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 field 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.