Nooshi Borhan is originally from Iran and came to the U.S. at the age of 14. She first received a B.A. in Sociology and English Literature from the University of California, at Berkeley, and then an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Francisco State University. After teaching at UC Berkeley Extension for 6 years, she worked in Japan for a year and then moved to France to attend cooking school. She received a Diplome in Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris. She started her career at Contra Costa College in 2001. She recently went back to school to earn a second master’s degree from San Francisco State University in the area of Equity and Social Justice in Education. Nooshi loves her job as she finds her students to be inspiring. In her free time, Nooshi loves to read, travel, and explore new places.
Sara Buckingham earned her B.A in English at California State University Chico and later an M.A in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2003. After finishing her M.A, she received an English Language Fellowship through the United States Department of State to teach English at Josip Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia where she was also responsible for conducting teacher training and development workshops. Sara returned home to teach English as a Second Language at various schools in Boston, New York and California. In Addition to teaching, her professional experience includes Academic Directorships at schools in New York and San Francisco, participating in accreditation reviews for the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation and attending and presenting at conferences. Sara joined the Contra Costa Faculty in 2013 where she has taught beginning ESL, writing and grammar courses. She absolutely loves working with Contra Costa College students and feels privileged to work with such hardworking, dedicated and passionate people each day. Sara believes that there is nothing more rewarding than watching students achieve their goals. When she is not teaching, Sara enjoys spending time with her husband riding their bikes, skiing in the winter or dreaming of their next travel destination.
Valerie Cross is from Cincinnati, Ohio and started teaching at Contra Costa College in the Spring of 2013. She received her MA in TESOL from Indiana University in 2007 and became a Doctoral Candidate in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University in 2012. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Psychology. Valerie taught ESL in the Intensive English Program at Indiana University for 3 years, taught one semester at Universidad de Oriente in Valladolid, Mexico, and has been teaching at Academy of Art University in San Francisco since Fall of 2012. She is interested in critical pedagogy and using video and technology in ESL teaching. Valerie enjoys traveling, playing tennis, and learning new things in her free time.
Evan graduated from Seattle University in 1999 with a B.A. in Sociology, and in 2007 from the University of San Francisco with a single subject teaching credential (English) and Master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language. He lived in Tokushima (Sadamitsu), Japan for 3 years teaching English through the JET program. He can speak a little Japanese. He taught English for 5 years at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord. He has been teaching ESL at IEC@DVC for three and a half years. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, making hip-hop music, drinking coffee, laughing and spending time with family and friends. He hopes to always combine language learning with ideas and action for social justice while having a great time!
Growing up in the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Bay Area and coming from a household of educators, Heather cultivated a passion for language learning and a curiosity about foreign cultures. This exposure to diversity led her to learn Spanish as a second language and to obtain her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Latin American/Latino Studies from U.C. Santa Cruz, and eventually to live and study in Spain and South America. Inspired by her work teaching Spanish as a second language to American high school students, Heather decided to pursue her M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at San Francisco State University in order to become an excellent language educator. It was there she discovered her true passion for teaching English to non-native speakers. Before coming to Contra Costa College, Heather taught academic ESL oral communication, reading, writing, and grammar courses as well as Business courses to international students at the American Language Institute at San Francisco State University and in the PLUS program at Golden Gate University. Through all these experiences, she has had the chance to meet students from all over the world, share her research about language teaching and curriculum development with colleagues and scholars, and learn a lot about herself and the world in the process.
David Gorman loves helping students and teaching ESL. He’s taught at colleges in Heredia, Costa Rica; Barcelona, Spain; and Paris, France in addition to community colleges and adult schools across California. At Contra Costa College, he has taught beginning vocabulary classes to advanced grammar classes- and seemingly, everything in between since 2007. He has been published in Language Testing Quarterly and The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.Additionally, he’s won essay and poetry contests with submissions that were later published. Occasionally, he presents at the California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL) Conference. He also loves to delve into technology to see how it can enhance learning. He holds a Master’s Degree in TESOL from California State University, Los Angeles along with a California Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. He enjoys reading, writing and art and gets inspired and invigorated by budget travel.
Hired as a faculty member in 1990, Helen has done various kinds of work (as an instructor, teacher trainer and dean) at Contra Costa College over the years. Without a doubt, the most meaningful, enjoyable and rewarding work Helen has done has been as an instructor in the ESL Department. She appreciates students’ great enthusiasm, warmth, motivation and hard work. As she always tells her students, since she can’t travel every day, she’s lucky to have the world come to her. For her whole life, she has had great interest in language and culture. Helen received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and her master’s degree in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) from San Francisco State University. Before coming to CCC, she worked with international students at UC Berkeley Extension and then on campus at UC Berkeley with both international and immigrant students. Over the years, Helen had the opportunity to publish ESL idiom, listening/speaking and grammar textbooks, and she taught English and trained faculty while on sabbatical in Shanghai, China. In her free time she loves to travel, read, go to the theater and concerts, and spend time with friends and family.
Kathleen Letellier was born and raised in Berkeley, California. She earned both her Bachelor’s Degree (in Drama Education) and her Master’s Degree (in English, with the emphasis on TESOL) at San Francisco State University. She has taught in Paris and Morocco, in addition to teaching at programs around the Bay Area, including DVC’s IEP, Laney and UC Berkeley’s English Language Program for 13 years. For the past ten years, Kathleen has been teaching English to international high school students at a private school in the east bay. Kathleen loves to travel (in the past few years to India, the UK, Canada and France), watch movies, read, bake, and spend time with her family. After living in Berkeley for 20 years, last year, Kathleen moved to Martinez, where she currently lives with her husband, three daughters, four cats, five chickens and a dog.
Laila Winter landed in the U.S. at the age of two with her immigrant Pakistani parents. Several eventful years later, she obtained a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Before completing her TESL certificate at UC Berkeley Extension and MA TESOL at the University of San Francisco, Laila worked as a nonprofit manager for organizations serving urban youth in Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle. She has also spent her time working as an after-school educator in Oakland K-12 schools, teaching English at local language schools, and tutoring academic subjects privately. Selling books, slinging coffee, merchandising flowers, radio promotions, street fundraising, and medical conference planning are also noted among her former professions. Laila loves all things linguistic, including teaching English to speakers of other languages and learning new languages herself. A few other activities Laila enjoys in her spare time include traveling, playing outdoors, going to Warriors games, shooting hoops, and trying new activities like sailing and keeping bees. Oh, and she loves a good cat video.
Susan Marvin was born and raised in Vermont. She received a BA in Education and Art from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and a Master’s in Education with a concentration in Teaching English as a Second Language from Holy Names University in Oakland. She traveled widely as a young person, farmed for a decade, and was a tapestry weaver in San Francisco before settling on teaching. She has taught for many years all over the Bay Area and has been at Contra Costa College and City College of San Francisco since 2005. Susan loves teaching ESL because she finds this particular
community of learners so interesting. In her free time, Susan grows vegetables, swims, studies voice, skis and backpacks with her family.
Lynda Nicol loves everything about learning a new language and using it. She spent 6 months in Austria as a student studying German and history. She spent almost 2 years in Italy working and living with Italians. She spent 1 year in Japan learning Japanese and teaching English, and she spent two months riding her bike around all of Japan with her husband. Besides living and learning languages abroad, she also likes studying other languages at home. She’s studied Chinese and French too! Because of her love of languages and her understanding of what it takes to learn a language, she decided to teach others English. Right now she is busily relearning her Italian and Japanese and attends classes for both of these languages. She says that because she is also a language learner, she is able to more fully understand what her own students are trying to do, so she is very grateful for all the effort the students put into bettering their English and is inspired by such dedication and hard work. She also finds it very rewarding to be a part of someones dreams for a better future and hopes to always encourage her students to excel in English, so they can achieve their dreams.
Shelley Ruby earned her B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Linguistics from U.C. Davis and later an M.A. in Education with a single-subject teaching credential in Spanish from Stanford University. After finishing her M.A., she taught high school Spanish for five years, but realized that her true passion was for teaching ESL. She then returned to school for an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Francisco State University. Before coming to Contra Costa College, Shelley taught listening/speaking, reading/writing, study skills, pronunciation, and grammar to ESL students at the American Language Institute, San Francisco State, and Diablo Valley College. She joined the faculty at Contra Costa College in 2006, and now teaches ESL part-time. Shelley feels fortunate to teach in such a great ESL program. In her spare time, Shelley enjoys movies, theatre, hiking, travel, and relaxing with her husband and two sons.
Gabriela Segade joined the ESL Department at Contra Costa College in 2002. Before coming to CCC, she was at the University of Hawaii, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in ESL from the Department of Second Language Studies, one of the top-ranked programs in the field. In 2011, she earned a PhD in Language and Literacy Education from the University of California at Berkeley. A native of Uruguay, Gabriela is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and studied French as a foreign language. She started her English teaching career in Argentina, and she later taught ESL at the high-school and college level in Hawaii. Between 1997 and 2002, she was an instructor and later Academic Coordinator of the University of Hawaii English Language Program. She has conducted research on the acquisition of English as a second language by adolescents and adults, and taught teacher education courses at the University of California at Berkeley and earlier at the Center for Asia Pacific Exchange in Hawaii. Gabriela likes to read about language, mind, society, current politics, and mindfulness, and she enjoys singing and riding her bicycle.
Elisabeth Xiezopolski is a full-time tenured instructor at Contra Costa College, where she has been teaching since 1992. She is the coordinator for
the beginning level class and specializes in teaching beginning and intermediate levels. Ms. Xiezopolski graduated from California State
University, Hayward in 1982 with a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language and Literature (Spanish and French). In 1984, she graduated from San Francisco
State University with a Master’s Degree in English with a concentration in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language. After graduate school, Ms. Xiezopolski taught English in Madrid, Spain for two years before returning to teach in the San Francisco Bay Area. She then taught in intensive English
programs at Dominican College in San Rafael and Mills College in Oakland before accepting an ESL position at Contra Costa College. Ms. Xiezopolski
has traveled extensively and has visited 29 countries in North, Central and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Her hobbies include traveling, photography, and studying maritime history. Ms. Xiezopolski is the Level 50 coordinator and ESL new instructor mentor.