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.

  • Program Director

    Dr. Michelle Kindt has over 25 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) at Sharon Middle School in Sharon, MA. Michelle has had the privilege of developing curriculum for both middle and high school French programs. Michelle works with language teachers all over the country touting the message of Comprehensible Input (CI) and its significance to language acquisition and happy classrooms! As a teacher-trainer and coach, Michelle has regularly worked with small cohorts of teachers over the course of each school year, introducing the cohort members to CI strategies and facilitating its use in their classrooms. In addition to regional, state and local venues Michelle has had the opportunity to present Comprehensible Input theories and strategies at national conferences, such as IFLT, NTPRS & ACTFL. She has recently defended her doctoral dissertation and received her Ed.D. from Immaculata University in Educational Leadership. Michelle has worked with several school districts to develop curriculum and train teachers. She very much enjoys working with World Language teachers, encouraging them to teach for proficiency outcomes via acquisition-driven language instruction. Michelle believes that working with the right coach will make all the difference in using CI in your classroom!

  • Featured Presenter

    Nelly Andrade-Hughes is an outstanding Spanish teacher, presenter, and author. She has been teaching Spanish at all levels since 2006. She has presented on acquisition-driven activities and strategies at the local, state and national level. Nelly is a sought-after proofreader and creator of many educational materials. She is an advisor of the Spanish Club and Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at her school and seeks every opportunity to engage her students with her beautiful native language.

  • Keynote Speaker and French Language Lab Teacher

    A teacher of 14 years and a lifelong student, Ben has dedicated his professional and personal life to the pursuit of substantive diversity, equity, and belonging in education. In the classroom, he has had the opportunity to work with teachers and schools around the world to develop curricula that center Black Indigenous Communities of Color and other historically marginalized peoples.

    Ben’s recent work has focused primarily on leveraging language acquisition and language education toward developing global literacy and 21st-Century competencies

Coaches

  • Darcy Pippins has been teaching Spanish at Norman High School in Oklahoma for 25 years. She is Nationally Board Certified in World Languages other than English and has a masters degree in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum. She had the honor of co-writing an article with Stephen Krashen about her students' success on the AP exam after four years of comprehensible input. Forty-four of her AP students teach Spanish at five different elementary schools in her district as part of her Elementary Spanish Mentor Program that won the ACTFL Global Engagement Initiative Award in 2016. She was the Oklahoma World Language Teacher of the Year in 2015, SWCOLT Regional Language Teacher of the Year and an ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year finalist in 2016. She believes

  • 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.

  • Laurie is a MS teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas. She has 40 years of classroom experience with over 20 years of teaching with comprehension-based instruction. An experienced presenter and trainer, she has been a devoted member of coaching teams in the US and abroad.

  • Retiring after nearly 40 years of teaching French and German, Janet just couldn't quit! She continues to share her passion for languages and teaching through presenting and coaching. She loves helping teachers realize what superstars they are.

  • Sherry Nesbitt has been a Spanish Language Acquisition Teacher at Hershey Middle School since 1994. 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.

  • Skip Crosby has been teaching Spanish in Maine public high schools for 34 years and has been adjunct instructor of Spanish at Saint Joseph`s College, Maine for ten years. He has taught the AP4ME Spanish Language and Culture for the state of Maine for the last two years. Skip gained proficiency in the Spanish language during a two year stay in Colombia after college.
    In 1998 he earned a Masters Degree in Spanish from MIddlebury College in Vermont. 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 He was also named Androscoggin County Teacher of the year and in 2015 was the Maine Teacher of the Year, Finalist. Skip earned National Board Certification (NBCT) in 2018. Most recently Skip was recognized by FLAME with the 2022 Richard Williamson Award for Leadership.
    Since 2014 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 30 years, his 21-year old son, Gabe (also a brand new middle school teacher), Lexi, the 9.25 pound Mini Dachshund, and Neil, the 12 year old Mini Dachshund that was rescued last July.

  • Gary DiBianca is a Spanish teacher, world language trainer, consultant, and coach, and AP® reader. He has presented nationally on acquisition and brain-based strategies in the world language classroom, big picture planning and unit design, pre-AP® vertical alignment and the 21st Century World Language Standards, the inclusion of topics of diversity in curriculum, and teaching with Comprehensible Input and storytelling. As a world language trainer and coach, he works with teachers at several national conferences. Gary’s current projects include sharing his thoughts on his blog: My Mosaic of World Language Teaching and working as a consultant for the online, digital series Nuestra Historia and as a lead contributor to the digital text: Nuestra Historia AP: Aprender y Preparar. Gary spent eleven years working as a teacher, chair, and director at an independent school, has taught Spanish at the university level, and is currently starting his ninth year at a public school in Northeast Ohio.

  • Kelly is an experienced TPRS/CI/ADI Spanish teacher from Madison, WI. She has been using input-driven methods for most of her 20+ year career. She also has helped produce materials for the Sr. Wooly platform. Kelly presented at multiple state, regional, and national conferences and has served as a coach and cohort leader at various conferences. She's excited to be a part of the Fluency Matters conference team this year!

  • I am Spanish teacher in NW Ohio. I have been teaching for the last 10 years, teaching primarily as a department of one. Currently, I work with a small world language department, teaching Spanish 1, 3, and 4. I have spent the last five years learning everything I can about Acquisition Driven Instruction. I love to use music, movement, and hands-on activities in the classroom. I’m looking forward to learning with you all this summer!

  • Coach and Whova Administrator

    Rebecca (Becky) Moulton has been teaching Spanish since 1995 at a high school in mid-Michigan. In 1998 everything changed when she and her colleague attended a TPRS workshop and she began implementing CI-based strategies. Since then she has worked to acquire as much knowledge and training on ADI (Acquisition-Driven Instruction) as possible, including attending many regional and national conferences. With the intention of supporting other teachers by sharing her knowledge and experience, Becky presents at regional and national conferences including CISummit, Fluency Matters, CiMidwest, MIWLA, and MittenCi. In addition, she has been a FM-IFLT trained teacher coach and cohort team member since 2017. Becky’s teaching style echoes her personality--creative, caring, positive, and enthusiastic about learning and teaching. Becky is also passionate about reading (all kinds), stories that involve students, and consistently integrating music and culture into lessons. She loves the energy of personalization, making it comprehensible, and having fun while learning.

  • Ellen is a Spanish teacher at Mahomet-Seymour High School in Central IL. She has been teaching for 26 years and has taught all ages and all levels. Having worked with students of all ages, Ellen believes that fostering relationships with students is at the forefront of an acquisition driven classroom. She has a master degree in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Ellen is the current Past President of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and was the 2020 ICTFL Teacher of the Year. When not in the classroom, Ellen is an avid reader, hikes, loves to travel and spend time with her family.

  • Retired from teaching high school German, Robert now teaches the World Languages Methods Course and mentors student teachers at CSU Long Beach, as well as present and coach at conferences and workshops. He still hears from students who report recalling German from classes they attended ten to 15 years ago. Passionate about language acquisition, travel, history, and theology, Robert enjoys seeing the light of understanding in the eyes of his students and helping aspiring and current teachers improve their skills and confidence in employing acquisition-driven instruction.

  • I took the leap from traditional about 10 years ago. Each year I am learning more and more about ADI and how to implement it in my class and hopefully get our department as a whole on board too.

  • My experience 25+ years in language teaching and the last 6 of those years have been with CI. CI brightened and revived my classroom. I love using music, lots of culture, and readers with my students. Outside of the classroom, you'll find me hanging with family and friends, reading, netflixing, or traveling.

  • Carol Hill has been a French teacher in New Jersey for twenty-five years. After retiring and moving to Florida, she has been teaching online for Proximity Learning, Inc. She has been involved with the coaching cohort for ten years and loves nothing more than hanging out with teachers and her new French bulldog!

  • Amy Wopat is a Washington, D.C. public school teacher with over 20 years of classroom experience teaching Spanish and ESL in middle school, high school and higher education, levels 1 through AP. She has been coaching and training teachers in CI/ADI since 2008 having presented internationally, nationally and locally, including at ACTFL, IFLT and NTPRS. Amy is a an AP Reader, Fulbright Teacher award recipient and DCPS World Languages Teacher of the year. When not teaching you can find her traveling, hiking, kayaking, and gathering with family and friends. Amy is also certified in Yoga and Mindfulness meditation.

ADI Trainers

  • Kristy Placido is an accomplished teacher, presenter and author. She taught Spanish at all levels for 25 years, provides teacher training on Acquisition-Driven Instruction, and works for Wayside Publishing as a Developmental Editor. Kristy has presented at ACTFL, CSCTFL, MIWLA, and numerous other state and regional conferences. She is a popular author as well, having written numerous Comprehension-based™ Readers, teacher’s guides, ancillary materials and curricula for all levels. Kristy was the Michigan World Language Association High School Teacher of the Year in 2021.

  • 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. Her passion is helping teachers enhance cultural knowledge in the world language classroom using CI-based strategies and backward planning. Carrie is the 2012 recipient of the Horace Mann “Innovative Education Award,” the Teacher of Year for both the state of Illinois and the Central States Region, and a finalist for the 2015 National Teacher of the Year. In addition to Carrie’s achievements as a teacher and trainer, she is also an accomplished author, writing teacher’s guides, ancillary materials, and novels.

  • JJ Epperson is a Spanish teacher, blogger, presenter, curriculum writer, coach, and language acquisition nerd. JJ believes that knowledge is power and has multiple degrees and certifications. She is a 2021 AATSP Indiana HS Spanish TOY and IFLTA 2021 HS Spanish TOY. Additionally, she is a 2022 Indiana University Decoding the Disciplines Fellow, and a 2023 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow. You can find her blog at SenoraJotaJota.com.

  • Donna Tatum-Johns has been teaching French at all levels for 35 years. She has had extensive training in acquisition-driven approaches to language teaching and has been training teachers in CI-based strategies for 19 years. In addition to ACTFL, regional and state conferences, Donna also presents for iFLT (International Forum on Language Teaching). In her own classroom, one year after implementing CI strategies, 40% of Donna’s students placed in the state on the National French Contest and eight students placed in the nation. The following year, 100% of her students earned a 3 or higher on the AP exam. Donna's success in her classroom is also evidenced by increased enrollment, sustained growth in her school's French program, and her students' continued success on the AP and the National French Contest.

Strand Guides

  • Keith Toda has been teaching Latin for over 20 years and currently 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. He is always looking for new, innovative ways to implement technology for the delivery of Comprehensible InputAcqusition Driven Instruction and of higher-level thinking. Keith enjoys long walks on the beach at night.

  • AnneMarie Chase has been happily teaching high school Spanish in rural Nevada for the past 16 years. Not only is she a passionate CI teacher...she’s the product of CI Instruction! Her high school Spanish teacher was an early adopter of TPRS and was instrumental in developing 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, presenting or traveling, you’ll find her sharing her classroom adventures and misadventures at www.senorachase.com

  • Andrea is a middle school Spanish teacher of 19 years from Dallas, TX. She credits an amazing TPRS training back in year 4 for keeping her from leaving the profession after those first few frustrating and unsuccessful years of "teaching the way she was taught." That is where she realized how much better things could be and has been a PD/conference junkie ever since. These days she loves "giving back" to the CI community that has given so much to her over all of these years. She looks forward to coaching and cheering on her fellow colleagues as we all grow together in our "craft" as facilitators of acquisition-driven instruction.

  • Sarah Breckley is currently a High School Spanish teacher and has also taught at the Concordia Language Villages and as a Global Discovery Leader in Sevilla, España. Sarah graduated from UW-Madison, received her MS from UW-Stout, and gained much more practical knowledge from workshops and collaborating with educators online. She is passionate about personalizing lessons to respect the learner, honoring those who share their language via cultural connections, and entertaining comprehensible strategies for acquisition-driven instruction. She has presented a variety of techniques at conferences around the country and maintains a free vlog to share demos with teachers worldwide: SarahBreckley.com Sarah also advocates for students, professional autonomy, and public education as a member of the Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year Council.

  • Lori Belinsky has been teaching French for 10 years. She has experience teaching public school middle and high school, as well as small group instruction with elementary students. Lori has her Master of Science in Educational Transformation and Social Change. Lori is inspired by the success and joy she sees in her classroom with comprehensible input. She is passionate about sharing what leads to her students achievements with other teachers.

Language Lab Teachers

  • Justin Slocum Bailey is head over heels about helping teachers and learners succeed with less stress and more joy. A veteran language, music, and martial arts teacher raised in Vienna, Austria, he operates Indwelling Language, a treasure trove of resources and low-prep practices for joyful language education, as well as TeachHuman, a collection of courses and resources to help teachers of all subjects not only teach well but also be well. Justin has published several articles on language teaching, creates materials for learners of both modern and classical languages, and has been invited to give workshops and keynotes in 37 U.S. States and several other countries. The many glowing testimonials of his work include “If everyone taught language like Justin Slocum Bailey, we would have a world of self-directed polyglots,” “Holy gifted batman!”, and “The kind of teacher I’d like to have a beer with.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Amy has her undergraduate degree in Spanish and education from Rutgers University and her Masters Degree from Middlebury College in Spanish Language and Literature.

    When she is not teaching, she is usually spending time with her husband, Mike and her five children and is embracing the insanity that a family of seven usually finds itself embroiled in.

  • Michele Whaley has been teaching Russian to all ages for more than 30 years. She is delighted and honored to share her passion for effective language acquisition with other teachers. Michele was the World Language Teacher of the Year (ToY) for Alaska twice, the 2016 Pacific Northwest ToY, and a finalist for the 2017 ACTFL ToY. Retired from public middle and high school, she teaches post-secondary Russian and lower-school Spanish. When not teaching, Michele loves to row, Nordic skate, ski, travel, or hike with her family.

  • Paulino Brener is an educator and performer from Argentina. He currently teaches Spanish for the Minneapolis Public School District. He is the tallest Spanish teacher you know. Paulino is a Google Certified Educator Level 1 and 2 Educator.

  • Claudia Elliott is a Spanish teacher in Jacksonville, Florida. She has been teaching Spanish since 2005 and is currently teaching Spanish 1, Spanish 3 IB, and AP Spanish Language and Culture. Claudia is very passionate to implement acquisition-driven instruction in her class while building a strong community with her students. Claudia is the 2021-2022 FFL TOY, and 2022 SCOLT TOY and ACTFL TOY finalist. Claudia also is the founder of Growing With Proficiency The Spanish Teacher Academy and host of Growing With Proficiency The Podcast.