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

In Part 1 of this two-part series, you were introduced to three of the TESL ON Board members who have completed one year of service. In Part 2, we dig deeper into their responses about their perspectives as Board members.  

Interview (continued)

What have you learned from your fellow Board members in the last year? 

Cecilia: Where do I start? Everyone is truly focused on the continued strengthening of the organization and to share their individual talents to make this happen. We have only Zoomed since I joined but I have felt welcomed from the very first time we met. New members are matched with a mentor who we can call on anytime and that’s reflective of the spirit of collaboration that exists within the Board and our organization as a whole. David Hezell, past Chair and treasurer, became my mentor and that helped me to transition to my current role as treasurer 

Mario: The experience of being part of this Board has allowed me to learn so much about my fellow colleagues. Our meetings stimulate spaces for us to engage in various educational and administrative topics and develop skills related to decision making, analysis and leadership.   

Mary: I have learned that we are all avid learners and we love what we do. Our primary goal is to work together for the betterment of our community as a whole. 

What’s the best thing about being a TESL ON Board member? 

Cecilia: The best part is being able to put ideas into motion at the strategic level and seeing these ideas come into fruition, led by our Executive Director, staff, and the dedicated work of our amazing TESL Ontario member-volunteers.  

Mario: The best thing for me is to be able to bring DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) ideas so that they become part of TESL ON policies. We are now forming a DEI committee and I am very proud of this step that TESL ON, along with Allison Keown’s support, has started. 

Mary: The best thing is seeing people make a difference. We may have an indirect role, but we work very closely with the Executive Director who has her fingers in many pies, so to speak, and we have a front row seat to what is going on as a whole in the TESL ON world. 

What is the Board’s vision for developing TESL ON going forward? 

Cecilia: The Board’s vision is our members’ vision, which is why it’s so important for members to get involved with the affiliate chapters, voice ideas, attend the AGM, complete the surveys sent by email, and volunteer whenever possible. We want to keep our vision of being a leading authority on English language education. This vision requires the input of our membership base. 

Mario: After COVID, the Board and the organization have learned about different challenges and opportunities and we are trying to find ways to support the membership as well as learners by considering the new normal. 

Mary: This year we will be compiling a new Strategic Plan for 2022/2023. This is very exciting as we will be working as a team to come up with Strategic Goals combined with an Action Plan to guide us into this new season. I am very much looking forward to being a part of this planning as the last two years have been very challenging and there have been lots of changes in our industry. I am certain that the Board’s vison will guide us effectively into our new reality. 

What would you tell someone who is curious about becoming a future Board member?  

Cecilia: I would tell them to read about our by-laws, governing policies, and strategic plan and to also reflect on their current role within the organization. The next step would be to read the document listing the attributes, expertise and skills required to be a director. I would then say to the individual, “If the requirements match or exceed your attributes, expertise and skills, and the desire to serve the organization is there, then you definitely should apply. If not, it’s never too late to meet the requirements. Be an active member and continue building the vision and mission of TESL Ontario.” 

Mario: This is a great professional opportunity to learn and develop leadership and executive skills as well as an opportunity to support our educators and learners in the field of second language learning and teaching. You just need passion and should not worry about not knowing much on how to be a Board member. My colleagues have been very welcoming and supportive. 

Mary: I would say ask questions, and inquire for yourself: “How can you best help, inspire, guide, and contribute to this varied community we call TESL ON?!” 

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 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 ON 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.   


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