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Tommaso De Silvestri was born in Milan, Italy in 1986 and moved to Mexico at a very young age, when his passion for art bloomed. Tommaso studied Fine Arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Urbino in Italy. During his undergraduate studies, Tommaso found another passion: working with kids. In 2010, Tommaso moved to Merida and participated in the Habla Teacher Institute to further pursue his enthusiasm for early-childhood education. This opened the door for him to become a teacher at Habla. Today he continues his work at Habla as an artist in residence and English teacher. Whenever he can, Tommaso attends art and teaching workshops to enhance his creativity in his professional and personal work. His passions include painting, videography, photography, animation, music, and yoga. Watching the excitement his students express when creating art and exploring their own imagination is what drives his passion for teaching.


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Jessica grew up in Chicago where she obtained an undergraduate degree in literature and a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Having endured one too many Chicago winters, Jessica decided to move to Merida in 2012 and has been a part of the Habla community ever since. As a teacher, Jessica believes in creating a joyful classroom environment in which all students are comfortable sharing their ideas and making sense of the world around them. As a lifelong student and lover of words, she is most content with a pen in one hand and a book in the other. Jessica is currently the English and Community Projects Coordinator at Habla.


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Alejo was born in Montevideo, Uruguay but he has lived in México since he was 2 years old. He has lived in many different places, and considers himself a citizen of the world, however he identifies as Latin American. He loves diversity and strongly supports freedom of knowledge and expression. He loves plants and studied biology in the past. He also studied performing arts in México and Spain and now he dedicates his work to theater and teaching. His passion for arts and teaching motivated him to create Tapanco Centro Cultural, a cultural center he manages. Tapanco hosts a diverse array of social, cultural and artistic events in the community, with the objective to create a space for reflection and transformation of local and global realities. His work in Habla as coordinator and professor in the Spanish Immersion Program allows him to join his profound passions: language, history, politics, arts and social commitment. Through these passions he is able to experiment with many different learning processes and implement them in the classroom.


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Maria del Mar (Marimar) was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico where her family has lived for generations. She studied literature at Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico and then went on to a graduate degree in Hispanic Studies at Brown University in the United States. Her work is focused on how stories, reading and literature are part of the daily life of communities. At Brown she received the prestigious Presidential Teaching Award for her teaching of Spanish language classes to university students. Her unique approach to teaching involves storytelling, the literature and culture of the language, from kids to adults. Marimar has presented talks and workshops on language teaching in a variety of settings including Brown University, Harvard University, and in different literacy organizations in Mexico and the United States. Perhaps the greatest lessons she has learned about teaching and language are from her kids Sandra and Luis who are growing up bilingual. Raising bilingual children has brought about a new passion: children’s books and the place they have in language classrooms. Marimar believes that the key to teaching is to create a community of dialogue in the classroom, where creativity and imagination have the same importance as critical thinking and academic content. Her favorite quote is from Carlos Fuentes, “like bread and love, language is shared with others.”

Kurt Wootton

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Kurt Wootton is the Co-Founder of the Arts Literacy Project in the Education Department at Brown University as well as the Co-Founder of Habla. He has piloted several lab schools in the United States, Mexico, and Brazil and worked with cities including Boston, MA; St. Paul, MN; Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; Andover, MA; Vero Beach, FL and Central Falls, RI on multi-year, district-wide initiatives. Wootton also writes about education for The Huffington Post and for many professional journals including the English Journal and The Teaching Artist Journal. He is the co-author with Eileen Landay of A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts published by Harvard Education Press. The New York Times writes: “Mr. Wootton remains every bit as convinced of education’s power to transform lives. He has changed his tool of choice, however, from a mirror in which students see only reflections of themselves to a window that opens onto the rest of the world.”.

Jodi Hernández

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Jodi has been teaching Spanish for 4 years at the middle and high school levels. By a grand stroke of luck, Jodi was introduced to OWL early in her first year teaching when she realized that students were assessing well on traditional tests, but felt fearful to produce language and make mistakes. She attended an OWL workshop and knew that the proficiency classroom was what she had been seeking but didn’t know how to implement.  She returned from that first workshop energized and hopeful, and has not looked back since. She is passionate about proficiency, the OWL methodology, and continuing the journey.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Jodi now teaches on a military base near Tokyo, Japan. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys traveling with her husband, exploring different gastronomies, and quilting.

Jay McCullough

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Jay began teaching Spanish in Atlanta in 1998.  Despite have twenty years of experience, he has never tired of teaching.  By always incorporating new techniques and exploring new methods, he has managed to avoid the doldrums.  He had been successfully using input based methods for years before discovering OWL at a conference in 2015.  Within the first few minutes of that workshop he was hooked and has been using OWL ever since.  Since switching to OWL he has enjoyed the level of laughter and engagement he sees daily in his students and loves the opportunities OWL provides for students to show off what they can do with the language.  When he is not working he loves being outdoors helping his young son explore the world.

Carolina Lemus-Fabry

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Carolina Lemus-Fabry is a language teacher who has taught both in the United States and Internationally. She has been in the education field for 9 years, as an ESL, Kindergarten and Spanish teacher. Currently, she is the K-2 Instructor in an IB School in Monterey CA, where she also serves as a team leader for the Spanish language program.


Pursuing her passion for inspiring students to love learning another language, Carolina discovered OWL at a workshop in 2015 and immediately recognized the need of applying the methodology in her classroom and the Language Department. She realized that using OWL has changed not only the proficiency level of her students but also has created an innovative, interactive classroom space that makes her K-2 students feel safe and comfortable learning another language. As chair of the ISM Spanish program, she has led her department to make a radical change in the way they teach second language acquisition.


Carolina was born in Guatemala City and grew up learning English as a second language. She was exposed to many different programs, methods and curriculums that indeed helped her learn the basics, but it wasn’t until she was completely immersed in the language that she fully became a successful speaker. As a result of her own experienced learning a second language, she strongly believes that using OWL provides the perfect opportunity for teachers to guide students discover the real use of a second language. Carolina combines her personal experience as a learner and teacher to provide a full immersion instruction in the classroom. She uses strategies that quickly engage students, builds relationships and give students ownership.


With a global mindset, teaching expertise, and energetic personally, Carolina serves as a mentor to encourage teachers to develop new insights into the OWL program and their own pedagogy. She is committed to supporting the teaching community by providing high-quality, innovative ideas and strategies to help new, experienced school leaders and educators understand, support and successfully deliver the OWL program.

Brooke Carlson

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Brooke is an experienced classroom teacher of 17 years, having spent 5 of those years as an OWL teacher. She completed both her undergraduate degree and her M.Ed. with Concordia College in Moorhead, MN in conjunction with the Concordia Language Villages and their immersion-based language programs. Originally from the Dakotas, she now lives and teaches in Mahtomedi, MN.  After discovering OWL by pure happenstance at her state conference, she instantly fell in love with the methodology and has been on her OWL journey ever since.   She is a fierce believer in proficiency-based language classrooms, after seeing the change in engagement and skills advancement in her students. When  not in the classroom, Brooke is an active member in her community, enjoys geocaching with her family, traveling anywhere, a good book, a great meal, theatre and the arts, and the company of good friends.

Emma Bricker

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Emma Bricker has been teaching Spanish since the year 2000. Learning the basic essentials of Spanish while traveling in Central America, she fell in love with the language and pursued a degree to allow her to share her passion through teaching. She has taught at the university level, high school and middle school levels, and discovered OWL at an educator’s conference in 2012. The methodology resonated. She leapt at the opportunity to train and learn more,
transforming her teaching and enriching her student’s experience with second language acquisition as evidenced by their enthusiasm and engagement with the language, a supporting validation of this teaching methodology. She shares the inspiration of OWL, and its proficiency-based, student-centered methodology at every opportunity.