Language Center Instructors

Richelle Hecker – SpanishRichelle Pic

Although originally from Athens, Spanish has been the catalyst of change in Richelle’s life. After becoming lifelong friends with a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic, she was introduced to Rotary International, which changed her life. Through its foreign exchange program, she lived in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico and often returns to visit her exchange family and friends. Just one semester away from graduating, Richelle will receive her bachelor’s degree in Spanish education from Ohio University. Richelle encourages students to have a hunger for new knowledge and exploration in their journey towards embracing all that the Spanish language has to offer.

Richelle also manages an online resource for beginner Spanish students.

Megan Helgeson – French and ESLHelgeson_Photo

Megan fell in love with French from her first day of class in high school and has continued to study and speak the language ever since. She hopes to inspire her students at the A.P.E. Language Center and ignite in them an interest in French by transmitting her own passion for the language and culture. Megan received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University with a French certificate. She lived in France while teaching English to elementary school children, which gave her the opportunity to travel around France and to better understand the French culture. She recently graduated with a master’s in French from Ohio University, during which she also taught elementary French to university students. Other than French, Megan’s interests include running, singing and reading.

Andrea Reany – Russian and ESL2146c14

Andrea Reany has been passionate about learning languages ever since the third grade when she began writing her Russian teacher letters in a mixture of English and broken Russian. After growing up in Toledo, Ohio, and studying at Ohio University, she lived and studied in Russia several times, and had one of the most radical experiences of her life in the Republic of Kabardina-Balkaria of the northern Caucuses region. She dreams of someday disappearing to a small village in the mountains of the Balkans, or in other countries where Russian is spoken, such as Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan. She is equally as passionate about environmental and social justice issues both on global and local levels, and sees these as deeply connected to topics of language and culture.

Andrea prefers studying language not in a vacuum, but through a lens of what the student finds interesting, whether that be science, sports or soup. Having served two years as an AmeriCorps member in Athens, she greatly looks forward to going on a journey of exchanging knowledge and experiences with her students at the A.P.E. Center.

HarrietHarriet Martin – Italian

Harriet spent several years in Europe after the Peace Corps. For two of those years, she lived and worked in Italy. Harriet had had a lot of high school Latin and picked up Italian quickly. Since then, she has returned to Italy several times and has pursued her study of Italian in various schools in order to expand her knowledge and keep it fresh. She looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for this wonderful language with her students.

IMG_0034_6Kyong Sook Gray – Chinese, Korean, Japanese

Kyong Sook Gray is South Korean and majored in Modern Chinese at Hanbat National University in Korea and then received a master’s degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Beijing Language and Culture University in China. She first got interested in the Chinese culture when she saw the movie “The Last Emperor.” This film greatly impressed her and she began to seriously study Chinese history and literature on her own. She soon decided to major in Chinese when she entered college. In 1992, 1993 and 1994-1996, she went to China for the purpose of studying the Chinese language, history, literature and culture. During her stay, she visited many interesting places throughout the country. When she returned to South Korea, Kyong Sook taught Chinese at several prominent think tanks in Daejeon, as well as at a middle school and a Korean company. When her husband was offered a teaching position at a university in Beijing in 2000, she returned again to China and lived in Beijing and Dalian for eight and half years. During this period, she had many great experiences in China with her husband, such as traveling, meeting famous Chinese scholars and talking with them about Chinese literature and philosophy. She also participated in the making of several Chinese movies. In 2010, she moved to Athens.

Kyong Sook likes learning other languages. She has taken Japanese language classes for four years and enjoys travel. She has visited Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. She looks forward to sharing her various experiences and knowledge with young American students here in Athens.

NoeliaNoelia Volker – Spanish

Noelia Volker worked as a volunteer at the A.P.E. Center Full Immersion Spanish Camp. She is originally from Argentina, where she has lived her entire life. There, she studied English as a second language since she was 6 years old. She attended ENSLV S. B. Spangenberg College for four years, three of which she dedicated to translation and the last year to ESL teaching. She worked in an English institute teaching children and teenagers for seven years, and in companies teaching adults for two years.

Noelia believes everyone should take a language class at least once in order to experience expressing themselves using a code they never thought they would use, and more importantly, to communicate with others and get to know new people. You never know how much you will like something until you try it, and at the A.P.E. Center, there are plenty of languages to learn.

Kyle Goode – Thai

photoBailey Kretz – Graphic Design and Media

Bailey is a sophomore at Ohio University, majoring in integrated media with a certificate in social media. She is originally from Toledo, where she took four years of college-level graphic design and visual communication design courses before starting college at OU. As a designer and media personnel, Bailey hopes to raise awareness for the Appalachian Progressive Education Language Center and all that it has to offer to the Athens community. After college, she plans on moving to a major city and using her design skills to aid in promoting other businesses to potential clients.