Our Professional Development Team

Kelly Reider, Founder & Lead Facilitator

Kelly has 25 years of experience in public education settings including consultant, ESL program coordinator, school administrator, instructional specialist, & teacher.  Kelly is the founder of English Learner Portal. She is a WIDA Licensed Consultant, a recipient of the TESOL ELT Leadership Management Certificate, and a National Board Certified Early Childhood Generalist.  She provides consulting and professional development services in the WIDA Standards Framework & Assessments, meeting the needs of English learners across the curriculum, early literacy & language development, program evaluation, curriculum development, & system level program planning.  Kelly holds a Master's degree in Instructional Systems Development & certification in Elementary Education, Spanish, ESOL, & School Administration.

Susan Zimmerman-Orozco, Communications Director

Susan has worked with English language learners for 27 years, most recently in Montgomery County Public Schools, MD, as an ESOL teacher, professional development specialist, and school administrator. She has a background in SIOP and International Baccalaureate Programs, and experience with Students with Significantly Interrupted Education, adult education, refugee services, and Hispanic Parent Outreach. As a Certified WIDA trainer she presents on topics related to using WIDA Performance Definitions. She has published articles about supporting English language learners for publications like ASCD Educational Leadership and NAESP Principal.

Rachel Ross, PD Facilitator

Rachel has 19 years of experience working in public education in Florida & Maryland.  She has worked as a teacher specialist, literacy coach, mentor teacher, elementary & ESL teacher, ELD curriculum writer K-12, model unit author for the Maryland State Department of Education both in Language Arts & STEM.  Rachel has presented on topics such as project based learning (PBL), early literacy, meeting the needs of ELs, & family engagement.  Rachel is passionate about equity in education & works with teams to create long and short range plans to address inequities in schools; including professional development, writing & delivering integrated curricula, & family outreach.  Rachel is a certified Critical Friends Group Coach, using protocols to enhance reflection & communication.  Rachel holds a Master’s degree in Leadership in TESOL and certification in Elementary Education, Administration, and ESL.

Adriana Brown, PD Facilitator & Course Author

Adriana has 17 years of experience teaching early childhood English learners. She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and has certifications in ESOL, Special Education, and Bilingual Special Education.  Adriana has provided professional development on topics such as Constructive Conversations, Academic Language Development, and various WIDA related topics. She has been a mentor teacher and educational coach focusing on collaboration, oral language development, and co-teaching with Project Based Learning.

Laura Gardner, Course Author & Outreach

Laura has 16 years of experience working in public education, refugee resettlement, and social work.  While in public education, she worked as a district level manager for immigrant family and community engagement as well as a school social worker. Laura also worked for Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) managing their national technical assistance initiative to federal Refugee School Impact Grantees.  Laura has facilitated professional development on building the capacity of teachers and school systems to engage immigrant families in their children’s education, language access, cultural competency, equity, unaccompanied immigrant children, immigrant family reunification, and refugee resettlement.  Laura holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Education.       

Becky Guzman, PD Facilitator

Becky has over 8 years of experience in public education in Illinois and Maryland. She has worked as a bilingual outreach facilitator, bilingual elementary classroom teacher, as well as an elementary ESOL teacher. She has a Masters Degree in elementary education and certification in ESOL and Transitional Bilingual-Spanish education. Becky has presented on topics such as constructive conversations, messy objectives, academic language, and Whole-to-Part literacy instruction. She has served as a mentor teacher, and has experience in co-planning and co-teaching with project-based learning.  

Online Course Authors

Frank Bonkowski

Frank has over 30 years of experience writing English language teaching materials, creating e-courses, and teaching English language at university, college, and high school levels.  Frank teaches at Cégep de Saint-Laurent in Montreal, Canada.  He has co-authored nine textbooks and consulted on many projects with publishers and e-learning companies.  Frank's new online course, Teaching Writing to Intermediate and Advanced English Learners is now available in our online classroom

Sarah Said

 Sarah is currently a Director of English Learning in the suburbs of Chicago.  She has been an advocate, writer, speaker, and constant learner about English learners for over a decade.  Sarah has firm beliefs that all students have the potential to be successful.  In July of 2018, Sarah will join the Mawi Learning team as the Director of English Learner Impact where she will have an impact on the education of students worldwide.  Sarah's new online course on cultural responsive teaching and learning will be available through English Learner Portal's online classroom in September 2018!

Graciela Williams

Graciela Williams (“Gracie”) is a licensed bilingual school social worker. She specializes in working with international students who have experienced trauma. She has done extensive work facilitating student/parent reunification groups and social/emotional support groups such as Xinachtli for young women. She has a bachelor’s degree in counseling from Bob Jones University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of New England. Gracie is also an Adjunct Professor for Goucher College, where she teaches a graduate level seminar course regarding At Risk Students. Gracie's new online course on social/emotional health will be available through the English Learner Portal's online classroom in winter 2018.

Hazar Biddle

Hazar has been serving in the field of education for 16 years. Her current position is an Instructional Lead Teacher and ESOL Department Chair to the largest ELL school population in the state of Maryland, leading 27 ESOL educators in one school. She is also the secondary education chair for Maryland TESOL. Hazar began her career in 2004 building her own learning center in Latakia. She decided to join her extended family in the United states in 2014 to pursue her studies. Hazar has a master's degree in education and educational leadership. Hazar's new online course on teaching students with interrupted education will be available through English Learner Portal's online classroom in winter 2018.

Heidi Platt

  Heidi has over 20 years of experience in education. She has taught all levels from pre-kindergarten to adults. Heidi has worked as a special education teacher, ESOL teacher, intervention resource teacher, and instructional coach. She has presented on ESOL program models, newcomer programming, parental involvement, and collaboration. Heidi holds doctorate degree in Bilingual Special Education and Master’s degrees in Student Personnel Services and Instructional Systems Development.  She holds certifications in ESOL, Special Education and Administration.  Heidi's new online course on determining language versus disability will be available through English Learner Portal's online classroom in winter 2018. 

Monica Starkweather

monica starkweather VATESOL online content author


Monica is the K-12 ESL teacher for her district. She started her teaching career at an at-risk, high ESL, Title I elementary school. Her teacher passions include infusing technology and EL newcomers. She has her bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond and her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University where she also completed her ESL endorsement.  Monica also actively participates as a board member of VATESOL (Virginia Association of Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages) and the international affiliate TESOL.