Our volunteers assist the students and staff in countless ways. We welcome you to join our team of extraordinary volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the Program Director, Michelle Duval via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
At GPA, we are fortunate and grateful to have many volunteers who donate their time and talent to support our overall mission:
Amy AbuShanab started volunteering with GPA when she moved to Boston in 2016. She loves to help teach English as a form of empowerment and community engagement and previously spent a year teaching English in Palestine. In her spare time, Amy enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing piano. In her professional life, Amy is the Assistant Director at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, working with a research team that helps shape policies, programs and practices which improve the lives of people with disabilities
Liana Almonte (Volunteer) Liana Almonte is a Cambridge resident and a first year volunteer with GPA’s ESOL program. During the day she works as a Quality Assurance specialist at a biotech company and in her free time enjoys cooking, yoga, running and seeing live music. Liana has a passion for language learning and being a first generation American, knows first hand the struggles immigrants can face in America. She is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the Boston community, and looks forward to class with the students each week!
Terry Armstrong has a B.A. in Biology and has worked in healthcare clinical labs for 20 years. When she was younger, she lived in a house for international students for four years. It was a real education and led to an interest in politics and international affairs. Terry also had a lifelong interest in the middle east because her father worked there while she was young. Most recently, she has developed an interest in the Syrian refugee crisis and she was frustrated to sit by and unable to do something about it. She finally traveled to Greece and worked in a refugee camp for a month over the summer of 2017. When she came back she wanted to continue to help refugees and immigrants here in Boston and found the Adult Education Program at GPA did just that.
Melissa Banta works as a curator at Harvard University. Her specialty is historical photographs (Harvard has over 10 million of them). She also works at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. She writes about the history of the Cemetery, where many famous people were buried. She has three children and lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Sam Bessey has volunteered at ESOL for almost a year helping adults learn English. During the day, he works as a chemical engineer in the Biotech industry designing new production facilities. Prior to the ESOL program he also tutored adults in the math section of the GED.
Marilyn Clark is a recently retired primary care physician who now enjoys volunteering in the community in other ways. She lives in Brookline and has 3 grown kids. Her interests include birding, hiking and traveling, reading and visiting museums. Marilyn looks forward to learning with and meeting you all here at GPA.
Barbara Costa has worked as a project manager and producer of science subjects for online courses, websites, public television documentaries, educational videos, and museum programs and exhibits. A resident of Arlington, Barbara has also volunteered for Town Meeting as well as arts and culture organizations She is married with two grown children. This is her second year volunteering with ESOL classes at GPA.
Liz Cremens My name is Liz Cremens and I volunteer every other Thursday night in Wendy’s high level intermediate class. I was nearing retirement this past year and wanted an opportunity to assist persons learning English. I am an attorney and for many years worked in various capacities in the Massachusetts Courts. In my work I witnessed the additional challenge for individuals whose language is not English to effectively function in our judicial system. I want to help individuals who want to learn English. Gardner Pilot Academy has provided a meaningful way to do so. The commitment of the students is inspiring to me. I enjoy traveling and meeting people from different countries, walking and reading, mostly non-fiction. In retirement I hope to intensify my efforts to learn Spanish.
Diane Gordon has volunteered at the ESOL program at Gardner Pilot since January 2017. She was motivated to work directly with immigrants because she wants to be the face of America that reflects who we really are as a country, and to help immigrants learn the skills they need to feel safe and to pursue their own goals in the United States. In her professional life, she has worked with community based nonprofit organizations for over 35 years as a leader, manager, and consultant.
Christina Lima is a healthcare professional who enjoys volunteering in her spare time. She started as a volunteer in October 2017 and likes to help ESOL learners achieve their literacy goals. She also appreciates learning about different cultures and languages and being involved in GPA’s community. In addition to volunteering, Christina enjoys cooking, arts and crafts, and running.
Nicole (Nikki) Mikolajczak is a writer, an engineer, a yoga teacher, and an artist on track to exploring a career in medicine. She is a lover of languages and cultures having studied Latin, Spanish, German, and Japanese. Coming from an immigrant Filipino mother and Russian and Polish grandparents who were World War II survivors, she has seen the difficulties in learning English and being understood as a foreigner. Her personal background has greatly influenced her to give back to the immigrant community by assisting Gardener’s ESOL classes. In her free time, she can be found outdoors rock climbing, hiking, doing yoga, or painting.
Jacob Sajinyan currently works as a Treasury Analyst at Brandeis University. He first got into tutoring as a sophomore in college, where he tutored courses ranging from electrical engineering to chemistry. He has always wanted to get back into tutoring, and the adult ESOL at GPA was the perfect opportunity. Dancing and traveling are two of his most favorite hobbies.
Elisabeth Sepulveda (Child Care Provider Volunteer) Elisabeth is an Allston resident who works as a Curriculum Developer and Educational Technology Specialist at EXPLO, an educational enrichment program. She has a Bachelors degree
in Cognition and Education and has previously worked as a tutor, mentor, instructor, and program developer. Elisabeth was drawn to GPA’s ESOL program as an opportunity to support educational access in the community and is excited to spend time with children each week of the program. In her free time, Elisabeth enjoys dancing, aerial silks, cooking, making music, learning, and of course, spending time with kids.
Hermelinda Zegarra is from Chaclacayo, Peru. After my daughter enrolled college I decide to became a volunteer at Gardner pilot academy ESOL program. I was a student years ago in this program. I really enjoy assisting the teacher and students in class and seeing how the students after a long day of hard work come to classes eager to learn English. My hobbies included embroidering, knitting,cooking, and gardening.