• Diamond
    We believe every child is a diamond; Precious, Beautiful, and Tough. 


    Lea Bellon - Director of Instructional Programs

    Velma Johnson - Director of Federal Programs

    Crystal T. Wade - ESL Coordinator

    2020- 2021 ESL Department Staff


    Glenda Cilliers

    Gulfport High




    GLENDA CILLIERS:  Mrs. Glenda Cilliers graduated with an Accounting degree from her home country of Honduras, after which she pursued a degree from William Carey University with concentrations in English, Social Studies, and Spanish. Mrs. Cilliers began working for Gulfport School District 16 years ago in the Spanish Program as the program leader. With this program, she had the opportunity to be a trainer of five districts across the state of Mississippi, including Oxford, Greenville, Gulfport, Pascagoula, and Poplarville. Mrs. Cilliers has had the honor to present at MFLA, AMTESOL, and SETESOL. Since 2010, she has been working in the ESL program where she has taught K-12th grade.

    Cruz Lara

    Alicia Cruz Lara

    Bayou View Elementary

    Central Elementary

    28th Street Elementary

    ALICIA CRUZ LARA:  Mrs. Alicia Cruz Lara serves as an ESL teacher at both Anniston Avenue Elementary and Bayou View Elementary. She is from Poplarville, MS and has been living in Gulfport for seven years, where she spent the past three years working in education as a substitute teacher. This year Mrs. Cruz Lara was named Parent of the Year for Central Elementary School. She loves musicals, and her favorite one is “Man of La Mancha”. Mrs. Cruz Lara has also been taking care of the ESL class fish since the schools shifted to online and distance learning. She is happy to report that Taco The Fish is doing well!


    Dara Frost

    Anniston Avenue Elementary




    DARA FROST: Dara Frost began her career with Gulfport School District as a kindergarten assistant at her beloved childhood school, 28thStreet Elementary.  There she was the third generation of Frost to service the students of 28th Street Elementary.  Coming from a diverse family of immigrants, Miss Frost is proud to currently serve as an ESL teacher at Anniston Avenue Elementary.  


    Mariah Johnson

    Gulfport Central Middle

    Bayou View Middle



    MARIAH JOHNSON:  Mrs. Mariah Johnson serves as an ESL teacher in the Gulfport School District. She spent her early childhood growing up in the mountains of Jamaica before relocating to Mississippi. Mrs. Johnson has a passion for learning, which has led to her receiving two bachelor's degrees, one in International Business and the other in Spanish, along with receiving her master's degree in Teaching Languages with an Emphasis in Spanish all from The University of Southern Mississippi. Mrs. Johnson has served in education for five years where she currently works as ESL teacher. Mrs. Johnson combines her love for different cultures, history, and traveling and channels this energy and passion to her students. When she is not in the classroom, she spends her time attempting to conquer her wanderlust by traveling and lives firmly by the quote, "You never know until you go."


    Abygail Thorpe

    West Elementary

    Pass Road Elementary



    ABYGAIL THORPE: Ms. Thorpe serves at West Elementary School as an ESL teacher. She was born on Grand Forks Airforce Base in North Dakota, but she considers Washington her home state. Moving around so often throughout her childhood caused her to be passionate about travel, language learning, and intercultural communications. And as the fourth oldest of twelve siblings, she has a heart for teaching young children! Having always been passionate about language education, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education and a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. In her free time, she loves reading, learning, and creative writing. 


    Crystal T. Wade

    ESL Coordinator





    CRYSTAL T. WADE:  Ms. Wade was born in Madrid, Spain to two Air Force veterans from Arizona and Tennessee.  In her early childhood she lived in San Diego, California and Reno, Nevada. Later, from 6th grade to 11th grade, she moved to Cairo, Egypt.  Her senior year she relocated to Ohio and attended The Ohio State University where she attained a dual major in Communication Analysis and Practice along with Spanish Linguistics. In 2009, she joined the Teach for America organization and began her career in Greenwood, Mississippi. Since then, she has had the opportunity to work in various schools across the state in various capacities.  She is excited to call Gulfport home.   Ms. Wade holds three core beliefs:

    • Every person has value.
    • Education has the power to transform lives.
    • Reading provides access and opportunity.

    Ms. Wade is passionate about serving children as the Gulfport School District's ESL Coordinator and should you need anything do not hesitate to contact her at crystal.wade@gulfportschools.org or 228-865-4600.