ESL Faculty

The Saddleback College ESL faculty is made up of 4 full-time faculty members and many part-time faculty members. All our instructors are here to help our students learn English, so please feel free to contact us!

Full-Time Faculty

Stevie Daniels Profile Link 

Stevie Daniels Picture

Stevie has been teaching in the California community college system for eighteen years and has an MA in Linguistics with an ESL option and a BS degree in Criminology with a Law Enforcement option both from Fresno State University. For seventeen years, she served at Fresno City College as an ESL/Linguistics professor and as Coordinator of Academic Computing. She has taught a wide array of ESL, VESL, and Linguistics courses in both the face-to-face and online venues. Her specialty is developing vocational and academic ESL courses that co-articulate with other disciplines across campus. Stevie has presented numerous sessions on integrating technology into the college curriculum at conferences such as CATESOL, TechEd, the Monterey Summer Technology Institute, @One, and the Universal Design for Learning. She loves to incorporate the use of technology in her teaching to create a lively, interesting, and interactive learning environment for her students. She is a firm believer in adult learning principles where students help create their own learning opportunities and share them with other classmates. She believes humor and fun are necessary parts of these learning opportunities.

Stevie has traveled to foreign countries such as Korea, Japan, Mexico, and Canada. She is bilingual in English and American Sign Language and appreciates when her students try to teach her new words from their first language. Besides traveling, Stevie likes to go boogie boarding, hiking, and biking with her family. She is an avid animal lover and vegetarian, and when time allows, she likes to work with animal rescue agencies.

Chin Lam Profile Link 

Chin Lam Picture

Chin Lam has a M.A. in Applied Linguistics and TESL and a B.A. in Linguistics and Anthropology, both from UCLA. She has been an ESL instructor since 2001, and began teaching at Saddleback College in 2009. Before coming to Saddleback, she was an ESL instructor at UCI Extension, UCLA Extension, and various community colleges. Chin remains active in the field of ESL by attending and presenting at conferences. She has been a member of TESOL and CATESOL for many years. Chin understands how important ESL classes are to her students, especially since her family were first generation immigrants to this country. Chin enjoys learning languages and speaks a few dialects of Chinese and some Vietnamese and Spanish. In her free time, Chin enjoys seeing the world, eating food from different cultures, and trying to exercise.


Julie McGirr Profile Link

Julie McGirr received her Master’s Degree in Education with a specialization iJulie McGirr Picturen TESL  (Teaching English as a Second Language) from CSU Fullerton and her Bachelor’s Degree in French from UC Irvine. She’s been teaching English as a Second Language at colleges and universities since 1990. Having lived in four different countries, she's experienced the challenges of learning new languages and adapting to other cultures. She says she learns so much from her students, and she admires their courage to leave their home countries and start a new life here in the United States.

Outside of teaching, Julie McGirr is involved in her local community, and she loves being outdoors – particularly at the beach. And most of all, she especially enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, scuba diving and learning new things.

Femia Scarfone Profile Link

Femia Scarfone Picture

Femia Scarfone received an M.S. in Education for TESOL from California State University, Fullerton and a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of California, Berkeley after transferring with honors and an A.A. Degree from Orange Coast College. She has been involved in the field of ESL since 2006, and has taught  full-time for California State University, Fullerton’s American Language Program and part-time for Saddleback, Irvine Valley, and Orange Coast Colleges. At CSUF, in addition to her teaching during the semester, she coordinated a short-term program for high school students from Brazil in the summer, and also worked with the TESOL Department on campus to serve as a Master Teacher for graduate students in their practicum. Femia has presented at several conferences, and has been an active member of the Orange County Chapter of CATESOL since 2009. She has served on the OC Chapter Board as Secretary, Coordinator Elect, Coordinator, and now Past Coordinator, volunteering to organize conferences and workshops in the Orange County area.

Femia was born in Orange and grew up in Huntington Beach, California. She is trilingual in English, Spanish, and Italian, and in her free time, she loves to read, explore new places, and spend time outdoors. Femia comes from a family of teachers, and her passion for teaching ESL not only stems from the fact that she loves to travel, but also that she is a first-generation American, with parents who immigrated to the US from Italy with their families and had to assimilate into a new culture. She strives to create an environment in the classroom that is comfortable for her students, supportive, and motivating.

Annie Gilbert Profile Link 

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Annie Gilbert is the Coordinator for the Saddleback College Community Education Adult ESL courses across South Orange County, and she has been teaching at Saddleback College since 2013. She holds a M.A. in Second Language Education from McGill University in Canada, a B.A. in French Teaching and a TESL Certificate. She taught Adult ESL at the School of Continuing Education at Cypress College for ten years and taught international students at UCI Extension for a summer. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, she understands the challenges that immigrants face and strives to create lessons based on the goals and needs of her students. She received the School of Continuing Education Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 and was nominated Orange County College Teacher of the Year in 2009. Before moving to California in 2003, she taught ESL, TEFL or French in Canada, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. When she is not working, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and she enjoys hiking, yoga, learning new technologies, traveling and improving her Spanish.


Part-Time Faculty

Alma Benitez Profile Link 

Alma Benitez was born in Mexico, but came to California at the age of 3Alma Benitez Picture. She grew up speaking Spanish and English. Her parents inspired her to become an ESL teacher because they came to this country not knowing English and had to work hard to give Alma and her siblings a better life. Alma wanted to become a teacher and help people like her parents. She studied at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and received her Bachelor’s Degree in English in 2005 and her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in TESOL in 2009. She has been teaching at Saddleback College since 2013. Before coming to Saddleback, she taught ESL classes in the School of Continuing Education in the North Orange County Community College District.

Alma enjoys teaching ESL because she loves to meet people from other countries and learn about different cultures. She always learns a lot from her students and tries her best to give them a great learning experience as well. When Alma is not teaching, she enjoys reading a good book and spending time with her four daughters!

Jia Frydenberg Profile Link 

 Jia (also known as Dr. Frydenberg) was born and raised in Norway in Europe. She loves to travel and has visited most continents, with the exception of Australia. Jia is passionate about language and languages and especially enjoys teaching English, linguistics, and ESL / EFL. Jia has multiple degrees, including two from the University of Oslo, a Master's degree from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from UCLA.





Debbie Goss Profile Link 

Debbie Goss PictureDebbie Goss earned her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Soka University of America in 2009. Her undergraduate work was at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she majored in Foreign Languages and Education. Since 2004, Debbie has taught both in the public and private sector with a variety of approaches including Montessori, Waldorf, and Soka Education. She is trained in AVID teaching strategies, peace education, and online best practices. Since 2006, she has kept current in ESL teaching methods through involvement with TESOL and CATESOL. She is concerned about issues facing humanity today both on a global and individual level and sees the ESL learning environment as a place full of opportunities to share ideas on making our world a better place as students’ communicative skills improve. Debbie has travelled to Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland, the Philippines, and Taiwan. She loves ESL because she feels that every day in her classroom is like travelling around the world. Sharing her passionate enthusiasm for learning with her students, Debbie strives to make each class academically engaging and lots of fun!


Annie Park Profile Link 

Annie Park Picture

Annie Park received her Master’s Degree in TESOL from Biola University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Ecology at UC Irvine. In addition to teaching at Saddleback, Annie also teaches at UC Irvine. Over the years, she has taught English in several countries such as India, Thailand, Brazil, and Japan. She was born and raised in Southern California, so she knows all the places to have fun! She loves meeting students from all over the world and hopes to teach for many more years! Come and say “hello” to me if you see me around campus!

In her free time, she loves baking, traveling, watching movies, trying new restaurants, going to Disneyland, gardening, and reading books.

Neda Sahranavard Profile Link 

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Neda Sahranavard received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature. She attained her TESL Certificate from University of California, Irvine. Neda has taught English to speakers of other languages extensively both in the United States and abroad. She has worked with students of diverse ethnic, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds at the college and university level. Throughout her career as an EFL/ESL/English Instructor, Neda has encouraged her students to understand the English language and promoted their exploration of English literature and cultural issues.




Kat Sleep Profile Link 

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Katherine Sleep received her MA in ESL from the University of Hawaii and her BA in Linguistics and Italian from the University of New Hampshire. As a university student, she studied several languages and also spent time working in Europe and completing a translation degree in Florence, Italy. Now she enjoys showing ESL students how the English language works so that they can gain the language skills they need to reach their goals. In her free time, she has fun experimenting in her garden or enjoying the beauty of Orange County beaches and trails.




Todd Windisch Profile Link 

Todd Windisch graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies and CSUF with an M.S. in Education with an emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). While studying abroad in France during his time at UCLA, he found a love of travel and meeting people from different cultures. He further believes that learning a second, third, or even fourth language opens your mind to limitless new possibilities and ways of thinking that broaden one's perspective and create deeper understanding. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, movies, and live theater. In addition to teaching part-time at Saddleback College, he also teaches at other community colleges and universities in Orange County and Los Angeles County.

Elaine Weiss Profile Link 

Elaine Weiss has both a BA and MA in French. After many years of teaching French, she obtained a TESL
Certificate from UCI where she has taught all ESL levels and skills for more than 13 years. Her focus has been on advanced reading and writing courses.

Ms. Weiss’s international experience includes living in France and Chile. She has also traveled in Europe, North Africa, South America, and Asia. She enjoys learning about other cultures.