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!

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!

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!

Kimberly Imamura – Registrar & Front 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 with a minor in Japanese. I am currently working towards a MEd in Educational Administration for Higher Education. For three years, I was 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, and 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.

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!

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 PhD 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!

Carrie Bach – Instructor

I was born in Seattle, Washington, the land of Starbucks and rain. I still love both of those things, although I’m trying to drink less coffee. I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in Linguistics and Psychology. Aside from Seattle, I’ve lived in New Jersey (next to New York City) and Tennessee (in the middle of the US), as well as briefly in Germany, Canada, and South Korea. I’m happy to be in Hawaii now, where I’m pursuing my master’s in Second Language Studies. I have a Teaching English as a Second Language certificate from a university in Seattle, but have spent most of the past 10 years teaching and tutoring standardized tests, English, and even math! In my free time, I’m studying Korean, learning yoga, and trying to explore Hawaii.

Kristin Rock – Instructor

I was born in Santa Cruz, California, but I have lived in a number of different countries, including Guatemala, Jordan, Mexico and Spain! I have a master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College, and a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. I love traveling, and my education has given me the opportunity to teach English and Spanish both in the United States and abroad. Recently, I spent a year in Amman, Jordan as an English Language Fellow with the U.S. Department of State, and this summer I traveled to Mishima, Japan to teach an intensive English course at Nihon University. I truly enjoy learning and teaching languages, and I treasure the memories created inside the classroom and without. Here in Hawaii, I like to scuba dive, and I take time to enjoy the lovely Honolulu beaches and restaurants with my friends. I look forward to seeing you on campus!

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.

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!

Michael Bischoff – Instructor

Aloha! My hometown is Chicago, which is the third-largest city in the United States. It’s well-known for its extreme climate; the winters are very cold and the summers are very hot. Hawaii, on the other hand, is warm and pleasant all year! I enjoy travel, eating good food, enjoying the beautiful nature of Hawaii, and most of all I like to exercise and be fit. My favorite sport is triathlon, so you may see me swimming, bicycling, or running around the island! I came here in 2006 to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to get my bachelor’s degree, and after graduating in 2009 I moved to Japan for a one year to teach English. Teaching there was a wonderful experience, so I decided that I wanted to learn more about how to become a better teacher, and I got my master’s degree in second language studies. As a teacher at HELP, I love seeing my students succeed and reach their dreams. The rest of our teachers and staff are amazing and helpful people, so I hope that you will come join our wonderful ohana!

Marc Sakaguchi – Instructor

Hi! I was born and grew up in Hawaii, but spent nearly half my life in Japan and Australia, where I taught English and academic/research literacies at several high schools and universities. Now I’m really happy to be back on Oahu and teaching at HELP! I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years and have a master’s degree (MA) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Columbia University. I’m currently a PhD candidate in Education at the University of Technology Sydney. My research is in linguistics and my focus is on how language affects the development of a cooperative relationship between police or FBI agents and subjects in crisis or hostage negotiation incidents (like suicide attempts or bank robberies). Come and ask me about it sometime! Other than teaching and studying, I really enjoy the warm sunshine of Hawaii, so let’s play sports, go hiking, or go to the beach together!

Mike Brown – Instructor

I started teaching at HELP in the summer of 2014. I have taught grammar, listening and speaking, TOEFL reading, and am now teaching American Culture classes. I am originally from a small town in northern Michigan. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio), a Master of Arts in TESOL from the University of Southern California (USC), and I am completing my second year working toward a Doctorate of Education from USC. Also, I have just started writing my dissertation, and I am enjoying the research! I am a veteran of the U.S. Navy. I have lived in Europe and Asia and have traveled to more than 30 countries. I love learning languages, and teaching international students. My advice for students is to challenge yourselves and to have fun! By reading English materials, and noticing grammar structures while also learning new vocabulary words, as well as practicing speaking English, students will improve their basic communicative and academic English skills – that is how you will improve!

Bella Lee – Instructor

Aloha! I’m originally from Taiwan where many high mountains, friendly people and delicious food reside. I have a master degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) from Hawaii Pacific University. I came to Hawaii to work for a summer in 2008 and fell in love with this beautiful land and active lifestyle. I decided to come back in 2009 to pursue my MA TESOL degree to help students even more effectively. I have been teaching more than 10 years, and I am also a published author in English Learning Books. I assure you, learning English can be so much fun! Traveling is my passion, I have been to several countries, including most countries in Europe, Costa Rica, Colombia, Canada and I have lived in several cities in the U.S. Here in Hawaii, I enjoy doing yoga, camping, hiking, fishing and just being outdoors. If you don’t mind getting a little bit tanned, come knock on my door, and we can brainstorm some fun activities together!

Julie Betz-Cabrera – Instructor

I was born and raised in New Jersey – where you can find the best pizza in America (in my opinion)! I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Montclair State University and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Connecticut. I began teaching at HELP after completing the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) program here. I’ve had the pleasure of serving college students for 10 years, in a variety of roles (my favorites being advisor and instructor). I’ve been inspired to work with international students since traveling to China during college. I was especially drawn to English teaching after living in Okinawa, Japan and traveling throughout Southeast Asia. Besides teaching, I love traveling, being outside (hiking or doing beach activities), reading, practicing yoga and learning about other cultures. Hawai’i is a beautiful place to live and HELP is a wonderful place to learn! You will definitely have a memorable experience here and I look forward to sharing part of your journey with you.

Winnie Tang – Instructor

I was born and raised in New York City, but claim roots in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. I received my undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College where I studied East Asian Studies with a specialization in History, Philosophy, and Chinese and my graduate degree in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. After graduate school, I moved to Hong Kong on a Fulbright fellowship to teach English. Ultimately, I spent nearly four exciting years teaching, traveling, and eating my way through most of Asia before I returned to North America. After one year in Vancouver, British Columbia and yet another in Portland, Oregon, my journey westward has landed me in Honolulu, Hawaii! I am very excited to embark on my tenth year working with college students and this east coaster feels very blessed to be teaching in paradise.

Front Office Staff

Haruka Saeki / Lexi Gilman / Lindsay Oki