Founder, Director, and Spanish Instructor
Elissa founded Express Fluency in 2012 to bring Comprehensible-Input based language classes to adults. Tired of hearing (almost) everyone say “I studied (fill in the blank) language in school for 4 years and I can’t speak a word now” – she decided to be part of a movement to change that. She holds a Masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has taught Spanish to students from preschool to college and adults. Prior to teaching Spanish full-time she co-founded two innovative expedition-based high schools. She loves to travel, meet new people, spend time with her teenage daughter, and help bring more joy and multilingualism into the world.
In her forty-five-year career of teaching French, most recently at Brattleboro Union High School, Maggie Cassidy has focused on developing students’ communication skills in the language, and former students have gone on to use French in their work as well as in their travels. Maggie founded the BUHS Swiss Exchange, which has provided homestays and immersion experiences to hundreds of students in Vermont and Geneva; her book, Taking Students Abroad: A Guide for Teachers, remained in print for over 20 years. In addition to her own teaching, Maggie has supervised and mentored many pre-service teachers and offers training to mentors of new teachers. Working in Algeria, Costa Rica, and Japan as well as in the U.S., she has trained teachers, university faculty, and other professionals in a process for professional Inquiry. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in French and English as a Second Language from the School for International Training (SIT). Maggie has been a regular commentator for Vermont Public Radio; she has also written extensively for the Brattleboro Reformer and continues to write feature articles for the newspaper. Maggie participated in Express Fluency’s teacher training program in 2016.
Maggie Smith began her love of languages in a 7th grade public school French class taught by a native speaker. She spent her 10th grade summer living with families in southern France, and also spent her junior year of college studying in Paris. While also pursuing a career in music education and performance, she taught French in a private elementary school in Southern Vermont, where she discovered and experimented with a teaching method called TPRS. After watching the truly amazing success this method had for her students, she used it as well in her classes at the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT. She has given workshops and presentations on the method both at SIT and at teacher conventions. She has kept up her French as an Elderhostel (now RoadScholar) guide in Provence, and through numerous summer stays in France.
Spanish Instructor (beginner and advanced beginner)
Becca has been teaching middle and high school Spanish since 2009. She studied Spanish Language and Literature with a concentration in Education at Guilford College in North Carolina. During this time Becca lived and studied in Guadalajara, Mexico and worked with a local grassroots organization, teaching and surveying in small, urban communities outside of Guadalajara. Becca has traveled and studied in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. She employs a variety of teaching techniques and strategies. Her classes are playful and are sure to get you thinking in Spanish. In her free time Becca and her husband Chris raise their two young boys, Jeremiah and Louis (in Spanish of course!) She also loves to rock climb, grow delicious food, practice yoga, and spin.
Paqui Arroyo Montano
Spanish Instructor (intermediate)
Paqui was born in Barcelona, Spain, where she grew up speaking Spanish and Catalan. After graduating from Goymar School of Fashion Design in Spain, she moved to Northampton, Massachusetts where she helped start The Haymarket bookstore/cafe. Since moving to Vermont, she has worked as an independent translator and taught Spanish in several schools, camps, and seminars in the area. Her passion for teaching Spanish blossomed while raising her two boys in a bilingual environment. Paqui teaches Spanish at The Grammar School in Putney, Vermont where her goal is to create stimulating and fun language classes, using as little English as possible and creating situations where the students need to use their Spanish. Paqui’s other interests include gardening, painting, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two sons.
Express Fluency taps into a network of the most talented and effective language teachers in the world. We have worked with the likes of Justin Slocum Bailey, Annabelle Allen, Grant Boulanger, Tina Hargaden, Laurie Clarcq, Mike Peto, Anna Gilcher, Ben Wang, and Sabrina Janczak.