Teachers & Staff

Michelle Duval, Director

Michelle Duval (Program DirectorMichelle has been working with adult ESOL learners since 1998, and has worked with schools in both Italy and the United States. She taught the Advanced level at GPA for four years until becoming the program’s Director in 2008. She feels privileged to work with such dedicated and enthusiastic students.

Deborah Goldberg McCarthy (Teacher Coach)

Deborah Goldberg McCarthy (Teacher Coach) Deb has been with the Gardner Adult Ed program since she first became a certified ESOL Instructor in 2005 and she loves this program and its students. Deb has taught many of the levels at GPA and has also been the Academic Coach and a substitute teacher here. She has taught ESL in both private and public schools and also works as a licensed social worker. She enjoys hiking, nature, and spending time with her husband and their six pets.

Susan Alport (Teacher, High Intermediate)This is Susan’s first year teaching ESOL at GPA, but not her first year of teaching. Before joining the GPA staff, Susan worked as both a middle school ESL teacher, a public-school Writing Center director, and as a private English and ESL tutor to children – adults. She welcomes this new opportunity to work with students from many different backgrounds and experiences and hopes her teaching will help each move closer to achieving their goals. Seeing students of any age grow in confidence, independence, and pride as they gain English language mastery motivates and inspires what she does. Besides language, Susan loves art, poetry, being outdoors in all seasons, and spending Sundays visiting family and friends.

Deborah Bluestein (Teacher, English for Immigrant Entrepreneurs & Immigrant Voices Project Facilitator) Deborah gardnerheadshot.jpg became an ESOL certified teacher in 2013. Her first encounter with the Gardner program was as a volunteer in 2013, then as a teacher of the Basic Beginner class in 2014. She considers herself a “multi-preneur,” someone who has launched numerous small businesses, the longest running being Bluestein Associates and Juiceboxartists Press and Writing Workshops. She jumped at the opportunity to teach Gardner’s first English for Immigrant Entrepreneurs class in 2019/2020 and has been inspired by the grit, gumption, ambition, and courage of her students as they grow and expand their businesses. In her spare time she writes historical fiction under the name of Dorah Blume, practices yoga to keep her head on straight, and loves walking around Boston

Wendy Castellana (Substitute Teacher) This is Wendy’s first year working with ESOL learners.  For the past 6 years, Wendy lived abroad in Switzerland and Singapore while raising her young children.  Prior to moving abroad, Wendy was an Adjunct Math Professor at Dean College.  She also spent a decade working as a teacher and private tutor for The Princeton Review.  Wendy loves to see the joy on a student’s face when they have moments of success.  In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family, running, reading, and traveling.

22279940_10104939995007292_114353220176825621_nNick Herbert (Teacher, Advanced Level) I grew up in a small town not far from Boston. I began teaching ESOL in Thailand in 2013 and quickly found the joy of connecting and inspiring students to overcome challenges. My journey has brought me back to Boston where I continue to learn from and be inspired by my students while helping them build their language skills. ‘My goal is to empower students with tools for self-directed learning and build resilience when facing challenges while having a bit of fun. I enjoy travel, photography, cycling, as well as playing and designing board games. 

Sarah Lynn (Professional Development Facilitator) I started teaching in 1985 as a literacy volunteer in an ESOL program for refugees in New York City. Immediately I knew I had found my calling and enrolled in Master’s program in TESOL. Since then I have taught ESOL and literacy in Spain and the Boston area. Along with teaching I’ve written ESOL textbooks and trained teachers in the U.S. and Latin America. In recent years I’ve been collaborating with the Gardener Pilot Academy team on their “Learning and the Brain” initiative. Now, I am delighted to say, I am also teaching their Basic Beginning ESOL class.

Tyler O’Keefe (Teacher, Intermediate) I decided to become a teacher after being inspired by the fantastic teachers I’ve had throughout my life. I started my own teaching career in 2017 at a language school in Boston. After gaining some experience there, I moved to Busan, South Korea, where I taught (and learned from) middle schoolers for four years. These days, I’m lucky to be teaching (and still learning) right here at GPA! At the same time, I’m also working as a substitute teacher at a middle school in Cambridge. In my spare time, I love playing video games, exercising, and studying Korean.

Lexi Newland (Teacher, Survival Literacy) My passion for teaching started when I was quite young. Many of my friends in school were not particularly “book smart,” so I found new ways to help them understand classroom material. So many students get left behind and end up feeling like they aren’t intelligent when all they need is a different angle. I am committed to finding whatever approach, song, image, etc. it takes to help a new piece of information stick with my student. Each and every achievement my students make stay with me and fill me with a deep sense of wonder and joy. There’s nothing quite like the rush of knowing that you helped someone else achieve their goals. That and an incurable case of wanderlust are my drugs of choice. I’ve been to countries like Turkey, Hungary, Ireland, China, etc., and I can’t wait to add to the list. I also enjoy knitting and kayaking. I’d like my peers and students to know that show-and-tell time is my favorite method of connecting with others. Please share your pictures with me!

Erica Peterson (Teacher, Advanced Level)

Erica Peterson (Substitute Teacher) Erica has been working with the Gardner Pilot Academy since 2011. She has worked in the ESOL field with adult immigrants and refugees for the past 9 years, after graduating university with a degree in cultural anthropology and Spanish. In addition to working with adult immigrants in the Boston area, she also works in youth engagement, college access and skill development for underserved and first generation middle- and high school students in the Framingham area. Erica is also currently pursuing certification as an American Sign Language interpreter. Her passion is serving communities and providing pathways and access to greater opportunities, whether that be language instruction, skill development or translation services. At the Gardner, she currently teaches the Advanced Level.

Dorrie Pizzella (Teacher, Low Intermediate LevelDorrie Pizzella began working at GPA in September 2018 as a volunteer tutor through Boston Cares. “GPA is such a special place. I really enjoyed working with all the amazing students, teachers and staff. Tutoring also gave me an opportunity to honor my own Italian immigrant grandparents by helping a new generation of Bostonians learn English.” This year Dorrie joined the GPA as a full-time teacher. She currently teaches the Low Intermediate English Level. Dorrie enjoys cooking, running and gardening. She has a Masters degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and received her ESL certification in 2017.

Mauricio Rosas (Teacher, Beginner Class) Mauricio taught for ten years at the YMCA in Boston and this is his second year teaching at GPA! Mauricio grew up in Allston and wanted to give back to the community, he truly enjoys working with the students and staff! Mauricio works full time for the Boston Red Sox, and enjoys watching sports, and spending time with family.

Ericka Scott

Ericka Scott (Teacher, Basic Beginner) Hi! My name is Ericka. I am from California, but I have lived in Boston since 2012. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work. I realized early on that being a social worker was not a good fit, but I knew that I loved working and talking with people. I realized that I loved learning about different cultures and meeting people from different countries, and I wanted to incorporate these things into work. I decided then that I wanted to teach English and work with people from around the globe. I love being active: biking, swimming, and traveling. I enjoy reading and sewing as well.

Marie MannaMarie Manna (Substitute TeacherIn my work as a labor union organizer, my goal is to give people the tools and confidence to accomplish their goals. In 2011, I decided I wanted to explore other ways to do this and happily, I got my ESL certification and began teaching.  I really enjoy working with students of all ages and backgrounds who have the motivation to take on the challenge of learning English.  I taught students through the Local 26 Unite hotel workers union training programs for several years.  I’m happy to have to the opportunity to be part of the GPA Program and continue working with students who want to grow and learn so they can accomplish their goals for themselves and their families.

David Carter (Substitute Teacher and BEST Plus Administrator) David has been teaching English to young adults, adults, international business executives and students from around the world since 2004. He has also taught in Montréal, Québec and in France. David has been a substitute teacher at the GPA for several years and is now a classroom and teacher coach, collaborating with the teachers to solve classroom problems and to help make the classes highly effective for both the learners and the teachers.

Deborah Picard (Substitute Teacher and BEST Plus AdministratorDeborah is now in her second year of teaching ESOL at GPA. She has taught conversational English in the Boston area since 2008 and is currently teaching the Basic Beginner class at Gardner.

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