Who We Are

About WIDA WORKSHOPS

Workshops are one- to two-day professional learning offerings that can be purchased by a school or district. A WIDA facilitator will come to your school(s) or district and engage participants in relevant and research-based teaching and learning practices that support multilingual learners. Workshops can be structured together to create a long-term professional learning plan to align with your school or district goals. Now available in webinar format!

All workshops are:

  • Developed by WIDA and based on the WIDA Standards and Assessment System
  • Delivered on-site by WIDA-trained consultants
  • Designed specifically for districts and schools
  • Focused on practical classroom applications

OUR Team

Yvonne Williams

Director of MLL Educator Engagement at WCEPS

Yvonne is the Director of Multilingual Learner Educator Engagement at WCEPS.  She collaborates closely with LEAs to discuss educator goals, needs, and develops the best path to topics that align with those goals. Prior to WCEPS, she spent three years with WIDA, as a Professional Learning Specialist working in both international and domestic settings. She has worked in education for 20+ years, teaching a variety of language learners from grades Kinder to High School. She also worked as a District ELL Trainer, ELL Instructional Coach, Family Literacy Coordinator, and a High School Parent Involvement Coordinator. She earned her bachelor’s in business administration from Angelo State University in Texas and her Master's in Bilingual Education from NOVA Southeastern University, Florida. Her endorsements include TESL, Bilingual, and Computer Literacy.

Amy King

Assistant Director of Educator Engagement at WCEPS

Amy King has more than 20 years of experience in the field of English language teaching and learning both in the US and overseas. Before joining WCEPS, Ms. King was a Senior Professional Learning Specialist at WIDA for more than six years. She taught ESL in K–12 public schools, private language schools, and adult education programs. Internationally, she has taught in both Slovakia and South Korea. In Banska Bystrica, she was a visiting lecturer at Mateja Bela University. In Seoul, she worked at Shin–il High School as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and at the Foreign Language Institute of Yonsei University. She was an English Language Fellow at Hanoi Metropolitan University in Vietnam through a program sponsored by the US State Department. She holds a BS in Speech and an MS in Journalism from Northwestern University near Chicago. She earned a TESOL Certificate from American University in Washington, DC and a Multiple–Subject Teaching Credential from National University in San Diego. In addition to certificates in Blended Learning, Microlearning and E–Learning, she earned a Master of Instructional Design from the Association of Talent Development. She is currently working on a MS in Educational and Instructional Technology also through National University.

Talia Gray

Coordinator of Educator Engagement at WCEPS

Talia Gray is the Coordinator of Multilingual Educator Engagement at WCEPS.  Talia is a veteran teacher with over 18 years of classroom experience.  She has taught every elementary grade level in many capacities including Special Education, ESOL, and EIP.  Talia has served teachers and students in her role as an Academic Coach.  In 2020, she became a consultant for WCEPS and has delivered professional development to teachers from all over the world.  In 2022, Talia began working with WCEPS full-time.   

As a state of Georgia native, Talia graduated from the University of Georgia in 2000 with a bachelor of family and consumer sciences in Consumer Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and Consumer Economics.  Talia continued her education receiving a Master of Arts in Teaching from Piedmont University in 2004. 

Talia is passionate about teaching Multilingual Learners and seeks to provide the tools and training necessary for teachers to meet the needs of their students.    


Dr. Jessica Costa

English Language Development Facilitator

Dr. Jessica Costa dedicates her professional time to supporting equitable instruction for ELs as a State Specialist. She provides leadership and technical assistance that promotes high-quality instruction. She is coming from over 5 years of facilitating and designing professional learning at a national level with WIDA, and a decade of teaching ESL and Spanish in schools prior to that. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with a focus on Socially Just Leadership Preparation from ODU, and currently holds National Board Teaching Certification in Teaching English as a New Language.

Anne Dolan

English Language Development Facilitator

After her tenure as ESL, Bilingual Special Education teacher, Title Vll Administrator and ESL Specialist for the Boston Public Schools, Anne Dolan joined the Professional Learning Team of MATSOL: Massachusetts Educators of English Language Learners, to focus her experience and expertise on supporting teachers and leaders with their roles in instruction, curriculum, assessment and leadership related to ELLs. Anne designs and implements professional development initiatives that are tailored to district needs and also supports a range of educator collaboration groups in MATSOL, the annual conference, and strategic planning for professional development capacity.Anne is a highly skilled and sought after licensed WCEPS/WIDA Trainer. She is responsive to the multiple entry points in learning about English language learners, and to the different educator roles and needs. Anne is also part of WIDA’s Master Cadre of instructors supporting early childhood and PK teachers with Early ELD Standards for 2.5-5.5 year olds. Anne’s hallmark is modeling and engaging participants with effective strategies and practices for ELLS in her coursework. You can be confident that her WCEPS WIDA presentations will be thoughtfully and responsively designed with great pacing, time for reflection and practical application.


Gwyneth Dean-Fastnacht

English Language Development Facilitator

Gwyneth Dean-Fastnacht is an ELS Instructional Specialist with over twenty-five years of experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse students in the K-12 educational system in the United States and abroad, including South Dakota, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and China. As an endorsed English as a New Language teacher (ENL), Gwyneth has had a varied career in education with language learners. She has held positions as a high school Newcomer Program ESL teacher, a multi-age/multi-grade EL classroom teacher, and a Professional Development Facilitator.

Gwyneth coordinates the SD State-Wide Title III & Migrant Consortia, working with districts across South Dakota including Native American schools, Hutterite Colony schools, and small rural schools with low incidence of ELs. Her work at the Consortia includes providing on-site and regional professional development, preparing in-service teachers for the ENL Endorsement, and serving on SD Department of Education committees that impact English Learner programs.

She has a B.A. in Child Development from South Dakota State University, a Master’s in Leadership & Administration in Education from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD, and a Specialist in ESL Degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Gwyneth is a licensed WIDA facilitator.

John Hilliard

Spanish Language Development Facilitator

John Hilliard’s professional career has spanned a range of roles from an award-winning bilingual teacher, to a university instructor providing teachers with strong research-based foundations in the field of language minority education, to his current position as a national professional developer recognized for his innovative approaches. He was raised in a dual language, multicultural household and credits his parents with instilling his love of languages, art and education. John has focused on developing programs and approaches that effectively integrate technology for language and content learning. He is especially interested in protocols to support innovation in teaching and learning and the development of multilingual and multicultural instructional curriculum. Through his current role as the President and Founder of Paridad Education Consulting, John is pushing himself and others to look beyond traditional confines of the classroom to expand the possibilities of personal and professional learning.

Babatunji Ifarinu

English Language Development Facilitator

Babatunji Ifarinu has been working with a wide variety of students since 1997. He was formerly a sheltered social studies teacher in which he delivered instruction to immigrant and refugee students. Babatunji (Tunji) graduated from Florida A & M University with an undergraduate degree in History and Geography. He earned a M.Ed at Georgia State University in Educational Leadership and Supervision.

He was also an ESOL Academic Data Coach at a Middle School that has a student population that is more than a third English language learners. In this position he provided support with content delivery, data collection, and developed an instructional plan called “Planning To S.W.I.R.L.” focusing on teaching using the WIDA standards, language domains, and the can do philosophy. While working in this position he also worked as a School Improvement team member where the instructional plan was adopted as a school wide initiative.

As an ELL Success Facilitator in the largest and most diverse school district in Georgia, he has facilitated workshops to improve instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students. His workshops and seminars have been delivered at the district level and at local schools.

Mishelle Jurado

English Language Development Facilitator

Mishelle is a veteran bilingual teacher from the state of New Mexico. In her 16 years in the classroom she has taught Spanish as a Modern Language, Spanish  for Heritage Speakers and for the last five years was instrumental in developing and aligning Spanish and English language arts for emergent bilingual students and multilingual students in a secondary environment. She was the Bilingual Coordinator at Albuquerque High School, the oldest public high school in the state of New Mexico. Although she currently works as the biliteracy coach at Atrisco Heritage Academy while teaching AP Spanish Literature.

Together with her colleagues, she developed a portfolio process for her students to attain the Bilingual Seal of Literacy offered by Albuquerque Public Schools. Mishelle also worked along with many other New Mexicans to create a book of guidance for the State of New Mexico’s Bilingual Seal of Literacy. She has a BA in Spanish and Sociology, an MA in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural studies with an emphasis in Bilingual Education, and is ABD at the University of New Mexico.

Mishelle has also been on the board for Dual Language of New Mexico for 12 years. She has worked with WIDA in her state and as an employee. She is very excited to come back and work with WYCEPS as a contractor. She believes that true innovation and collaboration is at the hands of empowered teachers. The more knowledgeable to teachers, the better served the students.

Mishelle is married and has two bilingual children in college. In her home, bilingualism is celebrated and exalted to the point that her children could someday become stand-up comedians dedicated to the fusion of Spanish and English. For Mishelle and her family, bilingualism is not just something out of a book or a theory—it’s a way of life.

David Nieto

Spanish Language Development Facilitator

David Nieto is an Assistant Research Professor and Executive Director of the Bueno Center for Multicultural Education in the School of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder. In his role at BUENO, David leads the strategic impetus, determines the research agenda, and directs all activities to fulfill the mission and vision of the Center.

David’s research focuses on the areas of education policy, language, and equity. In particular, he is interested in policies and practices that shape the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In addition, he is interested in teacher preparation and leadership in diverse settings, bilingual education, English language development, and language policy in education. Prior to joining BUENO, David was the Division Administrator for English language learning at the Illinois State Board of Education. David holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and M.A. in Applied Linguistics, both from the University of Massachusetts.

Ellen Parkhurst

English Language Development Facilitator

Ellen Parkhurst has been working with educators for the past ten years, providing professional development focusing on WIDA’s Standards and Assessments. She also recently joined the team at Confianza as a coach. She loves working with teachers and learning from them as well as sharing her own expertise. Before becoming a consultant for the WIDA Consortium and Confianza, Ellen worked at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) on the original test development team for ACCESS for ELLs. She has also served as a teaching assistant for the WIDA Item Writing online course, and a test administrator and monitor for the DC Public Schools. Ellen’s classroom experience includes three years as a public elementary school ESL teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina, and one year as private English as a foreign language tutor in Bilbao, Spain. She holds a B.A. in English and Elementary Education, and a Master’s in Education with a focus on curriculum and instruction and ESL.

Carlos Perez

Spanish Language Development Facilitator

Carlos earned his first teaching degree at an early age. As a 17 year old high school student in Mexico City he obtained his first ESL teaching certificate from the Instituto Anglo Mexicano de Cultura. While studying and living in Mexico, he became keenly aware of the inequities and injustices in public education. He is grateful to his parents for their determination to provide him with the bilingual and bicultural experience to live and study in Mexico during his early development. It has provided him with a strong foundation for his personal and professional life.

In the United States, Carlos advocated in his district to establish Summit’s Dual Language program through contact with parents and other stake holders. At Summit, dual language students have done exceedingly well compared to their monolingual peers in both math and reading. He has served in diverse positions from resource teacher, self-contained 5th grade teacher to Lead Technology instructor coaching teachers how to integrate technology into the curriculum. At his district, he lead and established the first RAC (Reading Action Committee) starting his district’s first family literacy program.

Carlos has been committed to teacher education for over ten years, serving as an adjunct professor to guide teachers in their bilingual and ESL certification for the Illinois Resource Center and National Louis University.

Currently Carlos is on sabbatical from his district working on continuing his and education, consulting and presenting in districts throughout Illinois.

Wilma Valero

Spanish Language Development Facilitator

Wilma Valero served as director of the ELL Program for School District U-46 which is the second largest pre-k – 12 district in Illinois.  It is within the comprehensive lens of culturally and linguistically responsive instruction that Wilma, in collaboration with teachers, is given to the task of designing thematic units from kindergarten through sixth grade that integrate in an organic manner the relevance and rigor of language and content.

Her educational vision revolves and focuses on students within an environment of social and academic relevance.  This is complemented by expectations of rigor of language and content standards that ensure the student’s successful role in this global society.  Under her leadership, one of the most ambitious and successful transition at the national level of the Bilingual Program to the 80:20 Dual Language Program took place.

In 2012, the organization CABE awarded Wilma the prize Promoting Bilingualism District of Distinction for her strong commitment to promoting bilingualism. Wilma is a firm believer that success occurs every day in our schools when teachers are valued with a relevant support infrastructure that sees emerging bilingual students as their greatest strength. Under this premise Wilma implemented, in U-46, the Dual Language Academy, a forum of teachers, for teachers; all collaborating in the development of fairness and social justice in the journey of the teaching and learning process.

Wilma has master’s degrees in Elementary Education and in School Administration and Supervision. She also has endorsements from the state of Illinois in bilingual education and English as a Second Language.