Our Faculty

All of our faculty members have graduate degrees in teaching English to speakers of other languages or the equivalent. They also have experience teaching students of diverse backgrounds both within the United States and overseas. The teaching methods and learning aids they use provide and encourage communication practice through content-based curricula. Student-centered activities build confidence and maximize learning potential.

Lori Ambacher moved to Hong Kong when she was three years old and started teaching English as a second language as a teenager when she was hired to teach five-year-old twin boys. She has been teaching at Salem State for more than ten years and has also taught at SUNY-Binghamton, Bradford College and Gordon College, where she is currently an instructor of creative writing and composition. Lori was a French and German major in college and learned Cantonese as a child in Hong Kong, so she is familiar with how difficult learning languages can be!

Abby Barre received her master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from Eastern Michigan University. She is originally from Louisiana but has lived in many regions of the United States and studied in Japan. She worked as a K-5 literacy tutor with AmeriCorps (Washington Reading Corps), private ESL tutor and in adult education settings in Washington, Michigan and Texas before joining the faculty at Salem State in September 2011. Abby studied geography as an undergraduate at Eastern Washington University, minoring in History and Japanese.

Joe Benson has master's degrees in library studies and ESL from the University of Hawaii. He is originally from Massachusetts, but has also lived in Germany, Hawaii and Japan. Joe taught ESL courses in Hawaii for two years and in Japan for twenty-two years before returning to teach in Massachusetts.

Liz Cullen has an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, where her major was German and her minors were French and history. She studied German language and literature at the University of Vienna and received a master’s degree in teaching modern foreign languages from Boston University. Liz has taught German, French, history, English, and Social Studies in schools in England, Massachusetts and New Hampshire; she has been teaching at Salem State since January 2010.

Susie Green has a master's degree in teaching ESL and enjoys teaching a wide variety of learners. She has taught English in East London to both immigrants and the local Cockneys. She has also enjoyed teaching American high school English and working with special needs students. She has been an educator in our program for ten years and has taught all levels and most of the courses.

Joni Hagigeorges received her master's degree in TESOL from the University of Massachusetts/Boston in 1984. She has subsequently taught ESL/EFL for over 25 years, both in the United States and in Madrid, Spain. Known as the “Queen of Grammar,” Joni enjoys teaching the advanced level students as they tend to pose the most challenging questions about the structure of the English language. Since she began teaching at Salem State, Joni has also created a course that prepares international students for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. 

Katrina Kristensen has a BA in sociology from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, and a master’s in teaching English as a second language from Salem State University. She was born and grew up in Canada and has lived and worked as an ESL teacher in Italy, Canada,and in the U.S. Katrina is very interested in language and has a great passion for teaching.

Richard Strager has been teaching English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) for close to 15 years. He taught English at the British School in Pavia, Italy, for three years and then spent three years in Fukuoka, Japan, teaching at junior high schools through the JET program. From 2001-2007, he worked in Salem, Massachusetts, developing and running a free community English program for adults at Salem Harbor Community Development Corporation. He has many interests and hobbies, including fluency in several foreign languages, playing volleyball, watching independent movies, and traveling as much as possible. He has recently completed a master's degree in teaching ESOL at the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Diane Sweet's teaching and engineering credentials come from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her own favorite teachers have been the students she's had for over 20 years and her daughter, Adina.

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