Regional Liaisons


The GATESOL Board has made the decision to improve communication between various parts of the state by appointing Regional Liaisons for a period of two years.  Regional Liaisons are appointed by the President and will assist GATESOL in ensuring greater participation in the organization.  If you have any concerns or information you wish to share, please contact the person in your region for assistance. The Duties and Responsibilities of this position are listed below, as well as a list of current regional liaisons. To determine your region, please see the map of regions.


Duties and Responsibilities:

Regional Liaisons serve as contacts between the GATESOL Executive Board and members who live or work in one of the 16 designated regions. Liaisons shall be appointed by the President. Regional Liaisons shall attend a minimum of 1 Board Meeting per year of service; become informed about issues concerning political/legislative initiatives that impact English learners in Georgia; organize a regional meeting for his/her region for local members, universities, school districts, etc.


Regions 1 & 2 

Olayinka Taiwo

Regions 3 & 5

Brian McDermott

Brian McDermott is currently a second year Ph.D student in the University of Georgia’s Language and Literacy Education department where the emphasis of his studies is in TESOL and World Language Education. Brian also just finished teaching at the University of Georgia’s Intensive English Program as a full-time ESL instructor during the summer and prior to that he had volunteered at the Athen's ESL community course, Casa de Amistad, where he created English language assessments for the organization. 

Before coming to UGA, Brian received a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University in German with minors in Spanish and Linguistics. During that time, he also received a scholarship from USU to complete a semester abroad at La Universidad de La Rioja, in Spain. 

Upon completing his bachelor’s degree he went on to study at one of Germany’s most distinguished universities, the Ruprecht-Karls-Universit├Ąt Heidelberg. There he successfully completed a master’s degree in German Studies with an emphasis in linguistics along with a minor in Spanish Studies with an emphasis in linguistics. 

In addition to his studies in Germany, Brian also taught English as a Foreign Language at private language institutes across the Heidelberg area and from 2015 to 2016, he volunteer taught German as a Second Language and reading and writing courses to non-literate refugees in connection with the refugee support organization, Asylarbeitskreis Heidelberg.

Upon returning to the U.S. Brian taught German as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho for two years. While in Idaho he also started a free ESL community course, the Rexburg ESL Society, which is still in operation today. 

In his free time Brian likes to play tennis, swim and go on hikes with his lovely wife, Jessica.

Region 4

Melissa J. Aberle-Grasse, M.A.

Melissa Aberle-Grasse has taught English to multilingual students for more than 15 years in high school, adult education centers, community college, and two state universities. She's been teaching at Georgia Tech’s Language Institute as well as worked with graduate students since 2009. She teaches all aspects of language learning, but her foci are teaching writing and incorporating service-learning and sustainability. She is a proud activist with Georgia Tech’s She also enjoys sharing new ways to approach language through technology that creates community and critical thinking, as well as taking her students across neighborhood divides here in Atlanta to discover and change lives.

Alongside her teaching career, she has written professionally both for academic and corporate publications. Currently, she enjoys writing curriculum or reflections about teaching. For fun outside work, she enjoys biking, hiking, and cooking with her family.


Adrienne Woods, M.A.

Adrienne Woods is a native Atlantan and 15 year veteran teacher in the metropolitan public school systems.  Having began her career as a Spanish teacher, she has been a second language acquisition specialist for her entire teaching career.  Giftedness in underserved populations has been a passion of hers given that she herself grew up as a gifted student who defied the odds.  It is her desire to see the growth and development of all teaching professionals in specialized areas in order to provide every student with quality education regardless of their identification.

Regions 15 & 16

Rosetta Coyne, M.A.

Rosetta Coyne, a native of Italy and a naturalized citizen of the United States, has been a teacher of 24 years in the Brooks County Schools in Georgia and 3 additional years in the Department of Defense Schools at Aviano Air Base in Italy.  During her last 9 years in the Brooks County School System, she served as the system-wide K-12 ESOL teacher.

Mrs. Coyne has earned an undergraduate degree at Eastern Illinois University in Charlestown, Illinois, and two Masters’ degrees.  Her Master’s degrees are in Middle Grades Social Science with an ESOL endorsement awarded at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia and a Language Arts degree awarded through the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.  

Mrs. Coyne has received the following fellowships that gave her opportunities to experience studies that emphasized multicultural education.  The academic awards included the following:  a Fulbright Scholarship for the purpose of completing a study in Belize, Central America, an Annenberg Fellowship for a semester study in Alaska, and a Dewitt Wallace Fellowship that provided funds for a semester of study in Mexico. She also was awarded a stipend to assist a study group taking ESOL endorsement classes in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Other State awards received include the following:  Teacher of The Year (TOTY) Top 4 in Georgia, Reading Teacher of the Year, State of Georgia Women of Achievement, and Distinguished VSU Graduate.

Her community involvements include:  President of Valdosta’s Italian American Club, Church folk choir member, American Red Cross Certified Swimming Instructor (WSI), active member of the American Association of University of Women (AAUW), active in the State and local Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Council of Teachers of English, Georgia Teacher of The Year Association, Georgia Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (GATESOL) Regional Liaison, photographer, and co-chair of 2 past GATESOL conferences in South Georgia.

Prior to teaching in Georgia, Mrs. Coyne spent 15 years traveling with her husband, Stephen, an Air Force retiree, and their 2 children, Ryan and Rebecca.  During those years the family experienced assignments both in Europe and Asia, which heightened Mrs. Coyne’s awareness of being a second language learner and the struggles and rewards of learning languages and customs of other lands. 

Mrs. Coyne’s goal as an educator has been to build better school communities by taking the time to welcome and learn about each child and provide differentiated instruction that promotes academic success for all students. Mrs. Coyne believes that teaching is a vocation that goes beyond the classroom!  Mentoring past students toward achieving the education needed for a chosen career and engaging in real conversations with educational policy makers defines Mrs. Coyne’s time in service as a positive investment in America’s future!  

Regions 11 & 14

George Porter, Ed.D., D.Min.

Dr. George Porter, Jr. is a leader, pastor, teacher and mentor who has worked in the field of education for over 20 years.  He has worked in all levels of K-12 education including elementary, middle and high school as a Teacher, an Assistant Principal, a Principal and a Central Office Administrator.  Prior to his career in education, Dr. Porter served 22 years in the United States Navy where he did tours of duty on surface ships and submarines. 

Dr. Porter has a B.S. degree in Education Training and Development, a MBA, an Ed.S in Educational Leadership and Supervision, an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership and Supervision and a D. Min in Ministry Leadership.  He fosters the philosophy of the life-long learner and enjoys working with students and adults by helping them to pursue their educational goals.

Dr. Porter currently works as an Administrator with the Marion County Board of Education.  In addition, he is also the Title III/ESOL Director, the Title 1C Coordinator, and the Parent Engagement Coordinator.  Through an educational partnership with South Georgia Technical College, Dr. Porter is also the District Coordinator of college classes open to all adult learners in the area. 

Dr. Porter is involved in community and educational programs.  He is the President of the local GAE Marion County chapter, a member of ASCD, a member of the local volunteer fire department board and a Pastor.  He and his wife, Eva, have three daughters and four grandchildren.  


 Region 6

Angie Crowder

Region 7

Maria Howell 

Regions 8, 9, & 12

Tara Thompson

Regions 10 & 13

Alisa Leckie, Ph.D.

Alisa Leckie is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University.  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. 

Georgia TESOL

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