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Alumni Ambassador Mayonne Granzo Expands Her Global TESOL Community Through Virtual Educator Projects and New Roles That Follow

Since her first Virtual Educator project in Morocco in 2020, Alumni Ambassador Mayonne Granzo has multiplied her global TESOL community of educators and friends beyond what she ever thought possible. “There’s been so much encouragement and camaraderie from the different groups of teachers I’m meeting and working with,” Granzo said, noting how one new role has led to another in recent years. After her first Virtual Educator project, Granzo was selected for two additional projects in 2021 working with teachers in the Philippines and ministry officials in Djibouti. These projects in turn helped her secure teaching positions with North Carolina State University, Georgetown University, and Holyoke Community College. “Working on different Virtual Educator projects diversified my teaching portfolio and opened new doors,” Granzo said, adding that experiences like this “can really boost your confidence in terms of where your skills can take you and elevate you. That’s the message I want to share with teachers who may be in a similar position as I am.”

As a Virtual Educator, Granzo has enjoyed the flexibility to be creative with curriculum design and modify course content based on students’ needs and interests.

With three Virtual Educator projects under her belt, Granzo cites the relationships she’s cultivated with other TESOL professionals from around the world as the most significant part of her English Language Programs experience. As a building block for these relationships, Granzo shares that she was born in Guyana and grew up there until the age of seventeen when she moved to the U.S. “I love to discuss my heritage on the first day because it represents my journey and who I am as an instructor, and it starts the dialogue on world geography, culture, and the ethnic diversity of the U.S.,” Granzo said. She has also found that sharing some details of her personal history opens her participants up to sharing about themselves. 

As a Virtual Educator in the Philippines, Granzo led a month-long webinar series titled ‘Strategies in Teaching English as a Second Language and Assessment of English Language Performance’ for two hundred faculty members at Occidental Mindoro State College.

As a Virtual Educator in Morocco in 2020, Granzo led a 10-week workshop series for in-service middle and high school English Language teachers focused on student-centered language learning. The workshops were hosted by The Académie Régionale de l’Education et de la Formation, a regional branch of the Ministry of Education, and the U.S. Embassy in Rabat. “I found this experience enriching, which was great because I was a bit nervous going in having never taught a big group online before,” Granzo said. Any uncertainty Granzo felt was quickly eased on the first day when she met her first group of eighteen teachers. “The teachers were extremely welcoming and warm, and I soon realized that a big course online was new for all of us,” Granzo said. She was further encouraged to see how engaged and appreciative the teachers were with the content as their sessions went on, utilizing many different resources and participating in additional webinars from American English Live on the topics covered in class.

In the second iteration of her project, Granzo facilitated a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on ‘Integrating Critical Thinking Skills into the Exploration of Culture in an ELF Setting’ for two groups of participants including English language teachers, teacher trainers, university professors, and teacher advisors from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. Covering a range of topics such as culturally responsive teaching, inquiry-based learning, inductive learning, differentiated instruction, and formative assessment, Granzo gained a deep understanding of the educators’ context through their weekly discussions and posts. “I found a real sense of community among the participants in sharing our thoughts on these topics,” Granzo said. “And learning about the educational systems of different teaching contexts has helped with reevaluating how I teach my students here in the U.S., too.”

For her second Virtual Educator project, in the Philippines, in 2021, Granzo led a month-long webinar series titled ‘Strategies in Teaching English as a Second Language and Assessment of English Language Performance’ for two hundred faculty members at Occidental Mindoro State College. For her third Virtual Educator project, in Djibouti, in 2021, Granzo designed the curriculum for a pilot program titled ‘English for Civil Servants’ for the Ministry of Labor, the National Institute for Public Administration, and the U.S. Embassy Djibouti. Over the course of twelve weeks, she worked with twenty officials from different Ministry departments, including the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Women and Family. “It was encouraging to watch the participants progress and persevere through the course, while navigating high-profile careers and busy schedules,” Granzo said. “I appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with a local English instructor while working on the curriculum, and found the cultural insights he shared invaluable in making this course a success.”

Granzo reconnected with her 2023-2024 English Language Programs Alumni Ambassador cohort at the TESOL International Convention in Tampa in March.

Following her Virtual Educator projects, Granzo has enjoyed exploring a multitude of new roles. In 2021 and 2023, she taught a four-month course titled ‘Technical Vocabulary and Communication Focus’ for Colombian English instructors and administrators through Fulbright Colombia, a program administered by North Carolina State University. “When interviewing for this job, I was able to discuss my experience working with a government-funded virtual educator program.’” Granzo said. “I think my Virtual Educator experience bumped my resume to the top and made me a good fit for this position.”

To forge deeper connections with her local TESOL community, Granzo now serves as professional development co-chair for WATESOL, helping coordinate webinars and workshops. “What I really appreciate about our local chapter is that we’re able to bring together people who work with different student populations from all around the region to share their expertise and work on something meaningful,” Granzo said.

Currently, Granzo is an instructor in the intensive English program at Georgetown University, where she teaches reading and writing to undergraduate and graduate students. She also teaches in the Accelerated Career English Program at Holyoke Community College, working with a diverse group of adult students who are looking to advance their skills for more job opportunities. Granzo has also been expanding the scope of her teaching and training, using the principles and methodologies of TESOL to branch out into other areas of curriculum development and design, such as for nonprofits and government sectors.

At the TESOL International Convention in Tampa, Granzo presented on her Virtual Educator experiences (left), and joined colleagues at the program’s booth to network and meet prospective applicants.

Fostering connections with a diversity of educators from the global TESOL population inspired Granzo to apply to be an English Language Programs Alumni Ambassador. In this role, she has enjoyed working with and getting to know her cohort of Alumni Ambassadors, as they share their experiences at conferences and job fairs. In addition to representing the program at the TESOL International Convention and WATESOL, she attended MELEd TESOL last fall, and will head to NJTESOL this spring. “I’m extremely grateful to be a part of this amazing community,” Granzo said. “Being a Virtual Educator has taught me so many things, and I am delighted to be able to share these experiences with other educators who might be looking for a change or who want to expand their current capacities in teaching.”

Stay tuned for our next featured Alumni Ambassador story with Andrea Lypka.

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