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ITBE Executive Board

Welcome to our New 2016-2017 Board!

  Illinois TESOL-BE's Board also consists of Officers and SIG Leaders. For more information on each Board position, view TESOL-BE's Constitution and Bylaws webpages. 
Juan Corona(2014-2017), Member-at-Large

Juan Corona is a first generation English Language Learner.  His upbringing is similar if not identical like many of the thousands of English Learners across the nation.  His parent’s limited education and lack of English did not stop their American Dream…providing a sound education for their four children.
His siblings and he all graduated from Illinois universities and while they all took different paths, he forged on to become an educator.  He received his B.A. from Northeastern University in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and his M.A. from Concordia University Chicago in School Leadership.  He taught in an elementary bilingual self-contained classroom from 2008-2012, and as an ESL Resource teacher in a Junior High School from 2012-2014 before becoming a Director of English Language Learners. 
His goal as educator holds strong today as it did when he entered the Northeastern Bilingual/Bicultural program, which is to provide a strong foundation in education for all students so that they can become lifelong learners.  In doing so, students will have access to grade level content and rigor and build their academic language capacity that will enable them to be successful.

Miguel Fernandez (2014-2017), Secretary

Miguel Fernandez works as an Associate Professor in the Bilingual Education program at Chicago State University, where he teaches Undergraduate and Graduate Bilingual and ESL courses. He has worked in the field of bilingual education for more than 10 years. He holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Foreign Language and Literature (English) and a Master’s degree in Language Testing and Assessment. He has also earned a doctorate in education.

Marie Friesema (2015-2018), Director of Exhibits & Advertising

Marie Friesema is the Academic Coordinator of the English Department at Wheaton College, and is also an adjunct instructor in the Intensive English Language Program at Moraine Valley Community College.  She received her B.A. from Trinity International University majoring in General Studies with emphases in English Communications; Health Performance and Wellness; and the Social Sciences.  She holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton College Graduate School.  She has taught ESL for ten years, mostly to the migrant adults who care for the horses at the thoroughbred racetracks in Illinois.  This was the context both of her master's thesis, English Teaching at the Backstretch of America's Racecourses, and her latest writing project – a screenplay. She also oversees the Illinois Council of the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, a non-profit organization that provides spiritual, social, and educational services to the families of the horse racing industry. 
Maria Isabel Garcia (2016-2017), Professional Development Committee Chair

Maribel Garcia received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Foreign Language and Literature (English) from University of Granada, Spain. She received her Master’s degree in Education from Northern Illinois University. She has also earned a doctorate in Applied Linguistics from University of Granada, Spain.  She has worked in the field of bilingual education since the academic year 2000-2001. Her research interests include second language acquisition and production, bilingual education, writing, and factors influencing the learning process of English Language Learners. She is an ESL lead teacher at Cicero Public Schools. She also works as an adjunct professor for: Chicago State University, DePaul University, Dominican University and the IRC.

Barb Gomez (2016-2017), Awards Committee Co-Chair

Barb Gomez is currently an adjunct professor in the minority education department at National Louis University, NCE - National College of Education -  where she has been teaching since 2001. She worked in public education in Huntley District 158 for nearly 20 years as an ESL teacher in grades 9 through 12. Barb has worked on the board of ITBE as a member-at-large since 2011, first with the secondary education special interest group and currently as the Awards Committee Co-Chair. 

Maja Grgurovic (2015-2018), Awards Committee Co-Chair

Maja Grgurovic is clinical assistant professor and clinical director of the MA TESOL program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She teaches courses in second language methodology, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), and language assessment and supervises student interns during their practicum. Maja’s professional interests are CALL, blended language learning, and language teacher education.
Maja has worked both as a teacher and teacher educator. She has fifteen years of teaching experience and has taught EFL abroad and ESL in a variety of higher education settings. Maja holds an MA degree in TESOL and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and Technology both from Iowa State University.

Shajaira López (2016-2017), Technology Chair

Shajaira López has worked in the field of education for over 10 years as a bilingual teacher, assistant principal, and currently as Assistant Professor and Chair of the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at Aurora University. She also volunteers at the Center for Learning English in Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, where she eagerly teaches adult ESL classes. Shajaira obtained a B.A. in Elementary Education and M.S. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education at Northeastern Illinois University, and recently completed an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at National Louis University. Her goal is to work collaboratively with stakeholders in order to address the academic needs of students from language diverse backgrounds through student engagement, staff development, and parental empowerment. 

Stephanie Martinez (2015-2017), Program Design Committee Chair

Stephanie Martinez joined ITBE in 2014 and is currently the Event and Convention Program Designer. She is currently teaching an English for Designers course for the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and she has been teaching in Intensive English Programs since 2011.  Prior to teaching at Illinois Tech, she taught at the University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago and Purdue University Calumet. Stephanie received her BA in Linguistics and Spanish from Southern Illinois University and her MA in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her professional interests are in the field of language learning and technology. In her spare time, she really enjoys geeking out about Chicago history, architecture, baking and yoga. Check out her professional profile and connect with her here.

Sarah Mikulski (2015-2017), Social Media Chair

Sarah Mikulski currently works at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, as both the ESL CALL Lab and Resource Coordinator and an adjunct faculty member.  She began her career in TESOL in 1999 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Poland, where she taught English as a foreign language at the high school level after earning her B.A. in English Literature from the University of San Francisco.  In 2005, she earned her M.A.T., Secondary Education/Language Arts, at Northeastern Illinois University, where she later returned to complete her ESL endorsement.  She has also worked as a substitute teacher in Illinois Township High School District 211, an ESL instructor at both Solex College and Ivy College, and as an examiner for an ESL testing company.

Amanda Montes, Treasurer

Amanda Montes is an Assistant Professor in the Bilingual Education program at Chicago State University (CSU). She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Arizona State University (ASU).  Before coming to CSU, she taught ESL Endorsement courses to teacher candidates at ASU for five years and taught in a variety of bilingual education settings in grades K-8 in Massachusetts for many years before that.  While conducting fieldwork focusing on the uses of English in Brazil, Amanda also worked as an EFL instructor at an English immersion program for adult professionals in Brazil. 

Khrystyna Sanborn (2016-2017), Convention Proposals Chair

Khrystyna Sanborn has been actively involved as an ESL instructor at Heartland College since August of 2008. She earned her M.A. in English and Uzbek from Kiev National University. Her love of teaching language began in college whereby she taught English to Ukrainian children. Khrystyna also teaches at Heartland College’s adult literacy program.

Debbie Sternecky, Advocacy Chair, Past President, Nominations Chair 

Debbie Sternecky received a BS in Business Administration from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS. Ed. from Northern Illinois University. She has met with legislators in Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf ELL and bilingual students. Currently, Debbie is an ELL teacher at Jefferson Jr. High in Naperville School District 203. She was an adjunct professor at NLU for five years and she taught computer courses at College of DuPage for 15 years. Debbie has presented at both the ITBE and IRC statewide conventions and has served on ITBE's board since 2010.

Jesus Villegas, Newsletter Editor

Jesus Villegas teaches in Purdue University Northwest’s intensive English Language Program. He has been an ELF/ESL instructor for 20 years, which include serving in the Peace Corps as an English Language Specialist and working in the Middle East as an English Language Fellow with the State Department. Born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, Jesus developed a love for languages and photography at a young age. These two interests have guided Jesus throughout much of his adult life, and he is always looking for creative ways to incorporate student-produced photography and video into his ESL/EFL classes.

Nancy Whaley, Publicity Chair 

Nancy Whaley is an ESL Instructor at Loyola University Chicago.  Nancy has been working in ESL in different capacities since 2003, when she worked as an ESL tutor and a substitute teacher in K-12 bilingual programs.  She received her B.A. in Spanish Translation from Brigham Young University and spent a semester studying Spanish in the Dominican Republic.  She later decided that helping people learn English was her true calling, and she received her M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Utah.  After earning her Master’s degree, she spent half a year in Monterrey, Mexico teaching Business English to professionals.  She then moved home to Chicago where she worked in community English programs, language schools, and higher education programs. She has extensive experience teaching all 4 skills to each level, from Beginner to Advanced.  She has also created teacher training materials and led a course for training teachers.  She loves working with international students and helping them achieve their goals.