Meet Our Trainers

Nearly every day someone reaches out to the Literacy Program to ask about learning English. Some want to get a job, advance their career, or to be able to talk with their child’s teacher. Our goal is to connect these motivated adults with a volunteer tutor.

Tutors impart more than English. They provide a wealth of information about how life works in Santa Cruz County. They may assist students in gaining the basic skills to go shopping, engage socially, navigate the local landscape, or they may provide insight about work norms. In addition, our tutors provide the basic training for students to further their education and to obtain citizenship.


The Skills You Need to Succeed

We are fortunate to have a group of incredibly skilled volunteers who have led the charge in designing, refining, and enhancing our training curriculum over the years.  Together they pave the way, instill confidence and provide the teaching tools for the success of hundreds of volunteer tutors.

We invite you to meet our Volunteer Tutor Trainers.

Tutor Trainers 2021

"After retiring, I missed the camaraderie and sense of purpose that I had enjoyed as a teacher. When I joined the Literacy Program, I found not only that but also a deep sense of personal satisfaction in working with my students."

Claire Castagna – Volunteer Trainer

Claire joined the Literacy Program in 2014. She has tutored students at the beginning and early intermediate levels. With an extensive background teaching second language learners and in providing professional development for teachers, Claire is very excited about joining the training team.

Before retiring from public education in June of 2014, Claire’s 36 years as an educator included being an elementary bilingual teacher and mentor teacher, principal, mentor principal and most recently assistant superintendent for instruction. She earned her Master’s degree in Linguistics as well as her TESOL Certificate from Cal State Long Beach. She also has a certificate of Competence in Bilingual Bicultural Education and teaching credentials in Elementary Multiple Subjects and Secondary Spanish.

“I completed my Master’s degree in linguistics thinking I would travel the world teaching English. But life took me in a different direction. Now that I’ve retired, I finally get to live my dream of teaching English as a Second Language to adults for the pure pleasure of engaging in the teaching and learning process. Utilizing my professional background as part of the Training Team is an added bonus. I couldn’t be happier to be actively involved in the Literacy Program.”

Claire can be reached at or (408) 507-3252

"I wanted to continue teaching and thought working with adult literacy would be challenging and interesting. I had no idea how rewarding and satisfying it would be. I have learned so much from my students about their lives, tradition, and their countries."

Dennis Cavaille – Volunteer Trainer

Dennis has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1987. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in Math at UC Davis and later his Master’s Degree in French at UC Santa Barbara.
He lives in Europe for 6 years where he taught English, Math Physics and Skiing.
When he came back to California he taught at a private school in Plumas County where he met his wife.

When he moved to Santa Cruz he taught Math, and Physics at the York School in Monterey and then Math and French at San Lorenzo Valley High School where his Wife taught Spanish.
Dennis and his wife like to travel specially to French and Spanish speaking Countries and have often taken their students on exchanges to these Countries.

They both have been tutoring at the Literacy Program for the pass 5 years. Dennis can be reached at or (831)335-2359

"The Literacy Program has brought me the opportunity to get back into teaching ESL, which I find extremely fulfilling. In addition, I am able to use my life experience to serve as an ambassador of US culture and hopefully will smooth the way a bit for my students."

Katie Musitelli– Volunteer Trainer

Katie joined the Literacy Program in 2015. She was paired with an advanced student and continues today with that same student. In addition to tutoring, Katie has given workshops on pronunciation for tutors.
Katie started her career in Santa Cruz City Schools in 1983 and retired in 2015. She initially was an elementary bilingual classroom teacher but after a few years went back to school to get her Master’s in speech/language pathology from San Jose State University. As a speech/language pathologist she worked mainly with Spanish speaking students from preschool to high school during her 32 years with Santa Cruz City Schools.

“The Literacy Program has been a great opportunity to engage with adults who are motivated and excited about learning English. You are able to connect with an organization and people that really can make a difference in the life of someone who wants to learn to speak, read and write English. It is rewarding as well as fun.”

Katie can be reached at or (831) 818-8511

“I completed my Master’s degree in linguistics thinking  I would travel the world teaching English.  But life took me in a different direction. Now that I’ve retired, I finally get to live my dream of teaching English as a Second Language to adults for the pleasure of engaging in the learning process.”