Meet teachers and International Study Center staff

James Madison University International Study Center teachers and administrative staff will support and guide you through your US university experience. Meet our full-time faculty: 

Adam Copeland Center DirectorAdam Copeland

Center Director

Qualifications: MA TESOL, University of Alabama

"Prior to working at the ISC, I taught for the English Language Institute at the University of Alabama. I have also taught on the English Days program at Walt Disney World during two summers, as well as directed a study-vacation program in Boston in the summer of 2008. Originally from northwest Alabama, I've lived in Fortaleza, Brazil, Nashville, and San Antonio. I love the Spurs (San Antonio's basketball team), the Braves (Atlanta's baseball team), the Titans (Tennessee's American football team), and the Crimson Tide (sports teams at the University of Alabama), and not necessarily in that order!

I enjoy helping international students learn about the cultures at James Madison University and in the United States. I provide support for students, from academic planning to questions about how to plan a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. I look forward to meeting you on campus!"


Julie Meirose Center Administrator

Julie Meirose

Center Administrator

Qualifications: MS Management, Florida Institute of Technology

"Before joining James Madison University, I was the Assistant to the Head of School at the Massanutten Military Academy. I enjoy working with students of all ages and from all places. I help students with their housing, their food, and their transportation. I want to make sure each student has a great experience here at ISC.

I have traveled and lived all over the world, but my favorite places to visit are London and Crete. When not at my desk, I am most likely shopping or resting at Starbucks.

My top tip for enjoying life at JMU is to make as many friends as possible...everyone has something unique to bring to the table."


John Niblett, English teacher

John Niblett

English instructor/Academic Director for Content

Qualifications: Undergraduate studies at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec and Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland; MA Reading Specialist, Towson University

"My path to the ISC at James Madison University led through Japan, where I participated in the Japan Memorial Fund program, Bogota, Colombia, where I taught English, and Harford County, Maryland, where I was a mentor to new and veteran teachers. I’ve also traveled throughout the UK on several occasions with lengthy stays in Leeds, London, and villages to the south of London such as Odiham and Bentworth.

The thing I like most about international education at the ISC is the daily experience of working with some of the brightest students from many cultures around the world. With the active minds in my classrooms, there are plenty of opportunities for all of us to consider many interesting perspectives on lots of ideas and to exercise our critical and creative thinking. Every day I’ve taught in the ISC has been another opportunity to learn something new or to think about something in a new way.

A few of my interests are playing guitar, outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing, making and eating foods from many cultures, and keeping up with international news. So, I’m always up for learning something new on the guitar, taking a walk, sharing food ideas, or a good conversation about what’s happening in the world, perhaps while playing a game of chess or Scrabble."


Andrea Beard, English teacher

Andrea Beard

Academic Director of English Language and Study Skills

Qualifications: MA Applied Linguistics/TESOL, Ohio University

"I have been a teacher for over 18 years, and for the past 11 of those years I have been an ESL teacher. Though I have taught students from many backgrounds, international students are my favorite student group to teach, because they can bring knowledge, experiences, and ways of thinking from all over the globe. I feel like I can travel the world inside one classroom on any given day. I also like teaching in an ESL program because I know that I am providing help and guidance that people need in order to achieve their goals.

I am originally from Kentucky, and have lived among the Appalachian Mountains most of my life. Although I have only lived in Virginia for about three years, I love it and think it's one of the most beautiful states in the US. My husband and I have two young children, and I learn something new from them every day! I enjoy reading, gardening, jewelry design, science fiction films and TV shows, and discussing social and political issues. I also love words and language, and hope to study and learn as many languages as possible in my lifetime."


Hong Embree, English teacher

Hong Embree

Instructor of English Language and Study Skills

Qualifications: BA English Teaching Methodology, Sichuan Teachers' University, China; MSEd Adult Education/Human Resource Development, James Madison University

"I love teaching the international students because I was one of them! I want to help them adjust to an American style college life, help them to be confident English learners and help them to be well-prepared for second year placement into a James Madison University bachelor's or master's degree. Before joining the International Study Center in the fall 2011, I was an English teacher for 5 years at the Career Development Academy (CDA) at JMU. Prior to that, I worked as a graduate assistant in the ESL Program while I earned my master's degree in Adult Education/Human Resource Development at JMU. I taught two TESL courses each semester, updated and briefed the coordinator on the program progresses and also helped complete research on Regional Needs Assessment in the ESL field.

I originally came to the US as a visiting scholar to Eastern Mennonite University when I was an assistant professor in Chongqing University of Medical Sciences, China, around 10 years ago. Life is beautiful! I enjoy gardening in summer time and doing cross-stitch patterns in winter time but I have a passion for swimming and yoga all year around."


Joyce Risse-Rodriguez, Admissions Manager

Joyce Risse-Rodriguez

Admissions Manager

Qualifications: BS Business Administration - Marketing, Montana State University

"I worked many years in the field of corporate and international business marketing in Montana, New York City, and Pforzheim, Germany. I spent three years as a TEFL instructor teaching business English and conversational English to children and adult learners in Suwon and Seoul, South Korea. During this time I also served as the interim English editor for The Korean Herald, the bilingual newspaper in Seoul.

I am a native of New York, yet grew up spending most of my youth in Montana, Texas and Florida. I have traveled extensively throughout Western Europe and Asia. I enjoyed tremendously studying the cultures, customs, economics, religions and languages of these many wonderful countries.

Prior to joining Study Group, I was most recently employed as an on-line English Language Peer with the Korean, German, Italian, and Central and South American Spanish language communities.

I look forward to facilitating smooth placements for international students at James Madison University. My wish is that all students may enjoy rich, rewarding and successful international educational experiences."


University teaching staff

In addition to the dedicated ISC tutors, several professors from JMU teach academic courses to International Year One students. James Madison University faculty who frequently teach at the ISC include:

  • Ramon Mata-Toledo (Math)
  • Hillary Wing-Richards (Psychology)
  • Arthur Lee (Computer Science)
  • Norm Mailhot
  • Nasser Alsaadun (Grammar)