By now you likely know a little bit about the instructor of your group, but it’s time to learn about the rest of the STARTALK Russian team. Keep in mind, every member of this team works hard to create fun and productive learning environments, and each of them loves watching their students learn and grow. We’ll begin with the program director, Dr. Alla Kourova:

Dr. Alla Kourova is the program director for STARTALK at UCF. She has held this position since 2015. She is also an associate professor of Russian and TESOL at UCF. In her free time, she enjoys cooking traditional Russian food and playing Piano.

Next, Irina Pidberejna:

Irina Pidberejna is the instructor for the advanced Russian group. She has been with STARTALK since 2017, and began by teaching the Novice Russian group. She loves learning languages and helping students their linguistic passion.

Now, let’s introduce Michelle Verbitskaya:

Michelle Verbitskaya is the instructor for the Russian Novice group. Since 2018, Michelle has been with STARTALK, first as a teaching assistant and now as an instructor. Aside from having a passion for teaching which shines in the classroom, Michelle’s interests include weight lifting, knitting, ice skating, and Russian Futurist poetry.

Now, Yulia Dochtchennikov:

Yulia Dochtchennikov is the instructor for the Russian High School group. She has been with STARTALK since 2019, where she began as the instructor for the Russian Novice group. She also teaches at a Montessori school in Orlando. In addition to Russian and English, Yulia also knows some Hebrew.

Next is Sean Skillings:

Sean is the lead teaching assistant for the STARTALK Russian groups. He has been a teaching assistant for STARTALK since 2019, and was previously a student in the Russian Novice group in 2017. Currently, Sean is pursuing a Master’s degree in Political Science at UCF. In his spare time, he enjoys weightlifting, Rocket League, and playing/watching Baseball and Soccer (favorite teams are the Red Sox and Tottenham Hotspur).

Now, let’s introduce JP Vicens:

JP Vicens was a student in the STARTALK Russian Novice group in 2019 and is currently a teaching assistant. Since 2019, he has taken four semesters of Russian language classes at UCF, and his Russian skills, both in speaking and writing, have progressed tremendously. He loves traveling and meeting people from different countries and backgrounds.

Last but not least, Sasha Vargas:

Sasha Vargas is a teaching assistant for the STARTALK Russian groups. As someone who sings opera, she has a special gift for music, so naturally she is leading the way with teaching students how to sing various Russian songs. Currently, she is teaching students how to sing Если с Другом Вышел в Путь. Sasha is also a great artist, and painted the beautiful picture in the background of this photo.

What questions do you have for our STARTALK Russian team?