About the MAFLT Community

Make New Connections in 2022 MAFLT@MSU
Make New Connections @MSU_MAFLT

The Master of Arts in Foreign Language Teaching is the largest graduate program in the MSU College of Arts and Letters, with students and alumni who represent 20 different languages, about 40 U.S. states, and countries around the world.

Almost all of our students begin the program as experienced teachers, and many leave the program with new jobs, new leadership positions, and opportunities to share their work and train other teachers. Read student bios on this page or click a button below to connect with current students and alumni. 

Current Students

Leslie Alfred headshot

Leslie Alfred

Hola y bonjour! Leslie has been teaching both Spanish and French for 11 years, most recently at Norwalk Middle School in Norwalk, Iowa. Before and after receiving her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, Leslie studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain, Québec, Canada, and Besançon, France. In her free time, Leslie loves spending time with her husband and 10-month old daughter.

James Ayres

James has taught Spanish at McKinney Boyd High School for the past 14 years. He learned Spanish while living in Uruguay from 1997-99. He has developed a passion for learning about how language is acquired and tried to incorporate that into his language classroom. When not teaching James is busy with his wife Amber raising five boys. Any other extra time is spent running ultra marathons on the trails. James is very excited and to be a part of the MAFLT program and looks forward to the experience this will provide!
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Sofia Bacasen

Sofia is from the Philippines but considers Athens, Greece as her hometown where she was born and raised. She can speak Greek, English, Filipino, Korean, and is currently working on her fifth language, Vietnamese. After earning her BA in Social Sciences from the University of the Philippines in 2011, her language teaching journey began with an initial interest in learning about cultures. She then took a Post-Grad Certificate in Education and has taught students from South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Thailand. She is currently in Vietnam, teaching middle school ELLs and coaching and mentoring fellow teachers. She loves coffee, music, books, and her cat, Mearn.

Andrew Burke

Born in San Diego, California, Andrew Burke earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Hispanic Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. With a minor in Latin American History, he completed his studies abroad in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with a program focusing on Dominican-Haitian relations. Since graduating in 2009, Andrew has taught English in Spain, Chile, and most recently in Colombia with the Peace Corps. In the fall of 2020, Andrew began his first year teaching Spanish at a public school district in San Diego, CA and is excited to join the MAFLT community at MSU.
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Megan Carmody

Megan began teaching language in 2016 after graduating from Stonehill College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and French/Spanish. She is now in her sixth year of teaching middle school French at Gates Middle School in Scituate, Massachusetts. She is eager to apply what she learns to her language classroom, where she strives to engage students in activities geared towards building proficiency. 

Laura Cordova

Laura graduated from college with a degree in Microbiology & Spanish. After working in the science field for six years and earning a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, she decided she wanted to teach Spanish. She taught 6, 7. 8 grade Spanish at a Middle School, earned a Master’s in Humanities with a concentration in Spanish literature, and now she teaches introductory and intermediate Spanish at a community college. In her free time she likes to watch movies, read, and go on walks with her greyhound.
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Jessica Charlton

Mrs. Charlton developed a love for travel and interacting with diverse cultures and persons from growing up in a military household, her life now as a military spouse, and her time spent abroad in Ecuador, South America. Her love for the Spanish language was sparked early on in high school and furthered throughout her college studies. Her love for teaching was realized while serving during the summers as the liaison between the local community in Ascazubi, Ecuador, and a team of medical doctors. Throughout her time spent in South America, Mrs. Charlton has formed strong bonds with the local community and a love for their culture and language. She is passionate about sharing this love for the language, people, and culture with her students through engaging and authentic learning experiences. Mrs. Charlton believes that world language learning is vital and necessary in education because it provides a means to understand and connect with citizens of the world, not just those we see around us. She is excited to join the cohort at MSU and can’t wait to get to know the community, professors, and her classmates.

Shyann Gilkey

Shyann Gilkey is a Spanish Teacher from Lansing Michigan, currently residing in Atlanta Georgia. She is an Alumna of Michigan State University, where she earned her B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in TESOL. She first volunteered to teach in Peru, before deciding to become a High School Teacher in Atlanta, where she has taught the past 8 years. She currently teaches Spanish II, III, and IV, but has taught all levels, including AP. Shyann is most excited to explore the relationship between socio-economic factors and SLA. Outside of education, Shyann loves to sing, write music, and travel.
Itzel Gomez Avalos headshot

Itzel Gomez Avalos

Itzel was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when she was 9 years old. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education French and Spanish. She has been teaching Spanish at the high school level for the past 10 years. She loves teaching, learning, and spending time with her loved ones.

Kelsey Hasso

Kelsey lives in Lansing, Michigan. She has two beautiful children and teaches Spanish, levels 1 through 4 at Alma High School. She has been enrolled in the MAFLT program for quite some time, and will be the first to tell you how challenging the program is as a mother with a full time job. Kelsey’s goal this year is meeting and connecting with some new people from the MAFLT community!
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Grace Kelley

Grace teaches Spanish and English at Big Rapids High School. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2015 with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Spanish, and received her teaching certificate in 2020 via #T.E.A.C.H. Her goal is to spread the love of teaching and language by obtaining her MA in Teaching a Foreign Language and eventually obtaining her Ph.D. in Education. One day, Grace would like to be a professor of Education at a Michigan university.

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Mitchell Matthews

Mitch began the MAFLT program as a first year Spanish teacher. He started his teaching career in 2017 as a music teacher after studying opera and music education but a lifetime love of languages and travel led him to a major career change. Mitch has been studying Spanish for nearly 7 years and has enjoyed visiting several countries in Latin America. He now teaches Spanish 1 and 2 at a large suburban high school in Pennsylvania. Outside of the classroom Mitch enjoys traveling, singing, cooking, and spending time with his wife, Zanna, and Yorkie puppy, Jovi.

Kristin Mose

Kristin began the MAFLT in 2021. Since 2008, she has been teaching at her alma mater, a private high school in central WI. Kristin teaches Spanish 1, German 1,2,3, and 4 and also runs the international student program. She is the varsity head coach of the cheer and stunt team. In her free time, she teaches aerial yoga and also owns a small business and an etsy shop. She and her husband Matt also have a small hobby farm with focus on maple syrup, pumpkins and lavender.

Mike Nunley

Mike Nunley graduated from Ball State University in 2017 and is currently teaching in Decatur, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta. He is currently in his fourth year of teaching Spanish 1 and second year of teaching Spanish 4. His passion for language developed when he realized how it can make positive connections with so many people. When he is not teaching, he enjoys cooking, cycling, and watching TV and movies with his girlfriend and two cats.

Izumi Olsen Headshot

Izumi Olsen

About Izumi Izumi is from Ehime, Japan, and currently lives in Hawaii. She has extensive experience as a teacher of Japanese in the United States and English in Japan. Most recently, she has taught Japanese to heritage and foreign language learners at the secondary level through the Language and Culture Immersion Program in Hawaii. She is the creator and owner of Bilingual Beans on Instagram, where she shares educational content she has created to advocate for early bilingualism and empower parents and educators interested in raising multilingual children. 

Drew Peterson

Drew is originally from Franklin, Tennessee in US, but has been living with his wife and two cats in Lima, Peru since 2016. He teaches ESL at the primary and secondary level in Lima, and Peruvian Spanish online. He is especially interested in using comprehensible input methods in the classroom and furthering his knowledge in second language acquisition. When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel with his wife, learn German, practice jiu jitsu, and try many of the great restaurants in Lima.
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Blair Richards

Blair is a growing leader in the field of Teaching with Comprehensible Input. She regularly attends conferences and has led workshops designed to help educators transition from traditional instructional methods to more student-centered approaches to foster language acquisition. Over the course of her fifteen year teaching career she has taught from preschool through post-AP Seminar courses and currently teaches Middle and Upper School French at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2009 she graduated with a BA in French and Education from Queens University of Charlotte and is currently pursuing a MAFLT from Michigan State University.

Portrait of Haley Rooney

Haley Rooney

Haley is a Spanish and English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher in Williamston Community Schools in Michigan, USA. She has been teaching in Williamston since 2018. Haley has degrees in Spanish and Elementary Education from Michigan State University. She currently lives in Williamston with her two cats, Beans and Petunia, and spends her free time reading, working in her gardens, and listening to music.

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Rebekah Sandefer

Rebekah got her teaching degree at Calvin University in Michigan and taught high school French in New York and New Jersey. After several years at home with her children, she came back to the classroom (on Cape Cod) in 2021. Language teaching had evolved so much in her absence with a focus on proficiency and comprehensible input! She joins the MATFL community eager to put new skills into practice.

Amy Scott

Amy is a high school Spanish teacher in Hartland, Michigan. She earned her bachelors in Spanish from MSU in 2007, with minors in history and math and a focus in Secondary Education. After taking a few years off from teaching to be home with her three young kids, Amy is very excited to be back in the classroom and pursing a Masters in Teaching Languages! In her spare time, Amy enjoys spending time with her family, exercising and reading.
Portrait of Myriam Stanwood

Myriam Stanwood

Myriam is originally from Lima, Perú. She has lived in the U.S. for 18 years but currently lives in Japan with her family. Her journey in teaching Spanish started with P.A. students at Methodist University in North Carolina. Since that experience, she taught and continues to teach online language learning courses for DOD (Depart of Defense) and DOS personnel. She is a fan of online education and takes pleasure in sharing her culture with students. This has become her passion through the years.  She is always fascinated by how we can overcome obstacles to communicate. In her free time, she enjoys walking on the beach and practicing yoga.

Letitia Wang-Moore

Originally from Taiwan, Letitia currently lives in Virginia. She taught English to native Chinese speakers and Chinese to visitors to Taiwan while she was living there. She also worked at a language learning materials publishing and franchising company. The experience of working there made Letitia become even more interested in language teaching and learning. She has taught English and Chinese to learners of all ages for 20 years, and is currently a Mandarin instructor for Johns Hopkins University and a freelance translator. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.
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Linda Yang

Yue is an artistic and creative person that enjoys her free time going to the gym, reading, crafting, and gaming. She was born in Wuhan, China, and immigrated to the States in the early 2000s. Yue is a fluent speaker of both English and Mandarin Chinese, which is also her goal in language teaching in the future. She is currently stationed in Los Angeles, making a path for herself in the Artist Alley industry.

Not Yet Pictured

If you are a Current Student and you would like to be pictured here, go to the MAFLT Community in D2L to submit your headshot and bio. If you would like to edit or update your bio or headshot, please send them to maflt@cal.msu.edu. You can get help from Dr. Lanier’s Virtual Assistant