Interview with 3 Board Members – A Year in Review (Part 1 of 2)

The Blog Team had the opportunity to interview three TESL Ontario Board members who were appointed one year ago. Following is Part 1 of a two-part blog series in which the members reflect upon their experiences thus far. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday, January 5.  

Board Cohort 2020-2023 – Member Bios

Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, M.A, OCELT, OCT

Cecilia continues to be a very active member of TESL Ontario. Her commitment to second language education along with her experience and skill set led her to her current role as a TESL Ontario Board Member and most recently Board treasurer. 

Mario Guerrero, PhD 

Mario has diverse teaching experiences from higher education institutions across Colombia, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Germany, along with research contributions to critical perspectives on cross-cultural awareness as well as gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. He completed a PhD in Education at York University. Mario served as Education Instructor at York University and as educational leader at the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education in NYC. He is currently working as a Project Officer at York University in projects related to Sustainable Education, SDGs and the UN’s 2030 Agenda, Diversity and Inclusion, and Intercultural Communication. 

Mary Rizzi, OCELT 

Mary is a teacher and TESL Ontario Board Member and secretary, who has worked in several ESL fields over 16 years, beginning her journey in 2005 working for a private school in Guelph. While teaching the LINC program there in levels 2-7, she experienced working in an atmosphere that was more collaborative than a regular teacher-student hierarchy. That mentality is something she brought forward into teaching academic English at Renison University College in 2011. At Renison, Mary was also able to mentor the next generation of student teachers working on their TESL certifications. With the COVID-19 pandemic, her latest position has her teaching online for a private language school in Toronto. Mary’s approach and philosophy to teaching is inspired by her family history, growing up in an immigrant household in a culturally diverse neighbourhood in Montreal.   


What interested you in becoming a TESL ON Board member?  

Cecilia: I strongly felt I could represent the membership by joining the Board. As a very active volunteer member of TESL Ontario and past Executive Board Member of TESL Toronto, I felt ready to be involved in a different capacity. I also felt our member base needed to expand and that our PD offerings needed to cover a wider range of topics. Having transitioned from teaching adult ESL and LINC to teaching EAP and college developmental English, I realized that this particular sector was underrepresented and that I could help to guide a change at the strategic level.  

Mario: I am passionate about teaching, learning and social justice education. I wanted to join TESL Ontario to be able to contribute from my academic and professional experience in topics regarding inclusion, equity and diversity. Being in this position has allowed me to continuously bring these topics to the discussions in order to raise awareness and create positive change in our organization. 

Mary: The primary reason I wanted to join the board was to give back to my ‘community’. I have been a member of the TESL Waterloo Wellington board for the past four years, and I have very much enjoyed my experience there, and I wanted to expand that role and be part of the TESL ON family. The roles, as I have found out, are very different. At the affiliate level, we are responsible for providing meaningful, insightful and encouraging PD events for our immediate geographical community. Our role on the TESL ON Board is one of governance and direction for the entire TESL community of Ontario. 

Check back Wednesday, January 5, for the rest of the interview in Part 2 of this blog post.


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