Teacher Trainers

Committed and Experienced Teacher Trainers
Our teacher trainers have designed a customized course based on their own experiences with TEFL/TESOL courses, educational training and years of classroom contact.

In addition to the actual course content, teachers will assess the specific needs of the trainees and include tailored workshops as necessary.

Barbara Miller, M.Ed. TESOL, M.A. Educational Leadership

Barbara is originally from California and has lived in Costa Rica since 1999. She has a double Bachelors degree in Psychology and Multicultural and Gender Studies. She has participated in a number of Second Language Acquisition seminars through Cambridge University, New England Language School and others. She holds a Masters in Educational Administration, and a Masters in TESOL.

In July of 1999 she assumed the position of English Department Director at Intercultura, where she was in charge of professional development, curriculum design, teacher training and observations, as well as teaching, her real passion. In order to better train the teaching staff, in 2007 she began Costa Rica TEFL while continuing at Intercultura. In June 2008 she decided to dedicate her time fully to Costa Rica TEFL in Playa Samara. In addition to training TEFL teachers, she is often invited by the MEP (Ministry of Public Education in Costa Rica) to lead workshops in classroom management and the use of multiple intelligence activities in the EFL classroom. In February of 2016 until April 2017, she did a sabbatical in the US where she taught refugees ELL classes for the YWCA, an amazing organization.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and her two boys exploring beautiful Costa Rica.


Nickola Jenna Johnson

Nickola is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, an island in the Caribbean next to Venezuela. She holds a BSC in Sport Management and a Minor in Spanish. She has worked in the sport industry for over 7 years before getting TEFL Certified in 2018. After her TEFL certification, Nickola lived in San José for a year teaching for various companies. In addition, she volunteered with ALIARSE, a highly renowned organization that provides educational opportunities for Costa Rican citizens, taught English classes along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and online while travelling through England and Europe.

Nickola loves sports, exercise and fitness, travel writing, languages, and creating resources. This passionate and determined individual started her own teaching online business in 2019 and wrote her first teacher journal in 2020. When she isn’t working at Costa Rica TEFL, she is teaching online or working on some exciting new teaching resources she can’t wait to share with others.

Chantal Reed, RECE

Chantal is originally from Toronto and has been living in Costa Rica for over a year.  She has B.A. in Early Childhood Education, a diploma in Child and Youth Work, is the proud recipient of CityKids Inclusion Award and the Founder of In It Together.  She has more than 15 years of experience in the Not-For-Profit field with extensive experience working with children.  She has worked with children in childcare settings and trained several teachers in implementation of classroom operations.  She became TEFL certified in January 2020 and loves being a TEFL Trainer.  She worked in Jaco teaching Grade 6 Math, Science and English for one year before joining our team here at Costa Rica TEFL.  

She is currently working on a project training teachers in Kenya on how to support the mental health of children. She loves to travel, exercise and to be adventurous.  She is a passionate and dedicated teacher and enjoys interacting with people from all around the world.


Administrative Staff:

Portia Cruz

Portia was born in New York and raised in Pennsylvania. She first came to Costa Rica in 2019 and toured the entire country with classmates. She graduated high school in June 2020, and knew that once she did, she just had to come back to Costa Rica. TEFL was the perfect opportunity. Portia worked in a bank for two years before becoming certified in teaching English in October 2020, when she began teaching students online and living in Sàmara ever since. When she isn’t working at Costa Rica TEFL, she is spending time at the beach and with friends. She loves going on bike rides, meeting new people, and cooking. 


FORMER AND SEASONAL TEFL TRAINERS:

Julia Francis, M.A., M.Ed. TEFL

Julia Francis

Julia is originally from England, where she gained her Masters Degree from The University of Birmingham. She taught English and physical education for 9 years as well as coordinating business and enterprise education in schools. Throughout that time she participated in, organized and delivered a variety of teaching workshops; including vocal training for newly qualified teachers, active reading strategies, positive behavior management and accelerated learning techniques. She later became involved in teaching adult learners with a focus on adult literacy and teaching students with specific learning needs. Her arrival in Costa Rica in 2007 saw her take on her new role as a language teacher at Intercultura. Here she further developed her experience teaching English in a variety of context, including one to one private tutoring, group instruction, English for specific purposes and online language learning. She has experience in communicative language teaching, syllabus design and language learner assessment. Her particular areas of interest are classroom management and language teacher and learner motivation. Julia returned to the UK in 2017 to take care of her elderly parents. She continues to assist as an advisor and will always be a key part of the Costa Rica TEFL team!

Kathie Hagy, M.A.T. TESOL

Kathie grew up in Virginia. She earned both her B.A. in English and M.A.T. in TESOL from James Madison University. She holds a teaching license in PreK-12 ESL. From 2010-2012 she taught EFL in public elementary and middle schools in northern Japan. While she was earning her master’s degree, she taught an undergrad health publication writing course at JMU. In 2015 she taught hospitality English to adult learners in Cusco, Peru. Most recently, she taught EL English and literacy for two years at a high school in Virginia to students from Central America and the Middle East. She has experience working with students with learning differences, and has a special interest in the social-emotional needs of immigrant English learners. She moved to Costa Rica in 2018 to join the Costa Rica TEFL team. When Kathie isn’t teaching she likes to run, write, and travel.

Jennifer Petruzziello, M.A.

Jen Cropped 2

Jennifer is originally from Boston where she earned her Masters Degree in English Composition, as well as her Initial Teaching License from The University of Massachusetts. While completing coursework for her Teaching License in Secondary Education, she worked as an ELA Teacher in an 8th grade classroom at a Public Exam School in Boston. There, she developed a passion for teaching ESL students and was able to receive her English Sheltered Immersion Endorsement in May of 2016. She has worked as a private English tutor, as well as a tutor to freshman students at The University of Massachusetts. Prior to that, she spent several years working for the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System, where she had the opportunity to meet with teachers and counsel them about their retirement benefits. She received her TEFL certification from Costa Rica TEFL and loved it so much that she decided to stay in Samara! She is a 200-hour registered Yoga Instructor, and in her free time, loves to do yoga, read, write, and spend time with family and friends.

Christina Meyer, M.A. Applied Linguistics

IMG_0016Christina is most recently from Chicago, IL and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Mexico. She received her Bachelors of Arts with a theater concentration from Colombia College Chicago, and her Master’s in Applied Linguistics from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her prior professional and academic experiences motivated her to learn more about Latino culture and the Spanish language. Inspired to expand her horizons, she moved to Mexico and completed a TEFL Certification program. Immediately upon graduation, Christina began teaching at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Puebla.   She fell in love with teaching and decided to make a career out of it.  She returned to the states, received her masters and continued teaching English at Purdue University Calumet, Loyola University, and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM). Additionally, she was the English Department Chair for UNAM for two years. Christina moved to Costa Rica and joined the Costa Rica TEFL team in December 2014. When Christina isn’t teaching she is practicing yoga, biking, dancing Zumba and cooking with friends.


Gregory Ruggiero, M.A. Interdisciplinary Humanities, M.A. TESOL

tefl, tesl, tesol, teaching english, costa rica, pura vidaGregory is originally from New York. He earned his Bachelors degree from Flagler College (a quaint liberal arts college in St. Augustine, FL). Focusing on English Literature and Creative Writing, Gregory’s interest in language was primarily artistic. As these interests broadened, Gregory went on to study language and representation within the Interdisciplinary Humanities Department at Florida State University. With a concentration in Modern Intellectual History, Gregory taught classes such as Multicultural Film, Cultural Imperialism, and Modern Humanities within the Interdisciplinary Humanities Department at FSU. He earned his Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities in 2008. Upon earning TEFL certification at Oxford Seminars’ Manhattan campus, Gregory entered Western Carolina University’s TESOL graduate department. While teaching within the Intensive English Program at WCU, Gregory earned his TESOL Masters degree in 2013. A family man, practicing musician, avid surfer, and ESL enthusiast, Gregory moved to Costa Rica in 2014.


Matthew Kuerbis M.Ed

tefl, tesol, tesl, teaching abroad, teaching in costa rica, tefl in costa ricaMatt is most recently from Portland, OR and grew up in Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Conservation from University of Colorado, Boulder,his Master’s in Education from Portland State University, and his TEFL certification from Costa Rica TEFL. Before beginning his teaching career Matt cooked for a living. He has cooked professionally for  Wolfgang Puck and aboard an Eco-tourism cruise ship in Mexico and Alaska. After receiving his Master’s degree he joined the faculty at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He taught Math, Computer Applications, Restaurant Management, and cooking classes for seven years before taking over as the Director of Education in 2011. He also has experience teaching science education at the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Garden. Matt became a teacher because he enjoys creating a classroom environment that allows students to feel comfortable and flourish as learners. Matt moved to Costa Rica and joined the Costa Rica TEFL team in late 2014. When Matt isn’t teaching he is playing guitar and cooking.