Georgia Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages
2020-2021 GATESOL Board Profiles
Jennifer Pendergrass, Ed.D.
Jennifer Pendergrass is an elementary ESOL teacher and Coordinator of ESOL Professional Learning for Floyd County Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Deaf education at Ball State University, her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at University of Phoenix, her ESOL endorsement at Northwest Georgia RESA, and her doctorate in teacher leadership at Walden University. Jennifer published her doctoral thesis, “Increasing the Vocabulary Acquisition Rate for Third Grade English Learners” in 2017. GATESOL In Action published her manuscript, “Cultivating Respectful Classroom Discourse in Trump’s America” in 2017 as well. She was selected by the Conferences Professional Council (CPC) of TESOL International to be the Poster Sessions Team Leader for the 2019 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo. Jennifer served two years as GATESOL Regional Liaison for Regions 1 and 2. She also served as Secretary in 2018 and 2nd Vice President in 2019 on the Executive Board of GATESOL.
1st Vice President
Elizabeth Webb, Ed.D.
Since 2011, Elizabeth Webb has served as the Director of English Learner Programs for Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia’s largest school district and home to almost 28,000 current English Learners. She began her career in 1987 teaching English and German in Floyd County Schools, then moved to Fayette County Schools, where she taught German fulltime, became a regional trainer for the Goethe-Institut Atlanta, and was named German Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German in 1995.
She left the classroom to take the reins at Friends of Goethe, the non-profit arm of the Goethe-Institut, as founding Executive Director. Five years later, she accepted the job of Specialist for Foreign Language and International Education for the Georgia Department of Education. During her tenure in that position, she facilitated the collaborative revision the Georgia standards for teaching Modern and Classical Languages and led the Georgia Foreign Language in the Elementary School program. After being tapped by then Superintendent Kathy Cox to step into a new role, Director of Innovative Academic Programs, Webb oversaw the implementation of the WIDA English Language Proficiency/Development Standards, the WIDA ACCESS Placement Test, the ACCESS for ELLs assessment of English Language Proficiency, and led the collaborative work to set the initial performance bands to measure progress towards proficiency for English Learners under NCLB.
Dr. Webb earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Agnes Scott College, holds a Masters of Arts degree in English from West Georgia College, and an Ed.D. in School Improvement from the University of West Georgia. She is married to David Jones. They are the proud parents of 21-year-old, trilingual twin daughters, Nancy and Michelle.
2nd Vice President
Priscilla G. Noble, Ph.D.
Born in Santo Domingo, native speaker of English and Spanish, fluent in French. On my fifth year as instructor and university supervisor of undergraduate and graduate education students at GSU. Five years as teacher and 10 years as assistant principal and principal in dual language schools in Georgia and abroad. I am currently studying the different ways in which schools can influence immigrant families’ involvement in their children’s education in DLI programs.
My nine-year classroom experience, which includes six years in the school's district lead position, has led me to seek additional responsibilities and to challenge myself with broader ESOL experiences. The GATESOL Executive Board is an attractive endeavor, and I am eager to introduce myself. I seek the position of Secretary for the responsibility of serving with the executive committee and the president, but I also look forward to keeping minutes of our meeting as to learn the rules and bylaws of GATESOL so that I can familiarize myself better with the organization to which I have only been a member up until now. From my grandmother who taught French in Vietnam to my mom that emigrated to America and worked as an ESL aide and retired after 25 years, I am naturally positioned to teach language, but I seek this opportunity to expand upon this path, beyond the classroom. I sincerely thank you for your consideration.
Phoenicia L. Grant
Phoenicia L. Grant began her professional life as a primary school ESL teacher for eight years before becoming an EL Counselor and International Transcript Evaluator for DeKalb County School District in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She has evaluated thousands of foreign transcripts from over 142 countries spread across six continents.
She has presented on foreign transcript evaluation nationally, at the state level, district level, and the school level. Additionally, she has received several invitations to present and train educators in neighboring school districts and out of state on her widely used transcript evaluation framework.
Additionally, Phoenicia coordinates a grant funded district level Parent Outreach Program, is responsible for grade level placement of all international students K-12 , and provides professional development for teachers, parents, and staff.
She has a B.A. in Elementary Education with an ESOL Endorsement from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida and a M.Ed. in School Counseling from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Conferences Professional Council (CPC) of TESOL International selected Phoenicia to be the Networking Sessions Team Leader for the 2019 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo.
Immediate Past President
Greg Wickersham has served on the GATESOL board since 2013. He is pleased to serve as president for the 2019-2020 term. He has dedicated his career to teaching and advocating for English learners. Greg has taught ESOL in Atlanta Public Schools and DeKalb County School District, worked at the Georgia Department of Education, and served as an assistant principal. He currently serves as an EL Coordinator in DeKalb County. Greg has National Board Certification in English as a New Language, holds a master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a specialist in Education Leadership from Kennesaw State University. In his volunteer time, Greg serves on the board and as a house coordinator for El Refugio Ministry. He enjoys travel, the outdoors, and is a big fan of Atlanta United.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year
For the past 27 years, Al has worked as Managing Director for Dodge Learning Resources, representing publishers of curriculum materials, including those specifically designed for teaching ELs. He already served one two-year term on the Georgia TESOL Board, so that experience serves as a valuable background as he serves the board again. He also served as President of the Georgia Educational Representatives Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates, the state chapter for the International Literacy Association. Many educators also know Al as the organizer of the Georgia Conferences on Teaching Writing and Reading.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year
I was born in Ecuador. During my childhood, I was inspired to become a teacher by my mother. She gave me the opportunity to view the school environment very closely, that experience greatly affected my life. I taught in Ecuador for a few years. My family and I moved to the United States in 1999. In 2010, I finished my MED focus on ESOL at Kennesaw State University. I am an ESOL/IEL Lead Teacher at Awtry M.S. in the Cobb County School District.
I truly enjoy and have a passion to teach EL students from different countries with various cultures and languages. My experiences in a multicultural society taught me how to understand their needs and challenges.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year
Jamie Vogan is in her second year as GATESOL's Grants and Awards chairperson. She has over 12 years of experience in Cherokee County schools. Named Woodstock High School’s Teacher of the Year in 2018, Jamie fostered positivity in the faculty’s perspective, understanding, and approach to English Learners. As a teacher leader and advocate, Jamie has been a mentor for teacher candidates, and at night teaches an ESOL endorsement class for North GA RESA. Jamie co-presented at Kennesaw State University’s ESOL conference and Metro RESA’s consortium on how to help students beyond the classroom. Her passion lies in the advocacy for her students and colleagues, in ensuring everyone has a voice. Most recently she was recognized as an exemplary ESOL teacher by Georgia’s Department of Education. Jamie holds bachelor degrees in Journalism, Public Relations from the University of Georgia and English from Kennesaw State University, a masters degree in Secondary Education from Brenau University, and an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Piedmont College.
Member at Large, 2nd Year
Cristina Washell, Ph.D.
Dr. Cristina Washell is an Associate Professor at the University of North Georgia and is the Coordinator for the Elementary/Special Education program in the Teacher Education Department. Dr. Washell has over 20 years of experience working with English learners in a variety of settings which include K-12 public schools, community out-reach programs, and alternative schools. In her current role as Coordinator for the ELE/SPED program at UNG, Dr. Washell has been instrumental in integrating ESOL standards into the ELE/SPED program curriculum and has helped develop initiatives with K-12 partner schools to address the learning needs of their non-native English speaking students. Her experience as a special education teacher has made her a strong and passionate advocate of ELLs with special needs. Dr. Washell continues to support the ELL community through literacy outreach programs such as the Casper Drive Mobile Literacy Clinic that provides literacy and language support to children and adults.
Dr. Washell’s research interests include developing literacy in second-language learners with dyslexia, teacher cultural biases and the effect they have on ELL’s academic motivation and self-efficacy beliefs; risk and resiliency factors related to the academic experiences of ELLs; pre-service teacher attitudes on equity education, transnational identity formation and the effect it has on Latino family dynamics, and field experiences and the impact they have on pre-service teachers’ global awareness and identity.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year
A Florida native, I have spent almost my entire teaching career with Atlanta Public Schools. I am a recent graduate of Mercer University, where I received my Educational Specialist degree in Teacher Leadership with a concentration in Instructional Coaching. I began my teaching career with Atlanta Public Schools twenty years ago as a sixth grade Special Education teacher at Sylvan Hills MS. While there and throughout my teaching career I have served as a mentor teacher for Georgia State University Teacher Residency Program where I have the opportunity to prepare future ESOL and Special Education teachers.
David L. Chiesa, Ph.D.
Dr. David L. Chiesa is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Language and Literacy Department at the University of Georgia and serves as the English as a Second Official Language (ESOL) Endorsement, TESOL Minor, and Online TESOL Certificate Coordinator in the TESOL and World Language Education Program. Prior to coming to UGA in Fall 2019, he was the English Language and Testing Specialist for the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and had served in various roles overseas for the U.S. Department of State’s Office of English Language Programs in Japan, Mongolia, Mainland China, and Uzbekistan. Dr. Chiesa’s research examines the intersections of instructional design and language teacher development, while maintaining a strong tie between research and practice. He utilizes different research traditions in applied linguistics, such as naturalistic inquiry and psychometric research, to address issues in language assessment/testing, assessment literacy of teachers, and second language writing.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year
Darline Douangvilay, Ed.D.
Darline is a 5th grade teacher at City View Elementary School committed to bridging students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds to learning. She was selected as Cobb County's Elementary School 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year and a recent graduate of Georgia State University’s Ed.D program in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research focused on utilizing culturally relevant pedagogy as a framework to capture the agentic experiences of ELL students during morning meetings. Her passion for teaching, learning, and research stems from her own childhood as an English Language Learner and aims to make learning more accessible and engaging for ELLs.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year
Claudia Martinez is the 2020 GATESOL Teacher of the year and a first-generation immigrant, a woman of color, a previous Migrant student, and an English Language Learner. Martinez is also a current doctoral candidate at Georgia Southern University. Claudia Martinez is an advocate for both her students and the community. She is passionate about educating others and believes in the importance of critical and cultural and linguistic responsive teaching. She decided to become an ESOL teacher because she knew the EL-struggle first-hand, "I became an ESOL teacher to help create better learning experiences and opportunities for other minorities," she said. “I want to show other minority students that they can go to college and make a difference. I want them to see me and think, “if she could do it, I can do it too.”