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EIU Department of
World Languages and Cultures

Star Teachers

We are proud of our teacher education students in World Languages. You will find our alumni at high schools all over Illinois--and beyond. Due to their passion for teaching, dedication, and strong language skills they have built great programs at their schools. They love to return to EIU for our Department's annual "Culture Days" and bring their Spanish, French, and German classes.

Cathryn Baldwin

Arthur CUSD 305

ESL & Spanish


I have been teaching in small, public schools since graduating in 2015. For my first 8 years, I taught all levels of Spanish. In 2023, I took over coordination of my district's ESL programming, and have been teaching English as a Second Language and upper-level Spanish ever since. Although I teach K-12, I absolutely LOVE working with my K-5 bilingual students. They make me laugh and teach me something new every day!  

Alongside teaching, I have also been active with the organization ICTFL (the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) since 2016, helping to organize and present multiple sessions, workshops, and conferences for world language teachers around the Midwest and virtually. In 2023, I branched out into web design and became the ICTFL Webmaster. Now you can even find my own website online at!

Wherever or whatever I'm doing, you'll never find me far from EIU! I returned for a Master's in Education Administration in 2019, which effectively scared me out of ever being a principal, and again in 2022 for their ESL certification program. In a wonderful turn of events, I even got to teach a class at EIU as an adjunct professor, which I still consider to be a highlight of my career. My colleagues and I also love bringing groups of students to the World Language Department at Eastern for Culture Day field trips. The faculty always do an incredible job, even with the squirrelliest of teenagers, because they are educators first, and that's why this educator will keep coming back!



Ali Rodriguez

Windsor High School


I currently teach Spanish levels I to IV. I am originally from Baja California, Mexico and grew upAli2 in the city of Tijuana. When I moved to Illinois I decided to pursue my teaching certification at EIU. Now, I am happy to have the opportunity to teach Spanish at Windsor High School and share my knowledge of the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world with my students. My classroom is my second home. Teaching has taught me to be flexible and adaptable in life--celebrating the improvements however long it takes to get there. Teaching and learning are life-long endeavors. 

Language teaching and learning builds bridges between cultures. I try to visit as many Spanish-speaking countries as I can to educate myself on their diversity, traditions, and ways of living. This knowledge helps me to enhance my lessons and make the textbook come alive. The following countries that have had an influence on my teaching are Spain, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru & Mexico. My dream is to take my students to travel with me someday. It will be such a rewarding experience to discover together the rich cultures, foods and wonderful colors that a Spanish-speaking country has to offer. And, of course, apply our Spanish skills.  



Matthew Wilkie

Paris Cooperative High School



My love for Spanish and teaching emerged during my first year at EIU. Initially, I wanted to be a journalist. However, I discovered my true passion through challenging and engaging language classes, as well as tutoring my peers. I am grateful to EIU's World Language Department for igniting my love of language learning and teaching. Not only did they expose me to engaging curricula and pedagogy, they also encouraged me to pursue study abroad in Salamanca, Spain, where I studied for a semester. These experiences helped push me to develop into the passionate educator I am today.

Currently, I work in Paris, IL, and I teach Spanish 1 and 2. It is rewarding to teach students a new language and see them grow increasingly confident. In addition, I work as a part-time English tutor, mostly giving individual lessons through Zoom. My students have come from all parts of the world, including South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico. Going forward, I am excited to pursue further growth opportunities and continue to develop myself as a language teacher.




Daniela Coombe

Arcola High School



Enthusiasm and determination push me to face each day with a smile and greet every challenge as a friend. I am a proud 2022 EIU graduate. Ever  since I was little, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher, but it was not until later in my life that my own first language called my passion. I chose this career because I feel proud of where I come from and the fact of being bilingual has opened so many doors in my life and I would like to give this opportunity to future generations as well. As a teacher, I am rewarded with so many things but at the end of the day, the absolute, most fulfilling reward of being a teacher has nothing to do with what you have gained, but with what you have given.

I will always be grateful to the EIU World Language Department. Without the experiences and knowledge that my professors provided, I would not be where I am today. While I am not quite sure what the next step in my life will be, I look forward to new experiences that will help me grow as an educator. 







Stephanie Cascio

ESL and Spanish Literacy

CascioI studied Spanish and Italian at EIU and graduated with a BA in both Elementary Education and World Language. After graduation, I relocated to Michigan to teach Spanish to 250 students at the elementary level. During the summer of 2014, I traveled to Spain to explore Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, and revisit Salamanca… the place in my EIU journey where I realized my desire to acquire a second major in World Languages! I am currently pursing an MA in both ESL and Bilingual Education at Olivet Nazarene University and am in my third year teaching ESL and Spanish literacy at a Transitional Bilingual School. I'm overdue for another adventure abroad and have Italy and Costa Rica on my horizon.







Sarah Wojda  Sarah Wojda

TAPIF, French Ministry of Education

With determination of teaching abroad for the year after my graduation, I have been working outside the realm of teaching French. I first worked as a full-time substitute at Hinsdale South high school. I recommend new teachers who struggle with classroom management to experience the role of substitute teaching. Your experiences will teach you confidence and management skills that you will later bring into your own classroom. I currently work at Hoffman Estates high school as a Teaching Assistant in an academic center. My role is building rapport with students who have very poor grades. I strive to teach organization and communication skills that will teach students to be successful not only in school but in life.

I have been accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) by the French Ministry of Education, where I will be teaching English at the primary school level for the 2016-2017 school year. I cannot wait to move back to France not only to build upon my French skills but also my teaching!





Julia Holecek  Julia Holecek

Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, MO

Spanish 1 and Spanish 3

Spanish 1 is fun and I love that I get to expose my students to a new language and get them excited about it. I enjoy Spanish 3 because I am able to spend most of the class period in the target language and converse with students. I've thoroughly enjoyed my first few years of teaching and look forward to the many years ahead. I enjoy my students who challenge me and make me laugh on a daily basis!









Levi Antrim Levi Antrim

Edwardsville High School, Edwardsville, IL


Levi Antrim (BA German, 2009) is the new department chair for the World Language Department at Edwardsville High School where he has been teaching German since 2009. He helped initiate his school's GAPP exchange in 2017 with Hermann Hesse Gymnasium in Calw, Germany. He is also the creator of the popular “Learn German with Herr Antrim” YouTube channel. 








April Karpus-Weddle

April Karpus-Weddle

Effingham High School in Effingham, IL

French 1,2,3,4

I've been teaching for 6 years now and I love it! My students make me smile every day and they tell me that learning French is fun. It's great to hear and I love having fun in class. We sing and dance a lot. I'm also the sponsor of French Club and it's great exposing these kids to new cultures and experiences. I especially love being the only French teacher (which sounds weird), but I get to see the students from their freshman year all the way until they graduate. My French 3 and 4 classes truly feel like a family.







Cindy Lewis Cindy Lewis

Taylor Preparatory High School in Taylor, MI.

Spanish 1 and 3

I love teaching because it is a rewarding career where I am a positive influence for students. I enjoy how each day is different in teaching Spanish and truly enjoy all my students. Currently, I attend Eastern Michigan University where I am working towards my Master of Arts in World Languages-Spanish.







Lynette GuthrieLynette Cervi

Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville, IL

German 1-5 ; GAPP coordinator.


I am a Jacksonville HS alum. I literally grew up in District 117 starting in Kindergarten at South Elementary School until I graduated from Jacksonville HS in 2006. I loved learning German. During my sophomore year, I hosted a German exchange student through GAPP (German American Partnership Program) and became a GAPP student myself. Being part of this exchange fueled my desire to become a German teacher. GAPP creates lifelong friendships! 




Erica McNeely Erica McNeely

Newton Community High School, Newton, IL

Spanish I, II, III

Spanish Club Sponsor; Germany--Student Cultural Exchange Sponsor

There are hard days but my students mean the world to me!







Bianca Capezio Bianca Capezio

Lyons Township High School in La Grange, IL

Spanish 2 Accel (a fast-paced, more rigorous Spanish 2 course); Spanish 2 Prep. They both use the same textbook but I have to modify activities, assessments, and projects for each level.

I highly encourage first-year teachers to get involved. Along with teaching, I've joined a Professional Development team. Also, I am the Junior Varsity Girls' Gymnastics Coach. Even though life is extremely busy, it helps with time management and you become really involved with the school. In addition, you get to work with your students outside the classroom environment. Days will be extremely hard, but all it takes is one student to say 'Thank you' or you see them understand the material. That is what really makes it all worth it!



Emily Johnson
Emily Pedziwiatr

Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, IL

German 1, 2, 3 and 4

I love seeing how interested the students get in German and German speaking countries and how that leads to their language growth. Cultural learning and language learning go hand in hand. I spent a semester in Lüneburg and a summer in Berlin and Leipzig while studying at EIU. My first-hand experience of Germany enriches my German lessons every day. My future plans are to continue working at Lincoln-Way East and start working towards my Master’s degree.






Dawnaya Key Dawnaya Key

Mt. Zion High School in Mount Zion, IL

Spanish II, III, IV, and AP (college prep class)

Spanish Club & International Club (World Exchange Program) Sponsor

I was born to become a Spanish teacher. I am one of the most passionate teachers you could ever meet and I absolutely love what I do. It is a privilege and blessing to be bilingual and I’m proud to help my students reach the ultimate goal of bilingualism through sharing the same language that I learned as a child. I am currently writing my first book about the journey that led me to teaching Spanish and hope to publish it within the next year.










Related Pages

Contact Information

Department of World Languages & Cultures

Coleman Hall, First Floor
Fax: 217-581-3113

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