Faculty & Staff

The people who teach and work at HELP come from a wide background of language use and experience. Our close affiliation with the renowned Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi makes us a solid choice for ESL/EFL learning, but it is our teachers and staff members that truly make us a unique institution. We simply think we have the best of the best!

<span style="color: #037b55;">Joel Weaver - Director</span>

Joel Weaver - Director

I was born and grew up in Kinshasa, Congo in central Africa.  I came to Hawaii in 1986 to get my Master’s degree in teaching English, and have taught English at all levels in Africa, Micronesia, California, and Hawaii.  I have been a teacher trainer, materials developer and language school administrator as well.  Here at HELP, I am honored to lead a wonderful team of teachers and administrators who pour their hearts and minds into providing an absolutely incredible experience for all who come here to study. In my free time, I like spending time with my family and enjoying the ocean and other natural wonders of Hawaii.  Come join us here in paradise--the most remote and most beautiful islands in the world.  My staff and I are eager to give you the chance of a lifetime to learn English and store up golden memories to carry home!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Christine Guro - Assistant Director</span>

Christine Guro - Assistant Director

I'm originally from Chicago, Illinois, but I've been living in Hawaii for more than 30 years so it's definitely my home. During my years here, however, I spent time in Japan to teach English. When I returned, I got a Masters Degree in ESL from UHM. I enjoy all aspects of ESL as an instructor, teacher trainer and administrator. In my spare time, I like to read mystery novels, watch CSI on TV, and go to the movies (almost) every weekend. I hope you will come to Hawai‘i and discover a wonderful place that is different from anywhere on earth. The warm sun, the friendly people, and the unique nature make Oahu an island paradise. Of course, HELP is the best place to learn English with its great staff, talented teachers, energetic students, and a friendly atmosphere. Aloha!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Kimberly Imamura - Registrar & Office Manager</span>

Kimberly Imamura - Registrar & Office Manager

Aloha!  I was born and raised here in sunny Hawaii on the Leeward side of Oahu.  I graduated with a BBA in Human Resource Management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, minored in Japanese, and am currently in the Masters of Educational Administration program at UH.  For three years, I served as a participant on the JET program in snowy Nagano, Japan, where I taught English to Elementary and Jr. High school students. Here in Hawaii, I love hiking, shopping, and karaoke.  Where there's snow, I love snowboarding!  At HELP, I love helping out students!  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to drop by the HELP Front Office and we will do our best to "HELP" you out.
<span style="color: #037b55;">Harmoni Elliot - Housing Coordinator</span>

Harmoni Elliot - Housing Coordinator

Aloha!  I was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu.  I have two undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Japanese from Pacific University in Oregon.  I also have a Japan-focused Masters in Business Administration (JEMBA) from University of Hawaii’s Shidler College of Business Administration.  I have lived in Japan for a total of four years and have spent some time traveling throughout Asia. I love interacting with people from all parts of the world and welcoming them to my home here in Hawaii.  I also enjoy spending time with my family, going to the beach, sports, traveling and reading.  Come join the fun and learning here at HELP!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Grace Choi - Instructor</span>

Grace Choi - Instructor

I am originally from Korea, and I have lived in Hawaii for 10 years. I got my MA in Second Language Studies with a specialization in second language acquisition in 2005 and the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies (AGC) in 2006 from UH. I have taught English at HELP since 2004, and I really feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful program. In my free time, I like to spend time with my family and go to different places of Hawaii. Hawaii is a perfect place to live and HELP is in the center of Hawaii. Please come join us and become a part of our HELP family.
<span style="color: #037b55;">Sandra Iwamura - Instructor</span>

Sandra Iwamura - Instructor

I was born and raised in Honolulu, HI. I graduated from the University of Hawaii and have a Bachelor's degree in Asian Studies and TESL. After graduating from UH, I got a chance to work in Japan for 3 years, specifically in Saga Prefecture. It was a great experience to work in a foreign country! I've had many jobs in my life, but teaching English is the most rewarding because of all the great friendships I've made throughout the years! Sports is my passion, but I also enjoy doing yard work and eating! Running and soccer are my favorite things to do on the weekend! I'm proud to call Hawaii my home and would love to share it with you someday at HELP!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Mari Miyao - Instructor</span>

Mari Miyao - Instructor

I grew up in Shiga, Japan, which is known for the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa, and the 400- year-old Hikone Castle. I liked running when I was in elementary school, but in junior high school and high school, I enjoyed playing the clarinet in the school brass bands. Later, I moved to Nagoya to attend a university, where I majored in British and American Studies. In addition to the study, I spent a lot of time in the university symphony orchestra. Immediately after graduation, I moved to Hawaii to study English and language teaching and acquisition. I have been teaching at HELP since 2008, and at UH, I am currently working on my PhD dissertation on second language learners’ comprehension and production mechanisms. I love to go to UH sports games, go running, play tennis, listen to symphony music, play the ukulele, and read research papers and newspapers. I hope to see you all at HELP and have fun together on this beautiful island!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Micah Pexa - Instructor</span>

Micah Pexa - Instructor

Hello! My name is Micah Pexa and I am originally from the Big Island of Hawaii. I enjoy traveling, and have spent several years backpacking, working, teaching, and living overseas. I picked up my first teaching job in Chiang Rai, Thailand back in 1998 and enjoyed it so much that I came back to school at UH Manoa and did my BA in SLS, graduating in 2002. Later, I moved to Japan and taught English at Yoshida High School in Shizuoka prefecture for 3 years on the JET Program. After a fantastic experience there, I decided to come back to UH Manoa and do my MA in SLS, graduating in 2012. Most recently, I also completed the CELTA teacher-training course here at HELP. I have been teaching at HELP on and off since 2009, and am happy to be back and part of the family once again! My favorite thing about being a teacher here at HELP is getting to know all the amazing students from all over the world. I love helping the students grow academically, as well as leading them on various activities and events to help them gain valuable life experience while they are on their adventure here in Hawaii!  In my free time, I love hiking, bodyboarding, playing basketball, doing adventure sports, and watching sports live and on TV. Come join our HELP 'ohana and let us help you fulfill your academic and personal dreams!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Eunseok Ro - Instructor</span>

Eunseok Ro - Instructor

I was born and raised in Korea most of my life time. However, I lived in Australia for four years when I was young and I stayed in New York for about two years before coming to Hawai’i. In New York, I taught English to ESOL learners and got my Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. I am currently in a PhD program in Second Language Studies at University of Hawai’i at Manoa. My research interest is in second language pedagogy and second language reading, particularly extensive reading. So if anyone is interested or wants to talk about how reading for pleasure can be beneficial in learning second language, let me know. We will have lots to talk about! At HELP, I teach grammar which I enjoy very much. In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies, listen to music and travel around. Come join us here at HELP and let us “HELP” you fulfill your goals and dreams!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Rick Schoonmaker - Instructor</span>

Rick Schoonmaker - Instructor

I grew up in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the Carolinas in the southeastern United States. I was raised in a musical family, and the arts have always been an important part of my life. I have a bachelor's degree in art, but after graduating from college, I moved to southern Japan and taught English for five years before coming to Hawaii. In total, I have taught English to speakers of other languages for about eight years. I enjoy making friends, making music, making art, teaching English, and studying foreign languages. I feel most satisfied when I am surrounded by nature, engrossed in a good book or movie, or traveling to an exotic place. I am married and try to spend as much time as possible with my wife. I look forward to meeting everyone who studies at HELP. I care about my students, and I want to help them to achieve their goals and dreams.
<span style="color: #037b55;">Hami Suzuki - Instructor</span>

Hami Suzuki - Instructor

Hi everyone! I am originally from Japan, but I have been living in different countries for more than half of my life. I lived in Hawaii, Finland, California, and Japan. I received my B.A. at Sophia University in Japan, and I am currently pursuing my M.A. in Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In my free time, I like to travel, exercise, read books, and cook. I taught English in Japan for a few years to different age groups. I have been teaching at HELP since 2012, and I feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with the HELP Ohana. I love teaching English and helping students pursue their goals. As a teacher, I hope to inspire students to enjoy learning and seek knowledge throughout their lives. If you are interested in learning English, please come and join the HELP Ohana! The teachers and staff members are always passionate and eager to help you. I look forward to meeting you!
<span style="color: #037b55;">Jay Tanaka - Instructor</span>

Jay Tanaka - Instructor

I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai'i. I have a master's degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and the Japan-America Institute of Management Science. I am currently a master's candidate in Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai'i. I have taught English as a second language and Business English for 6 years in Japan and in Hawaii. My research area is lexical coverage, which deals with how vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension are related in various situations. I especially enjoy teaching reading, but I am currently teaching an academic writing class at HELP and having a wonderful time! I love all things tennis. I have been to the U.S. Open in New York and I hope to one day see Wimbledon. You could say it is my dream! My message to prospective students:  HELP is a place where you can study hard and enjoy the blessings of the clear sky and blue Hawaiian ocean everyday!
 Office Staff:

Office Staff:

  Danielle Choate / Saeka Tanabe / William Wainwright