Meet the Team

Madeleine Golda

Madeleine Golda, MBA, MAT,  is the Director of the English Language Institute at Sacred Heart University. She manages the Intensive English Language program (IEP). The IEP currently enjoys students from 18 different countries who study English for academic and professional purposes.  

Madeleine has an MBA in Information Systems and a Masters in Arts in Teaching and Curriculum from Fairfield University.

A native of Ireland, Madeleine immigrated to the United States 19 years ago and has enjoyed teaching ESL in many different school settings. Her research specialty is “Learning disabilities in the Adult ESL student”. This area of research is particularly difficult as a learning disability can be initially perceived as an ESL difficulty. There are pedagogical methods to distinguish between the two and there are successful ways to teach to address those challenges. Madeleine has also presented previously in the area of recruitment of ESL students, and how to address their particular cultural needs on the domestic US campus. 

Donna Tagliarino


Donna is an accomplished communications professional with over twenty years of experience in teaching, training and media production. She is passionate about helping people improve their lives by improving their communication skills.  Donna has worked with students and professionals at every level, from classrooms to corporate boardrooms, on their interpersonal communications and public speaking skills.  She loves working with people from all over the world.

Donna received her Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Fairfield University and her Bachelor of Science in Radio-TV-Film Production from the University of Texas.  She is currently working on obtaining Connecticut TESOL certification.

Originally from Austin, TX, Donna loves music, tennis, yoga and dogs of all kinds.  Her husband, Scott, is also a communications professional, and they have two children, Nicholas and Leah.

Marla Heath


Marla Heath, a graduate of Indiana University and the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts, brings to the ESL classroom an extensive music and performing arts background.  She is an accomplished performing artist and voice over actor.  From her years of experience as a performer and now as an effective instructor, Ms. Heath's first priority is to continue to encourage and motivate students through the learning process.  Currently, on the ESL Teaching Staff at Sacred Heart University and Norwalk Community College.

Noel Cleary


Noel has been an instructor in ELI since 2012 and has taught grammar, writing and pronunciation.

He has earned the following qualifications over the years: B.A. (English), M.A. (Teaching), MAT (Religious Studies), Higher Diploma in Education (Ireland), Diploma TEFL (Ireland) and PGC in TESOL (Scotland). He is also certified IELTS examiner.

He has taught ESL for many years in the U.S., Ireland, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at secondary, baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels, and in industry and the military.

He is married, has 3 children and 6 grandchildren and likes to hike, run, swim and play tennis. 

Lisa Newman

Lisa Newman has been an instructor in the ESL program since 2012 and currently serves as Director of the Online ESL program, which she launched for the English Language Institute in 2013. Read more about the online ESL program.

Lisa earned her Master of Arts in English Education from the University of Connecticut and her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Rhode Island. She has taught secondary English in the Connecticut public schools since 2004 and English and composition at Norwalk Community College since 2007.

With additional experience in technology and web design, Lisa is passionate about educational technology, social media, and online education. She is excited to utilize this background to oversee the growth of online learning at the English Language Institute.

Lisa is also a proud mom to her two children. She enjoys reading, traveling with her husband, spending time outdoors and learning about different people and cultures. 

Matthew Kaye, Ph.D.

Director of volunteer programs & service learning Matthew Kaye, Ph.D. Matthew brings to his role at Sacred Heart University extensive experience in the training and supervision of volunteers, international development, as well as collaboration with faculty and organizations in the area of service learning.  Prior to coming to Sacred Heart University, Matthew held positions with the United States Peace Corps, College of Education at the University of Florida, and the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Tess, moved to Connecticut from Gainesville, Florida.

Professionally, Matthew is focused on social justice issues faced by disenfranchised communities and undergraduate student development through academically oriented reflection.  He is very interested in providing SHU students with international experiences that address social and educational inequalities.  Most recently, his research focused on educational access for Haitian students in the Dominican Republic since the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  His academic interests include critical race theory, critical pedagogy and cross-cultural communications.  Matthew has presented at conferences nationally and internationally on topics such as critical pedagogy, English language acquisition and international development.

David Bedell

David Bedell

David has been an instructor in the ESL program since 2012. He has a Master of Arts in TESOL and a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics with Computer Applications. He began his career as an English teacher in China and over the years has taught ESL in colleges and adult education programs in Connecticut, Alabama, and Kansas. He is especially interested in helping students to develop and appreciate multiple learning strategies.

In addition to ESL, David has worked in the field of global health, and, as a Connecticut Justice of the Peace, he performs wedding ceremonies (often for international couples). He serves on the board of Teachers Against Prejudice, a grassroots organization promoting understanding and respect for all.

Jon De Benedictis

Jon De Benedictis is a Recruiter/Admissions Coordinator for University College, the part-time undergraduate studies program at Sacred Heart University.  For more than a decade, he has taught English, writing, and public speaking to students of all ages.  Jon has presented at conferences for UPCEA (University Professional Continuing Education Association) and CONNTESOL (Connecticut Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) on the importance of recruiting a culturally-diverse student body and the significance of preparing ESL students for academic success in the United States.  As a writer, Jon’s articles on higher education have appeared in La Tribuna CT and The Haitian Voice of Connecticut have been published in five different languages.  Jon is a two-time alumnus of Sacred Heart University, where he holds an MA in Communications and a BA in Media Studies.  

Virginia Stephens

Virginia Stephens

Virginia Stephens is a former corporate manager for commodities and telecommunications firms.  Ms. Stephens is currently Director GE Foundation Scholars Program at Sacred Heart University, where she also serves as ESL Adjunct Instructor.  She holds a MBA from the University of Connecticut, Graduate Certificate in Adult TESOL, and Connecticut Educator Certification.   Ms. Stephens has over fifteen years of experience as an ESL instructor.  With a commitment to student achievement and success she has supported language learners in adult education, community college, and university programs. It is her firm belief that the ESL classroom is a wonderful setting for both student and teacher to grow in their knowledge of language and world cultures.

Richard Bruce Stirling

Richard Bruce Stirling

Professor Stirling is a TOEFL expert with five TOEFL books in print, one of which has been translated into Chinese. His business texts include Don’t Bury the Message, Speaking and Writing Strategies for Business Professionals. Professor Stirling has taught at the University of Connecticut, Southern Connecticut State University, and at the University of New Haven. His latest TOEFL book, No Time for TOEFL! will be published in the summer of 2015.

Jeanine De-Falco

Jeanine De-Falco

Currently a Doctoral Research Fellow in Cognitive Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, working for Dr. Ryan S.J.d. Baker. Jeanine holds a Masters in Educational Theatre, Colleges and Communities, from the Steinhardt School, New York University (2012), and a Masters in Drama Studies from Johns Hopkins University (1997). She is an alumna of the Actors Theatre of Louisville's intern program (1997), having studied directing with founding Artistic Director, Jon Jory.

In addition to teaching ESL at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, Jeanine is working with the Army Research Lab and Dr. James Lester's lab at North Carolina State University on the effect of affect while engaged in computer based tutors and simulated training in care under fire and tactical field care. Her areas of interest in research include exploring the notions of embodied cognition and surrogate embodied cognition; using educational theatre to support game based, simulated learning and develop socio-emotional literacy and reading comprehension; college readiness and urban teen involvement in after school drama programs to support cognitive skills necessary for college attainment and success.

At NYU, she studied Educational theatre and English. While at NYU, she created an after-school program in Process Drama for children with special needs at Villa Marie School in Stamford, CT. Jeanine also developed programming and workshops for the Fairfield County community at the Fairfield Museum and Historical Center, including an 10 minute play festival promoting the works for established and emerging playwrights in the greater tri-state area.

Jeanine's areas of expertise in the arts/humanities include modern dramatic literature, Shakespeare, American and African American literature, literature for adolescents, 18th century & medieval literature including Chaucer. As a dramaturge, she has developed new plays for local and professional theaters and playwrights; as a director she has staged works locally, in NYC, and regionally. Jeanine's experience in the theatre includes working as the Artistic Director of Falcon Repertory Company, Inc., a non-profit theatre and film company that she co-founded in 2008.