Meet The Fluency Matters Conference Team

Meet the wonderful team that makes the Fluency Matters Conference possible!

Click the names below to learn more about each person involved in the FM Conference this year, or go back home

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Aamina Thornton is a Spanish teacher in Phoenixville, PA. She loves learning new ways to engage and present information to her students. She is family-oriented with two sons. She coaches field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Alexis Blum is from northwest Ohio where she live with her husband and daughter. She teaches Spanish 1 and a combined section of Spanish 3&4 in a small department. She is currently serving as the Professional Development Chair for the Ohio Foreign Language Association. She loves teaching with Acquisition-Driven Instruction! She attended a workshop in 2016 on Comprehensible Input and hasn't looked back since. CI has largely contributed to her finding joy in the classroom and making positive connections with students. She loves attending the Fluency Matters conference and learning from all the incredible teachers who attend! She is looking forward to working with you in Denver!

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Allison has been teaching French for over two decades. After 20 years at the elementary level, she made the big switch to high school and is now teaching all levels at Hartford High School in White River Junction, VT. She is very interested in learning about and helping teachers implement "elementary" routines and strategies with older students. As always, Clip Chat is her favorite CI/ADI technique.

  • Language Lab Teacher
    Amy Marshall is a dynamic and energetic Spanish teacher who teaches with a variety of techniques that fall under the umbrella of comprehensible input and TPRS. Building community and relationships with her students is one of the greatest focuses of any classroom that she teaches in. To connect and to truly care, building real relationships and community among the students and herself in her classroom is a huge contributing factor in guaranteeing a sense of belonging and as such a successful experience in learning language.

  • Strand Guide
    Andrea has served as a middle school Spanish teacher at St. Rita Catholic School for 20 years. She stumbled upon the concept of acquisition-driven instruction (ADI) in her fourth year of teaching and found it to be transformative, not only for her students but for the renewed sense of joy that it brought with it for herself in the classroom. She's been hooked ever since, continually striving to learn more and try different strategies to immerse her students in the comprehensible (and comprehended!) input that they need to progress on the path to proficiency. She loves sharing that joy with other language educators and looks forward to connecting with teachers in Denver!

  • Strand Guide
    AnneMarie Chase has been happily teaching high school Spanish in Northern Nevada for the past 17 years and instructing the World Language Methods course at the University of Nevada, Reno for the past three. Not only is she a passionate CI teacher...she’s the product of CI Instruction! Her high school teacher was an early adopter of TPRS and was instrumental in igniting her love for language and culture. AnneMarie is armed with a Masters in Teaching Spanish and seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm. When she’s not teaching or traveling, you’ll find her blogging about her classroom adventures and misadventures at www.senorachase.com

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Rebecca (Becky) Moulton is a Spanish teacher, presenter, and a Fluency Matters trained teacher coach. A few years into her high school teaching career, everything changed when she attended a TPRS workshop in 1998 and immediately began implementing CI-based strategies. Since then, attending regional and national conferences has supported and encouraged her continuous learning and growth in ADI. Her goal is to do the same for other teachers by sharing her knowledge and experience. Becky’s teaching style echoes her personality--creative, caring, positive, and enthusiastic about learning and teaching. Becky is passionate about reading, stories that involve students, and consistently integrating music and culture into lessons.

  • Strand Guide
    Bess Hayles is a high school French teacher in the Kansas City area who would love to show you around her town. She has been using ADI methods in her classes since 2009, adjusting and collaborating as needed to make sure her kids are the best dang French acquirers they can be! Ask her about teaching upper-levels, making PBL work in the language, or the latest episode of Saturday Night Live.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Bill teaches Spanish 1 and 4 in Indianapolis, and has been using ADI for the past ten years. He has served as chair of ACTFL's Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching SIG, and has hosted a monthly language teacher PLC for the past 8 years. Bill's teaching interests include reading and incorporating research into the classroom to aid students in their language acquisition. Outside of the class Bill can be found at karaoke, trivia, or reading.

  • ADI Trainer, Presenter & Pre-Conference Workshop Presenter
    Carrie has been teaching all levels of Spanish since 1994. A National Board certified teacher, Carrie presents at various local, state, regional, and national language conferences. Carrie also leads teacher trainings in districts around the country (when she isn’t in the classroom).Her passion is helping teachers enhance cultural knowledge in the world language classroom using CI-based strategies and backward planning. Find Carrie’s readers for language learners at waysidepublishing.com and her curriculum, Huellas, at SomewheretoShare.com.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Clarice Swaney has over 34 years of experience teaching Spanish in the Roseville Joint Union High School District in northern California, and is a long time practitioner of teaching with ADI, comprehensible input and TPRS. As she grew in her understanding of acquisition driven instruction, she gained confidence to continue taking risks, try new activities, and challenging herself as well as her students. As the founding teacher of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Spanish courses at her high school, she successfully taught with CI during her nine years as the main instructor in the program. Clarice presents at national, state and regional conferences, coaches colleagues in her area.

  • Language Lab Teacher
    Claudia Elliott is a Spanish teacher in Jacksonville, Florida who has been teaching Spanish since 2005. She has taught all the levels of Spanish, including AP Spanish Language and Culture and IB Spanish Language B. Claudia is passionate about implementing acquisition-driven instruction in her classes and building a strong community with her students. She has shared her knowledge in different forums in the United States and abroad about second language acquisition and how to incorporate it into classes. In 2021-2022, Claudia was named the Teacher of the Year for the Florida Foreign Language Teacher Association, and in 2022, she was named Teacher of the Year for the Southern Conference Of Language Teaching. Additionally, Claudia is the founder of Growing With Proficiency The Spanish Teacher Academy and hosts the podcast, "Growing With Proficiency."

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Cristy graduated from the Universidad de Guadalajara with a degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. She taught English in Mexico for 2 years. She received her M.A. in Education from Regent University and began the ESOL program in the Rome City Schools. She took a break from teaching to stay home with her boys for 2 years. She taught Spanish to middle school students for 13 years at Rome Middle School. She has been teaching Spanish at Darlington School for 9 years. She is the World Languages Department Head and leads the 6th-8th grade team. She supervises and trains her teachers to teach with ADI techniques.

  • Strand Guide
    Darcy Pippins is Spanish teacher with 26 years of experience teaching all levels of Spanish; currently Spanish III, IV and AP Spanish Language and Culture, and is a National Board Certified Teacher in World Languages other than English, 2007 and 2017 (renewed). She has a bachelors degree in Spanish and a masters degree in Education from the University of Oklahoma. She is a respected presenter, comprehensible input teacher, coach, an expert in Acquisition Driven Instruction and comprehensible input methods, TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) and PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers) that are used to facilitate language acquisition and simulate an immersion experience in her classroom. Darcy started an Elementary Spanish program in her district in 2014 and this year has 52 students teaching ADI Spanish at 6 different elementary schools weekly. This program won the ACTFL Global Engagement Initiative Award in 2016. Because of this program, two of her former students are teaching Spanish in her district, two are teaching middle school and one student is finishing her bachelor's in elementary education. Other awards include, OFLTA's Best of Oklahoma in 2019, SWCOLT Secondary Excellence in Teaching in 2017, Southwest Regional World Language Teacher of the Year in 2016, Oklahoma World Language Teacher of the Year in 2015 and was a finalist for ACTFL's National Teacher of the Year in Nov. 2016. She had the honor and pleasure to write an article with Dr. Stephen Krashen about her students' successes taking the AP Spanish exam with only ADI instruction for four years.

  • ADI Trainer
    Diane Neubauer, 杜雁子, taught Mandarin Chinese for 10 years in elementary, middle, and high schools before completing her PhD in Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa in 2022. She teaches Chinese online, facilitates language teacher training, and teaches university teacher education courses. She is especially interested in how language teachers can facilitate students’ comprehension of target language, engagement in classroom learning, & development of intercultural competence. Check her YouTube channel for language learners & teachers (sometimes featuring her flock of backyard chickens!).

  • ADI Trainer
    Donna Tatum-John's passion is twofold: teaching French using CI strategies and supporting teachers in these same techniques. With 35+ years of teaching experience and 20+ years of teacher training, she continues to find joy in the world of language education.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Elicia Cárdenas is a former middle school Spanish teacher with extensive experience teaching a variety of levels, ages, and subjects. Her experience includes working with preservice teachers at Westminster College, and as a teaching assistant for MIT Teaching Systems Lab. Although she was trained as an elementary teacher, she shifted her focus to understanding of second language acquisition and its application to classroom instruction in a world language classroom. She presents regularly at national, regional, and state conferences and for school districts all over the USA. Her areas of expertise include assessment with an equity lens and working to make sure all students are successful at acquiring another language. She is the Director of Training for The Comprehensible Classroom, and is the founder of the blog Deskless Classroom.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Ellen Ericson earned her BA in the Teaching of Spanish and her MA in Educational Policy Studies, both from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. She has 27 years of experience teaching Spanish in both public and private schools in central Illinois. She currently teaches at Mahomet-Seymour High School in Mahomet, IL. She is on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Foreign languages. Ellen’s sessions were named as “Best of Illinois” in 2014 and 2019 and “Best of Central States” in 2016 and 2021. She is the recipient of an ICTFL Distinguished Service Award for Exemplary Teaching and was named as the ICTFL 2020 Teacher of the Year. She is passionate about mentoring novice teachers as well incorporating acquisition driven instruction into her classroom.

  • Presenter
    Haiyun has been an educator since 1993. She is a certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher from Brown University. She is also certified in Advanced Education Leadership from Harvard University. She is passionate about employing Acquisition Driven Instructions (ADI) in her classes and implementing mindfulness in education. She is a well sought-after ADI trainer nationally and internationally. She is the co-founder of the Comprehensible Midwest Conference and Ignite Chinese. She is a columnist for Intrepid Ed News. She is a blogger and writer; she has written 16 storybooks in Mandarin. When she is not teaching, she likes to hike, meditate, walk her dog, drink tea with friends, enjoy a good meal with family and watch her son playing videogames.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Abdel Hakim Azaerzaq, teacher of Arabic and French, was born and raised in Morocco where he studied linguistics and sociolinguistics and taught French before moving to the U.S. With well over 25 years of teaching experience, Hakim has taught Arabic and French at different levels and in different settings, from middle to high school and university, in public and private schools in both rural and urban areas. Presently, he teaches French at the high school level in Savannah, Georgia. In his spare time, he enjoys biking but mostly enjoys writing “own voice” stories that he uses in his classes to deliver comprehensible input and to help uncover the rich cultures of areas where Arabic and French are used for his students.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    After teaching world languages for nearly 40 years, Janet has pivoted to working with teachers. She loves helping her colleagues realize what amazing teachers they are and helping them develop their ADI skills.

  • Language Class Teacher
    Keith Toda has been teaching Latin for almost 25 years and currently both teaches and serves as the World Language department head at Parkview High School in Lilburn, GA. A self-professed recovering grammar-translation teacher, Keith has been implementing Comprehensible Input/Acquisition Driven Instruction in the Latin classroom since 2013 and regularly writes about his experiences on his blog Toda-lly Comprehensible Latin. Keith enjoys long walks on the beach at night

  • Language Class Teacher
    La started her teaching career in public schools in Madison, Wisconsin. She holds an M.A. in Chinese from Middlebury College and a B.S. in Chinese Education, Chinese Language, and East Asian Languages and Literatures from University of Wisconsin-Madison. La relocated to Philadelphia in 2013 and has experience teaching both middle and high school, and currently teaches middle school Chinese at Germantown Academy. When La is not at school, she likes to cook, craft, travel, and snuggle with her two cats, Kapow and Gogi while watching Korean dramas.

  • ADI Trainer
    Laurie’s teaching style strives to be both insightful and joyful. She believes in finding what touches the hearts, not just the minds, of students, and in helping other teachers to do the same. Laurie has taught nearly every level of student in her 40 plus years as a Spanish teacher (along with other duties as assigned!) She also has a long-standing passion for helping teachers to grow in their skills as creators and as educators in her work as a consultant, coach, trainer, presenter and blogger. She has worked with teachers across the U.S. as well as in Canada, Europe, Australia and China. Laurie is the co-developer (along with Michele Whaley) of Embedded Reading. You can find more about Laurie and her ideas and experiences at www.heartsforteaching.com and www.embeddedreading.com.

  • Keynote Speaker & Presenter
    Originally from northern Michigan, Leslie Davison has made her home in Colorado for more than 25 years. An outstanding teacher of Spanish K-12 in an IB/PYP program for 15+ years with a few years of teaching and coaching technology, Leslie is a sought-after speaker and presenter. One of the highlights of her career was helping found a Dual Immersion School. The first cohort graduated in 2018. Leslie has taught overseas on two occasions: once in Honduras and once in Singapore. Leslie is also a Wayside author! She wrote the comprehension-based reader entitled El Chico Global. She is currently teaching middle school Spanish and serving as a best-practice coach. We are thrilled to have Leslie as our keynote speaker for Fluency Matters 2024.

  • Language Class Teacher
    Linda Li has been teaching Chinese as a foreign language to elementary, middle and high school students as well as to adult learners for over 20 years. She taught at a number of international schools in China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore and at an urban school in Denver, Colorado. In addition to teaching Chinese, Linda Li is an author as well as an experienced presenter, trainer and consultant. Linda has conducted many teacher training workshops and presented at numerous conferences around the world. She has co- authored the Beginning Mandarin Readers: “Who is Good Looking?” and “Good-looking Is Not Enough”, with Dr. Stephen Krashen, who is the author of “The Power of Reading”. She is also the co-author of “I love learning Chinese” for beginning students. Linda worked as a Chinese Co-Principal at YCIS Shanghai (Puxi) during 2020-2023. She is currently living in Tucson, Arizona with her family.

  • Strand Guide
    Lori is currently a middle school French teacher with experience teaching high school and elementary. She has been part of the training teams for CI/ADI conferences for 7 plus years and is excited to be back for her second year as a Strand Guide.

  • Presenter and Pre-conference Workshop presenter
    Meredith White is a Spanish Teacher turned Instructional Technology Coach. She teaches, supports teachers, hosts a podcast, and frequently presents at local and national World Language conferences.
    (Website: http://meredithwhite.info)

  • Language Class Teacher
    When Michele Whaley started teaching with Comprehensible Input, she realized that using CI turns language acquisition into a true collaboration with students and contributes to strong classroom communities whose members acquire language effectively. Michele was a 2017 ACTFL ToY finalist, having received multiple state and regional awards. Retired from public school and university Russian classes, Michele is “Profe” to her preschool and lower elementary school Spanish students. She still teaches Russian online. Michele helps teachers around the world find their way to methods that make teaching joyous.

  • Conference Director
    Dr. Michelle Kindt has over 20 years of teaching experience at both the middle and high school levels in public education. A National Board-Certified teacher, Michelle currently works as a French teacher (Grades 6, 7 & 8) at Sharon Middle School in Sharon, MA. Michelle works with language teachers all over the country touting the message of Comprehensible Input (CI), Acquisition-driven Instruction (ADI) and happy classrooms! As a teacher-trainer and coach, Michelle has trained many cohorts of teachers in practical ADI strategies that boost student language acquisition. In addition to regional, state and local venues, Michelle has had the opportunity to present and coach ADI theories and strategies at national conferences, such as IFLT, CI Summit, Fluency Matters & ACTFL. Michelle is thrilled to be directing Fluency Matters for a second year!

  • Language Class/Lab Teacher & Pre-Conference Workshop Presenter
    Paulino Brener is an educator and performer from Argentina. He currently teaches Spanish for the Minneapolis Public School District. He is passionate about ADI/CI and technology. He is the tallest Spanish teacher you know. Paulino is a Google Certified Educator Level 1 and 2.

  • Language Class Teacher
    Sabrina Sebban-Janczak was born and raised in Paris, France and moved to the United States in her late twenties.
    She currently teaches high school French as well as adults at large. Sabrina has written and translated readers and teacher guides for French learners. She regularly presents at national and international conferences on matters related to best practices in language teaching and acquisition. She regularly does consulting and trains teachers.
    Sabrina is a passionate language teacher and learner.

  • Language Lab Teacher
    Sarah Rasay has served as a French Teacher, Teacher Trainer and Curriculum Designer for Denver Public Schools for 13 years. She regularly presents at regional conferences as well as for Denver Public School's ADI driven professional development courses. She teaches Novice through Intermediate-Mid level students at the High school level using exclusively ADI strategies. Sarah is passionate about the joy and diverse perspectives that ADI brings to the classroom. Sarah holds a B.A. in French from Sonoma State University and a M.A. in French from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Outside of the classroom she loves to cook, travel and explore the Colorado mountains with her family.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Sherry is a Spanish Language Acquisition Teacher in Hershey, PA. She serves as World Language Coordinator and has been a mentor, teacher trainer, Inservice presenter, and technology innovator. She has a passion for Second Language Acquisition in Novice-Level students as well as helping teachers to reach their full potential. Outside of school, she loves Craft Beers; spending time with her husband, grown son, and 2 labrador retrievers; helping to care for elderly family members; and being an advocate for early detection of skin cancers.

  • ADI Skills Lab Facilitator
    Skip Crosby has been teaching Spanish in Maine public high schools for 35 years. Skip gained proficiency in the Spanish language during a two-year stay in Colombia after college. While in Columbia, he earned a Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera from the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia in 1989. In 1998, he earned a Masters Degree in Spanish from Middlebury College in Vermont. He has taught as an adjunct at the college level for a total of fourteen years. He also teaches high school Spanish online.Skip has coached and taught at national conferences and colleges across the country. In 2014, Skip was named Maine Foreign Language Teacher of the year, Northeast Conference on the teaching of Foreign Language Teacher of the Year Finalist, Androscoggin County Teacher of the year and in 2015 was the Maine Teacher of the Year, Finalist. He was also the 2015 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year Finalist. Skip earned National Board Certification (NBCT) in 2018 and successfully renewed in 2023. In 2021 Skip was recognized with the Richard Williamson Award for Leadership in World Languages by the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) For the past six years, Skip has taken groups of students to Guatemala City to work with Safe Passage, an organization dedicated to helping the families working in the Guatemala City dump with education, food and medical care. Skip lives in Poland, Maine with Beth, his wife of 31 years, Lexi, the 9.25 pound Mini Dachshund and Neil his 14 year old Doxie “brother.” Gabe, their 23 year old son, is recently married and is a 6th grade ELA teacher.