Meet Our Teachers
A native of the U.S. of A., Claire has lived here all her life with the exception of the 5 months she spent studying abroad in the strange foreign land of: England. (Her accent has never been the same since.) Claire started teaching as a volunteer for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council in 2014. As a teacher, nothing is more satisfying to her than seeing a concept click in the student’s mind and the sense of pride they feel in their accomplishment when they’ve mastered the material. Claire graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Writing in 2016 and received her TESL Certification in 2018 from whence she began teaching for TLC. She tailors her lessons according to her students’ needs, and they routinely thank her for her patience!
Jane Pinkston is a certified English as a Second Language instructor with nine years of ESL teaching experience. She has a master’s degree in English from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois. Jane began her ESL career after retiring from a career in public libraries. Over the past nine years, Jane has taught students from over forty different countries at levels of English-language ability ranging from Beginning to Advanced. She loves to travel and to engage with students from all over the world.
Mary Beckham grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. As a youth she performed traditional Eastern European folk dances with her church group. This cultural exposure sparked her ever growing interest in the world’s diverse cultures. Mary spent her early adult years traveling the U.S. performing with dance and color guard groups, eventually settling in Middle Tennessee. There she earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies from MTSU, and she was recently certified to teach English as a Second Language by the Tennessee Language Center, IPS-UT. Mary loves the enthusiasm and commitment displayed by her students learning English. It is her goal to provide clarity and support to her students with every lesson. “I strive to create engaging, relevant lessons that support the real-life needs of folks learning English.”
Lorie Adams has taught Beginning to Advanced level ESL classes at TLC since 2014. She often works with students who are interested in developing conversation skills, expanding vocabulary, improving pronunciation, and understanding English slang and idioms. She also has experience training students on accent reduction, business English, and American social customs. Lorie’s students are from many countries and speak a wide variety of languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, Russian, French, German, Turkish, Hindi, and Portuguese.
Helen Burr is a certified English as a Second Language instructor with nine years of ESL teaching experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in German from Lipscomb University and has been a Language Instructor primarily teaching Literacy and Intro level refugees with the ESL to Go Program. In 2019 she was honored as a distinguished nominee for the 2019 Adult Educator of the Year Award given by the Nashville Public Library for developing a much–needed Literacy level curriculum used by the ESL to Go Program to support teachers. In addition to teaching, she has a black belt in TaeKwonDo, and she loves to travel and engage with students from all over the world.
Ashley Duke is a certified English as a Second Language instructor with four years’ experience teaching ESL. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. Ashley has taught classes at every level, from Pre – literacy to Advanced conversation classes, as well as college-level ESL Writing, Reading, and Grammar courses at Nashville State Community College. She has experience working with students both one-on-one and in group classes up to 20+ students. She loves connecting with students from all walks of life and strives to create enjoyable lessons in a comfortable and encouraging environment.
Brianna Persinger holds a BA in English from Welch College, and has been instructing refugees in Nashville as a certified English as a Second Language teacher for 3 years. She is honored to have been nominated as a finalist for the Nashville Public Library’s 2020 Adult Educator of the Year award.
In addition to teaching English to adults, she is also the Coordinator of Elementary Success at Nations Ministry Center where she helps refugee children become grade-level readers and practice foundational Social and Emotional skills in an after-school literacy program.
Having worked with students hailing from 18 countries and practicing language abilities from Pre-Literacy to Advanced, Brianna has developed a teaching style that empowers students from all walks of life to meet their unique learning goals. She is sensitive toward the unique traumas her students have faced, causing her to instruct with compassion and patience. She is passionate about working cross-culturally and feels she has much to learn from her students.
Following a career in adult health care and education, Sharon Murphy met a Ukrainian family in desperate need. After working with this family for two years, both medically and linguistically, she started teaching ESL classes as a volunteer for five years. Then, after TESL certification at TLC, Sharon has continued teaching ESL classes from Beginner level to Intermediate for eleven years. She has a BSN and MSN from Emory University, and the blend of nursing and language training has been advantageous to her students. These learners have immigrated from at least 20 different countries. Sharon’s other interests include international travel, music, and biking.
A native of Washington State, Bill Tiffany settled in Nashville in 2010 after retiring from the U.S. Marines where he served as a communications electronics maintenance officer. His career took him to many countries including Japan, South Korea, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Norway. While on active duty, he attained his bachelor’s degree in History and a master’s degree in Elementary Education. He taught 3rd grade and kindergarten in Nashville public schools for seven years, and he has taught English with TLC since 2017. His main goal for his students is for them to gain confidence to use English in their everyday lives and to explore places beyond their local community. He also teaches English online to dozens of students in China. In his spare time, Bill likes to play guitar, cook, and study Chinese.