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- About Us
Vallan Kantner has worked in the field of international education since graduating from Agnes Scott College in 2007. Initially working as an administrator at Emory University's study abroad office, Vallan decided to pursue her MA in Applied Linguistics: TESL/TEFL and graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2013. Since this time, she has been a curriculum developer, program manager, and instructor in the USA, Russia, and Japan and recently returned to her home of Chicago to work as an Elementary and Junior High ESL/ELA instructor at Futabakai Japanese School Chicago. Her research background focuses on interlanguage pragmatic development and comparative education systems.
Social Media Chair
Allison Lewis is an adult ESL instructor at Richard J. Daley College and at Pui Tak Center. She received a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from Wheaton College, and she received an M.A. in Linguistics/TESOL from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She first developed an interest in teaching English when she started tutoring refugees in 2010. She has taught ESL to students of all levels and also has experience in curriculum and materials development. She is the author of a graded reader for ESL students, titled My Fake Boyfriend.
Stephanie Mielcarek is currently a visiting lecturer at the Tutorium in Intensive English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she has been teaching and assisting in curriculum development for the UIC Global pathways program. She has also worked as an ESL instructor at Roosevelt University, Kendall College, St. Augustine College, and as a substitute instructor at Stafford House. Her career in TESOL began in 2009 when she completed a SIT-TESOL certificate and traveled to China to teach EFL. She later received her M.A. in Applied Linguistics from UIC. Stephanie also holds an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures and B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago, where she briefly taught Polish as a foreign language.
Mary Elizabeth Moore currently works at Harper College in Palatine, IL and at College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL as an instructor in academic ESL and adult education and literacy. She has experience in placement testing and essay scoring and seven years’ experience in ESL tutoring. She completed her M.A. in TESOL and intercultural studies at Wheaton College Graduate School in 2015, after which she taught reading and writing for a year in an intensive English program run by ELS Language Services. Mary Elizabeth has taught in two summer English programs in China and has travelled in India and Ireland. She became interested in ESL as a vocation while completing her B.A. in English at Martin Methodist College in her home state of Tennessee, where she participated in an undergraduate ESL program, tutored international students, and roomed with Korean students who became lifelong friends. Some of her academic interests are writing composition, innovative teaching methods, and emotional intelligence/teacher and student mental health. Other interests include singing, cooking and international travel.
Lauren Schultz is a dedicated educator who enjoys working with English language learners. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in Elementary Education. Later, Lauren received her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in ESL from National Louis University. She has been teaching in the elementary/middle school classroom for ten years and currently teaches 8th grade Reading/Language Arts in Cicero District 99. In addition, Lauren has been teaching a variety of adult English language classes at GT Educational Center. Teaching English language learners of all ages is her passion!
Gina Johnson Wells
Gina Johnson Wells has been an educator for nearly all of her professional life. A faculty member in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Department at Northeastern Illinois University, Dr. Wells teaches courses in the TESOL Department, serves as the NEIU Graduate Program Advisor to MA TESOL and ESL Endorsement students, and teaches Bilingual/Bicultural courses in the Goodwin College of Education. She is a member of the NEIU Black Student Success Committee and NEIU’s Illinois Equity in Attainment/Partnership for College Completion Committee. Dr. Wells holds a PhD in Professional Studies in Education, focused on Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies, from Capella University. She holds two Master’s Degrees: one in TESOL and one in Music Education. Previously, she was a coordinator for the NEIU Grow Your Own (GYO) Teachers Program. Dr. Wells, a professionally licensed music educator, has taught music in four states in the U.S. and in Sweden. Her interests include: policy and advocacy for English Language Learners and TESOL teaching professionals; the role of cultural competency in the retention of minoritized student populations; and the processes that facilitate intercultural competence and cultural proficiency in all teachers, in general, and teachers of English Language Learners, specifically. Additionally, Dr. Wells enjoys singing, traveling, being outdoors, reading, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and their adult children. She speaks Swedish and has studied French, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
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.