Student Testimonials

If you are a current or former student of UAB's ESL Teacher Education program and would like to add your own testimonial, please contact our webmaster, Lisa Preston at lkirkpat@uab.edu.


You have a SUPERB ESL program at UAB!!Spezzini_class
 
~Janet Smith ('01), former ESL Program Area Specialist for the Shelby County Schools; former Spanish Teacher at Pleasant Grove High, Pleasant Grove, AL

I LOVE that UAB was not a degree that was easy and easily obtained!
~Dolly Smith ('04), ESL Coordinator for the Alexander City Schools; former English Teacher at Benjamin Russell High, Alexander City, AL

The ESL program at UAB is exceptional, effective, and enjoyable! Thank you for the valuable support you have provided to our district.
~Kathy Nichol ('04), ESL Supervisor for the Baldwin County School System, AL; former Special Education Teacher in Loxley, AL

The time and energy UAB has invested in educators has built a powerful program for ELLs. It was such an empowering experience for me to be a part of something so amazing for these children.
~Lisa Essman ('04), Literature Teacher at Pelham High, Pelham, AL

What I enjoyed most about UAB's ESL program is that we leave with real resources and strategies that are useful to us and our students.
~Lenesha N. Moyegun ('09), ESL Intern at Moody Elementary and Moody High, Moody, AL;  former Spanish Teacher with the Midfield City School System, AL

As a 6th grade social studies teacher, I find that my ESL training helps me on a daily basis. All of my students have benefited from techniques I learned during my UAB coursework. I wish all content teachers would have the opportunity to learn more about their ELLs.
~Julie Caine ('06), Social Studies Teacher at Montevallo Middle School, Montevallo, AL

The UAB ESL program has changed my life and helped me realize how much I can help others. I feel that the program empowered me and that now I can impact my students' lives and help them achieve their goals.  
~Suha Huneidi ('07), ESL Teacher at Riverchase Middle, Pelham, AL; former English Teacher in Amman, Jordan

When I was in the ESL program at UAB, I was teaching in a middle school with many ELL students and found the knowledge I gained from the program to be extremely beneficial. I now work with technology at the State Department of Education, where an understanding of ELL students has proved invaluable in designing and implementing technological solutions to meet these students' needs.
~Joan Greene ('04), Educ. Specialist, Technology Initiatives, ALSDE, Montgomery, AL; former Business Education Teacher at Riverchase Middle, Pelham, AL

Because all of our classes followed National Board Standards in English as a New Language, achieving National Board Certification was just a matter of writing lesson plans the way I had learned in the UAB program. This has opened many doors for me, as well as given me opportunities to earn a little extra money. Thank you!!  
~Anne Betbeze ('04), ESL Teacher at EPIC Elementary, Birmingham, AL; former Elementary Teacher in the Birmingham City Schools                      

Thank you so much for a great summer! The work wasn't easy... but so worth it! I love this program!  
~Erica League ('12),  Teacher at Hokes Bluff Elementary, Gadsden, AL; current UAB graduate student                         


In all my years of education from psychology to business management, and from higher education and now to ESL, I have never encountered a program that is this organized and student-centered. I am really, truly impressed with how Dr. Spezzin and her colleagues have put this program together. I am honored and excited to be a part of it!
~Ramona Hart, ESL Instructor at the Smolian International House, Birmingham, AL; Program Manager of Vision Science UAB's School of Optometry

The support system that the ESL program offered was valuable to me because I made connections that can assist me anytime that I may need it. If I had to describe the program in one word, it would be "family." Each cohort is like an extended family. I would suggest this program to any student who may decide to embark on this incredible journey.
 
~Demica Sanders ('08), Director of Special Education for Midfield City Schools, Midfield, AL; former Special Education Teacher in the Birmingham City Schools                 

The ESL program at UAB has provided me with a deeper understanding of second language acquisition and teaching English as a Second Language. It has helped me strengthen my teaching practice by exposing me to "ESL best practices" and has given me a cultural orientation that has helped me to understand and work with my students in a more comprehensive way.
~Tyler Bryant ('09), ESL Teacher at Glen Iris Elementary, Birmingham, AL; former ESL Teacher at Lado International College, Washington, D.C.
 

Taking the courses in the ESL program changed my way of thinking and teaching. Before the courses, I considered myself to be overall a pretty good teacher. But I also had the feeling that I was not completely reaching my ELLs. That wasn't fair. Now I feel confident that I know strategies, methods, and resources that will help ALL of my students. They deserve it!  
~Veronique Zimmerman-Brown ('07), UAB Instructor for EDU200 & EDU500; former Math Teacher at Montevallo High, Montevallo, AL            

This program changed my life and I am a better teacher because of it! I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about entering this field. The courses are set up in a way that is conducive to a busy schedule. I was able to work on my ESL certification while teaching and coaching full time. The professors are extremely knowledgeable, approachable and passionate about what they teach and they truly prepare their students for the ESL classroom.
 
~Katie Heck Collins ('07), ESL Teacher at Gwin Elementary, Hoover, AL; former French Teacher at Thompson High, Alabaster, AL                   

The ESL program at UAB is the best training I have received as a teacher. I learned not only the theories of second language acquisition but also the strategies of how best to reach English Language Learners. Having certification in ESL also opened doors for me to teach secondary ESL at the Dresden International School in Germany and to explore the world!
~Holly Hubbard ('04), ESL Teacher in Etowah County; former Social Studies Teacher at Oak Mountain Middle, Shelby County, AL

I am so happy that I have been able to pursue my master's degree in ESL through UAB. The flexible programs that are offered have allowed me the opportunity to further my education in a most rewarding field and at a distance of 250 miles from Birmingham. The faculty has been very caring and accommodating. Any questions or concerns I have had have always been promptly addressed.
~Jerrie Quina ('09), ESL Teacher at Alma Middle, Bayou LeBatre & Denton Middle, Mobile, AL; former 1st Grade Teacher in the Mobile County School System

I just can't thank you enough for helping me with this opportunity to teach. I feel so confident because you have prepared me well for my ESL teaching career. From the bottom of my heart, there are no words that can fully express my gratitude to you. As I continue developing my teaching career, I will never forget how UAB has influenced my life as an ELL and as a non-native English teacher. Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!
     
~Chi Mei Lee ('06), ESL Teacher of Adult ELLs; former Piano Teacher  

Julia Austin and Susan Spezzini really took an interest in me as a person - a bit rare these days within high-profile research institutions - and that made all the difference. I found a lot of common ground with both of them, and that connection helped me to know I made the right decision to pursue certification in ESL. The last two years as an ESL instructor have been the most rewarding of my 15 year public educator career.
~Oscar Glasscock ('07), ESL Teacher in Walker Co. Schools & Football Coach at Cordova High; former English & ESL Teacher at Calera High, Calera, AL; and former English Teacher at Citronelle High, Mobile, AL & Cullman High

UAB has a fantastic ESL program! I live in Baldwin County and the professors and advisors were wonderful towards helping me achieve my goal as an ESL teacher from a distance. I have teaching ESL in Baldwin County schools for two years now and feel that I have been given all the tools and resources to help my students succeed. What is the best part about the ESL program at UAB? I would feel comfortable contacting any of my previous professors from the program and they would still be willing to help and support me!
~Stephanie Montiel ('08), ESL Resource Teacher, Gulf Shores Schools; former Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay
 
I've always been fascinated with languages and culture; therefore, earning a Master's in ESL Education was the perfect path for me. It is remarkable how the knowledge and experience I gained in the program also helped prepare me for a move to the other side of the world! I am so much more aware of dialectical and cultural differences - this awareness has helped ease my transition and has basically prevented any "culture shock."    
~Lisa M. Preston ('07), Whakatane, New Zealand; former French & Spanish Teacher at Chelsea High, Chelsea, AL  

Pursuing my MAE in ESL at UAB was a decision that truly developed, encouraged, and challenged me as a teacher. My experience among the professors, teaching methods, and courses pushed me to levels of learning that I only hope I will never forget. I also developed a greater love for those students who come to us "between worlds." I am currently a university teacher in China, teaching oral English. I am so thankful that the ESL program at UAB equipped and prepared me for my time here. I am truly grateful! 
 
~Elizabeth Mayfield ('08), English Teacher, LuDong University, Yantai, Shantai Province, China; former 4th Grade Teacher, Hall-Kent Elementary, Homewood, AL

The ESL program at UAB actually provided me with the tools I needed to give ESL students academic opportunities that they otherwise would have missed out on! The program prepares you for real world application of strategies to assist English language learners to progress along with their English speaking peers. The program is outstanding! Its high standards and exceptional teaching staff made the program truly worthwhile.
 
~Monique Vandenabeele ('05), 6th Grade Teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, Orange Park, FL; former Gifted & Talented Teacher at Chelsea Middle, Chelsea, AL
 
Comfortable teaching strategies were proving to be ineffective for the ELLs in my Physics, AP Physics and Physical Science classes. In the UAB program, misconceptions were replaced with valid information and teaching strategies. I have been forever changed by a new understanding of what it means to be an effective teacher for ALL students. With the right information, any teacher can offer ELLs more than just a "chance" for academic success.
~Cindy Hunt ('06), ESL Teacher & Track Coach at Auburn High, Auburn, AL; former Physics Teacher at Austin High, Decatur, AL

UAB's ESL program gave me the education I needed to be a confident and supportive ESL teacher. I have recently been asked by our district's ESL Supervisor to begin an ESL Training Institute for elementary-level regular education teachers. UAB's ESL program is all about compassion for ELLs and brings forth the awareness and tools that make for a strong professional team of teachers across Alabama. I fully recommend this program to anyone interested in teaching ESL - it's the best you will find anywhere!
 
~Jennifer May ('06), ESL Teacher at Austinville Elementary, Decatur, AL; former 6th grade English Teacher at Cedar Ridge Middle, Decatur, AL                           

UAB's ESL program has made me a better teacher. First I learned to reflect upon who I was in order to determine how my prejudices were shaping my beliefs about teaching. Then I grew by gaining information about other cultures and second language acquisition. I can now be an advocate for my students as well as a trained teacher with a suitcase of ideas to use. I am empowered through this program, and my colleagues come to me for best practices when dealing with ELLs. It is awesome indeed!  
~Connie Ray ('07), Special Education Department Head at Moody High, Moody, AL; former Special Education Teacher at Shelby County High, Columbiana, AL

I arrived at UAB with an interest in ESL but without education classes as part of my undergraduate degree and unsure of what I should do next to become a teacher, especially since I would be commuting from northwest Alabama. From that first moment and every step of the way since, Dr. Spezzini and everyone involved in the ESL program were incredibly helpful, encouraging, knowledgeable, and organized. Through my coursework, I learned numerous practical strategies and made many friends and connections in the field of ESL. Before I even finished the Masters program, I was blessed with a wonderful teaching job, and I am now in my third year with a group of fantastic middle and high school ELLs near Decatur.  
~Leanna Ford ('07), ESL Teacher at West Morgan High, West Morgan, AL; former Receptionist in a dental office in Muscle Shoals, AL                   

Without knowledge of the difficult task of language acquisition, a teacher does not truly understand the multifaceted learning experience that awaits English language learners on a daily basis. These classes have armed me with the necessary tools and education I need to ensure that all my students are given a rigorous and meaningful educational experience. I have learned how to incorporate subject matter and language development with hands-on activities that create a sense of belonging and self-worth in all students.
~LaTasha McMillan ('08), English Teacher at Thompson Middle, Alabaster, AL

Receiving my Master's in ESL at UAB has been a momentous experience for my future endeavors as an ESL teacher. I have acquired a variety of learning strategies I use with my English language learners (ELLs). My graduate experience was very rewarding because I met so many knowledgeable people who were willing to share experiences and success stories on how to teach ELLs. I will always remember my ESL graduate professors because they have left me with knowledge I will always apply and never forget.  
~Sevim Whitaker ('07), ESL Teacher at Rocky Ridge Elementary, Hoover, AL; former Instructional Aide in the Hoover City Schools                          

In summer 2008 I was asked to train a group of twenty volunteers to teach English in LuChun, China (Yunnan Province). I was also given the responsibility of teaching a 40-hour pronunciation workshop to the English teachers from the local schools. What an opportunity - especially since I wouldn't be completing my master's degree until that fall! UAB prepared me in every way for teaching English in China. My MAE-ESL studies taught me how to research a project for teaching ESL and how to learn from colleagues. UAB taught me to reflect on my teaching after each session and how to appreciate and accept cultural differences, especially regarding teaching methods and educational systems. Most of all, I learned how to be flexible and confident in new teaching situations. Thank you UAB!     
~Rebecca Jacks ('08), ESL Instructor in UAB's English Language and Culture Institute; former Insurance Services Representative in Birmingham, AL

The MA program in ESL was very practical and hands-on. It helped me gain the tools and knowledge I needed to teach ESL effectively in the classroom, to become an advocate of students in the school environment, and to effectively deal with the cultural issues that are a very real part of teaching English Language Learners. Although I was not a "new" teacher, I gained a wealth of knowledge that is useful in teaching ESL, as well as other academic areas. In fact, I am currently teaching Spanish and couldn't feel better prepared to deal with the challenges I face on a daily basis. The faculty members in the ESL program were very caring and provided the professional guidance I needed, many times far exceeding my expectations. I highly recommend the program.
 
~Rebecca Ogden ('08), Spanish Teacher at Hoover High, Hoover, AL; former ESL Teacher in Hoover, AL and Tucson, AZ

The collaboration among the students and faculty is what makes the wheels turn so that more teachers learn how to reach English Language Learners in a positive and stimulating way. Listening to questions from teachers, what is challenging, how to solve instructional dilemmas, and sharing successes from real-life everyday classrooms is what I find most helpful about the UAB studies. I feel I am not alone and I have many professionals ready to help with ELL issues that come up. It's the relationships that make the difference!
~Donna Dahl ('04), ESL Teacher at Vestavia West Elementary, Vestavia Hills, AL; former Spanish Teacher in the Vestavia City School System 

My education in ESL at UAB has been one of my best experiences. The curriculum was rigid and effective, and the teachers were remarkable, experienced, and compassionate. UAB's ESL teacher education courses enhanced my career and allowed it to flourish. Everyday I take what I learned at UAB and apply it to my ESL and foreign language classes; the results have been unbelievable. The strategies and techniques I learned will stay with me forever. I recommend UAB's ESL program to anyone who is interested in following this path. I grant the success in my career to UAB and to the dedication of the teachers there.
~Jeanne D'Arc Boohaker ('07), ESL & French Teacher at Berry Middle, Hoover, AL; Arabic Teacher at Samford University, Homewood, AL; former French Teacher at John Carroll High, Birmingham, AL

Before I started the ESL teacher education courses, everyone told me that hands-down, UAB has the best graduates. So I thought I would learn something so unique that I would be different from other teachers. I wanted to stand out. Through this program I have found the answers to so many questions that I had not been able to answer until now. I feel more confident than ever. I now realize that the most amazing thing someone can learn is why ELLs have the problems they have and through understanding we are able to help.
~DeAnna Buhl ('09), Spanish Teacher at Brookhaven Middle, Decatur, AL; former Commercial Sales Manager at Advance Auto Parts, Decatur, AL

By attending the ESL program, I have gained knowledge and experience that is very beneficial in the classroom and also in the school system while working with teachers, parents, and administrators. I appreciated that the classroom atmosphere of the ESL program is one that promotes success in all students. The completion of the MA program has given me the self-confidence that I was lacking before attending the program. I now feel that I am able to present myself as a person that has knowledge of the ESL student. I think many more new opportunities are available to me and I will not hesitate to reach for them!
~Patricia Moore ('08), ESL Teacher at Williams Avenue Elementary, Ft. Payne, AL; former Instructional Aide in the Ft. Payne City School System

Teaching is my calling; I love it. However, a calling and the knowledge to do it are very different things indeed. I had been teaching ESL for three years overseas before beginning UAB's ESL program. Had it been reversed, my practice would have been not only more informed, but of much more benefit to my students and me. Not esoteric, but practical is their mantra. I was taught a combination of the hows and whys, and the use of these from a practitioner's standpoint. The support and beliefs of the professors have forever and always been the true reason for the success of the program. So go ahead - free your mind and along the way help others to free theirs!
  
~Bryan Lowry ('07), ESL Aide at Thompson Middle, Alabaster, AL; ESL Instructor at UAB & Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, AL; former English Instructor at AEON Language Schools, Yokohama, Japan

Thank you so much for your assistance during the time I attended classes at UAB. It has opened a brand new world to me and made me very proud of who second language learners are and how far we have come. Mil gracias por su paciencia y su interés en ayudar a personas que hablan idiomas que no son inglés. One of the best services that your program at UAB provides is making its students conscientious about the ways we can use the information we have learned and apply it within our classrooms. Thank you.
~Celia Billescas Hilber ('08), Assist. Prof. of Early Childhood Education at JSU, Jacksonville, AL; former Teacher of Hearing Impaired, Talladega, AL & Brownsville, TX

When I was asked to do a Kindergarten workshop in Shelby County, they told me that they had seen proof that our ESL strategies were good for ALL learners. I presented things that worked for me, activities that I had seen other teachers use in inclusion settings, and ideas that had been tried, tested, and proven by research as successful for ELLs and all learners. As I went through my ESL course binders, the reading reactions I had written helped me locate points to share from our books and course materials; I wasn't just presenting "Jan's opinion." Even though I had wondered many times why we were having to read multiple sources on similar topics, I can honestly say that the knowledge has been ingrained in me and I know where to locate the resources.
~Jan Renfro ('05), Kindergarten ESL Teacher at Valley Elementary, Pelham, AL; former 2nd & 5th Grade Teacher at Greenwood Elementary, Bessemer, AL

My experience at UAB in the ESL program was a win-win situation: My students and I benefitted from my being better able to meet their needs in learning English as a second language, and UAB won because they sent off a graduate student who is honestly able to promote the program to other potential graduate students. My experience was well worth my three-hour round trip drive and the many hours of work and study.
~Carmen Callahan ('04), ESL Teacher at Somerville Road Elementary, Decatur, AL; former Elementary Teacher at Austinville Elementary, Decatur, AL

One of the biggest advantages of UAB's ESL teacher education program is how it can be tailored to meet individual needs. Although my classmates usually took two courses each semester, I was only able to take one course at a time because of family responsibilities. When my daughters were ready to start college, I was ready to start my next career. As an ESL educator, I continue learning something new every day. Above all, I thoroughly enjoy the relationships with my colleagues and students.
~Elise Belcher ('07), ESL Instructor & Program Coordinator, Eng. Lang. & Culture Institute, UAB; former stay-at-home mom

Most of the decisions I have made on impulse have turned out to be the wrong ones - but not returning to graduate studies through the adult ESL program at UAB! I was a lifelong pizza delivery guy who was also working, in December 2005, as a call center representative for a cell phone carrier. I learned of the need for ESL instructors while reading the newspaper during my lunch break, and called Dr. Spezzini the same afternoon! Today I am a pre-service ESL teacher for adult learners from many walks of life, and I will be graduating in August 2009. I had always believed that my undergraduate degree in international studies would never be relevant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but in my current position it seems the world is now travelling to me. My students are at all developmental levels of English, and speak six languages! Four short years ago, I would never have believed this type of work to be possible for me. 
~Cary Chappell ('09), Part-time ESL Instructor at Shelton State Community College; former pizza delivery person

I really am amazed at all I have learned and feel so prepared to be a great ESL teacher. I use so much of what I've learned in UAB's ESL teacher education program on a daily basis and am so, so grateful for the knowledge and skills. Although it was a lot of hard, hard work, I am proud to have been a part of the program. The instructors at UAB are without a doubt the best teachers I have ever had. Thank you for giving the program so much of your heart.
~Katie Comeens ('09), ESL Teacher at Williams Avenue Elementary, Fort Payne, AL; former English & Spanish Teacher at Shoals Christian, Florence, AL