Intensive English Institute Advisory Board Members

The Middlesex Community College Intensive English Institute Advisory Board members are community leaders who represent administration, faculty, instructors, and/or private business owners in the field of second language teaching and learning, and/or education for international and local students. The advisory board members provide advice and advocacy on issues that will help shape the structure, direction, and quality of the Intensive English Institute initiatives at MCC through the lens of quality, evidence, and research-based investigation of the institute’s student learning outcomes, course goals, course outcomes, program outcomes, and program planning and review to assure best practices inform and influence all aspects of operation.

Dr. Virginia Drislane has been working at MCC since 2017 as the ELL Specialist in the Academic Center for Enrichment and since summer 2020 as a Supplemental Instruction Specialist. In her role as the ELL Specialist she leads faculty workshops on how to effectively assist non-native English speaking students become academically successful, offers grammar and pronunciation study sessions for non-native English speaking MCC students, and trains MCC’s students who work as peer tutors and supplemental instruction leaders. She worked with the Intensive English Institute Director, hand-in-hand, by attending the CEA self-study report workshop in October 2018, contributed to the evaluation of the Hellenic University ABLE B2 English language communication skills test, and she generally and thoroughly enjoys attending the end-of-semester portfolio presentations for the students who demonstrate their learning in the Intensive English Institute classes. When Virginia is not working with us at MCC she teaches two content-based courses each semester at Worcester State University. She earned her B.M. in Applied Music in the North Carolina School of the Arts, her M.A. in Foreign Languages/TESOL at West Virginia University, and her Ph.D. of Sociolinguistics at Universitaet des Saarlandes.

Dr. Mary Cazabón, Ed.D., ESL Education, Parent/Community Engagement, brings experience in design and inception of innovative research-based programs for the most at-risk vulnerable populations. Holding an advanced degree in Applied Linguistics and a doctorate in Urban School Leadership, she has extensive experience in conducting educational research and evaluation, in developing academic content and English as a Second Language curricula, and in delivering technical assistance to schools, districts, universities, and state departments of education. From 1994-2008, she served as Director of Bilingual/ESL Programs (Kindergarten through Grade 12) in Cambridge, MA. During 2003 our own IEI Director was one of Mary’s University of Massachusetts, Boston, Applied Linguistics graduate program students in her class on assessment of multi-cultural, multi-linguistic students who may have learning disabilities. She renders technical services to language and instructional programs for ELLs. In 2001, she participated in an official educational delegation to Cuba headed by a US government official to distribute educational materials to schools and libraries throughout the country. She has also directed two Graduate Certificate Programs through the Applied Linguistics Department at University of Massachusetts Boston. She has received commendation for her service to the education of ELs in Massachusetts from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Lesley University English Language Teacher/Parent Certificate Project that is partnering with the Brockton Public Schools Department of Bilingual/ESL Services and the Brockton-based community agency, SABURA .

Dr. Milena Gueorguieva is a multilingual composition instructor and the English as a second language coordinator of the First Year Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Since she joined the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in 2011, her main focus has been curriculum and faculty development aiming to increase academic support for domestic and international multilingual students. Prior to joining UML, Milena has taught multilingual composition at Bentley University and worked with multilingual students at the University of Southern California, the American University in Bulgaria and the Undergraduate Exchange Program of the Open Society Foundation in Europe. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Bulgarian and Slavic Studies from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies (English Concentration) from the University of Southern California.

Rena P. Mirkin is a life-long educator who passionately believes in education as the pathway for every individual’s future and the future of our interconnected world. Her own higher education journey began with earning her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as a full scholarship student. She launched her career as a 6th-grade teacher and then took some time to raise her two children, Samuel and Elissa. When Rena returned to work, she became a Guidance Director at Reading Memorial High School, after earning her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. Then she became the Assistant Principal at Milton High School while attending graduate school and earning her 2nd Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She returned to Reading Memorial High School as their principal and then became principal of Wellesley High School for 11 years. Following her decision to retire, the Wellesley Scholarship Foundation established a scholarship in honor of Rena and her husband, Howard, which is one of the greatest honors in her life. Retirement does not spell stopping her work and the couple then moved to Beijing, China, where Rena served as principal of the Western Academy of Beijing, an international school with students from more than 50 countries, for 6 years. Rena consulted for an international program in China. Then she served as a school inspection coordinator in the Middle-Eastern City of Dubai. Present day she continues to be an accreditation member/co-chair of many New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) international accreditations. Most recently, Rena stepped up to serve as the acting head of school for the MetroWest Jewish Day School in 2020, which was a time of critical change for that school. Since then has returned to serving as a member of the board of MWJDS. In addition, Rena has served as trustee and overseer at Babson College, where she now serves on the President’s Advisory Council. She is a member of Kappa Delta Phi, national honor society, and a member of the Headmaster’s Association. Rena is a member of the William Smith Clark Society at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

James LaVecchio, Jr. is an educator who cares deeply about the impact he makes on his students. He put himself in the shoes of his own students by becoming a second language learner in his undergraduate studies as a Spanish language major. In the more than 10 years since he began his career as an educator, he has taught languages in a variety of settings. He earned both of his college degrees at Salem State University, a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Culture and Civilization and a Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The Intensive English Institute team at MCC miss working with Jim directly because when he served with us as the afternoon conference and lab instructor he always lifted the students’ energy and spirits with his infectious energy and humor. After more than two years of teaching English as a Second Language at MCC, Jim had to transition to full-time teaching work at SCALE (Somerville Community Adult Learning Experience). Prior to his transition to full-time, Jim had been teaching ESL at SCALE already for several years. In his teaching role at SCALE he works with a curriculum that is aligned with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s ESOL frameworks along with the College and Career Readiness Standards. In addition to his experience working in a community college and SCALE, Jim has also taught English as a Second Language in another community based organization called Pathways (formerly known as Operation Bootstrap in Lynn, MA). One of his strongest beliefs and values is that he knows the importance of public education. Jim spent about seven years teaching English as a Second Language and/or Spanish language in the K-12 school system. When he was teaching ESL he was faced with classes of up to 20 students each in them of varying academic and linguistic ability. While he was teaching Spanish he aligned all of his curriculum and text materials with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary curriculum guidelines. Jim began his teaching career in the K-12 public school system as a teacher of Spanish and/or English as a Second language and that work served to strengthen his own fluency in his second language but informed his career choices because he discovered his love for teaching adults and helping them achieve success.

Marilyn Glazer, Founder, Intensive English Institute The curriculum of Middlesex Community College’s Intensive English Institute is a culmination of the personal and vast professional experience of the director, her staff, and colleagues in the field. The curriculum reflects the mission statement of the Intensive English Institute because it is informed by research and evidence from best practices, but in addition, it is also informed by personal experience. The founder, Marilyn Glazer, has experience learning English as a second language and Spanish as a foreign language. These experiences provide her with evidence to support second language acquisition theory. She understands first-hand the differences and challenges between learning a language that is not spoken in the home and learning a foreign language that is only spoken in certain speech communities in the country in which we live. She has used this experience to inform her choices in designing every aspect of the curriculum. Marilyn went on to pursue a degree in Applied Linguistics which provided her with the theoretical foundation necessary to build an entire department (the Word Language Institute at MCC). She worked in other colleges developing curriculum that covered the entire spectrum of English language and/or Spanish language learners. When she was invited to develop the Intensive English Institute at Middlesex Community College, she first visited many other similar programs to learn about different approaches to program development as well as the other necessary components of a program beyond the curriculum itself. As she visited these programs, she drew on her own experience as a language learner to develop questions. She also drew on her work as a practitioner when she alternatively taught her two second languages, English and/or Spanish, wrote curriculum to support this teaching, and built and led ESL programs to serve communities of poverty. The result is a rich tapestry of many voices in the field sharing their experiences and beliefs and Marilyn’s talent at finely weaving them altogether into a seamless Intensive English Institute. As the former director of this institute, Marilyn is delighted to remain a resource in her new role. As of August 21, 2023 she became the Coordinator of the Academic ESL Support Program at Holyoke Community College. Similarly to the Intensive English Institute of Middlesex Community College all of the ESL classes at Holyoke Community College adhere to academic standards, follow a strict curriculum that includes both course descriptions and student learning outcomes.

Shawn Douglas Wolfe is a high-energy second language acquisition scholar and international education administrator specializing in ESOL program development, enrollment management operations, curriculum design, and technology integration for adult learning and higher education contexts. As Associate Director of English Language Programs at Salem State University, Shawn oversees the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI), where he has focused on raising academic standards while increasing student enrollment. In 2019, Pearson Education recognized his team's implementation of the Global Scale of English (GSE) to enhance personalized learning experiences that keep learners motivated and engaged toward their personal and academic language proficiency goals. In addition to managing the ALCI, Shawn teaches a graduate course on assessing English language learners as a Visiting Instructor in Salem State University's graduate TESOL program. Prior to working at Salem State, Shawn was recognized in 2012 as 'West Virginia New Adult Educator of the Year' for his leadership, advocacy, and support of culturally and linguistically diverse learners, and for improving learning outcomes of adult students in the community-based English program he oversaw. Shawn holds a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA-TESOL) from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. His research interests include multiliteracies teaching, learning design, e-learning ecologies, computer adaptive testing (CAT), and applied learning analytics.

Dr. Emirjona Vukaj Haxhimihali understands the journey of learning second and subsequent languages thanks to her own personal experience, outstanding education and training in the field of linguistics, and work as an educator of second language speakers. Emirjona’s native language is Albanian and she has communicative proficiency in Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, German, and English languages. Dr. Haximihali earned her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Tirana in Albania where previously she had achieved earning her Master’s Degree in Linguistics/Legal English Translation, and two Bachelor’s Degrees, one in Law and the other in English (summa cum laude). At the University of Moscow, Russia she also earned a post-graduate diploma in translation. Emirjona has extensive experience in the academic setting including translation and interpretation, teaching, and management. Her 22 years of teaching in the university environment includes the following topics of Methodology of Scientific Research in Education, Translation and Interpretation, the History of Great Britain, English through Poetry and Drama, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has also devoted time to mentor graduate school students in their thesis writing. For the last five years of her career, she has been teaching English as a second language courses involving reading, writing, and academic skills at both the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Middlesex Community College. Emirjona believes that having studied and learned other languages in addition to her own native, Albanian, has enabled her to provide better support and guidance for her English as a second language students and their own linguistic and language learning challenges.

Priscilla Eng is a Humanities professor at Middlesex Community College where she has been teaching for more than 25 years. Professor Eng teaches English language learners and native English speakers in her classes at MCC. Her rich teaching experiences in both the English language learners program and the English Department provide her with a clear understanding of the necessary preparation for non-native speaking students to successfully transition into first semester college English composition and all other classes where the language of instruction is English. During her tenure at MCC, Professor Eng has also served as the ESL Department Coordinator. In this role she recruited and trained part-time English as a second language educators, conducted program reviews, performed student needs assessments, and supervised curriculum development. Additionally, Priscilla served as a co-chair for a committee tasked with Standard 11 of the MCC accreditation review by NEASC, New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Professor Eng has worked internationally both for MCC and for other educational institutions. As an MCC faculty representative, she participated in China partnerships presented at Chinese educational conferences, served as faculty advisor for the MCC/China Fellowship program and led student and faculty groups to China. She is a fully biliterate communicator of her native language and English and her communication skills have highlighted her career in the USA and in China. Her teaching experiences abroad included teaching English literature to graduate students and leading a teacher training program for college educators of English. Priscilla also has deep knowledge in student assessment and testing thanks to her work with Educational Testing Services and she continues to consult with the College Board Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Program. She earned a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Lastly, Priscilla is the recipient of two U.S. State Department awards from the American Councils for International Education, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and two Fulbright fellowships for study and research.

Last Modified: 1/11/24