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Board Officers

Kara Sappington
ORTESOL President

Kara Sappington is ORTESOL's President. Her teaching experience is combined with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences and a M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL.

Kara has worked with families in a variety of non-profit contexts, including a community center offering companion English classes for both children and adults. In addition to working with families, she has experience teaching in university and community college settings, in the United States and abroad. Her interests include incorporating technology into language learning and providing support to current language teachers.

Delpha Thomas
ORTESOL Vice President

Delpha Thomas holds a Masters in Education in Teaching English as a Second Language from Concordia University and has eleven years classroom instruction experience. She spent four years abroad teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey and has worked in a variety of educational contexts with learners of all ages and motivations! In addition to teaching, Delpha has a professional background in language assessment and program administration.

Currently, Delpha works as an ESOL instructor at Portland Community College, where she also serves as the Assessment Committee Chairperson for the ESOL department. As well as serving the ORTESOL board, she is a board member of the Portland Literacy Council, where she enjoys connecting with and supporting volunteer literacy tutors and community-based programs working with adults.

Delpha is committed to working on both the equity barriers faced by English language learners and the employment issues facing teaching professionals working in adult education in Oregon. She has great enthusiasm for professional development, teacher training, leveraging technology in the classroom, and designing materials, including open educational resources.

Teresa Cunningham Byrnes
ORTESOL Treasurer

Teresa currently teaches at the Portland English Language Academy and Portland State University’s International Special Programs. She is excited to be part of the ORTESOL board because of the importance of the organization to ongoing professional development. Being fairly new to the profession, she especially values the ORTESOL link to her peers and to research on successful teaching practices. 

Prior to earning her M.A. TESOL from Portland State University, Teresa managed her family's rental properties while raising her and her husband's son; worked in public involvement and civil rights for the Federal government in Washington, D.C. and in Portland; and taught secondary English and history. Her undergraduate degree is in history and her first master's degree is in American Studies. She feels that she has come full circle with her TESOL work! 

Kit Emens-Hesslink
ORTESOL Secretary

Kit is excited to be a part of the ORTESOL Board as Secretary. She holds an MS in Education (TESOL) from California State University, Fullerton and taught ESL for several years in California before moving to Oregon. She also had the pleasure of teaching in Beijing, China. Prior to entering the field of ESL, Kit worked as a research scientist in San Diego, California. 

Since moving to Oregon, Kit has been teaching at Portland State University’s Intensive English Language Program and International Special Programs. She now teaches at Clackamas Community College as well. She believes that teaching students from all over the world and sharing each other’s cultures and languages is one of the best benefits of being an ESL instructor. 

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