April 6

EP. 40 – Designing spaces for creativity, the value of mentoring and life in Ecuador w/ Jeff Tollefson


Jeff Tollefson is the Fine Arts Director at Colegio Menor Quito in Ecuador.

I first heard about Jeff during my interview with Jefferson Aranda for Episode 17 of the MTIIS podcast. Jefferson spoke super highly of Jeff and referred to his mentorship numerous times during the conversation. So, after a few back and forth messages via LinkedIn, it became clear that it would be a great idea to speak with Jeff about his work and life in Ecuador.

Jeff provides a bounty of ideas and insights and demonstrates an example of what it means to relearn, unlearn and self-reflect as an international school music teacher. Jeff has found a sense of place in his role and epitomises the incredible reflexivity that we find in many long term international school-based music teachers.

In this episode, we explore:

  • Jeff's background as a musician and music educator, including his fortunate appearance at a job fair that led to his move to Ecuador.
  • the importance of mentoring in the international school music teaching context.
  • why Jeff has stayed in Ecuador for 20+ years!
  • how Jeff's teaching and musicianship has shifted and changed as a result of connecting with the local Ecuadorian music and music education scenes.
  • Jeff's experience in designing creative media spaces to help his students explore the true breadth of their creative potential. Jeff provides a number of tips about creating both physical and mental creative spaces in a school.
  • the need for international school music teachers to balance their personal music education passions with the context in which they live and work.

Please enjoy this wide-ranging and inspiring interview with a wonderfully experienced member of our international school music teaching community.


This episode is brought to you by the Unviersity of Warwick's new PGCEi iQTS program that now includes the perfect qualification to help music educators prepare to find the position of their dreams in an international school. Learn more here: https://warwick.ac.uk/cte

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creativity, ecuador, Interview, mentoring