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Nina Baginski, Administrative Assistant

Nina Baginski, who has been working at the IRC since 1992, assists with ISBE-sponsored workshops as well as off-site courses. In addition, she works at various events including the State Bilingual Directors’ meeting, the Illinois Bilingual Conference, the ESEA (formerly NCLB) Conference, and the Bilingual Parent Summit. Her skills in the Polish language and culture are invaluable.


Maggie Essig, Education Specialist

Prior to coming to the IRC, Maggie worked as an ESL and Bilingual teacher as well as Bilingual Program Coordinator in a suburban school district. Maggie holds a B.A. in Psychology, a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership in Elementary Education, a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, as well as LBSI, ESL, Bilingual (Spanish) Education, Bilingual LBSI, General Administrative, and Gifted Education endorsements. Her interests include integrating technology and ESL methods into instruction to engage students and support language development and helping educators build their Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) to collaborate with other innovative educators. Maggie has presented at the National WIDA Conference as well as the Illinois Computing Educators Conference on the topic of integrating technology to enhance instruction comprehensible for English Learners. Maggie can be found on Twitter at @maggieessig.


Miguel Fernández, Education Specialist

Miguel Fernández came to the IRC in August 2017 from Chicago State University, where he worked as a Professor in the Bilingual Education Program. He has been in the field of bilingual and ESL education for over 15 years both in elementary school and higher education. His experience with elementary and middle school bilingual children started in Cicero Public Schools, where he taught for 7 years. At Chicago State he coordinated the Bilingual Education program and taught a number of courses to undergraduate and graduate students, including Cross Cultural Studies, ESL and Bilingual Methods, Linguistics and Assessment of ELs. Additionally, he has been very active in the field, being Past President of the Illinois Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages-Bilingual Education (ITBE) and past chair of the Higher Education Interest Section of TESOL International.

Miguel holds a Ph.D. in English Philology (University of Granada, Spain) and two Masters degrees: M.A. in Education (University of Granada, Spain), and M.A. in Language Testing (Lancaster University, UK). His areas of interest include Bilingual Education, Second Language Acquisition and Language Testing. He is the author of A Test Impact Study under the No Child Left Behind Act: The case of the ACCESS for ELLs. He has authored and coauthored over twenty articles in the field of language acquisition and language testing.


Louisa Finnberg, Editor/Administrative Assistant

Louisa (a.k.a. Luigi) Finnberg has been at the IRC since 1978 and is responsible for production and editing of brochures and programs for various IRC services, courses, and events. In particular, Louisa is a key contact person for the different conferences organized by the IRC including the State Bilingual, ESEA (formerly NCLB), and the Bilingual Parent Summit.


Amanda Montes, Education Specialist

Prior to joining the IRC, Amanda Montes was an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education at Chicago State University where she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in Bilingual Education and collaborated on a number of projects including the redesign of the Bilingual Education program to align to new ISBE standards and the submission of several grants. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Arizona State University (ASU) where she spent five years teaching structured English immersion (SEI) endorsement courses for teacher candidates. She also spent time in Brazil teaching English as a foreign language and conducting fieldwork on English in Brazilian advertising and the attitudes of Brazilians towards these uses. Prior to pursuing her doctoral work, Amanda served as an SEI teacher, a dual immersion Portuguese teacher, and an ESL Instructional Specialist in the state of Massachusetts. Her commitment to research and teaching includes numerous presentations and workshops at local, national, and international conferences, including a plenary session. She is a Journal Editorial Board Member of the Portuguese World Language Institute Editorial Board and also serves on the Treasurer on the Executive Board for the Illinois Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages - Bilingual Education (ITBE).


Olivia Mulcahy, Education Specialist
Specialty: Program Development and Improvement, Dual Language, Culturally Responsive Practice, Arts Integration, Facilitating Professional Collaboration, Advocacy

Olivia Mulcahy came to the IRC in 2013 from the Office of Language and Cultural Education at the Chicago Public Schools where she held several roles, initially leading the Dual Language Education Initiative and ultimately managing district guidance and supports to all bilingual and ESL programs. Prior to this work, Olivia taught social sciences and language arts for nine years in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Her teaching practice was rooted in supporting students’ bilingualism and biliteracy development, designing inclusive and culturally-responsive curriculum, and integrating the arts across subject areas. Before entering the classroom, Olivia worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she partnered with public school teachers and administrators to develop structures, practices, and tools to enhance professional dialogue and collaboration. Olivia earned her B.A. in both Sociology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and holds a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a National Board Certified teacher of English Language Arts.


Lynn Osheff, Project Manager 

Lynn Osheff has worked at The Center since 2002 and presently serves as project manager for the Illinois Resource Center.  Previously, she worked on various projects for the Adult Learning Resource Center, taught adult ESL at several community colleges, coordinated faculty governance at Northeastern Illinois University, and worked in the business world.  Lynn holds an M. A. in Linguistics/TESL and a B. A. in Foreign Language/Spanish from Northeastern Illinois University.  She and her husband reared two children who were adopted internationally.  Lynn draws from these experiences to manage the Illinois Resource Center’s grants.


Silvia Rogel, Office and Project Coordinator  

Silvia Rogel started at the IRC in 2012 where she served as point person for the annual Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation (ILLCF) Conference. Currently, Silvia oversees the administrative support staff as well as is instrumental in planning for various IRC activities including the Bilingual Directors’ Meeting, the State Bilingual Conference, the Bilingual Parent Summit, and the annual ESEA (formerly NCLB) conference. She also oversees the logistics related to Bilingual/ESL graduate course work offered under the auspices of National Louis University (NLU), both at the IRC as well as other off site locations.


Marna Rundgren, Administrative Assistant

Marna Rundgren started at the IRC in 2014. She administratively supports institutes, service requests, webinars, and Technical Assistance as well as providing assistance for various IRC activities including the State Bilingual Directors’ meeting, Illinois Bilingual Conference, the Bilingual Parent Summit, and the annual ESEA (formerly NCLB) conference. Marna also maintains the IRC social media accounts.



Cristina Sanchez-Lopez, Education Specialist
Specialty: Biliteracy and Math

Cristina is an education specialist at the Illinois Resource Center (IRC). She collaborates with educators in the US and Canada on developing culturally and linguistically responsive multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); mathematics; literacy across the content areas; multilingual education; engaging parents, special education, and supporting Pre-K educators who serve Multilingual Learners. Cristina has taught at the elementary, middle school and university levels in the US and Mexico. At present, Cristina teaches graduate courses in the areas of bilingualism and reading, assessment, and foundations of language minority education. Cristina has been working extensively with her colleague, Theresa Young (Speech-Language Pathologist, Ontario, Canada) collaborating with school problem-solving teams as they develop more culturally and linguistically responsive learning environments for diverse learners. Cristina co-authored the book: Special Education Considerations for English Language Learners: Delivering a Continuum of Services (Caslon Publishing, 2nd edition January 2013), She is co-authoring a forthcoming book in the Oxford University Press Key Concepts series: Focus on Special Educational Needs (Oxford University Press, 2018), and has written various articles and chapters on addressing the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Cristina and her husband have raised their daughter bilingually.


Laima Maria Schnell, Education Specialist
Specialty: Linguistics and Language Acquisition

Laima has a Master’s degree in applied linguistics and a Bachelor’s in French. She has been a teacher for over 30 years and speaks four languages. She and her husband served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. Laima has taught high school French and English as well as basic skills to adults in the workplace.
She was lead teacher for a State of Illinois sponsored institute on setting up workplace education programs. Currently she is teaching linguistics classes for National-Louis University at the IRC.  In the past, Laima has taught customized health care Spanish classes at Northwestern University. Also, she assists with logistics for various IRC sponsored conferences as well provides technical assistance to school districts in the areas of language acquisition and ELs.



Tracy Taylor, Education Specialist

Tracy joins the IRC with a wide range of experiences in the field of bilingual education. Most recently, Tracy was the principal of a dual language K-6 elementary school in School District U-46.  Prior to her work as a school administrator, Tracy was a Sheltered Instruction General Ed. classroom teacher as well as a bilingual resource teacher in Schaumburg CCSD 54.  Tracy holds both a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum Leadership and a Master’s of Science in Curriculum & Instruction from Northern Illinois University.  For her doctoral dissertation, Tracy examined the relationship between middle school English Learners’ perceptions of their teachers and their subsequent language development achievement.  For her master’s thesis, Tracy developed a comprehensive professional development plan for teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse students.  Her Bachelor’s of Arts in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish was earned at The University of Arizona, and endorsements in Bilingual Education & English as a Second Language were obtained through National-Louis University. Her research interests include EL Language & Literacy Development, the intersection of Social Emotional Learning & Bilingual Education, and models for improving the education system for underserved student populations.


Wiesia Tyszler, Administrative Assistant

Wiesia started at the IRC in 2003. She helps with graduate level courses, ISBE sponsored regional institutes and coordinates vendors for the annual State Bilingual Conference. In addition, Wiesia provides assistance for various IRC activities including the State Bilingual Directors’ meeting, the Illinois Bilingual Conference, the ESEA (formerly NCLB) Conference, and the Bilingual Parent Summit.


Josie Yanguas, Director
Specialty: Advocacy
jyanguas@cntrmail.org, jyanguas@yahoo.com

Josie became the director of the Illinois Resource Center in 2006. Prior to this assignment, she had worked at the IRC since 1989 in various capacities, including coordinating the annual State Bilingual Conference and various Title III projects. Josie is the current chairperson of the Illinois Advisory Council for Bilingual Education as well as an executive board member of the Illinois Early Learning Council. She also serves on the executive board of the Illinois Association for Multilingual Multicultural Education (IAMME). Josie’s areas of interest include policies and programs related to bilingual education, foundations of bilingual education, and dual language programming.


Michele Yanong, Education Specialist

Michele is a Golden Apple Award winning educator and holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on ESL/Bilingual education. She has taught graduate level courses in the area of ESL Methodology K-12, as well as Methods and Materials for Teaching ESL for Preschool Children. Michele comes to the IRC with leadership experience in Sheltered Instruction Program implementation and curriculum design. She has also provided professional development on academic language supports, technology integration, bilingual parent and school collaboration, advocacy for ELs, and vocabulary growth through intentional play. Her most recent teaching position was working with 1st and 2nd grade multiage English Learners in a highly diverse suburban setting. Michele’s history also includes work as a K-5 ELL pull-out specialist, a K/1 sheltered classroom teacher, and a 0-3 childcare provider.




Jim Zabel, ESEA (formerly NCLB) Conference Coordinator

Jim has a Master’s and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has done post-doctoral studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. His current responsibilities include coordination of the ESEA (formerly NCLB) Conference. Before joining the IRC, Jim was Vice-President of Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa.


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