The Executive

We are team of volunteers made up of TESL Toronto members from diverse educational sectors with a wide range of skills and experience. Guided by TESL Toronto’s mandate, we serve our membership through various activities, including:

  • organizing a local conference and special events throughout the year to provide members with excellent, affordable professional development opportunities, and
  • keeping members informed of PD opportunities and relevant news and issues through our website, social media sites, and email bulletins.

If you’re interested in joining our Executive for the following season, click here: TESL TO Board Executive Form. The form is active and we are looking for new members for the board! 

The Executive (2018-2019)

Chris Smrke, President
chris-smrkeChris has experience teaching in both the private sector at English School of Canada and the public sector in the LINC Home Study Ontario program.  Over the last few years, he has also taken on more administrative responsibilities but has never strayed far from the classroom.  With these different experiences, he has had the opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from many teachers.  This is fortunate since one of his passions is to practice new approaches and incorporate them into his classes.  He is a strong advocate of professional development, believes that we all have things to teach each other, and never tires of learning new techniques.

Nicola Carozza, President-in-waiting (2019-2020)
Nicola has taught English in the private and public sectors in both Canada and China. He has worked with core curriculum teachers to design remedial English courses for students preparing to study overseas.  His most recent work includes teaching listening and speaking at the University of Toronto and advanced conversation, George Brown College.  Nicola’s interests include authentic and meaningful assessment and the impact of culture on language acquisition.


Melanie Watt, Affiliate Representative 
Melanie comes from the settlement sector. In her present role as Supervisor of English Language Services for a large community organization, she administers a small LINC site in St James Town where she supports the goals of ESL instructors, ECEs and their learners. Melanie was a peer mentor in the TDSB’s Professional Development Partners program and was a participant in the CLCF project of CASIP.  Melanie’s BA focused on international trade economics. She was an export lumber trader and a community volunteer (teaching, fundraising and organizing teams of volunteers) before becoming an instructor. Melanie taught ESL, LINC and ELT for 10 years.  She finds the field of English for Settlement very rewarding because there always is, in any given interaction with a client, a wonderful potential for cross-cultural connection as well a chance to assist them in their own personal advancement and community building.

Alice Kim, Treasurer
anna_2016Alice has taught EAP in universities as well as general English for refugees and adults while living in the Middle East.  She has continued with EAP in reading and writing at the International Foundation Program at U of T and standardized testing in Toronto.  She has participated in assessment and curriculum-building and is particularly interested in the spread and significance of “World Englishes” and how this impacts the EAP learning environment.

Simon Leclerc, Communications Officer
simon_2016Simon Leclerc has been involved in the education field, both research and training, since 1997. He is currently head of teacher training at LSC International College (Toronto), instructing on CELTA and Delta courses, while also conducting CELTA assessments in North America.  Simon holds an MA (Applied Linguistics), BEd, and BA (Psychology/Education).  Recent research interests focus on scaffolding use (specifically mediation) in pre-service teacher training.

Jessica Webster, Administrative Officer
jessica_2016Jessica connects with people in both language and employment services and helps them communicate and put their best selves forward. With more than 10 years of experience teaching around the globe, Jessica has coached everyone from executives to community service providers and language teachers. Jessica has taught in private ELT, LINC and virtual classrooms, and has designed and facilitated job-search related workshops. Recently, Jessica is exploring exciting new ventures working for Employment and Social Development Canada.  A founding member of the TESL Ontario Social Content Committee, Jessica believes in the importance of building and strengthening relationships for career building, life-long learning, and the enjoyment of life.

Vanessa Di Maria, Membership Officer 
Vanessa has worked in the ESL industry for 14 years. What began has a means to an end became a passion for teaching and education. She has worked both in Canada and abroad in the private sector teaching students of all levels and ages. After completing her MA in TESOL in 2014, she went into management where she enjoys providing teachers with support, conducting professional development seminars, and helping students to achieve their academic goals. She is currently working at EC Toronto in the Academic department.

Qasim Alibhai, Member at Large 
Qasim has been teaching EAP since 2010. He has taught at the University of Toronto, George Brown College, and Seneca College. He holds an MEd from the University of Toronto specializing in curriculum studies and teacher development. During his master’s, Qasim became interested in the concept of teaching with presence, which he believes can enrich the lives of both teachers and students. His research showed that achieving a strong presence requires enthusiasm for one’s subject, mastery of course content, letting one’s personality shine through, and delivering content in exciting ways. Also closely related is the increasingly popular practice of mindfulness meditation, which can gradually lead to one being fully present in class. Qasim loves to meet, socialize with, and learn from fellow teachers, so don’t hesitate to say hello!

Katina Deichsel, Member at Large 
katina_2016Katina has had the great opportunity to work in the language and culture training field for the past 13 years, working in a variety of public and private institutions in Canada and abroad as an ESL, ELT, EAP and OSLT instructor. Of these past 13 years, 3 of them have been spent contributing to a variety of Business English courses at a busy employment agency in the GTA. In this role, Katina has facilitated over 2000 hours of language and cultural training with over 250 internationally-trained professionals from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.  Through this experience, Katina has developed a keen awareness of the issues faced by newcomers who are in the process of attempting to obtain meaningful, sustainable employment in their fields of expertise, which has translated into the development of an intensive 140-hour program geared at preparing new Canadians to successfully enter the Canadian workforce.

Hayley Goodwin, Member at Large 
Hayley has ten years of experience teaching abroad and locally in the private sector. She has taught a variety of ages, levels and classes (GE, EAP, Cambridge Test Prep) as well as developed and implemented EAP curriculum. In 2015, Hayley began teacher training (CELTA) and as well as conducting Professional Development workshops for her fellow colleagues. Hayley can now be found splitting her time in the classroom between teaching and training.

Ruslana Sikorska, Member at Large 
Ruslana has come a long way from being a language learner to becoming a language teacher. Her degree in Linguistics and Language Studies along with extensive teaching experience in EFL, ESL, LINC, and CELPIP as well as teacher training have contributed to her expertise in the field. She has a proven track record in community involvement assisting Indigenous people, victims of torture, military family members, and local politicians. In the classroom, her focus is on developing learner empowerment and instilling interest in positive social change.

Shawna Shulman, Member at Large 
Currently employed as Manager, English for Academic Purposes at York University English Language Institute (YUELI), Shawna has been teaching and developing ESL/EAP courses since 2005. Her career has taken her east to Quebec City and Halifax as well as to several international locales: Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Melbourne and Istanbul. She is lucky to still get to connect with students, instructors and staff from so many diverse backgrounds since settling back home in Toronto. She has a particular fondness for research on language testing and error correction and conducts her own small-scale studies whenever she can.

Farnaz Karimian, Member at Large 
Having been an immigrant herself, Farnaz has always been drawn to helping newcomers of Canada. Her passion for teaching, interacting with other teachers, helping students, and the English language itself has led her towards the path of ESL since 2010. She has had the opportunity to teach in the private sector, LINC programs, and various Ontario colleges as an instructor and a teacher trainer. While in university, she focused her studies on TESL as well as Linguistics and Discourse Studies which ultimately directed her interest to teaching specialized writing courses within English for Academic Purposes. Having spent years in EAP, her particular interests have become curriculum development for Academic English courses and conducting workshops for teachers; she is currently teaching in the EAP department at George Brown College. Farnaz is a firm believer that as teachers we constantly are learning and that there is always room for improvement, and for that she is enthused to meet and support teachers and learn from them herself.

Linda Hargreaves, Member at Large 
Linda has over ten years experience teaching in private language schools, community colleges, and currently is teaching at York University where she has been for almost five years. Her forte is unpacking academic texts, videos, and lectures to ensure reading comprehension through summation, and pronunciation through elementary phonetics and phonology. Overall, she intensely enjoys ensuring her students succeed in her ESL courses as well as helping them with the many skill sets that they need to excel in university. Currently, she is very interested and has become well versed in the benefits of integrating and enhancing the class curriculum with technology. She holds a Masters in Education focusing on Second Language Education from OISE, in addition to an MA and a partial Phd in English, as well as being TESL Ontario certified.

Sunshine Sun, Member at Large 
Sunshine has taught ESL in colleges and secondary schools in Canada and China. After completing her MEd through University of Toronto’s Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development Program, she has continued working in the ESL field and been involved in research on Language Literacy Education. Her interests include language assessment, blended teaching and literacy and technology.


Past presidents

The Executive terms run from September – June.  Years listed below represent the beginning of the term.

1976 – 1984 No data  2007  Karen Thomson
1985 Elizabeth Taborek  2008  Karen Thomson
1986 Banny Hynes  2009  Karen Thomson
1987 Janice Sellers  2010  Akua Joseph
1988 Eileen Allen  2011  Akua Joseph
1989 Phyllis Amber/Lynne Earls  2012  Tyson Seburn
1990 Sheila Applebaum  2013  Tyson Seburn
1991 John Longfield  2014  Tyson Seburn
1992 Angie Wong  2015  Arlene Samlalsingh
1993 Kathy Simo  2016  Arlene Samlalsingh
1994 Cathy Haghighat  2017  Chris Smrke
1995 Cathy Haghighat
1996 Andrea Strachan
1997 Andrea Strachan
1998 Bruce Russell
1999 Bruce Russell
2000 Cheryl Richman
2001 Cheryl Richman
2002 Cheryl Richman
2003 Sandra Clandfield
2004 Sandra Clandfield
2005 Antonella Valeo
2006 Antonella Valeo

Would you like to join us?

Collaborate on meaningful projects with passionate professionals like you. Contribute to worthwhile initiatives. Apply to join the Executive! We welcome applications from teachers and administrators including:

  • Our 4 primary sectors: Settlement / Private Language Schools / Higher Ed / School Board
  • Varied expertise:  OSLT / Literacy / EAP / Technology / Intercultural studies

Terms are 3 years. New members begin in their first year as “Members at Large”, which provides opportunity to acclimatize with the organisation, its mandate and its procedures. Attendance at Executive meetings, held monthly from September through June, and events is expected.

The application process is now open!  To apply click here!

Please email us at if you have any questions.

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