Board of Directors
2022 PRTESOL President- Stephania Uwakweh
A Message from our President
As the 2022 president of the Puerto Rico TESOL (PRTESOL), it is my extreme honor to welcome you to our webpage. Since its inception in 1969, PRTESOL has been on the front line of providing our esteemed members and clients with transformative professional enrichment opportunities and experiences.
PRTESOL has maintained an unflagging commitment to research and development in the field of ESL and TESOL teaching and learning on the island of Puerto Rico. This page highlights the diverse resources, publications, and events that PRTESOL affords our members and clients.
Our nonprofit organization has continued to be a true pathbreaker in Puerto Rico and beyond because of the selfless volunteerism of its distinguished members through the years. We are immensely proud of the phenomenal strides that our prestigious organization has made in exposing ESL professionals and learners to current theories, research, and practices in the fields of TESOL.
More than ever before, we are committed to staying relevant in the lives of ESL practitioners and learners on the island of Puerto Rico, especially in our rapidly changing educational landscape.
Dr. Stephania Uwakweh is currently the President of PRTESOL. She served as the Western Chapter president in 2020 and the Western Chapter secretary from 2016 to 2018. Stephania earned a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Lagos; an M.A. in English Education from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez; and an Ed.D. in Educational Foundations from the University of Cincinnati. She has taught at all levels and in diverse cultures in her twenty-year teaching career. Dr. Uwakweh is currently an adjunct professor at the English Department of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM), and a secondary English teacher at El Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas de Mayagüez (CROEM). She has presented papers at credited local and international conferences. Also, she was a contributor to WEBTOOLS, a CRUISE-funded project that designed interdisciplinary online resources for secondary-level educators. As the project manager of the UPRM Advanced English Placement Exam Committee, Dr. Uwakweh is involved in designing and administering assessment tools for placement purposes.
PRTESOL Board Members
Mercedes I. Fernández - Vice President
Mercedes I. Fernández is an English teacher at Colegio Ponceño for 7th and 8th grade. She is currently studying at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus a BA in English as a Second Language for the Secondary Level. She has been in PRTESOL for 7 years and has held various leadership positions. Mercedes is the current Vice President of the Main Board of Directors and hopes to continue serving PRTESOL as long as they need her.
Philip R. Murray Finley-Immediate Past President
Dr. Philip R. Murray Finley is Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English, English Learning, and Bilingual Education at Universidad Ana G. Méndez. His career in education spans more than three decades as teacher of several subject areas, and school administrator for public schools and higher education. His research and publications include topics on Computer Assisted Language Instruction (CALL), Learning Management Systems (LMS), and student retention and achievement. His most recent book, Computer Assisted Language Learning: Impact on Achievement and Retention of English Learners, was published in February 2020. He also currently serves as the 2022 Immediate Past President of Puerto Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (PRTESOL), and was President of PRTESOL in 2021. He has authored, co-authored, and participated in grants that were awarded by the Smithsonian Latino Center, Department of Education (Fulbright Hays Group Study Abroad), National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Dr. Murray earned his doctorate in curriculum and instruction with specializations in second language acquisition and educational technology from the Universidad del Turabo (now Universidad Ana G. Méndez). He also has a master’s degree from St. Peter’s University, and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, and has completed post-graduate coursework and teacher certifications at six other institutions of higher education.
José Morales Sousa-Eastern Chapter President
Dr. José Morales-Sousa has a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of Puerto Rico and possesses various certifications as a Secondary ESL teacher, Bilingual Education, and English Teaching Facilitator. He worked in the public school system for fifteen years with blind and visually impaired ESL students. He has participated in multiple committees and educational events due to his commitment to education and community engagement, contributing to meeting the institutional goals and expectations. Currently, he is working as an English professor and coordinator for the Liberal Arts Division at Ana G. Mendez University. As a result, students and colleagues are given effective mentorship and academic support to achieve their academic and professional goals. Dr. Morales has conducted diverse research projects and publications related to assistive technology, information and communication technology literacy, distance education, oral communication, and best pedagogical practices of higher-order thinking skills.
Natalia Morales- Northern Chapter President
Natalia Morales is a member of the PRTESOL Northern Chapter and is currently the 2022 President of the Northern Chapter. For more than 10 years, she has been working as an English educator in various settings. She holds a teaching certification in Puerto Rico, and recently became certified to teach in Pennsylvania. Natalia received a BA in English education from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and a MA in English from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She has had the opportunity of presenting at various PRTESOL conferences. While she loves teaching in person, Natalia is currently working as an ELA Cyber Teacher for Esperanza, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia. Her academic interests include taboo words, bilingualism, BIPOC writers, literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora, gamification, and codeswitching. She currently lives in Hatillo, Puerto Rico with her two feline friends, her life partner, and big cups of coffee.
Sandra Blondet Rivera
Southern Chapter President
Prof. Sandra Blondet Rivera has 25 years experience in the DEPR. She was a teacher for 12 years in Angela Cordero Bernard Elementary School in Ponce. Her innovative spirit and creativity gained her plenty of experiences and leadership skills. Early on she was part of a proposal that integrated her school and Yale University’s Child and Study Center directed by famous child psychiatrist, Dr. James P. Comer, where she took summer courses in the prestigious Yale University. For 4 years, she was Teacher of the Year in her Ponce Region. In 2005, Mrs. Blondet won the national Walmart Teacher of the Year, representing PR in the USA. Also, she received $10,000 from Walmart to build the classroom of her dreams. She made a Languages Lab using Differentiated Instruction and using computers, cable TV, recorders and teaching not only English but French. This time, Dr. Rafael Arangunde and Walmart’s CEO presented her prize at her school. Soon after that, Prof. Blondet was promoted as a Facilitator for the Ponce Regional Office, assisting English teachers. Also, Prof. Sandra Blondet worked as a part-time Professor at Caribbean University, InterAmerican University and Pontifical Catholic University in Ponce. She also taught part-time Conversational English to adults. Currently, she is the President of Southern PRTESOL.
Alexandra Tubéns La Salle- Western Chapter President
Alexandra Tubéns La Salle is a secondary level English teacher at a public bilingual school in Añasco, Puerto Rico. She attended public school and continued her undergraduate and graduate studies in the University of Puerto Rico system. She is currently in the process of finishing her dissertation proposal and hopes to finish her doctoral program in the next year or two. Besides teaching at the public school and being a student herself, she has also been a conversational English instructor and English teacher for adults who want to get their high school diploma. She is the PRTESOL Western Chapter’s President for 2022. Alexandra enjoys participating in professional development, trying new foods and traveling.
Natalia Medina Rodríguez- Elementary Representative
Natalia Medina Rodríguez holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Secondary Education Concentration in English as a Second Language. Also, she has a master’s degree in English as a Second Language. Now, she is on her first year studying her doctoral degree in Educational Management in the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. She is working on Academia Santa María Reina as an English Elementary teacher (3rd to 6th grade) (2017 to the present). She is the PRTESOL Southern Chapter Vice-president and Elementary Representative of the Main Board. She is celebrating this year her 10th anniversary in the organization. On the past, she was the Elementary and Secondary Representative of the PRTESOL Southern Chapter. Recently, she a candidate for the Educational Senate of PUCPR (2022-2023)
Fabiola Molina- Secondary Representative
Mariela Chavez- Higher Ed. Representative
Prof. Mariela Chaves earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction of English as a Second Language. Former Elementary English teacher of the Department of Education for 20 years. Prof. Chaves became a member of PRTESOL in 1996. Currently she teaches English at Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo, where she is the Director of the Department of Arts and Humanities. Passionate about community service; she is the Mentor Professor of ROTARACT Club, helping create empathy and great leaders for the future. She is currently the Higher Education Representative for the PRTESOL Main Board of Directors.
Gladys Pérez-Executive Secretary
Gladys Pérez-Cordero has a Master’s degree in TESL and a Doctorate degree in Educational Administration. She started working as an English teacher for the Puerto Rico Department of Education in 1972. She went on to hold various other positions within the PRDE, such as Curriculum Specialist, Zone Supervisor of English, Director of the State Literacy Resource Center, Special Aide to the Assistant Secretary of Academic Affairs, Director of the Bilingual Program, and Director of the English Program. Upon leaving the Department of Education in 2001, Gladys then began working as a professor for the Ana G. Méndez University-Carolina Campus. She also held several administrative positions. Gladys wrote and received federal funding for several proposals, such as the English Teacher Certification Project and the Multilanguage Learning Center at the Universidad del Este. Gladys has been a member of PRTESOL and TESOL International since the beginning of her career. She was the 2008 Eastern Chapter President, 2010 PRTESOL President, 2012 PRTESOL Treasurer, and the 2021 and 2022 Executive Secretary. Since 2011, Gladys has worked as a volunteer for TESOL International as a CAEP/TESOL Program Reviewer and Auditor of Teacher Preparation Programs seeking National Recognition for their TESL Programs.
Irma Rodriquez Vega-Assistant Executive Secretary
Dr. Irma Rodriquez Vega holds a Doctorate Degree in Education in Teaching English as a Second Language with a minor in Planning and Evaluation from Inter American University of Puerto Rico. She has been an English educator for 47 years and has taught all levels. She worked at the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce as a full professor for the English Department, as Director of the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, as Dean of Academic Affairs, and as the first Chancellor of UPR Ponce. For the last fourteen years she has been working at the Graduate School of Education at the Pontifical Catholic University, Ponce Campus. She also works at the Doctoral Program in Caribbean University, where she teaches different courses and presides Dissertation Committees. She has been a member of PRTESOL for more than 35 years and has been a member of the PRTESOL Board of Directors as the Private Higher Education Representative, Executive Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and 2018 Southern Chapter President. Currently, she is the PRTESOL Assistant Secretary, the Coordinator of the PRTESOL Research Journal Committee, and the Editor-in-Chief of the PRTESOL Research Journal.
Héctor León Cartagena- Executive Membership Secretary
Héctor León Cartagena has been teaching English since 2003 when he started as a tutor for high school students while he was completing his undergraduate studies. He holds a Master’s Degree in the Teaching of English as a Second Language from Ana G. Méndez University. He worked as an English Teacher at Notre Dame High School in Caguas for 13 years and as a lecturer professor at Universidad Ana G. Méndez for 8 years. He is currently a full time professor at Universidad Ana G. Méndez, Carolina Campus where he also directs the Reading and Writing Center. In addition, he has collaborated as the TV Professor for the University's English TV courses broadcasted through Sistema TV.
Yarisel Ramirez- Treasurer
Yarisel A. Ramirez Martinez was born in Tacoma, Washington. She was raised in Hormigüeros, Puerto Rico and a proud student of the public educational system in Puerto Rico, from elementary all the way up to college. Miss. Ramirez finished her B. A. in English with a concentration in Linguistics at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM). During her undergraduate studies Miss Ramirez explores many opportunities in August 2014, she had the privilege to be president of the English Department Student Association (EDSA). This same year she became a board member in the Popular Culture Student Association (PCSA) and a student member of PRTESOL Wester Chapter. Moving to August 2015 where she began volunteering with the Sábanas Bilingual Literary Magazine to this day, graduating from her B.A. in December 2017.
Quickly, in August of 2018 Miss Ramirez began her master’s degree in English Education at her alma mater, serving as an English instructor from 2018-2021. In campus she also served as the student representative for Arts and Sciences within the student counsel for the academic year 2019-2020. Ms. Ramirez aims to empower students with education and in August of 2021, she accepted her new position as a K-3rd English Teacher at a public school in Cabo Rojo where she continues to serve as an ESL educator. Lastly, Miss Ramirez accepted her new adventure in PRTESOL by becoming the main board treasure as of January 2022.
Eyla M. Santiago-Nominations Chair
Eyla M. Santiago Ramos is an English Teacher at the Puerto Rico Department of Education. She holds a BA in English Literature with a minor in Education from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). Santiago also completed her MA in English Education at UPRM and is currently studying a doctoral degree in Caribbean Literature in the English Department at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras Campus. She has been a member of PRTESOL since 2012 and has served to the organization in different positions. She is currently the Main Board's nominations chair and the WPRTESOL past president.
Caridad M. Carballido-Sponsorship Chair
Caridad “Cary” M. Carballido Romero has almost 26 years of teaching experience in Puerto Rico. For the past sixteen years, she has worked as an English teacher in the public school system, and previously, she worked for ten years teaching elementary school classes, including English, at private schools. She holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum in English from the University del Este in Carolina (AGM), and a B.A. in Elementary Education, with a minor in Exceptional Children, from the Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon in Santurce, P.R. She has a lifetime Certification in Elementary Education and Teaching of English in Elementary School, as well a Bilingual Educator Teacher Certification and in Curriculum in English from the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, “Teacher Cary,” as her students call her, has been involved in diverse academic programs as initiatives, including being a Cooperative Teacher and an English Mentor to new teachers. For the past 12 years, she has been the coordinator of the English department at El Senorial School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she currently teaches. Cary created two unique programs at her school, “English Club” and “English for All,” where parents and students can ask for advice and tutoring. She serves as the coordinator of the English Week events, and for the past five years, she has served as the Chair of the Scholastic Book Fair. Teacher Cary has also worked with the Self-Contained and Autistic students program. For the academic year 2012-2013, Cary was elected by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico to participate with a selected group of teachers to revise the Puerto Rican Aptitude Test under the program: “Revision de Contenido de las Pruebas Puertoriquenas de Aprovechamiento.” (PPAA). Today she is in the Main Board as a Sponsorship Representative and in the Northern Chapter as the Elementary Representative. Cary has been a member of PRTESOL since 2003, and the Main Board organization has named her the Elementary Representative for 2016-2018. Then she becomes President of the Northern Chapter for 2019-2020. Since 2020-2021, during these Academic Pandemic years, the Director of the English Program from the Department of Education of Puerto Rico chose Cary to participate in a Television Program, “En Casa Aprendo”- El Trotamundos. Teacher Cary teaches the priority Skills of the English Modules for the 3rd to 5th graders on WIPR channel 6. Also, during this year 2021-2022, Teacher Cary has been working with the;” Revision Curricular de ingles de Kindergarten hasta Third grade.”
Princess K. Garcia -Publisher's Liaison
Princess K. Garcia has been a English Language Arts Teacher for 18 years. She is currently teaching 7th grade. In addition, she teaches at the college level. She holds an MA in English as a Second Language and is currently studying to obtain her doctoral degree in Leadership with a Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction. She is PRTESOL's Publisher's Liaison and the Vice-president of the Eastern Chapter.
Efrain Soto Santiago-Socio-Political Advocacy Chair
Efrain Soto Santiago holds a B.A. in English as a Second Language (ESL) Education and a M.A. in Administration of Post-Secondary Educational Institutions from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. Efrain’s professional experience includes service as ESL teacher at the secondary level for the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) from 1980 until 1990. He is also a PRDE certified/licensed School Director and English Facilitator. Efrain is a retired from the US Armed Forces having served in the US Marine Corps and US Army National Guard retiring with the rank of Colonel. His combined active and reserve military service totals over 40 years. Throughout his military career, he served as ESL Instructor, Academic Supervisor, Assistant Commandant, and Commander of the US Army National Guard’s English Language Center located at Fort Allen, Puerto Rico. The English Language Center was an intensive English immersion program that allowed Puerto Rican recruits with limited English proficiency the opportunity to improve their skills in English language and pursue a military career. Efrain culminated his military career in a dual role as Commander of the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) Military Academy and as Federal Program Manager of the PRNG’s Youth Programs which included the STARBASE, Challenge, and CREANDO programs. Efrain is an active member of the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Association. He currently serves as Sociopolitical Committee Chair for the 2022 PRTESOL Board of Directors.
Rosmary Morales Urbina-PRTESOL-Gram Assistant Editor
Rosemary Morales Urbina is an experienced Professor of English with a demonstrated history of working in the secondary school and university education stratum. She is skilled in English as a Second Language (ESL), Literature, Critical Thinking, Lesson Planning, Curriculum Development, Design and Evaluation, Digital Narratives, Public Speaking, English/Spanish Translation, and Teaching English as a Second Language. She has published several articles in PRTESOL-GRAM throughout the years about the latest trends that enhance the teaching and learning experience. She is a strong education professional with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, an MS in Bilingual Education from The City College-CUNY, a BA in Spanish from Herbert H. Lehman College, and Academic Diplomas focused in TESL, Bilingual Education and Spanish. She is also an avid reader and world traveler intrigued in learning about other languages, cultures, and traditions.
Denise Christina Torres-Webmaster
Dr. Denise Christina Torres is a former English teacher and English Facilitator from the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. She is a professor at Ana G. Mendez University. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English Secondary Level from Colegio Universitario de Humacao PR, a Master's degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction of English from Universidad del Este in Carolina PR, and a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Instructional Technology & Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, USA. Dr. Torres enjoys learning and sharing new knowledge with her students and colleagues and providing community workshops and volunteer work with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). She is an advocate of transformational leadership, teamwork, and effective communication.
Fabiola Molina Santiago was born on January 5, 2000, in the town of Ponce. She currently resides in the beautiful city of Villalba. Molina studied a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education in English at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. During her first year of university she became a member of PRTESOL where she has served as Master of Ceremonies, and as Webmaster/Student Representative of the Southern Chapter. She also won the Exceptional Student Award in 2019. In 2020 she was elected as Student Representative for the Board of Directors. Currently, she is the Secondary Representative of PRTESOL.
Molina Santiago is an educator at the Residential Center for Educational Opportunities in Villalba also known as CROEV. In her spare time she loves to contribute to society which is why she is also a Municipal Legislator and part of the Board of Directors of the Agustín Burgos Rivera Credit Union (Villa Coop). She is currently taking courses to complete her Master’s Degree in TESOL and Educational Leadership.