Robyn L. Shifrin - Director
Robyn earned her MA in English with a focus on pedagogical theory from Case Western Reserve University, and received her RSA/TEFLA from the University of Cambridge. Robyn has a research background in constructivist methodology and a practical background in designing and implementing student-centered learning environments. She has developed curriculum, trained teachers, and taught ESL/EFL for twenty years in the United States and abroad, including Russia, Israel, Afghanistan, the Czech Republic, Iraq, China, and Egypt.
Amy M. Snow - IEP Manager
Amy graduated from the University of Alabama with a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She received her undergraduate degree from Samford University in Spanish Language and Literature. Amy has had experience teaching in Indonesia and China and studied in Spain. She also worked as an instructor of ESL at Gadsden State Community College before beginning her work with the ELI.
Her favorite subjects to teach are academic reading, writing, and oral communication skills. Amy feels like she learns as much from her students as they learn from her. She enjoys watching the cross-cultural dynamic of the ESL classroom and serving as a facilitator in the learning process.
Monica Cantwell - Admissions & Program Coordinator
Monica has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from Northeastern University in Boston and a Bachelor’s of Art in Communications from the University of Massachusetts, with a year of linguistics and film studies at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Monica is currently pursuing her Master's in Adult ESL Education at UAB. She enjoys working at the ELI because it allows her to help international students adjust to life in the U.S. and learn about their cultures and languages. Monica has taught in Japan, Boston, and Virginia, and has taught and advised students at UAB for more than ten years.
Melissa W. Hawkins - Special Projects Manager
Melissa has a Master's degree in TESOL from the University of Alabama. Her undergraduate degree is from Samford University in English and Speech Communications. Melissa has taught English at universities in the U.S., Belgium, and Japan. She has spent time in southern Africa, Southeast Asia, eastern Asia, Western Europe, and Central America. Her favorite things about her job are the privilege of getting to know students from all over the globe and how she gets to observe intercultural communication in action everyday. Melissa thoroughly enjoys helping students adjust to life at UAB.
Kathy Martell - Curriculum Coordinator & Instructor
Kathy received her Master's degree in TESOL from the School for International Training in 1998. She has taught adults of all ages and from over 20 countries, working in the US, Vietnam, and China. She enjoys teaching all levels from beginner to advanced, and courses in general, business, and academic English. She has also conducted teacher-training courses through the University of Cambridge CELTA program. As the Curriculum Coordinator and as an instructor, she focuses on students' ability to actively use English language and skills in a very practical way in academic, professional, and everyday life.
Brian Rice - Graduate Assistant
Brian graduated from UAB with majors in International Studies and Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Brian is currently pursuing his Masters of Adult ESL Education at UAB and is excited to complete his studies with two years of Peace Corps service in 2016. Brian enjoys learning, cultural exchange, and the sense of empowerment associated with communicating ideas in another language. He has experience teaching 8th grade physics, tutoring college students, and working as an ACT tutor in Birmingham high schools. Brian is thrilled to begin his journey towards teaching ESL at UAB.
Xinyu Zhai - Student Assistant
Xinyu was born in China and graduated from Xi'an International Studies University in International Politics. He came to the U.S. in 2014 and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in TESOL. He previously worked as a part-time salesperson in retail. Living, studying, and working at UAB has not only improved his academic abilities, but has given him experience working and communicating with people from all over the world. He enjoys traveling and learning from the practical experiences of life as well as from books. Xinyu plans to graduate in Summer 2017.
Yanyu Chen - Student Assistant
Matt Lett - Student Assistant
Amy Craig - Bridge Coordinator & Instructor
Amy has a Master's degree in TESOL/Applied Linguistics from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor’s in English Linguistics and French for International Trade from Auburn University. She enjoys teaching English Composition and Reading, and helping students acclimate to American academic culture. She also coordinates the ELI’s International Bridge Program, which allows students to take university classes while still working to improve their language skills and cultural understanding.
Oscar Garcia - Instructor
Originally from Mexico, Oscar graduated from UAB with a Master’s degree in Adult ESL Education. He has worked for the Applied Linguistics Program at State University of Nayarit in Mexico, and has taught adults from diverse ages and backgrounds in Mexico and in the United States. Oscar has conducted teacher-training courses through the University of Cambridge TKT certificate programs as well as presented many training workshops in state and regional TESOL conventions in the U.S. and Mexico. As a bilingual speaker, Oscar believes that he can make a difference in his students’ lives because he understands the challenges faced in learning a second language in a foreign country. He is a strong advocate for free voluntary reading, and he believes this is the most powerful tool that students can use to learn a second language.
Bryan Lowry - Instructor
Bryan graduated from UAB with a Master's in Adult ESL Education. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in American Studies, with a concentration in Telecommunications and Film. His professional experience includes working with ESL teachers in the Shelby County school system, work as an Instructor at Aeon Language Schools in Japan, and teaching a variety of courses for the ELI. Bryan tries to make learning fun, and his classes often feature games and other active ways to practice English. He is a "people person" and enjoys getting to know each of his students individually.
Rachel Scott - Instructor
Rachel received her Master`s degree in TESOL at Wheaton College in Chicago, where she also got her undergraduate degree. She speaks Russian and has lived overseas for 18 years: 3 years in Bolivia, 11 in Kyrgyzstan, 3 in Thailand, and 1 in Greece. She has also traveled widely to places like Russia, China, Ukraine, Spain, Germany, and Pakistan. She loves teaching adult ESL and being a part of students’ cultural transition to the United States, whether it is temporary or permanent. Because she has been a foreigner in other countries, she understands the joys and challenges of traveling and learning a second language. Rachel enjoys creating student-centered classrooms that are interactive and supportive offering students a welcoming place to learn.
Anna Skees - Instructor
Anna has a Master’s in Education in ESL from UAB. Her undergraduate degree is in English from Bob Jones University. Anna taught English for a year in Tver, Russia, at Vista English School. She has coordinated many children's camps throughout Russia for the organization Russian Summer Camps. Most recently, she taught a summer camp in China in Summer 2015. Anna loves the classroom dynamic as students engage each other and interact using English. It's wonderful to see students grow in confidence and ability! She also enjoys experiencing other cultures by getting to know her students.
Natalie A. Twelkemeier - Instructor & Webmaster
Natalie received her Master's of Arts degree in TESOL and Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois. She also has an undergraduate degree in graphic design and information technology from the University of South Alabama. She has taught English at universities in Thailand, Kazakhstan, multiple cities in China, most recently at Tianjin Peiyang University for 5 years. She has also presented at various regional ESL Conventions. She enjoys thinking of creative ways to teach, creating games, activities and visual aids to help students learn, and getting to know students from around the world. She also likes exploring how technology can best utilized in the classroom.
Meghan Gilliland - Part-time Instructor
Meghan received a Master’s in Education in ESL from UAB and earned her undergraduate degree in English/Literature from Samford University. During her time at Samford, she studied Spanish in Costa Rica and was an intern at an academy in London, England. Meghan previously worked with UAB’s University Writing Center and appreciated the chance to work individually with students, helping them further develop their communication skills. She values the mutual learning that occurs in ESL classrooms between students and teachers and strives to help students achieve their learning goals.
Melinda Harrison - Part-time Instructor
Melinda earned a Masters of Arts degree in English Studies, TESOL, from Illinois State University, and she also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Illinois. Her professional experience includes teaching courses in the ELI at Illinois State University and in the ESL program at Heartland Community College following several years of teaching high school English literature and composition. Melinda has researched the academic literacy needs of students transitioning from an ESL program to first-year composition. She enjoys learning about her students’ background experiences and serving as a guide to them in reaching their practical and academic writing and speaking goals.
Jonghee Shadix - Instructor
Jonghee graduated with a Master’s in TESOL from the University of Alabama. She got her bachelor's degree from UAB in nursing. She has been teaching English pronunciation and intelligibility for 12 years in the Professional Development Program at UAB Graduate School. She has presented many training workshops in these areas at various state and regional TESOL conventions in the US and has acted as a guest lecturer in Korea. Jonghee has a love of learning and enjoys the good work environment at UAB.
Sandra Spillner-Martin - Part-time Instructor
Sandra has her Masters of Arts degree in English and Italian Studies, as well as in Media Communications, from Martin-Luther-University in Halle/Wittenberg, Germany. She also has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Education Sciences from the same school. Sandra has done research in the field of psycholinguistics and is particularly interested in the relationship between thinking and speaking. She has experience teaching both English and German language skills and has also worked in Great Britain, Italy and Germany. She loves the interaction with students from various cultural backgrounds, and her favorite class is the TOEFL iBT Prep.
Sherine Wahaba - Part-time Instructor
Sherine graduated from UAB with a Master’s in Adult ESL Education. Sherine also has an undergraduate degree in tourism from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Egypt. Before teaching, she worked in the tourism industry in Egypt and Chicago as an administrative assistant. Sherine loves foreign languages, and this is one of the main reasons she decided to become a teacher. She also believes that she can make a difference in her students’ lives by understanding the difficulties they face in learning a second language and in adjusting to a new culture. Her favorite subjects to teach are pronunciation and grammar.