ESL Instructors

//ESL Instructors
ESL Instructors2019-01-10T13:50:50+00:00

Tysons Campus

Craig Markley

Birth date: August 7th | Birth place: Chicago, IL | Major: Journalism, TESOL

Hobby:  Travel, Boxing, Video production | Language: English, Spanish, Korean

“Enjoy high energy, dynamic and effective classes with me!”

Craig Markley is a passionate and dedicated English instructor with 9 years’ teaching expertise. His language training career began in Seoul, South Korea in 2006 as a member of SLP faculty (Sogang Language Program) and expanded into private education program management in the Washington, DC area. He is an Illinois State Scholar, graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, certified TESOL instructor and 2 time recipient of “Teacher of the Year” awards and distinctions.

Valerie Cairns

Birth date: March 17th | Birth place: Bronx, NY | Major: French, German, CELTA for Teaching English

Hobby:  Tap dancing, Classical music, Watching movies | Language: English, French, German, Italian

“I’m pleased to be an instructor at Columbia College!”

After teaching English for many years in many different countries, Valerie Cairns is pleased to be an instructor at Columbia College’s Tysons campus. When she is not teaching, she is tap dancing, listening to classical music and enjoying foreign and independent films.

Jeffrey Roland

Birth date: December 26th | Birth place: Virginia | Major: Linguistics, East Asian Studies

Hobby:  Playing guitar, Hiking, Video games | Language : English

“Let’s practice English together!”

Jeff Roland, a northern Virginia native, holds a degree in Linguistics and TESOL certification from the University of Virginia. Fascinated by meeting new people from around the world, Jeff thoroughly enjoys working with his students and is happy to be teaching here at Columbia College.

Shamima Nasreen

Birth date: December 16th | Major: TESOL, Biology, Education

Hobby:  Travel, Cooking, Photography, Reading | Language: English, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Italian

“We will take the journey to learning excellent English skills!”

I am a passionate instructor who loves and enjoys teaching. I genuinely care about each and every student and put a lot of effort into tutoring them one on one in my classroom. I believe in every student’s strengths, and I guide and motivate them to reach their full potential. I have been teaching for the past three years, and I find my experience to be very rewarding.

Alexandra Savage

Birth date: October 16th | Major: International Politics, Public Policy, Public Speaking, TESOL

Hobby:  Making music with friends, Learning about cultures, Camping | Language: English, Spanish, some Arabic

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Alexandra has been teaching English as a second language for five years and she also teaches math and music. She has always had a passion for teaching and communicating with people. She was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Northern Virginia. She loves to learn about different cultures and has friends from all over the world. Learning from each other is the key to human advancement.

Rahmatullah Kakar

Birth date: January 1st | Major: TESOL

Hobby:  Soccer, Volleyball, Table-Tennis and Hiking | Language: English, Persian, Urdu, Pashto

I am originally from Afghanistan. I hold a MBA Portland University in Management, have had more than 8 years experiences in Teaching, Teacher Supervisor ESL in International Rescue Committee English Language Program and Private Institutes. I got Teacher Training, Methodology in IRC Language Program.
Worked in Multi-Tasks as Trainer & Conducted Trainings on: Code of Conducted to NATO New Deployment in Join Force Training Center (JFTC) in Poland and Germany for five years. Project Management Training to Humanitarian Agencies employees for two years. Community Mobilization Training on new methodology with Mercy Corps International Humanitarian Agency. Besides, worked Multi-tasks in Operation and Program with Mercy Corps.

Garret Piekney

Birth date: January 23rd | Major: B.A in History & Art History

Hobby:  Attempting to make sense of my environment, Making lemonade out of lemons, Tennis, Perfumes

Language: English & French

“If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.” – Talking Heads

As a child of a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), I was fortunate to be exposed to many cultures while growing up. As a boy and young man, I lived in Sweden, Tunisia, Guinea, France, Pakistan and Egypt.I began teaching ESL/EFL in Busan, Korea in 2002 during the exciting time of the World Cup; I have been teaching English since then.I find it very rewarding to help create a classroom atmosphere where students are happy, relaxed and learning to the best of their abilities.

Yasaman Ghazanfari

Birth date: January 13th | Major: PhD in Linguistics

Hobby: Reading, Hiking, Traveling | Language: Language l English, Persian (Farsi)

“A different language is a different vision of life.” Federico Fellini

To me, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs and teaching a foreign language is opening the door to a new world, a new culture, a new system of life, and a new system of thought. I started my career as a teacher right after I graduated from university in 1995 and have been teaching EFL/ESL to the learners of all ages ever since.
Before I moved to the United States, I worked as an assistant professor in Azad University in Iran. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach ESL here and walk through the amazing path of learning along with my wonderful students with such diverse backgrounds. I’m thankful to all of them who help me learn as I teach.

Mahnoosh Abbasnezhad

Birth date: January 10 | Major: BA in English Literature and TESOL

Hobby:  Watching movies, cooking, travelling, listening to music | Language: English, Persian (Farsi)

“I do learn in every class as much as my students do.”

I have over 12 years of experience teaching English to adults, young adults, and children. I received my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Isfahan University in Iran and a TESOL certification from Sussex Down College in England. I love teaching as an ESL instructor and meeting new students with diverse background.

Centreville Extension


Michele Steinberg

Birth date: July 8th | Birth place: Paterson, NJ | Major: English, Psychology

Hobby:  Classical music, Hiking, International travel, Shakespeare theater | Language: English

“I enjoy being an instructor in ESL at Columbia College!”

After teaching ESL in New York City for several years and working as a writer and editor for an international publication. When she isn’t teaching, she is enjoying outdoor activities, listening to classical music, and when possible, attending Shakespeare theater productions in the Washington area.

Susan Lee

Birth date: May 5th | Birth place: South Korea | Major: TESOL

Hobby:  Reading, Swimming | Language: English, Korean

“I’m pleased to be an instructor at Columbia College!”

Susan Lee received her Master’s Degree in TESOL from University of San Francisco in California and a TESOL certificate from Sookmyung Women’s University in Korea. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and swimming.

Marie Fleurette St Hilaire

Birth date: August 9th | Birth place: Haiti | Major: Psychology, English

Hobby: Puzzles, Reading, Cooking, Playing badminton | Language: English, French, Spanish, Creole

“I have enjoyed being a teacher of ESL students!”

It is so delight to be an instructor at Columbia College. Although I have taught in different institutions, I admire the devotion and enthusiasm of students at the Centerville Campus. When I am not teaching I enjoy cooking, reading and playing badminton.

Wisam Mustafa

Birth date: Oct 29th | Birth place: Saudi Arabia | Major: English (Linguistics)

Hobby: Watching Movies | Language: English, Arabic

“My students teach me something new every day!”

I graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Psychology and a Masters in English. I have been teaching for four year, two of which are at Columbia College. I truly enjoy learning about the students’ diverse backgrounds .I always look forward for more positive experiences in my ESL teaching career.

Noori Lee

Birth date: October 13th | Birth place: Fairfax, VA | Major: Government & International Relations

Hobby:  Relaxing with friends, Discovering new endeavors | Language: English

“I am excited to be an ESL instructor in my hometown!”

Noori has taught various age levels ranging from young children to working professionals since he started ESL teaching. In addition to teaching ESL internationally, Noori is excited to be a local ESL instructor in his hometown of Fairfax. He has always been fascinated with culture and is grateful to have the opportunity to meet and instruct students from all around the world. Aside from teaching ESL, he enjoys relaxing with his friends and discovering new endeavors to embark upon.

Jade Cummings

Major: Psychology, English and Creative Writing,

Curriculum and Instruction – TESOL

Hobby: Writing, art, dance, Tae Kwon Do | Language: English

“I love watching my students learn something new every day!”

Jade Cummings has worked as an ESL instructor in the classroom, online, and as a tutor. She has a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in ESOL, a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, an A.S. in Psychology, along with a TEFL certification. Jade is constantly looking for ways to improve her teaching, incorporating a blend of creative and traditional methods in the classroom in order to maximize student potential. When she is not teaching English, Jade enjoys writing, art, dance, and practicing Tae Kwon Do, having received her first degree black belt.

Christine Patterson

Birth date: October 5th | Birth place: Silver Spring, MD | Major: French, Spanish

Hobby:  Reading, taking photos, learning languages and playing with my daughter | Language: French, Spanish, Italian

“Grammar is awesome!”

Christine is passionate about learning and teaching languages and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. She has been working in the ESL field since 2009 and she received her TESOL/TEFL certificate in Cusco, Peru. Christine often travels to South America, especially Colombia, which she considers her second home.

Louise Baxter

Birth date: June 25 | Major: Political Science, TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certification

Hobby: Cooking, Hiking, Travel

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

Louise Baxter has taught English in both classroom and one-on-one settings to students of various levels and backgrounds. She also uses her experience as a writer and editor to the ESL classroom by teaching with creative and innovative processes. She is the author of two books: on hiking and on civil engineering projects in the Washington DC area. She has also taught cooking classes to beginning and experienced home cooks focused on easy and elegant entertaining. In addition, she has lived in South Asia, Germany, and West Africa and has traveled extensively throughout the world.

Fatima Berenji

Birth date: September 18th | Birth place: Tehran, Iran | Major: Forest Engineering, TESOL

Hobby:  Painting, Traveling, Reading | Language: Farsi, French, Spanish

“Teaching is a work of heart, so patience and love are inseparable parts of this job.”

Fatima received her Master’s degree in Forest engineering and TESOL certificate from Sussex Downs college in 2010. since then she has been teaching to wide range of people from five-year-old kids to the elderly, and even people who were illiterate in their mother tongue. She is passionate about different languages and cultures. She can speak Farsi, French and Spanish. In her free time, she paints, travels, and reads books.

Kellie McKnight

Birth date: February 6th | Birth place: Nashville, TN | Major: English

Hobby: Cooking, Baking, Reading | Language: English, ASL, Korean, Spanish

“Learning language is fun and a key part of communication”

Kellie graduated from George Mason University with a BA in English and she is certified in teaching English as a Second Language through Oxford Seminars. She has a passion for languages. Her formative years were influenced heavily by her involvement in Girl Scouts from the age of five until she was eighteen when she became a Brownie troop leader for several years. While most of her experience with teaching others pertains to children, she is excited to discover what new surprises and experiences Columbia College holds.

David Wilson

Birth date: November 12th | Birth place: Killeen, TX | Major: Library Science

Hobby:  Music, cooking, games | Language: English, Korean

“We are not judged for failing, but rather for how we respond to it”

David holds a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University Bloomington, and has taught English to middle school and high school students across 4 years in Korea. David had several speech therapy classes when he was young, and thus views pronunciation as a particular specialty. He loves to get students talking in class (talking is hard)! David is relatively new to Northern Virginia.

Mujeeb Rehman

Birth date: April 5th | Major: Journalism, Political Science, Law

Hobby: Chess, Cricket, Reading, Writing | Language: Pashto, Urdu

“In the age of knowledge, ignorance is a choice”

Mujeeb was born in Charsadda; a historic city in the North-West of Pakistan. He has Master’s degree in Journalism. As a journalist, Mujeeb has worked for different international organizations. Apart from being a journalist, he loves to teach English as a Second Language. He has taught both in Pakistan and the United States. He is fluent in English, Pashto and Urdu. He can read and write Persian and Arabic too. He loves to watch different sport, play cricket, football and soccer.




Silver Spring Extension

Hilary Reintges

Birth date: May 8th | Birth place: Bowie, MD | Major: International Studies, Modern Languages & Linguistics, TESOL

Hobby:  Reading, Writing, Traveling | Language: English, French, Japanese

“The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless.”
– Hannah Gadsby, Nanette (2018)

Hilary has received three degrees in the state of Maryland. The first is from Howard Community College, and the second two are from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Her Master’s in TESOL was received in May of 2016. The year of 2017, Hilary lived and taught in Busan, South Korea, but she is back in Maryland now. In her free time, she is a writer and voracious reader.

Tonya Hyman

Birth date: February 1st | Birth place: Brooklyn, NY | Major: Secondary Education (ESL),                                    Behavioral and Social Science

Hobby:  Living Life to the Fullest | Language: English, Spanish, “Teenager”

“Work Like You Don’t Need the Money.  Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, and Dance… Like Nobody’s Watching.”

Tonya received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and her Master’s degree from George Washington University. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Behavioral and Social Science, with a minor in Graphic Design and Desktop Publishing. Her Master’s degree is in Secondary Education, specializing in ESL. She has taught Elementary, middle, high school, and adult students. Aside from ESL, she has taught Spanish, GED/HSD, college orientation, high school online, as well as high school level reading, writing, and math.

She enjoys teaching writing, reading and math remediation courses. Her next big goals are to write a book and start a foundation supporting at-risk youth. Wish her luck!!!

Gillian Stoodley

Birth date: May 13 th | Birth place: Waterville, ME | Major: Psychology, TESOL

Hobby: Watching movies, Travelling | Language: English, Japanese

“Any good teacher knows how important it is to connect with students and understand our culture. – Adora Svitak”

Gillian received her Bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University. After her graduation, she went to Japan and worked as an Assistant Language Teacher for 4 years experiencing new culture. Two years after coming back from Japan, she received her Master’s degree from SIT Graduate Institute. Recently, she is working as an instructor for international students in Washington, DC Area.

Sandra Sharpe

Birth date: June 9th | Birth place: Jamaica | Major: Fine Arts, Publication Design

Hobby: Writing, Photography, Travelling | Language: English

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sandra received her B.A. in Fine Arts from Bowie State University and her Master in Publication Design from the University of Baltimore. In her free time, she enjoys taking pictures, writing, teaching, and visiting interesting places.

Christina Sapp

Birth date: July 28 th | Birth place: New York | Major: Elementary Edu., Early Childhood Edu., Higher Edu.

Hobby: Reading, Traveling | Language: English

“I’m pleased to be an instructor at Columbia College!”

Christina received her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from the City University of New York. Her Bachelor’s Degree is in Elementary Education and her Master’s Degree is in Early Childhood Education. She enjoys reading and traveling with her family in her free time.

Antonio Lima

Birth date: November 17th | Birth place: Senegal in Africa | Major: French, TESOL, Education

Hobby: French, TESOL, Education | Language: English, French, Wolof, Cape Verdean

“One can never learn enough!”

I am originally from Senegal in Africa. I hold a BA in French pedagogy, and have had over twenty years’ experience of teaching ESL in high schools and universities. I worked as a Director of Colleges in Maryland and in the state of Rhode Island. I am a recipient of three ‘teacher of the year’ awards at schools and communities. Currently, I’m pursuing a master’s degree for TESOL.

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