ELT Faculty and Staff


Program Director

Rhonda (2)

Rhonda Petree has been teaching ESL/EFL to learners of all levels since 1999. She has an MA in ESL from the University of Minnesota–Minneapolis and a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has studied a lot of Russian and German, and some Spanish and French. She has worked and lived in Australia, Switzerland, and Kazakhstan and has traveled throughout the South Pacific, Europe, and Central Asia. She is a frequent presenter at local, state, and international conferences. When not working, she likes to spend time outside with her family gardening, biking, playing frisbee, and cross-country skiing.

Rhonda Petree can be contacted at

Program Manager

Diane2Diane Jacobson has taught ESL in secondary schools in Wisconsin and North Carolina.  She has an MA in TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a BA in Spanish Education and TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  She has studied Spanish in Peru and Spain, taught English in Taiwan, and traveled in Oman, Fiji, and various European countries.  She lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband and two children.  Her favorite hobbies are downhill skiing in winter and berry picking in the summer.

Diane Jacobson can be contacted at


charlie2Charles Lavin has been teaching ESL/EFL since 2006.  He has taught English to children in Ecuador, teenagers in Chile, adults in Colombia, and military personnel in Saudi Arabia.  He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Business Administration from Florida State University and will soon graduate with an MA in TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  Additional travels and educational experiences have taken him to Taiwan, Mexico, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.  He rides his bicycle extensively throughout St. Croix and Pierce Counties in Western Wisconsin.

Charles Lavin can be contacted at


Alex2Alex Hatheway is the liaison to the students from the Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU) in addition to being an instructor in the ELT Program. Alex will soon graduate with an MA in TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he has previously been a grammar instructor in the ELT Program.  After earning his BA in History from the University of Minnesota-Morris, Alex spent four years between Taiwan and China where he taught English and studied Chinese. He enjoyed his experiences so much that he decided to teach English for his career. When he is not teaching English, Alex enjoys studying Chinese, listening to music, and reading science fiction. 

Alex Hatheway can be contacted at

Amrit2Amrit Bidegaray has been teaching ESL since 1999.  She holds a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, a M.S in Anatomy, and a B.S. in Biology. Before coming to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, she taught ESL at the University of Minnesota and Rutgers University. She also lived and worked as an ESL teacher in Costa Rica for over 10 years. She has traveled to different countries in Central and South America, Europe and Asia. Amrit speaks Spanish and understands Punjabi. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, biking, hiking, and spending time with her family. In the summer, she enjoys grilling and eating outside, and her favorite season is autumn because she loves to see the leaves changing color.

Amrit Bidegaray can be contacted at

Co-Curricular Coordinator 

OzzyOthman Zaimi (also known as Ozzy) has taught or tutored ESL to learners of various ages since 2010. He holds and M.A. in English Studies from IBN Tofail University in Kenitra, Morocco and is currently working on an M.A. in Student Affairs and Higher Education  from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Before coming to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, he worked in the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as a study abroad and international studies assistant. He is passionate about international education and focuses his research on combining between English learning and International student development. Othman speaks Arabic and French and enjoys cooking with his wife and listening to podcasts. 

Ozzy Zaimi can be contacted at

Ann LeakeAnn Leake began her teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1975 and enjoyed that so much she has continued as an EL/ESL/EFL teacher since then.  Most of her teaching experience is at the college level, but she has worked with students as young as three and as old as eighty in Japan, China, Missouri, California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  She loves meeting people from different countries and learning about different cultures.

Ann Leake can be contacted at

Sam Herrington2Sam Herrington has taught ESL since 2002 and holds a MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and a MA in French.  He moved to this area in 2014 from Ohio, where he taught ESL at Bowling Green State University. he has also taught courses in French, linguistics, and composition. As a student, he spent a year in Quebec (Canada) and half a year in France, as well as three weeks in Burkina Faso (West Africa). He also taught in a summer English program in Wuhan, China. While only fluent in English and French, he loves learning about the structures of other languages and has picked up bits along the way.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, being in nature, running, and playing his fiddle.

Sam Herrington can be contacted at


Summer English Language and Culture Programming Coordinator

conan2Conan Kmiecik has been teaching since 2005.  He began his teaching career as a certified middle school/high school Language Arts instructor before transitioning to higher education.  He possesses a dual M.A. in English – Language & Literature and TESOL from Winona State University, a Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certification from Viterbo University, and a BA in English – Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison,.  He has taught composition, literature, ESL, IEP, freshmen orientation, and WAGS courses.  In addition to his teaching experience, he is also an experienced program administrator and frequent conference presenter.  When he is not working, Conan enjoys spending time with his two sons.

Conan Kmiecik can be contacted at

Graduate Assistants

kikiKiki Augustin is a current MA TESOL graduate student.  She holds a TEFL Certificate from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and a BA in Art and French from the University of New Mexico–Albuquerque.  Kiki has traveled throughout Europe and Mexico and lived in Paris, France.  She has studied French, Spanish, a little Russian, and a little Portuguese.  While living in Paris, Kiki realized she likes country life much more than city life.  Upon her return to the States she settled in rural Wisconsin where she designed and built a modified timber frame home with her husband.  She has been a practicing studio artist in sculpture, a small-scale organic farmer, and a self-employed entrepreneur for most of her working career (with many forays into retail!). Her current TESOL studies bring together a love of language and art as she researches arts integration for English language learners and developing creative outreach programs for ESL parents in local school districts. When not studying, Kiki can be found working in her studio or gardens, helping with her parent's sheep farm, walking her dogs, or attending her children's swim meets.   

Kiki can be contacted at

Ruthie Towner is currently an MA TESOL student who recently graduated from UW-River Falls with a BA in TESOL and Spanish.  She was born and raised in Spain and has traveled extensively around Europe.  This has led to an appreciation and understanding for differences in cultural perspectives.  As part of her educational journey, Ruthie has studied the German language which has opened her eyes to some of the complexities that exist when learning a foreign language (she is fluent in Spanish and English) and has aided her in her language teaching experiences.  Ruthie has taught English in Taiwan and is currently instructing Spanish to a class of Pre-Kindergarteners in River Falls, which accompanies her work with tutoring and assisting in ESL courses at the UW-River Falls.  In her spare time, she can be found reading, drawing or painting, spending time with people from other cultural backgrounds, and enjoying time in the beautiful outdoors.    

Ruthie can be contacted at

Program Assistant

Jane Miller 02262014 (2)Jane Miller has worked at various public Libraries in the area and the Hudson School District.  She enjoys traveling to anywhere at anytime.  Her international travels have included Central America, Europe, and Eastern Europe. Besides traveling some of her hobbies are kayaking with family, gardening and reading.

Jane Miller can be contacted at


The ELT Program works with the Academic Success Center, which provides services for ESL students. ESL tutors are undergraduate and graduate UWRF students who assist with classwork and provide a comfortable location to practice English skills. 

Contact Us

English Language Transition (ELT) Program
M-F 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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