ESL and EngM Faculty

Department Chair

Photo of Karen HarrisonKaren Harrison

I graduated from Ventura College with my A.A. degree in 1991, and then went on to the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) to earn my B.A. degree in 1993. I became a substitute teacher after that to try teaching. I spent two years teaching kindergarten through 12th grade and enjoyed it very much. Then, I got a night job teaching ESL at Oxnard Adult Education, and I fell in love with the job. That was in 1995, and I have been teaching English as another language since then. I went on to get my M.A degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Azusa University in 2001. After I earned my M.A. I began teaching at the community college level. I taught at College of the Canyons, Los Angeles Mission College, Glendale Community College, and Ventura College. In 2004 I was offered a full-time position at Ventura College, and have been here ever since. I have taught every level, and most skills and have found all of the students to be wonderful. I cannot imagine a better job.

Adjunct Faculty

Photo of Mai AckermanMai Ackerman
Mai Ackerman has been teaching English as a Second Language for over 17 years. She has a Master's degree in TESOL. In addition to teaching at Ventura College, she is also an adjunct instructor at Los Angeles Mission College in the credit and noncredit ESL programs. She is married and has three children. she was originally born in Vietnam, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1975. In her free time, Mai enjoys reading and taking walks with her basset hound, Forrest.


Leila Benoun
I have been teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language since 2011 in the United States and Thailand. I earned a B.A. degree in English with a minor in Linguistics from the University of California, Irvine and a M.A. degree in TESOL from California State University, Northridge. I have worked with students of various backgrounds and language levels. Having experienced living abroad myself, I am sensitive to the challenges of learning a new language, cultural differences, and the importance of being part of a supportive community in order to thrive. I am dedicated to academically and socially guiding the students to ensure their future success.
In addition to my passion for languages and travel, I enjoy being in nature, taking care of animals, and spending time with friends and family.

Photo of Gardy
Gardy Borromeo Cruz

I graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master's of Arts in Teaching, TESOL. I am TESOL certified with an experience of teaching ESL for over four years. I began teaching ESL abroad in 2013 right after I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Biology from the California State University, Channel Islands. I have taught primary, secondary, and university students from South Korea, Turkey, and Japan. I have also taught English courses to international students for The Language Academy here in the United States. Helping people achieve their academic goals makes teaching truly enjoyable and rewarding. On my spare time, I enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people because it gives me the opportunities to learn about different cultures and lifestyles.

Photo of Pamela FetterPamela Fetter

I have been teaching ESL for 14 years. I began teaching in Barcelona, Spain in 2002. Since then, I have taught at various schools around California in Berkeley, Oakland, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and Ventura.  I have a Bachelor's Degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University and a Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and Applied Linguistics from Cal State University Northridge. I have also studied Photography and Graphic Design. When I am not teaching, I love hiking, camping, kayaking, photography, music, reading, writing poetry and short stories, and dancing as much as I can!

Photo of Jennifer OTooleJennifer O'Toole
Jennifer O'Toole has been teaching English as a Second Language for over 12 years. She has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics and a TESOL certification. Jennifer has taught at Ventura College since 2005. In addition to teaching in the credit and noncredit ESL departments, she is also an adjunct instructor in the English department at VC. Jennifer also teaches middle school full-time during the day. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing poetry, and taking long walks.

"Education is the one thing that no one can take from you." - B.B. King

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