Riah Werner

Summary of Qualifications

Creative and socially responsible English teacher and teacher trainer with seven years’ international experience in Africa, Asia and South America, from the primary to post-secondary levels. Skilled at creating materials relevant to the local context, collaborating with local teachers and designing effective teacher trainings. Passionate about using music, drama and the arts to engage students, develop fluency and explore social issues. Committed to advancing the profession through conference presentations, publications and collaborations with teachers associations.


  • MA in TESOL, SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, VT, May 2017
    • Thesis: Drama for Social Justice: Embodying Identity and Emotion in ELT 

    • Advisor: Dr. Elka Todeva

  • BFA in Theatre, New York University, New York, NY, May 2009


English Language Fellow, Institut Pédagogique National de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel/English Language Fellow Program, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Sep 2017-Present

  • Founder of the CI ELT Exchange, a professional development program for 80 in-service ESP teachers from 12 schools, with twice monthly workshops on interactive pedagogy and large-scale seminars, and design a corresponding video-based online course, accessible throughout the country

  • Develop a training of trainers program based on the CI ELT Exchange model, for 50 teacher trainers in every region of Cote d’Ivoire
  • Organize Cote d’Ivoire’s first national English teaching conference

  • Design and teach an English for Leadership course for a local entrepreneurship center

  • Conduct teacher training workshops throughout the country, tailored to meet local needs

  • Advise the Cote d’Ivoire National English Language Teachers Association (CINELTA) and oversee implementation of $25,000 grant for teacher training projects

Global Education Fellow, La Unidad Educativa Carlos Cisneros/WorldTeach, Riobamba, Ecuador, Dec 2016-Jul 2017

  • Taught English to 350 students in grades 6, 8 and 12 in classes of up to 45 students
  • Designed Multiple Intelligences-based activities to engage students and complement textbooks, leading to a 1.38 increase in student test scores on a ten point scale
  • Assisted local teachers with implementation of a new government curriculum through co-teaching, classroom observations and teacher training workshops
  • Collected student data to share with administration; conducted weekly parent meetings

Teaching and Teacher Training Experience

English Teacher, Banhuaihinfon School/World Education, Mae Sot, Thailand, Jan 2016-Feb 2016

  • Taught English to 90 students in grades 1-6, using an interactive, multimodal approach
  • Wrote songs, created visual aids and designed hands-on activities to supplement textbooks
  • Utilized the Language Experience Approach to develop literacy skills and build confidence
  • Collaborated with a local teacher to develop materials that support multilingual identity

English Teacher, Moshi Regional Vocational Training and Service Center/Peace Corps, Moshi, Tanzania, Jul 2013-Jul 2015

  • Taught ESP to 300 second-year vocational college students (ages 18-40), incorporating material specific to their professions into reading, writing and conversation exercises
  • Designed and co-taught an English for Hospitality program for students working in local restaurants and hotels to improve their communicative fluency at job-related tasks
  • Started extracurricular English classes and tutored students, including TOEIC test prep
  • Collaborated with an NGO to distribute reusable menstrual pads to 400 female students
  • Trained local teachers in grant writing and project management, leading to the formation of a community organization which has given reusable menstrual pads to 2600 girls at 8 schools

English Technical Trainer, Peace Corps, Morogoro/Korogwe, Tanzania, May 2012-Aug 2014

  • Designed and facilitated English and general education training sessions for 120 volunteers, covering lesson planning, teaching the four skills and working with limited resources
  • Wrote the Peace Corps English manual, which is distributed to all incoming volunteers, to equip them with grammar knowledge and culturally appropriate classroom activities
  • Restructured the training schedule to help staff develop Peace Corps Tanzania’s newly reinstated English Education program and assisted with training of trainers

English Teacher, Mboni Secondary School/Peace Corps, Mboni, Tanzania, Jun 2011-Jun 2013

  • Taught English to 500 first year secondary school students (ages 12-17) in classes of 45-50
  • Planned lessons using student-centered and interactive methodology to build a solid foundation in academic English for students transitioning into English-medium schools
  • Adapted familiar songs to teach syllabus topics, increasing student’s retention
  • Developed library project to increase students’ access to books and agency over their own educations, resulting in the adoption of weekly library periods for each class
  • Ran English, Theatre and Life Skills clubs and organized extracurricular events, such as English days and competitions, to develop students’ language and leadership skills
  • Facilitated a bi-weekly teacher training group for 20 Tanzanian teachers and a week-long intensive training for 60 teachers, sponsored by the Regional English Language Office

English Musical Instructor, Hello Kid Actor, Seoul, South Korea, Feb 2010-Feb 2011

  • Taught English through musical theatre at 2 elementary schools, 2 churches, 3 after school programs and a pre-school to 300-400 students each week (ages 3 to 18)
  • Taught first and second grade math in English using a Content Based Instruction approach
  • Designed lesson plans that used drama to develop communicative fluency and expression
  • Collaborated on EFL drama textbooks by researching age-appropriate theatre games and writing scripts and accompanying exercises, vocabulary lists and discussion questions
  • Directed children in English plays and musicals culminating in fully staged performances


Journal Articles

Werner, R. (In press). Music, Movement and Memory: Pedagogical Songs as Mnemonic Aids. TESOL Journal, 9(4).

Werner, R. (In press). My Classroom: Tanzania. English Teaching Forum, 56(4).

Werner, R. (2017). Girls’ Voices in Community Action Theatre in Tanzania. Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, 3(2). Available online.

Contributions to Edited Volumes

Werner, R. (In press). If You Speak English, Take One Step Forward. In V. Viana (Ed.), New Ways of Teaching with Corpora. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Werner, R. (In press). Confidence Day. In J. Vorholt (Ed.), New Ways of Teaching Speaking, Second Edition. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Manuals and Textbooks

Werner, R. (2013). English Manual for Peace Corps Volunteers: Practical Advice for Teaching in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania. 

Hwang H. M. (ed.) (2011). Hello Kid Actor: Learning English Through Musical Theater/Drama (Levels 1-6). Seoul, South Korea: Hello Kid Actor. (contributor)

Articles in Professional Newsletters

Werner, R. (July 2018). Black Spaces and White Norms: The Importance of BELPaF for the TESOL Community. TESOLers for Social Responsibility. Available online.

Werner, R. (June 2017). Addressing Linguicism and its Racial Implications in the Age of Nationalism. TESOLers for Social Responsibility. Available online.


Conferences Organized

CINELTA Conference, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, May 6-7, 2019

CI ELT Exchange Conference, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, June 4-5, 2018

Sandanona Conference, Brattleboro, VT, May 16-18, 2016

Panels Organized

Ibrahim, K., Njau, C., Sidibe, A., Yassim, K., Adi, A. & Werner, R. (2019, March). Social Issues in the Classroom: Ideas from African Teachers. Panel organized for the 2019 TESOL Convention, Atlanta, GA.

Motha, S., Tinker Sachs, G., Marzouki, S., Khawaja, A. & Werner, R. (2019, March). From Talk to Action: Putting Social Responsibility into Practice. Panel organized for the 2019 TESOL Convention, Atlanta, GA.

Refereed Conference Presentations

Werner, R. (2019, March). Quick Arts Based Activities to Enliven your Classes.  Practice-oriented presentation accepted for the 2019 TESOL Convention, Atlanta, GA.

Werner, R. & Adi, A. (2019, March). Locally Contextualized Continuing Professional Development for African Teachers. Practice-oriented presentation accepted for the 2019 TESOL Convention, Atlanta, GA.

Khawaja, A. & Werner, R. (2018, June). Connecting and Supporting Socially Responsible Educators. Workshop presented at the 2018 BART Summer Symposium, Clearwater, FL.

Werner, R. (2018, May). Integrating Interactive Activities into your Lesson Plans. Workshop presented at the 2018 Africa TESOL Conference, Dakar, Senegal.

Adi, A. & Werner, R. (2018, May). CI ELT Exchange: A New Model for Continuing Professional Development. Paper presented at the 2018 Africa TESOL Conference, Dakar, Senegal.

Werner, R. (2018, March). Drama for Social Justice in ELT. Workshop presented at the 2018 TESOL Convention, Chicago, IL.

Werner, R. (2018, March). Multiplicity in TESOL: Multimodality, Multilingualism and Multiple Intelligences. Research-oriented presentation at the 2018 TESOL Convention, Chicago, IL.

Werner, R. & Njau, C. (2018, March). Empowering Tanzanian Students through Multilingual Storytelling, Drama and Digital Publishing. Practice-oriented presentation at the 2018 TESOL Convention, Chicago, IL.

Werner, R. (2017, March). Music and Movement in the English Classroom: Practical Implementation Strategies. Practice-oriented presentation at the 2017 TESOL Convention, Seattle, WA.

Werner, R. (2016, May). Music and Movement in the English Classroom: Practical Implementation Strategies. Workshop presented at the 2016 MATSOL Conference, Framingham, MA.

Additional Conference Presentations

Werner, R. (2018, September). Thinking Critically About Gender Equality in the Classroom. Workshop presented at the 2018 Mauritius ELT Conference, Port Louis, Mauritius.

Werner, R. (2018, June). Classroom Strategies for Promoting Gender Equality. Workshop presented at the 2018 CI ELT Exchange Conference, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Werner, R. (2018, February). Effective Strategies for Interactive Teaching. Workshop presented at the 2018 ZAPELATO Conference, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Werner, R. (2018, February). Multimedia Teacher Training: Parallel Online and In Person Professional Development. Presentation at the Subsaharan Africa English Language Fellowship Mid Year Conference, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Werner, R. (2017, July). Multiple Intelligences in International TESOL. Paper presented at the 2017 WorldTeach Global Education Fellowship Conference, Quito, Ecuador.

Werner, R. (2016, May). Expression through Drama: Linking Prosody, Embodiment and Emotional Awareness. Workshop presented at the Sandanona Conference, Brattleboro, VT.


2018 US Embassy Grant for CINELTA Teacher Training Projects ($24,950)

2018 US Embassy Grant for CI ELT Exchange Conference ($3,730)

2018 RELO Grant for Teacher Training in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania ($785)

2015 Peace Corps Huru Grant for Reusable Menstrual Pad Project ($4,100)

2014 Peace Corps Huru Grant for Reusable Menstrual Pad Project ($1,540)

2013 Peace Corps Partnership Project Grant for Mboni Secondary School Library ($2,400)

Awards and Honors

2018 TESOL International: Professional Development Scholarship

2016 SIT Graduate Institute: Engaged Learning Ambassador Award

2015 SIT Graduate Institute: SIT Grant

2009 New York University: Founder’s Day Award

2005 New York University: Tisch Scholarship

2005 National Merit Scholar

Service to Profession

Co-Chair Elect, TESOL International Social Responsibility Interest Section, Mar 2018-Present

  • Collaborate with SRIS leaders and steering committee to create transition plan for 2018-2021

  • Plan academic and intersection panels for the 2019 and 2020 TESOL annual conventions

Newsletter Editor, TESOL International Social Responsibility Interest Section, Mar 2017-Present

  • Publish 4 themed issues per year, each with 4-7 articles and letters from the IS leadership
  • Solicit submissions, edit articles and communicate with authors and TESOL staff
  • Create an editorial calendar and develop a manual of procedures for the next editors

Manuscript Reviewer, TESOL Journal, Nov 2017-Present

  • Review submitted articles and provide detailed feedback for the authors and editors

Abstract Reviewer, TESOL International, Aug 2016-Present

  • Rate abstracts for the annual convention
  • Review awards applications

Community Outreach and Leadership

Global Mentor, Teachers for Teachers, Kakuma Refugee Camp/Kalobeyi Settlement, Kenya, Apr 2018-Present

  • Mentor refugee teachers and provide teaching support through videos and text messages

TESOL Alumni Mentor, SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, VT, Apr 2018-Present

  • Mentor recent graduates of the MA TESOL program and provide career advice

Application Reviewer, Young African Leaders Initiative, Aug 2016-Present

  • Read and provide feedback on applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship

Curriculum Developer, Kuleana Group, Marangu, Tanzania, Jul 2016-Feb 2018

  • Developed curricula and lesson plans for workshops for Tanzanian secondary schools on topics such as multilingual storytelling, drama, digital publishing and multiple intelligences

  • Provided long-distance support and assisted local teachers with implementation

Arts Education Experience

Shakespeare Teacher, Shakespeare for Homeschoolers, New York, NY, Sep 2009-Jan 2010

  • Taught 10 children about Shakespeare and developed imagination through creative role-play
  • Founded program, organized classes, developed curriculum and created teaching materials

Education Intern/Puppet Builder, ArtistrYE, New York, NY, May 2009-Jul 2009

  • Organized and taught puppetry workshops for 50 underprivileged children, including ELLs
  • Designed and built puppets; obtained materials; instructed puppeteers

Assistant Director, Young Shakespeare Players, Madison, WI, Jun 2008- Aug 2008

  • Directed 65 young actors (ages 6-18) in an uncut production of Henry IV, Part One
  • Managed a team of 5 assistants and delegated production responsibilities

Assistant Director, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York, NY, Jul 2006-Aug 2006

  • Directed rehearsals for 15 teenagers in the Advanced Teen Program
  • Maintained script and oversaw technical aspects of the final performance

Program Assistant for After School Art Classes, Sparkledog Productions, Madison, WI, Jan 2005-May 2005

  • Taught art activities and listening skills to 20 elementary school students, including ELLs
  • Created arts-based lesson plans to accompany audio stories, to develop students’ visualization abilities as a foundation for strong literacy skills

Professional Affiliations

TESOL International: member since 2015

Africa TESOL: member since 2018

CINELTA (Cote d’Ivoire National English Language Teachers Association): founding member and advisor

Download as a PDF: Riah Werner’s Resume Riah Werner’s CV October 2018