A blog that looks behind the scenes at how we bring our mission to life, every day

5 former classroom teachers now opening the world through education with EF

Teachers shape the lives of young people every single day, and here at EF Education First, we count ourselves lucky to work alongside so many of them as they inspire a lifelong love of global learning and discovery. Learning is at the heart of everything we do, so it comes as no surprise that many EF staff began their careers in education. Now, they’re working across EF supporting everything from educational travel to language learning and cultural exchange.

Say hello to five EFers whose previous teaching experiences and current EF careers extend far beyond the walls of any classroom.


Lisa Wilson

Lisa is a Regional Trainer for EF Educational Tours in EF’s Denver office. Before working at EF, she spent eight years in Chicago teaching early American history and civics, four years as a seventh grade teacher at Castellanos Middle School and another four years teaching ninth grade at Golder College Prep.

What has been your favorite moment as an educator?

The high school I taught at had an advisory program that allowed students to start and end their days with the same advisor all four years. I started my first day of teaching high school with a group of 20 freshmen girls and then spent thousands of hours with them throughout their high school years. My proudest moment was being able to hand each of them their diplomas and seeing them move on to their college and post-high school careers.

Tell us about a teacher who inspired you.

Mr. Dallagrana was my high school history teacher at Edgewood High School in Madison, Wisconsin. He was so passionate about the 1960s and the turbulent times my parents grew up in. He made me curious about the past and really ignited my love of history.

How has teaching helped you succeed in your role at EF?

My experience as a teacher has given me the deepest appreciation for our Group Leaders. They truly go above and beyond. Teaching is a demanding career and knowing how much these teachers do every day, every night, and even every weekend has helped me understand their challenges as we work to make these tours a reality. One of my greatest passions is helping teachers realize they can travel with their students and bringing this opportunity to life, no matter what perceived obstacles might be in their way.

“I can truly say that EF has not only changed my students’ lives, but also my own. After my first EF tour, I realized how impactful a 10-day international experience can be. After my second tour, I knew I had a calling to work at EF and help other teachers and students open their worlds through educational travel.”


Joey Lee

Joey is the Director of Education for EF Educational Tours and EF Explore America in our Boston office. Before working at EF, he spent eight years teaching cultural geography at Pinkterton Academy in New Hampshire. Joey is the recipient of the 2014 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year award, part of the National Teacher of the Year Program run by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

What has been your favorite moment as an educator?

There are too many to count!

Tell us about a teacher who inspired you.

John Barry, a public school educator for 42 years who still inspires me to remain focused on maintaining the joy of learning as the center of everything I do. John prided himself on student-centered learning practices and promoted an enduring understanding that embedded lifelong learning at the heart of his teaching.

How has teaching helped you succeed in your role at EF?

Educators know the value of continued growth and the importance of relationships. Maintaining these truths in my transition from the classroom to this office has allowed me to ensure that EF is producing products and programs that meet the needs of educators, students and parents. I feel so privileged to be able to contribute to this mission.

“Traveling has provided me with opportunities to expand my knowledge of the world and better understand people, places and cultures. Through this, I’ve been able to better understand myself and my role in the world.”


David Weller

David is a Training and Qualifications Manager for the Teacher Recruitment and Training team in EF’s Shanghai office. Before working at EF, he spent seven years teaching students of all ages at an English school in Xi’an, China.

What has been your favorite moment as an educator?

Whenever a “lightbulb moment” happens for a student or trainee. When that concept just clicks, you can see their knowledge has been expanded because of you.

Tell us about a teacher who inspired you.

Jake Whiddon, a colleague who started at EF around the same time as I did. We worked together for many years and throughout that time we challenged each other to be better, to learn more and to put students at the forefront of everything we do.

How has teaching helped you succeed in your role at EF?

Teaching has given me the knowledge and skills to manage people, which has led me to my position today—those skills give you a foundation to succeed in a wide variety of career paths at EF.

“English has become an essential part of the modern world, and EF helps its students take part in the global conversation.”


Marissa Lombardi

Marissa is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Partnerships for EF College Study Tours in our Boston office. Before working at EF, she spent six years teaching global studies and international education at Northeastern University, three years with the Global Studies Department at Bentley University and four years as the Dean of Students at Lorenzo de’ Medici International Institute.

What has been your favorite moment as an educator?

Opening up perspectives through exposure to new ideas and cultures.

Tell us about a teacher who inspired you.

My high school English teacher, Susie Carlisle, was a huge inspiration for me. She believed in experiential learning. She took her students out of the classroom and into the community and world to learn.

How has teaching helped you succeed in your role at EF?

EF College Study Tours works with universities and colleges across the country to send students abroad on short-term programs. My experience as a former professor and administrator in higher education has helped me connect with our market.

“I’ve always been very passionate about giving as many students as possible the opportunity to experience different cultures. It was central to my role as a teacher and it’s amazing to continue that on a larger scale here at EF.”


George Stewart

George is the Headmaster at EF Academy—a four-year global residential school—in New York. Before working at EF, he was an administrator and teacher at Harvard-Westlake School for four years, Trinity-Pawling School for eight years and Middlesex School for 14 years.

What has been your favorite moment as an educator?

My favorite (and most scary) moment as a teacher was discovering that my son would be in my class. On the first day of school he just walked into the classroom and announced he was in the class now. After the first year, much to my horror, he decided the experience was so good for him that he would take another course from me the following year!

Tell us about a teacher who inspired you.

I particularly liked my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Frank Thomes. He was a cycling enthusiast and decided to create a bike shop in our classroom. We were encouraged to bring our bikes to school to learn how to fix them. This might have been my first official introduction to experiential learning.

How has teaching helped you succeed in your role at EF?

For years I had worked to expand my students’ horizons by bringing groups overseas to learn Spanish in Latin America and Europe. As part of those trips I always encouraged students to seek out answers to questions they had in class or to have adventures they could only dream about at home. Teaching has, of course, helped me succeed in my role at EF, but in many ways, EF has also helped me continue to broaden the scope of my personal teaching mission.

“EF’s mission fundamentally speaks to who I am as a person. Since elementary school I’ve believed strongly in the power of learning while doing. EF’s super power is listening to the market and adapting to it quickly. Being a teacher before coming to EF is how I relate to our clients—as another teacher looking for ways to help them meet their challenges. Opening the world through education is exactly what we do at EF, but it’s also what every teacher wants to do for their students.”

Interested in opening the world with us? Visit careers.ef.com

Share this article

Latest articles from People