Meet Our Staff!

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 Liceo Scientifico (high school) diploma, she moved to Tuscany to start her 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 with full marks in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (BA), and she did a 3-month 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 research on François-Xavier Fabre, a French painter who spent his all life in Florence. After her graduation (MA, summa cum Laude) 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 Italian at The Ohio State University and currently teaches Art History II and all levels of Italian at Columbus State Community College. In 2020 she earned the CEDILS certification and she has completed (summa cum Laude) an Executive Master in Teaching Italian Language and Culture to foreigners at the University La Cà Foscari in Venice.

Rosa joined Italia in Ohio in 2017 and she coordinates our program and teaches Italian language (group classes and private tutoring), Art History and other cultural classes. Also, she has led our language-immersion study abroad program in Tuscany in 2019 and she is planning the 2022 Trip in southern Italy. Not surprising, her favorite hobby is traveling…in Italy, in the US and all over the world!

Cylia Queen brings to Italia in Ohio a passion for Italian language and culture and a wealth of language teaching experience, making her classes an enjoyable learning experience.

Cylia’s love affair with Il Bel Paese began at the young age of 16 when her grandmother took her on her first tour of Europe. The trip lasted only 10 days, but Cylia vowed that Italy had not seen the last of her.

After graduating from Belmont Univ with a minor in Italian, Cylia received a Cultural Exchange Scholarship from SITE, a full-immersion program that allowed her to experience Italy first hand. For two years, Cylia lived and worked in Northern Italy as an English Teaching Assistant, all the while absorbing as much Italian culture as possible.   

A year later, Cylia received an MA in Italian Language and Culture at Middlebury Sede and the Università degli studi di Firenze in Florence, Italy. She wrote her Master’s thesis in Italian, which highlighted Italy’s key role in shaping and revolutionizing the ‘music video’. 

Since 2015, Cylia has earned a second MA in Italian Studies from The Ohio State University, this time specializing in Italian Screen Studies and Foreign Language Teaching. In 2018, she was a Graduate Teaching Associate of Italian at OSU, published two articles, and received multiple travel grants to present her work at conferences. Cylia has also led summer abroad trips to Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast. Although her true passion lies in foreign language teaching, Cylia also works as a linguist and translator. In 2020, Cylia joined the staff at Italia in Ohio LLC and is lead instructor for beginner’s Italian, helping new students make the transition from thinking in English to experiencing life as a native Italian might.

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.

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.

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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