Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff

All HOFT Institute ESL program faculty have earned either a Masters degree or ESL specialization. They have been selected for their excellent interpersonal and communication skills and understand the individual needs and cultural backgrounds of international students, allowing them to build genuine relationships with our students.

Our Management Team

Wendy Wei

Chief Financial Officer

Master of Accountancy
Texas State University

Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering
Hunan University, China

Our Teachers

Sarah Poff

M.A., Foreign Language Education with a specialization in TEFL, University of Texas at Austin
B.A., Italian, University of Texas at Austin

Sarah has been teaching English as a Second Language for almost 20 years. She has lived in Italy and the Czech Republic, where she taught for the Defense Language Institute and the Chinese International School. Sarah also developed several language programs for private companies and worked as a teacher trainer. After moving back from Europe, she taught at the Intensive English Language Institute at the University of North Texas for 8 years. She has recently moved back to Austin and is excited to be helping students at HOFT Institute. She loves travel, Sci-fi, music festivals, and cats….not necessarily in that order. She’s also a big fan of exploring the greenbelts, rivers, restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and EVERYTHING else that this great city has to offer.

Mariah Lane

M.A., Second Language Studies, Indiana University
B.A., Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin

Mariah began teaching English as a Second Language during her college years at UT Austin; she volunteered teaching English to immigrants in the Austin community and international students on campus. Later, she moved to work as a teacher in Mexico, where she taught a variety of students of all ages. After some years in Mexico, she moved back to the U.S. to pursue her master’s, giving her the opportunity to learn more about language acquisition. Mariah took some years off from teaching to focus on her young daughter, but recently moved to Austin and joined HOFT Institute in 2015.

Elizabeth Maze

M.A. English as a Second Language, University of North Texas
M.A. English, University of North Texas
B.A. English, Texas A&M - Commerce

Elizabeth began teaching English when she was the General Manager of a hotel and she realized that many of her employees needed basic English lessons to integrate into the community. She realized that by teaching them English, she was empowering them with the tools they needed to accomplish their goals. She changed her major from Psychology to English, and became obsessed with language acquisition and sociolinguistics. Since then she has taught in a variety of formal and informal educational settings, both face to face and online. She’s also done teacher training and curriculum design. Elizabeth is a lifelong entertainer and loves to integrate aspects of theatre and performance into the classroom. She enjoys science fiction, super heroes, and playing board games.

Marta Pelrine-Bacon

M.A., English, Kent State University
B.A., English, Indiana State University

Marta began her ESL teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English to high school students in Bulgaria from 1993-1995. As a volunteer, she also helped create a town library and she wrote for the Peace Corps Bulgaria newsletter. Back in America, she returned to teaching ESL in 1997 in Austin, Texas at IAEI (now the HOFT Institute ESL Program), where she continues to work. She did, however, take time off for her son, and worked for one year at Austin English Academy part-time. She specializes in writing, has had short stories published, and her first novel was published in December of 2012. Marta drinks a lot of coffee, makes and sells art, hangs out with her family, and is training to compete in the National Speed Skating Competition next year.

Bart Huskey

M.A., Educational Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin
B.A., Psychology, Trinity University

Bart has lived in the US, Germany, and Japan. He received his Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from UT Austin in 1997. Since then, he has taught English to junior high school students in Japan and psychology to college students in Texas. He began working at the HOFT Institute in 2011.

Brian Bean

B.A., Liberal Arts, University of Missouri

Brian has been working in the field of education for over 15 years and has worked as a teacher, advisor, testing specialist, academic director and program director specializing in language training and helping international students prepare for and enter college. Through his various positions, Brian has worked directly with Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Homeland Security, and helped hundreds of students obtain visas to study in the United States. Brian has a BLA from the University of Missouri and studied Spanish and anthropology at the University of Vera Cruz, Xalapa, Mexico.

Gala Arendell

B.A., Psychology & Health Promotion, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Gala Arendell has been teaching ESL since 2004, with a primary focus on post-secondary adult education. During her 10 years in Ecuador she worked with students in university classrooms, on-site corporate programs, the United Nations in Quito, the National Diplomat Academy, many face-to face and online courses, and commuted by helicopter into the  Amazon jungle. Since 2014 she has been working at HOFT Institute to teach and tutor ESL and Spanish. As a graduate of UNC-Asheville and a TEFL-certified language teacher, she has helped thousands of students improve their English or prepare for exams such as the TOEFL, IELTS, FCE, and CAE. Also trained and fluent in Spanish, Ms. Arendell provides tutoring for university, college and high school Spanish at all levels.

Our Administrative Staff

Blair Bourassa

Academic Director

DELTA Diploma in English Language Teaching, Cambridge University
B.A., Linguistics, University of Regina

Blair has a diploma in English language teaching from Cambridge, a degree in linguistics, and is a certified IELTS exam instructor and evaluator. He has taught English for over 12 years in Canada, America, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia. In the last 6 years, he has worked a teacher trainer, business and academic English instructor, medical English specialist, and supervisor of university preparation courses. He speaks Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and French, and can understand Portuguese, German and Japanese as well.

Katie Winstanley

ESL Program Coordinator & Lead Student Advisor

M.A., School Counseling, Wilmington University
B.A., Psychology, University of Delaware

Katie is from Delaware, where she earned a bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Delaware and a Masters degree in School Counseling from Wilmington University. She has worked in various positions ranging from middle school through higher education. She relocated to Austin in 2009 and has been the ESL Program Coordinator for the HOFT Institute ESL program since March 2013.

Susan Eljaonni

Executive Assistant

A.B., Business Administration, Pitman College

Susan has been with HOFT Institute since 2010. She was born and raised in Kuwait City, Kuwait and moved to the U.S. in 2000. Previously, she worked at the American School of Kuwait, the Al-Kazemi Trading Company, the National Bank of Kuwait, and the Annoor Islamic School in Wichita, Kansas.

HOFT Institute ESL Program

2400 Pearl Street Austin TX 78705
1-512-472-6996 | English@hoft.edu