PROJECT PERSONNEL

Directors

Program Director

Janis Jensen
Michael Searson

Technology Director

Janis Jensen is Director of STARTALK Language Programs at Kean University. She formerly served as State Coordinator of World Languages and International Education and Director of the Office of Academic Standards and Professional Development at the NJ Department of Education. She recently served on the STARTALK STELLA Taskforce and as an Advisory Board Member for the Rutgers Teaching the World Fellowship Program. Ms. Jensen is also an Advisory Board Member for Advance Learning, the NJ League of Global Scholars, the National Foreign Language Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Asia Society’s Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network (CELIN). She is past president of the National Network for Early Language Learning, the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages and the NJ Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dr. Michael Searson is Executive Director for the School for Global Education & Innovation at Kean University where he administers a unique program that focuses on global education, innovative pedagogies, world languages and cutting-edge learning technologies. At Kean, he has served as Executive Director, Center for External Education & Development, Acting Dean, College of Education, Executive Assistant to the President and Professor and Chairperson, Department of Early Childhood Education. During the course of his career, he has authored or co-authored over $10 million (USD) of grants that focus primarily on innovative integration of technologies into educational settings. He is past-president of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). Professional activities also include collaborative partnerships with local, national and international colleagues and organizations, including UNESCO.

Instructors

Nita Yajnik

Lead Hindi Instrutor

Hindi Instrutor

Rashmi Gupta

Nita Yajnik possesses a Master's degree in Hindi Literature and Linguistics and holds certification as a New Jersey teacher of Hindi and ESL and as an ACTFL OPI tester. She is currently teaching Hindi as an adjunct at St. John’s College and ESL in the elementary grades in the Orange, NJ School District. She formerly taught Hindi at the secondary level in the Edison PS District. Ms. Yajnik has also worked as Coordinator for the 2010 Hindi STARTALK Teacher Program at NYU, as Lead Instructor for the 2010-11 West Windsor-Plainsboro Hindi STARTALK Student Program, and as Lead Hindi Instructor for the 2012-15 Kean STARTALK Student Program, in addition serving as a member of Kean adjunct staff.

  Rashmi Gupta possesses a Master's degree in Hindi Literature and Linguistics. She also holds certifications as an Oral Proficiency Interview tester and rater for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. She has worked as an Instructor for STARTALK Student Hindi Programs in  Somerset, and West Windsor-Plainsboro New Jersey from 2009-2011 and 2015-2016. She has also worked as a Novice level Lead Instructor for the Kean STARTALK Student Program in 2010-2011 and as a Lead Instructor for STARTALK Programs in 

Bensalem and Hatfield, Pennsylvania from

2012 -2014.   

Lead Urdu Instructor

Romeena Kureishy

Romeena Kureishy works as an Independent Urdu Specialist for the American Councils for International Education has been the Urdu specialist at the NYU STARTALK Urdu Hindi ​T​eacher ​T​raining ​P​rogram since 2015. She is also involved with non-profit organizations promoting South Asian art and culture in the Tri-State area. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Karachi University and is currently enrolled in the MA Urdu program at University of Karachi, Pakistan. Ms. Kureishy previously served as instructor, lead instructor and Program Director of the University of Pennsylvania STARTALK Urdu Program over a period of five years. She also taught Beginner and Intermediate Urdu courses in 2010 at UPenn as an adjunct instructor. As a lifelong learner and passionate teacher of Urdu, she has attended numerous seminars and workshops on various language education topics. She has extensive experience in curriculum design for heritage and non- heritage learners and teacher training.