Meet Our Staff!

Samanta Buffa was born in Modica, Italy, a Baroque city in south east Sicily, surrounded by the green hills of the Val di Noto. She studied Lettere Moderne (that is Italian Literature, Latin language and Literature, History of the Lingual Minorities, Linguistics etc.) in Catania and then she moved to Siena (Tuscany) for her master’s degree in “Teaching Italian to foreigners”.

Samanta focused on Italian as a second language, Intercultural pedagogy, while working for I.E.S. Abroad as Resident Assistant. She did her internship at the Italian Institute of Culture, in Melbourne (Australia), where she helped with the organization of the curricula, the promotion of the Italian culture with specific events, and teaching classes for almost five months.

In 2012 she won a national contest to work as a T.A. At Bucknell University, in Pennsylvania, where she taught both recitation and conversation classes, promoted the Italian culture with trips and cooking classes and participated at the Italian table to speak Italian with the students during lunch.

Since 2014, Samanta has been living in Columbus with her husband, working with Italia in Ohio on the curricula organization, teaching Advanced Italian, intensive summer language “boot camps”, one-on-one classes modeled on each student’s needs, and cooking classes for students to get a real “taste” of the Italian culture!

In 2018 Samanta introduced to Columbus her newborn son Leonardo who was greeted by scores of delighted American zie and zii, aunts and uncles. We are looking forward to her guiding our immersion study abroad program in Sicily.
Favorite place in Italy: La riserva dello Zingaro (TP)
Favorite food: Focacce con la cipolla
Favorite word: Pisolino!

Rosa Di Grottole was born in Basilicata, a small region in the south of Italy. When she was 10, she started studying Piano at Matera Conservatory. After a Scientific diploma, she moved to Tuscany to attend Art and History classes at University of Florence.

In this period she studied Italian Literature, Italian Language, History, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary Art. At the same time she continued her study of Piano at the Conservatory in Florence. In 2008 she graduated in History and Artistic Heritage, and she did an internship at Archivio Scala, a prestigious Photographic Archive in Florence, owner of the images of the world’s most important museum collections. In 2009 Rosa moved to Paris and studied at Sorbonne University for her thesis’s master’s degree on François-Xavier Fabre, a French painter who spent his all life in Florence. After her graduation in Art History in 2010, she studied as Turistic Guide of Tuscany and lived and worked for an event organization in Lucca, a beautiful gem close to Florence.

In February 2016, Rosa moved to Columbus because of her husband’s job and she has started a new adventure in the US! Since that time Rosa has added many new facets to her education, work experience, and life. Rosa has taught at The Ohio State University and currently teaches all levels of Italian at Columbus State University. Her ongoing studies include the French language and a program at La Cà Foscari di Venezia that will give her additional skills and an Executive Master’s in Didactics for the teaching of Italian Language and Culture to foreigners (ITALS).

At Italia in Ohio Rosa teaches Italian language and Art History, and she has led our language-immersion study abroad program in Tuscany and southern Italy. Not surprising, her favorite hobby is traveling…in Italy, in the US and all over the world!

Jacklyn Odoguardi was born and raised in Dublin, Ohio. She attended college at The Ohio State University where she studied Italian and Marketing, graduating with two bachelor’s degrees. In 2017, Jackie joined Italia in Ohio, LLC where she specializes in teaching Italian to adults and families with small children.

In 2017 Jackie joined Italia in Ohio, LLC where she specializes in teaching Italian to adults and families with small children

Ryane Sergent is a Romance Studies major with a minor in Linguistics at The Ohio State University. She is passionate about Italian language and culture and has been since she lived in northern Italy as a child. She has experience tutoring for high school foreign language classes and teaching in the language itself. She is currently working on a research project in bilingualism to graduate with research distinction in May 2020. 

Kelly Lombardo Mathews began studying Italian at Bishop Watterson High School. She continued her studies at the University of Dayton, and through UD she was able to spend a year in Rome to study at La Sapienza, and where she studied and served as a translator for a conclave of cardinals. Hosted by the Fondazione Comunità Domenico Tardini in Rome, she made many Italian friends and benefitted from a real immersion experience.

Back in the US, Kelly completed her master’s degree in Italian at The Ohio State University, taught as an Italian Instructor at the University of Mississippi, and led a study abroad program to Lecce (Puglia) and Salerno (Campania). Italia in Ohio, LLC came about as a result of the desire to make Italian language and authentic culture and more accessible to Italophiles and Italian-Americans alike! Kelly taught Italian Year 1 through AP at Bishop Watterson High School .

Robert Sergio Simon grew up in Chicago exposed to German (Austrian father) and Lithuanian (mother), later studied Latin, French and German which proved useful when working in technical industries in Europe. He launched into the study of Italian for both business reasons and for love of Italian opera, food, history and culture. In Europe the Simon family is spread through Burgenland in southern Austria and in the Italian Veneto region.

A strong desire to grow the presence of Italian in everyday life in the US led to his partnering with Kelly Lombardo to launch Italia in Ohio, LLC. Thus Kelly became the first instructor and Sergio became the first student. My how has it grown since then!

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