2021-2022 GATESOL Board Profiles
President, Elizabeth Webb, Ed.D.
Elizabeth Webb is the Supervisor for ESOL and Title III for the Cobb County School District, the 25th largest school district in the United States with over 11,000 active English Learners. A Georgia native who has worked in public education for 30 years, Dr. Webb worked as a high school English and German teacher for eight years after graduating college before moving to the position of founding executive director for the non-profit organization Friends of Goethe, where she served for five years. From there, she moved to the Georgia Department of Education, where she spent five years as the Program Specialist for Foreign Languages and International Education, followed by six years as Director of Innovative Academic. Her path then led her to Gwinnett County Public Schools, where she directed English Learner Programs for 9 years, before moving to her present position of leadership with the Cobb County School District.
Dr. Webb believes passionately in the importance of professional engagement, professional learning, and advocacy. She has served on the GATESOL Board as a Member-At-Large, as Secretary, and as First Vice-president. In her tenure as president, she hopes to strengthen the connections between members of GATESOL community, with a special focus on connecting researchers and practitioners.
Dr. Webb holds a B.A. degree from Agnes Scott College, an M.A. from West Georgia College, and earned her Doctorate in School Improvement from the University of West Georgia in 2018, writing her dissertation on Improving the Academic Achievement of English Learners through Valid Interpretation and Use of Standardized Assessment Results (https://pqdtopen.proquest.com/pubnum/10977505.html).
Jennifer Pendergrass is the ESOL Instructional Coach 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 Journal 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, Priscilla G. Noble, Ph.D
Dr. Noble was born in Santo Domingo, is a native speaker of English and Spanish, fluent in French, and is in her sixth year as instructor and university supervisor of undergraduate and graduate education students at Georgia State University. She spent five years as K-12 teacher. As a leader in several international schools (2 year-olds - 12th grade), she has worked directly with teachers and English learners from many different countries and with varied linguistic backgrounds, thriving in making the curriculum accessible and relevant to students with diverse interests and learning styles. She is currently studying how DLI (Dual Language Immersion) teachers can achieve positive effects on students’ social identity as well as their letter and word reading, decoding, and phonological awareness in both 1st and 2nd language through purposeful small group instruction . She has some wonderful professionals in the field of English language instruction through her involvement with GATESOL and hopes to continue to advocate for English learners in our state.
2nd Vice President, Joel Floyd, Ph.D.
A passionate, dynamic, and transformational adult education leader, Dr. Joel Floyd is the founder and President at English for a Lifetime Language Institute, Peachtree Corners, GA. Dr. Floyd lives to help adults with limited English proficiency master the English language for personal, workforce, and continuing education purposes. His current research interests are couched in adult education teachers’ experiences with professional development, student retention among non-traditional adult learners, critical pedagogy, second language acquisition among adult learners, and educational leadership in for-profit adult school settings. Dr. Floyd is motivated to serve as GATESOL’s 2022 2nd Vice President to help drive the success of GATESOL’s mission and to expand the organization’s membership base across the state.
Secretary, Dr. Anna Yang, Ph.D.
Dr. Anna Yang is currently an ESOL instructional coach for Gwinnett County Public Schools. She is a second generation Hmong-American immigrant originally from Kansas City, KS. Though American-born, her parents are Vietnam War refugees who fled Laos, a war torn country. She is certified in secondary social studies education with 10 years of experience in the social studies/ESOL classroom, 5 years in higher education supporting an ESOL endorsement program at UGA and two years as an instructional coach. As a coach, she greatly enjoys working with teachers on making content equitable, comprehensive and accessible for their multilingual language learners. She also enjoy learning more about and analyzing language policy and planning in an effort to ensure better and equitable practices for multilingual language learners. Dr. Yang holds a Ph.D. in TESOL with a research emphasis on program models and teacher preparation for working with multilingual language learners. She looks forward to working with a team of passionate individuals seeking greater programmatic, financial and instructional equity for multilingual language learners.
Treasurer, Alisa Leckie, Ph.D.
Alisa Leckie is an Associate Professor at Georgia Southern University and Assistant Dean for Partnerships and Outreach. Her work focuses on the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students and adolescent literacy. Currently she is studying meaningful discipline-specific academic language development and the impact of earning ESOL endorsements on the professional practice of K-12 teachers. She is also working with local school districts to help them address the growing numbers of English learners in their classrooms through collaborative coaching and the modification of materials and assessments for emergent English learners. Prior to moving to Georgia, Alisa taught Language Arts, Spanish Language Arts and ESL for 18 years at a middle school in southern Arizona.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year, Saurabh Anand
Saurabh Anand was born and brought up in Delhi, India. He is a second-year Ph.D. student in the TESOL and World program offered in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. He moved to the U.S. to do his M.A. in English (TESOL) from Minnesota State University, Mankato (2018-2020). He is a speaker of 5 languages [Hindi, English, Punjabi, German, and Hungarian] and loves teaching them. He has a Diploma in Teaching German as Foreign Language from Indira Gandhi National Open University, India. Most of his work centers on second language writing, World Englishes, and multicultural literacy development. In 2021, the International Literacy Association (ILA) awarded him the 30 under 30 honor, and he is also a recipient of the 2021 GATESOL Professional Service Award. Attending GATESOL's Higher Education Town Hall Event: Moving Forward During the Pandemic held in March 2021 was pivotal for reconfirming his interest to serve on the GATESOL Board. He recalls, "I remember witnessing how committed and resilient GATESOL was (and have been) to make the learning experiences of international and transnational students as better as possible despite the pandemic. GATESOL is open to evolving continually. One of the things I recall requesting them in the town hall was to offer a forum dedicated to international and transnational students, and within a week or so, the entire board voted in favor of it. Who would not like to be a part of such an inclusive, diverse, and equity advocator of education?" Since then, Mr. Anand has constantly been following GATESOL's work and is convinced that as a member of the international student community and a teacher servicing them, he and his students and will be seen and heard here.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year, Paula Guy
Paula is an ESOL Teacher in the Bartow County School District, in Cartersville, Georgia. She has been teaching for 27 years. She received her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in Elementary Education and her master's degree in Reading from Walden University. She also has a specialist degree in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages. She teaches ESOL fulltime in Bartow County and also teaches part-time for Georgia Highlands College in the English Department.
She is excited to join the GATESOL Board for the first time and looks forward to making a significant contribution.
Member-at-Large, 1st Year, Landa Robinson
Landa Robinon's journey as an educator began 17 years ago! Currently, she is 7th agrade Reading Teacher and Department Chair in the Cobb County School District. She is dedicated to understanding and developing growth pathways and equitable access to empower students and families with a voice and agency. She wants her students to feel actively represented and engaged in their learning; she wants her parents to trust that they have a voice in their students’ learning, and that they are are working together as a collective to meet the needs of students and discovering ways to make meaningful contributions to self, others, and the world around us. Her passion includes transformative literacy instruction to increase the exposure of language learners to rich discussion, questioning, and sense making through multimodal strategies. As a newly elected Member at Large, she looks forward to increasing her capacity to serve her colleagues and others as we continue to advocate for a thriving community.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year, Debra Brooks
A Florida native, Debra Brooks has spent almost her entire teaching career with Atlanta Public Schools. She is a recent graduate of Mercer University, where she received her Educational Specialist degree in Teacher Leadership with a concentration in Instructional Coaching. She began her 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 she has served as a mentor teacher for Georgia State University Teacher Residency Program where she has the opportunity to prepare future ESOL and Special Education teachers.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year, 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, 2nd Year, Darline Douangvilay, Ed.D.
Darline Douangvilay is an ESOL 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 Teacher of the Year for 2020-2022 and is a 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. With eleven years of teaching experience, she is a dedicated to helping students flourish and excel by creating learning activities that build upon students’ diverse backgrounds and needs. 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. She is devoted to growing as an educator and collaborating with other professionals within the ESOL education field which motivates her to serve as a Member-at-Large on the GATESOL Board.
Member-at-Large, 2nd Year, Claudia Martinez
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.”