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Faculty & Staff

The faculty at CIES represents more than 75 years of combined teaching experience, both in the United States and in many countries around the world. All hold a Master's Degree or higher. We all love teaching and are dedicated to helping our students, not only to improve their English, but also to help them have a pleasant and enlightening experience in America.

For more information on our faculty evaluation and promotion procedures, please see the CIES Bylaws.



Felicia Ciappetta

Felicia Ciappetta, MS 

Felicia holds a Masters degree in Multilingual/Multicultural Education from Florida State University. In addition, she received a BA in Spanish with a minor in Education from Florida State in 2002. Felicia is also the IEP Coordinator at CIES.

"If you can dream it, you can achieve it." -Walt Disney

Ryan Flemming

Ryan Flemming, MS
Instructor, Computer Lab Coordinator

Ryan holds a Masters degree in Multilingual/Multicultural Education from Florida State University and has been teaching at CIES since 2007. Additionally, he has experience in ESL materials development and has coauthored textbooks at CIES in Grammar and Reading. Ryan enjoys studying and playing music of all kinds and loves to explore the similarities between how people learn languages and how they learn music.

"Withhold no sacrifice, begrudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe, [and] all will be well." -Sir Winston Churchill

Olivia James

Olivia James, MS
Instructor, Academic Liaison to FSU, ACES Program Coordinator

Olivia holds an M.S. in Multilingual/Multicultural Education and a B.A. in International Affairs and Spanish. For her doctorate, she is focusing on the globalization of universities. She has been a literacy program director, a private school principal, a policy analyst for the Florida Legislature, and a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) for which she was recognized as teacher of the year. As Academic Liaison, Olivia guides CIES students through their transition from intensive English study to full-time university coursework. She consults with students about finding the right U.S. schools and preparing the best possible application documents and introduces promising CIES students to key people in their chosen departments at FSU. 

“A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.” -Gaston Bachelard

Sana McHarek

Sana McHarek, MS

Sana holds a Master’s Degree in English Education from Florida State University and a BA in English from the University of Letters and Humanities in Tunisia, her country of origin.
She began her career as an EFL high school teacher. After finishing her graduate studies in the US, she went back to Tunisia where she taught EFL at the university level for 2 years.
Sana speaks Arabic and French. She enjoys swimming and the outdoors.

“It’s not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.” -Linda Conway

Hunter Pelt.jpg

Hunter Pelt 
Graduate Assistant

Hunter holds a Master's degree in Foreign and Second Language Education with TESOL certification as well as a Bachelor's degree in French and Middle East Studies with a concentration in Arabic from Florida State University. He earned his TEFL Certification through CIES and prior to teaching at CIES worked as an EFL tutor at FSU's Student Athletic Academics Department.

"You must not come lightly to the blank page." -Stephen King

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Derrick Pollock, PhD

Derrick holds a PhD in Foreign and Second Language Teaching from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Derrick is also certified as a K-12 ESOL instructor in the state of Florida. Before completing his B.S. degree, he spent time tutoring at-risk youth where he discovered his passion for teaching. Upon completing his M.S. degree, Derrick spent time in Perú teaching English and learning about the indigenous influence on the culture. It was after this experience that he decided to teach as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor.

"¡ser culto para ser libre!" ("Be cultured to be free!") -José Mart


Angel Rios

Angel Rios, PhD
Instructor, Testing Coordinator

Originally from the island of Puerto Rico, Angel moved to the United States to learn English in 1994. This process marked the start of a passion for languages, which led him to also study French and Italian.  Angel holds a Bachelors in French Education, a Masters in Multicultural/Multilingual Education with a TESOL concentration, and PhD in Foreign and Second Language Teaching.  In 2008 Angel was nominated for the governor's Excellence in Education Award and in 2009 he received the Teacher of Promise Award for the state of Florida.  Later in 2010 he also received the Teacher of the Year Award.  Angel taught in the International Baccalaureate Program, working with international students for four years and joined the CIES family in 2013

Josh Valentine, MS
Student Program Coordinator, DSO-Immigration Advisor

A Tallahassee native, Josh holds a Master’s degree and Foreign and Second Language Education Curriculum and Instruction. He started his teaching career here at CIES in 2012 as a Graduate Student. After teaching abroad in both Spain and Lebanon, Josh began working first as a Consultant for the PAEC Migrant Education Program in Quincy, FL and then as the ESOL Coordinator for the Jefferson County School District. He speaks Spanish and is working on Arabic.


“The more people we have that think differently, the more opportunity we have for change” –Deon Cole




Maria Beatriz Mendoza

Maria Beatriz Mendoza, PhD
English for Academic Purposes Instructor/Coordinator

Maria Beatriz completed her Doctorate in Multicultural/Multilingual Education at FSU in 2004 and has been the International Teaching Assistant Coordinator for Florida State University and CIES since 2005. A recipient of the FSU Fordyce Award for Outstanding Teaching, Maria Beatriz taught English as a Foreign Language in Venezuela for 3 years and then at CIES for 6 more years. Maria Beatriz is an expert in ESL writing and developed the CIES Composition book series. She is a native of Venezuela and speaks Spanish.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world” –Nelson Mandela

"One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world."  --Malala Yousafzai

Jenny Grill

Jenny Grill, PhD 
English for Academic Purposes Instructor

Jenny earned her doctorate in Adult Education at Florida State University in 2003; she holds master’s degrees in Adult Education and in Multilingual/Multicultural Education from FSU as well.
She started her career in EFL in 1991 in Switzerland where she taught English and learned German. She has been able to combine her interests in adult education and language learning through teaching university courses on adult learning, teacher education in English language learning (ELL), applied linguistics, and writing.

“...every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.” --Parker J. Palmer


Ah-Young Kim

Ah-Young Kim, MS 
CIES-TEFL Program Instructor

Ah-Young holds a Master’s degree in Multilingual/Multicultural Education from Florida State University as well as a BA in French Language and Literature from Korea. She has written CIES grammar textbooks at FSU,  and she has also published a series of grammar books in South Korea.

"Vouloir, c’est pouvoir!" ("Where there’s a will, there’s a way.")


Patrick Kennell

Patrick C. Kennell, PhD

Dr. Kennell keeps CIES running on a daily basis and is a very student-centered director. His door is always open, and he encourages students to come by to express their needs and desires. Dr. Kennell is constantly looking for ways to ensure that all students have the chance to make the most of their opportunities at CIES.

In addition to holding a PhD. in Multicultural/ Multilingual Education from FSU, Dr. Kennell has over 33 years of experience teaching English, not only at CIES, but also in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Denmark. His experience, as both a teacher of English and student of Danish, has taught him the value of using classroom knowledge in the real world.

"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for," Patrick says. "Get out and experience everything that you can while here in Tallahassee. Your best classroom is out there!"

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