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Georgia Teachers of English to
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2021 Southeastern TESOL Conference Keynotes



Mariana Castro serves as the current Deputy Director at WCER. She brings more than 25 years of experience in education to her research and development work. Her extensive service to the field of education includes curriculum and instruction, language development, teacher preparation and professional learning. In her research, Mariana integrates her background as an educator, her passion for working with multilingual children, youth and their teachers, and her commitment for social justice. Mariana started with WIDA in 2006 as a professional learning delivery specialist and since then has held positions coordinating, managing and directing Professional Development, the Standards Department, and as a researcher focused on language development.  She has also lead the development of WIDA Standards and related initiatives for early years and K-12 in English and Spanish. Mariana currently serves as the PI for research related to language practices of multilingual students, curriculum and instruction in dual language immersion programs, teacher professional learning and family engagement.


Dr. Silvia Romero-Johnson is currently the Executive Director of the Office of Multilingual and Global Education. Her passion resides in providing access to quality bilingual and multilingual education to all students, and more specifically to students who have a family language other than English in the home. She has neem working in the Madison Metropolitan School District since 2001.  She started in the role of bilingual resource specialist while attending school to obtain teaching licenses, and went on to become a bilingual resource teacher, a bilingual math teacher, and a program support teacher for bilingual education programs. Later, she had the privilege of working at Nuestro Mundo Community School as the school principal. Silvia is currently an adjunct professor at Edgewood College, where she teach courses in curriculum and assessment design for the bilingual licensure, and a course of language strategies for the graduate dual language immersion certificate.


Dr. Lori Edmonds is a teacher educator who supports all educators in their pursuit to create inclusive learning environments. During the last 14 years, Lori has taught ESOL classes at the secondary and tertiary levels. She has also instructed teacher education courses focusing on effective methodology for multilingual learners with a strong focus on equity and inclusivity. Dr. Edmonds grounds her research in funds of knowledge and biographical narratives in culturally-diverse classrooms. Prior to her career in ESOL, Lori was a therapeutic treatment parent for children in the foster care system. During that time, she also provided literacy tutoring and recreational programs to engage youth in the Baltimore City neighborhood where she lived. Lori has served on the boards of Maryland and Carolina TESOL and currently serves as Carolina TESOL Executive Board Past President. She has also served on school boards in both urban and rural settings.


Ayanna Cooper, Ed.D., is a consultant, writer, keynote speaker, and advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. She is the owner of ACooper Consulting, a business that provides technical assistance to state departments of education and other clients with the goal of improving outcomes for students. She emphasizes the importance of building capacity to develop and sustain English language programs, use English language proficiency data, and improve instructional practices. She is the author of And Justice for ELs; A Leader's Guide to Creating and Sustaining Equitable Schools, co-editor of Black Immigrants in the United States; Essays on the Politics of Race Language and Voice, and Language Magazine's Pass the Mic series editor. She is currently serving on the TESOL Board of Directors.



Yvonne is Director of Multilingual learner Educator Engagement for Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services. Prior to WCEPS, Yvonne spent 3 years with WIDA, as a Professional Learning Specialist working in both international and domestic settings. She has worked in education for 25+ years, teaching a variety of language learners from grades Kinder to High School. She also worked as a district ELL trainer, ELL instructional coach, family literacy coordinator, and HS parent involvement coordinator. She earned her Bachelors in Business Administration from Angelo State University in Texas and her Masters in Bilingual Education from NOVA Southeastern University, Florida. Yvonne was born in Chihuahua Mexico and immigrated to the USA as a child. She is a former ELL student and now a Bilingual educator who dedicates her work to empower educators to improve the multilingual learners' educational experience. Her endorsements include TESL, Bilingual, and Computer literacy.


Lela Horne is passionate, experienced, and knowledgeable about ESOL/math policy.  Her background (as a former national bank examiner) paired with 22 years of teaching ESOL/math drives her passion for making math relevant for students.  In addition, her experience encompasses a range of educational settings (k-12 classroom, GED program, and technical college) and that motivates her to share strategies that promote Content and Language Integrate Learning.  Finally, Lela is a past president of Georgia TESOL (2018-19), and served 2 terms on the EL Advisory Committee with the Georgia Department of Education (2018-20). 





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