in the MAFLT program, and looks forward to a lifelong career in language teaching. In her spare time, Charlotte enjoys journaling, cooking, reading poetry, and growing her CD and book collections.
Kerrah is currently teaching Spanish I, II, & III at a private high school in Grand Rapids, MI. She completed her undergraduate degree at Calvin College in Spanish K-12 Education and Art K-12 Education. She loves learning about different cultures and is interested in learning more about how languages are best acquired, so that she can best teach her students.
Carla is a Peruvian translator that has worked as a Spanish and English instructor for more than 15 years in Peru, Spain and now in Switzerland. To improve her teaching skills she earned a CELTA certificate in Barcelona and the MAFLT program at MSU. She is currently working online and teaching in the Spanish Club for heritage speakers at an international school near Lausanne. She is working enthusiastically on the creation of her own web page to teach Spanish online, which she finds fascinating because she can teach people around the world.
Maria Pia Pallero
Tammy lives in Texas, and taught High School Spanish and Pre-K through 12th grade ESL for thirteen years. She loves traveling and nature, and she’s a bit of an animal nerd. She feels blessed to have found this exceptional community of educators. She’s hoping to use her experience and knowledge that she gains in this program to help spread the idea of communicative language teaching/ CI in her area.
Matthew is a high school Spanish teacher in Grandview, Missouri. He has been teaching for six years and currently teaches Spanish 1 & 2. The most helpful part of the program was learning effective teaching methods in order to increase his students’ overall proficiency. Outside of the classroom, Matthew is the Student Council sponsor, so he is always busy! He is also teaching himself French and hopes to establish a French program at his school in the future.
Luciana is originally from Recife, Brazil but have resided most of her life in the United States. She’s a Veteran of the United States Army, and she aspires to become a Foreign Language instructor for DoD Personnel. Currently, she only volunteers and tutors SWEG personnel in Spanish and Portuguese. She is a mother of two boys, one who has communication delay due to Autism. Deacon is her inspiration to finish her Masters sometime next year, because even with a speech delay, he somehow acquired her love for foreign languages! She loves learning and the MAFLT faculty and students have been nothing but inspiring.
William (Bill) Langley
Lauren Novak Krause
Maria Orlinda Perea Montoya
Orlinda is originally from Colombia and she has been living in the U.S. for 5 years. Her life revolves around her curious 8 month-old daughter who is about to start walking, her husband, her new job, the MAFLT program, and her family (by family she means her own immediate and extended relatives, her husband’s immediate relatives and his first, second and third cousins with their spouses, in-laws, and some very close friends. It gets pretty crazy around the holidays). She keeps very busy but thank God she is doing what she loves: relating to students and witnessing their “aha!” moments with Spanish language and culture, expanding her knowledge of her own language and culture through teaching it to others, and learning other languages as a personal interest. Back in Colombia, she completed a B.A. in Modern Languages and taught mainly EFL and some courses of communication skills for Spanish native speakers. She recently moved from New York to Charlotte, NC to teach Spanish level II and IV at a local, magnet high school part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program.
Krystopher Perry teaches Spanish at University School, an independent boys’ school in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH. He is in the middle of his first year as department chair of Languages at his school. So far the job has been quite a bit of work, broader and more demanding than he imagined. But he works with wonderful colleagues, whose commitment to our practice inspires him everyday.
Mihoko Shimada Raub
Konnichiwa! Mihoko lives in Tokyo and she is a certified English teacher in Japan and has taught English to pre-K to college students. She has experienced directing English camps in Japan. She currently works as a bilingual administrative associate at a leading international school in Tokyo. She loves the international work environment, and she started taking MAFLT classes last semester hoping to become a Japanese teacher at an international school. She misses teaching and deeper learning connections with students. She proposed to her principals to be a part time push in support of a Japanese Heritage Class and luckily she is going to allocate part of her time doing that starting in February. She enjoys yoga, art, architecture, designs, cultural studies, GOOD coffee and food! Her husband is from Minneapolis and they visit there every summer. They have a son in fourth grade and a daughter in first grade who are both so much fun and amazing!
Maggie teaches Spanish at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, MI. She love her school enough to justify the three hours she spends in the car every day commuting. Her students are really diverse, and she learns something from them every day. She has degrees in Spanish from Siena Heights University and Bowling Green State University. She’ll be graduating from the MAFLT program in the Spring (hopefully). In her free time, she likes to spend time outside in her backyard or doing something active.
Alona is from Columbus, Georgia and she began studying Spanish in high school. After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, she taught high school Spanish in Columbus, Georgia. She is now in her eleventh year of teaching and her eighth year teaching high school Spanish I to 7th graders in Milton, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. She teaches using TPRS and other techniques of Comprehensible Input. Bonus fact: She has a four month old baby.
Xiaozhong is an Associate Professor of one of the universities in China and he is currently working as a visiting scholar in Duke University. He achieved his Ph.D. degree of Comparative Literature & World Literature in China and is interested in postcolonial ecocriticism and culture studies. From 2012 to 2015, he worked in Confucius Institute at North Carolina State University, which made him start pursuing Chinese teaching. He is in his second year in the program and he plans to graduate next summer. He has benefited from the faculty and his colleagues in the program and he is impressed by the diversified environment in the MAFLT. He plans to teach Chinese language and literature in the future in USA.
Shu Jr (Susan) Tu
Nǐ hǎo! Shu Jr (Susan) Tu is from Taiwan and she has been living in Michigan since 2007. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, and two dialects: Hokkien and Hakka. She was a Hakka language teacher and dance teacher when she lived in Taiwan. She has been teaching for more than 20 years. Her expertise includes teaching young children Chinese language and Creative Dance as well. For the past 9 years, she also worked at Lansing School District’s Post Oak Chinese Immersion Pre-K Program. She is also a Chinese language teacher at MSU Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) program since 2013.
Aaniin! Michele has worked in the Nishinaabemwin Pane Immersion Program at Bay Mills Community College since 2011. She teaches Anishinaabemowin with first speakers of this indigenous and endangered language of tribal communities in Michigan. She is also a learner. Prior to BMCC, she taught Anishinaabe language and culture at a charter school nearby. The MAFLT program is helping her improve her teaching, and the Pane (Pun-ay) program. The photo is of her and her husband, Bucko from the Bay Mills’ Powwow, 2014, or ’15.
Sarah completed her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Psychology through the University of Michigan in 2013 along with her teaching certificate. While at U of M, she studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Since then she has worked in elementary, middle, and high school settings teaching Spanish. Currently she teaches at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her school is a certified International Baccalaureate (IB) world school, and she teaches the Diploma Program Spanish B course. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kevin, and dog, Luna.
Freda is in her 17th year of the funnest job in the world–teaching middle school Japanese! Her family lives in Glendale, CA, but she is originally from Evanston, IL. She received her Humanities BA from Northwestern. Then, she met her husband, a native Japanese, and got very sidetracked by Japanese language study and spent a year at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan. Her CA single-subject Japanese teaching credential is from Cal State University, Long Beach. She has a 16-old daughter, 13-year-old son and a fat cat.
Mariela is a Chilean EFL teacher, currently teaching Spanish in a High School in Northern Virginia. Mariela graduated in the Spring of 2018 and walked in the ceremony and she’s so glad she completed her degree! She has learned so much, her language classes have also improved a whole bunch and what’s the best, this MA has sparked her imagination many times (too many perhaps!) on the steps she wants her career to take.
C J Hague
C J teaches English as a Second Language at Kealing Middle School in Austin, Texas. This is his second year living and teaching in Austin. He previously taught EFL in Quito, Ecuador and also trained and coordinated volunteer English teachers for an NGO called WorldTeach. He earned his BA in TESOL from Goshen College in Indiana, where he is originally from. His picture includes his wife, Gaby, prior to a concert that they went to this summer in Austin.
Lillian grew up in Amarillo, Texas and has moved with her husband to Round Rock, Texas. She currently teaches Spanish I to eighth graders. She loves teaching and enjoys seeing students gain a different language and cultural understanding. Lillian completed her masters in the Spring of 2018 and she walked in the commencement ceremony. The courses from this program have helped her develop as an educator.
YoungOak grew up in South Korea and studied TESOL in Hawaii. She lives in Monterey, California and is a Korean language instructor to U.S. military language students. She enjoys teaching Korean language and culture as well as teaching learning strategies and time management skills. She walked in the commencement ceremony on May 5th, 2018 in the Breslin Center at MSU.
Andrew lives in Norfolk, Virginia where he teaches Spanish to undergraduates at Old Dominion University. He originally comes from Michigan, where he studied Spanish and linguistics at MSU for his BA, and then went to Spain to get his MA in Spanish language studies from NYU. He is in the MATFL program because he thinks that the ideas and resources from these courses could help make his classes better and can help out his department as well. He has been teaching for over 6 years now and loves it.
Hilaria teaches Spanish levels 1-4 to 10th-12th graders at Coffee County High School in Douglas, Georgia. She serves as the head of the Foreign language department, as well as a mentor to new teachers. She serves in the Culture Competency committee at the Coffee County Board of Education, as well as Atkinson county’s Migrant Student Service Provider and recruiter, where she supports the unique educational needs of migrant students, dropouts and out-of-school youth. She loves spending time with her family, reading in Spanish, Portuguese or English. She also loves learning about different cultures, traveling, and interior design. As a MAFLT alumna, she saw the program as an immense benefit to her and her school. The program’s well organized curriculum and helpful teachers are what she remembers most, and why she would definitely choose MAFLT again.
Lan is originally from Beijing but she has been living in the Philippines for more than 10 years and she recently began her fifth year of teaching Chinese. Just last month she moved to the Subic Freezone Port and started teaching in a new international school. The Subic Freezone is a small town located in the rain forest and near the ocean. A group of monkeys comes to visit her yard frequently. Warning: don’t feed them! She is a curious learner of technology. Currently, she is attending a workshop of Google Educators provided by our school, and she is amazed by using Google to teach. She has been using Google for a while but there are some function she is not familiar with. She is planning on taking the exam to get the Google Educator Level 1 certificate.
Mohamed has been working since 2011 as an Arabic teacher at the Collegiate American School, Dubai, U.A.E. He is in his last semester in the MAFLT and he is proud that he is a student in the program because of the way of learning, it is different from what he learned before and he is learning a lot of great and new ideas. He likes sharing, and he hopes to learn more from his colleagues. His dream to continue Ph.D. and to be an instructor at the university level or an inspector or trainer.
Hanh is originally from Vietnam. She moved to the Washington DC Metro area almost 7 years ago. She is teaching Vietnamese to adult learners who are required to speak the language for their job. She originally joined the MAFLT program to strengthen her teaching skills and help make her language program better.
Sara is a 2017 graduate of the MAFLT program. She taught English in France as a member of the TAPIF program in 2012 and began her stateside educator career in 2013 teaching in a hybrid setting for a network of charter high schools. In 2018, she moved to the Kalamazoo area to be with her fiancé and teach French at Portage West Middle School. She grew immensely as a language teacher in the MAFLT program and is very grateful to her professors for guiding her. She recommends the program to all language educators! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son Theo, and dog Lucy, reading, ceramics, gardening, and yoga.
Raneen grew up in Alexandria, Egypt and received most of her education there, including a B.S. in plant pathology. After graduating, she worked in Alexandria University’s research department with responsibilities in working with many visiting professors from various American universities. After moving to New Jersey twelve years ago, she started teaching Arabic at multiple non-profit organizations. In her spare time, she loves hiking with her husband and their 9-year-old twins, who speak Arabic and English.
Meghan is currently working as a French Adjunct at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Carolyn currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has been teaching high school and middle school French for seven years. She has taught mostly at public schools in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, but has taught online as well to students all over the US. She really enjoys teaching lower levels and introducing students to the joys of learning French. She’s passionate about making L2 learning accessible to all students and just plain fun. In addition to speaking French, she also speaks German. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, cooking, and traveling.
Danielle was born and raised in Geneva, Illinois but attended Clemson University in South Carolina for her bachelors degree. She received her degree in secondary education for French and studied abroad for a semester in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Currently, she is enjoying her second year teaching French at Meadow Glen Middle School in Lexington, Sc. She has taught novice and immersion level French and is a co-director of an exchange program between her school and another middle school in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She is looking forward to incorporating new strategies and methodologies into her classroom. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and crafting.
Lindsay is delighted to say that after 5 years of teaching experience, she finally has a tool-belt of pedagogy and research on her side. In a way she was lucky to start teaching without predetermined notions of what the perfect classroom looks like. Inexperience led her to rely on creative instincts and personal successes and failures in second language learning to reach her students. Her time as a graduate student in the Foreign Language Teaching Program at Michigan State University has only empowered her creative abilities as a teacher.
Carmen was born in Romania and moved to the United States as a child. She holds a BA in Spanish with P-12 teaching certification, and after graduating from the MAFLT program in 2016, she went on to pursue a PhD in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland. Carmen’s dissertation is entitled “We just learned from each other”: ESOL pre-service teachers learning to use digital tools across coursework and student teaching, and her research interests include using technology in language teaching and learning and incorporating culturally and linguistically diverse students’ backgrounds and funds of knowledge in language classrooms. Carmen has also taught ESOL, Spanish, and Romanian in-person and online. Her degree at MSU prepared her to teach language more effectively and conduct ethnographic research in educational contexts. She published the paper she wrote for the Experiential Module in The Qualitative Report. Carmen also enjoys traveling, hiking, and yoga.
Alison attended Grand Valley State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Social Studies Education. While completing her degree, she lived in Nice, France and attended the Ecole France Langue. She is currently the French teacher at Haslett High School in Haslett, Michigan. She is the advisor for the French Club, Harry Potter Club and Quiz Bowl team. She has led student tours to France, Britain and Italy.
Kady graduated from Hope College with a Bachelors in French. During her years at Hope, she studied and lived in Nantes, France. She was also able to help out with the school’s ESL program when a lady from Paris enrolled. After graduating she worked for almost two years in a financial center, dealing with the company’s French-Canadian customers. In the past year she decided to pursue teaching French in order to share her passion with others. Besides French, she enjoys scrap-booking, singing, crafts and her 3 cats.
Nancy Elsobkey was born in Kuwait, but is Egyptian and from Alexandria. She lived in Kuwait for 17 years, then moved to Egypt to get her B.Sc. in veterinary medicine. But, she realized she has a passion for languages and teaching. So she received three post graduate certificates, two in teaching, and one in teaching Arabic from The American University in Cairo. She has 10 years of teaching experience, 7 of them in teaching Arabic as a second language. Presently she is working at an Australian University in Dubai UOWD. This is her 4th year there. She loves learning languages and so is learning Chinese now. Nancy likes reading and swimming. She moved to the UAE with her husband 8 years ago. They have two girls, 3 and 8 years old, both fluent in Arabic and English.
Joe teaches 4th, 6th and 7th grade Spanish at Covington in Birmingham Public Schools. He was certified as an elementary classroom teacher at Antioch University in Santa Barbara, CA. Joe’s first teaching job was as a sixth grade teacher at Escuela Internacional Sampedrana in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He has also worked for buildOn, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in developing countries, for which he led groups of high school students on trips to Nicaragua and Mali to help with school construction in rural villages. He has been a classroom teacher and has experience teaching Spanish in grades K-12. Joe grew up in Oak Park, MI and graduated from Berkley High. He currently lives in Plymouth with his wife and two children.
Merih completed her Bachelor’s degree at Marmara University in Istanbul with a major in English Language Teaching in 2001. She started to work as an EFL instructor at a state university when she graduated. Since then, she has been teaching EFL at secondary and higher education settings. She studied and worked at the University of Texas at Austin as a Fulbright Scholar in 2004-2005 academic years. Merih has been working as the high school Department Head of English and Foreign Languages as well as the International University Counselor at a private school in Izmir, Turkey. Her experience in teaching Turkish and English as a foreign language, having studied German as a learner and the shared learning moments with the MAFLT cohort at the time of her studies in addition to the collaborative work she did with MAFLT faculty and alumni in later years contributed to her career and professional development. Also, her experience in studying and working abroad including her MAFLT experience has led her to her current role as an International University Counselor. She is a proud and thankful member of the MAFLT community. Spartans will!
Allison was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but was raised in Haslett, Michigan, just outside of East Lansing. She studied Spanish and English as a Second Language and Education at Michigan State University. She is currently a Spanish teacher in Schoolcraft, Michigan, just south of Kalamazoo. She taught for three years in North Carolina and is currently in her fourth year of teaching. She is a part of the technology committee at her school and enjoys learning new technology tips she can incorporate into her classroom. She enjoys watching MSU basketball and football and the Detroit Tigers. She also likes to read, run and play euchre.
Laureen’s professional background is related to teaching and speaking Spanish in various settings over the course of many years (sometimes more then she cares to admit). Currently Laureen teaches Spanish at a Classical Christian school in New Castle, Delaware and has taught there for eight years. Although Laureen grew up in Pennsylvania, she now lives in Delaware and is married to Bruce and they have two sons, Raymond and Brian (who are post college and in college, respectively). Despite being in an empty nest stage of life, Laureen is looking forward to the learning new strategies and methodologies to incorporate into her classes.
Prior to joining the program at MSU, Melissa received a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Iowa. Originally from New Jersey, she currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire where she teaches Spanish to an enthusiastic group of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students.
Jacob has studied Russian and Arabic extensively. He has lived in Russia and Egypt, served in the military, and translated for local refugees during Elementary School parent-teacher conferences. Tutoring others in those languages got Jacob started in loving to teach. After receiving a BA in Middle Eastern Studies: Arabic from the University of Utah, he found the MAFLT program at MSU. He enjoys teaching English as a foreign language and Arabic to English speakers. In his spare time he plays as much ultimate Frisbee as possible, works as an EMT, and spends time with his wife and newborn son.
Sheila (Conrad) Piasecki
James attended Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish as well as Primary and Secondary Education. He also studied for six months in Valparaíso, Chile, at La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. He is currently a high school Spanish teacher in Sterling, Virginia, where he teaches classes designed for both nonnative and heritage-speaking students. His current interests include language assessment and interlanguage of second language learners.
Alison graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and Secondary Education from the University of Montana. During her collegiate career, she also attended the Universidad de Vigo and the Universidad de Murcia in Spain. Alison is currently going into her 6th year teaching Spanish I-III at Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Wyoming. She also works as an Adjunct Professor at Sheridan College. Alison helped lead student trips to Costa Rica and Mexico. Living next to the Big Horn Mountains, she loves to ski, hike, kayak, and play with her dog.
Jamie Vraniak Terlaak
Jamie attended Michigan State University where she earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. She then went on to attend Eastern Michigan University where she completed a Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification with a major in Spanish, during which time she studied for 8 weeks at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. She currently works for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Canton, MI where she teaches Spanish II at the high school level. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, writing and photography, as well as spending time with her husband and their dog.
Christiane was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. Her father emigrated to Canada from France when he was in his mid 20’s. Her mother’s mother was also a French immigrant to Canada. That makes Christiane French and Canadian, but not culturally French Canadian (Quebecois), if that makes sense. She lived and went to college in Montana (BA in French from the University of Montana) and currently lives in Washington State. When no French teaching jobs were available in the part of Montana where she lived, Christiane began what ended up being a career in the airlines. When her son was born, she took 14 years off from work to be a stay-at-home mother. She finally got a permanent teaching job the summer she turned 50. Christiane teaches French at two different high schools. She is married to Cliff Higashi, hence the Japanese surname (her maiden name is Delesalle). She and Cliff now have two 20-something children, who are both college students as well.
Tiffany completed her undergraduate degree with honors at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She received a B.A. with a Spanish major and Biology minor for Secondary Education. While completing her degree, she lived in Ávila, Spain and attended the Universidad de Salamanca for eight weeks. Currently, she is a full-time teacher at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School in Flint Township, Michigan. She teaches exploratory Spanish and Spanish for high school credit, while working to build a modified immersion language program. In addition to teaching, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family.
Marie completed her undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. She received a BA in Spanish K-12 Education and English Secondary Education. While studying at EMU, she lived in Ávila, Spain for 8 weeks attending Universidad de Salamanca. After graduating in 2010, she relocated to Hilton Head, South Carolina and is a full time teacher at Bluffton High School. She teaches Spanish 1 and 2 and assistant coaches the varsity cheer-leading team. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, biking and traveling.
Michael grew up in Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt. In Egypt, the long history of accumulated cultures boosted his passion for the arts, history, and communications. He holds a BA in Applied Arts in Photography, Cinematography, and Television Arts, and was awarded a scholarship by IBM to pursue a diploma in Multimedia. He earned a graduate diploma in Business Administration from the Arab Academy of Science and Technology. He was awarded a skills-based immigration to Canada, where he earned a certificate in Graphic Sign Arts from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. After qualifying for Canadian citizenship, he met his better half in the United States. They moved south, and Michael began tutoring in Arabic at the University of Oklahoma, where he discovered a new passion for teaching Arabic language and culture. Michael is excited about exploring the newest methodologies for teaching foreign language.
Like our other alumni, those listed below share bios and contact information on their MAFLT Teaching Portfolios.
Eriko Takahashi Best – 2022 Alumni
Mari Brito – 2022 Alumni
Katherine Byrne – Alumni
Isabella Dolehanty – Alumni
Amy Driskell – 2022 Alumni
Aisha y Salem Garged – Alumni
Yoshiko Himata Paris – Alumni
Yuriko Ishida – 2022 Alumni
Petra Jones – Alumni
Paul Nitz – Alumni
Sara True – Alumni