The team of tutors at Aljezur International School has taught together for many years. Their educational and social philosophy is based on students achieving to the best of their abilities and being encouraged to develop a sense of belonging to a community, both within and outside school. An awareness of global, national and local issues is instilled in students.
Staff turnover at Aljezur International is extremely low which means that tutors and students have time to form a strong and trusting bond. Ex-students keep in touch with us and frequently return to school as guest speakers, providing advice and guidance to current students.
All our tutors are qualified to at least degree level and are registered at the Ministry of Education. The process of registration includes international police clearance and the verification of tutors’ academic achievements. A full list of tutors’ qualifications and experience can be examined on request.
Click on a photo to view the teacher’s bio.
Karen Whitten &
Directors, Teachers of Portuguese, Portuguese Culture & Business Studies
Karen Whitten & Sílvia Catarino –
Directors, Teachers of Portuguese, Portuguese Culture & Business Studies
Karen and Sílvia have worked closely together as colleagues and friends since 2004 and now know each other so well they can finish the other´s sentence!
Sílvia was born in Rogil, which is just north of Aljezur, and studied at Faro University, gaining a degree in Modern Language and Literature before training to be a teacher. Karen is from Scotland and has lived in the Algarve for 20 years. She qualified with a BA Honours degree in Business and Marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University in 1989 and then travelled extensively before settling in Portugal in 2001.
Having worked hard for over a decade to build up the success of Aljezur International, in the summer of 2020 Karen and Sílvia took over the management and guardianship of Barlavento International Primary School near Lagos and so the school family grew. They are both passionate teachers and consider themselves incredibly lucky to be the owners and directors of two such wonderful schools with their amazing family of students, parents, teachers and support staff.
Their second passion in life is animal welfare and between them Karen and Sílvia have many rescue animals, including 13 dogs, 24 cats, 2 terrapins, 5 chickens and 2 Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.
Alejandro Prat – Spanish
I am from Argentina, and have been in the Algarve from 2015. I live in Lagos with my wife, our three children and our three dogs. I’ve taught Spanish at Aljezur International since 2017. Being a teacher is my passion, my mission and the way I’ve chosen for serving our community.
I studied Business Administration in Buenos Aires, and worked more than 25 years in big companies such as Gillette, Hewlett Packard, Prudential Financial and Canon, in Human Resources, Marketing and Sales. But actually I’m just a Life Coach, and I like to help people to achieve their goals.
I’m also a big fan of sports. Playing football or tennis with my friends is pure happiness to me.
Ali Turner – Examinations Officer and Admin
I was born in Manchester, one of five children, and raised from the age of 9 in the Lake District. I am mum to three grown up children, Dani, Sam and Ben, Nani to my four beautiful grandchildren, and caretaker for my twelve cats.
I moved to Portugal for the second time in 2008 and became a member of the Aljezur family in 2009, when my son started lessons with the team. The Aljezur family were and still are my saviours. Ben left Portugal to go to college in the UK and I made the decision to stay. I became a fulltime member of the family in 2015. I love my job and my life here in the Algarve.
My roles in school involve administration and I am the Cambridge Examinations Officer.
My favourite out of school activities are WhatsApping with my family in the UK, following the F1 with my mum and fixing Albert, Chance and Safe when I can (they are my cars).
If I were to give everyone a piece of advice, it would be to always have a screwdriver in your bag – you never know when you might need it.
Ana Buckingham – Admin
I have worked in administration at Aljezur international since 2020. I never expected to work in a school but guess what – I love it! My job involves lots of things, from keeping our student records up to date to helping with admissions and the waiting list.
Since I was born my life was and still continues to be at the beach. I love to hear the sound of the sea, the seagulls, the waves and to be in a peaceful environment.
I am a qualified life guard and I completed a catering course in 2015 so have spent some time working as a waitress.
I love working at Aljezur International. We are a big family, and there’s nothing better than working in a friendly and happy school.
I always do my best to see all the children are happy and really enjoy spending time supervising them at breaks.
Andy Dean – Art, Media Studies & Computer Science
Born in the UK, I have lived in Portugal for the last few years. Karen, Silvia and the rest of the school family were among the first people I met here and I immediately fell in love with the school ethos of respect, and individual approach to helping our students learn.
I am an international award-winning modern artist and sculptor. I’ve worked for clients all over the world, as well as teaching seminars and writing for international publications where I helped share my knowledge of pioneering techniques in niche areas. My love of all the arts extends to being a professional photographer/videographer, and I am also a Cambridge-educated musician, composer and music producer, having played in numerous bands over the years and running a small recording studio in the UK.
Bettina Neher – German Language and Literature
I have been teaching German at Aljezur International for a year. Since I was fourteen, I’ve been working with children and teenagers. I spent my childhood in the south of Germany and studied Special Education at the University of Cologne with a focus on German language and mathematics for kids with emotional and social needs. In addition to school and college, I organised youth camps and gave swimming classes. After completing my studies, I went travelling in Europe, Australia, South America and the Middle East. Finally, I settled down in the Western Algarve.
Inspired by alternative ways of living, I joined a community where we share the garden, kitchen and lots of work. Teamwork, individual support based on personal interest and practical experiences is not only part of my community life but also my basic principles of teaching kids. As well as teaching at the international school, I also work in a home-schooling project and teach teenagers from Germany with emotional and social needs.
Christopher Lloyd Pack – Drama teacher
Originally from England, I moved to Portugal in 2004. I come from a theatrical family, and both my father and brother were well known actors.
I trained in Stage Management at L.A.M.D.A. in 1964 and in those days the students joined in with many of the acting classes, learning their craft in order that we might be more helpful in their preparations for production.
I subsequently spent 42 years in theatre and television as a Stage and Company Manager with repertory, West end and touring experience in all sorts of drama and musical theatre.
In television, I was part of the team creating the live children’s Saturday morning programme No 73, and worked on various other children’s programmes for 10 years. I then joined independent companies and the BBC, working on a variety of programmes in drama, children’s and light entertainment.
I am also a Fasting Practitioner and pendulum dowser, and married with two children.
Claire Langdon O’Neill – History & PHSE Teacher
Originally from Britain, I left in 1987 with my BA Honours degree in Communication Studies and travelled the world, looking for the perfect place to settle. After living in Australia, Africa, London, and Mallorca, I finally found it in 2005 when I moved to the Algarve with my young family.
While I have worked in many exciting business ventures, none has come close to the satisfaction of being involved with Aljezur International School, where I have been teaching History and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education since 2016. This allows me to combine my lifelong passions for history, storytelling, health and psychology with the focus on developing the mental and physical wellbeing of our students.
Daniela Da Silva – Art teacher
I am a Portuguese visual artist and researcher based in Raposeira, Algarve. I graduated in Design of Ceramic and Glass with a Post-Grad in Fine Arts and Sculpture. From 2010 to 2018 I lived in Venice, Italy where I established my artistic career.
The urge to return to my roots and establish my art projects in a conscious community, brought me to Aljezur International School. I am pleased to share my knowledge and artistic skills as a teacher of Art & Design.
Exploring the art world can be the beginning of a wonderful discovery. Creativity is everywhere and encouraging students to discover their own visions is one of my life’s purposes.
Derek Hughes OBE – Global Perspectives Teacher
I am a qualified ‘Project and Programme Management’ professional and have also worked within the ‘Operational Delivery’ and ‘Accountancy’ professions.
As a former Senior Civil Servant, I worked at the heart of Government in London and led teams across the UK. I am relentless about the learning and development of self and others and look to maximise the sharing of skills and knowledge.
I am dedicated to equality and inclusion, exemplified by the initiation and leadership of the ‘Raising Disability Awareness’ project which delivered the largest disability equality campaign ever within the UK Civil Service, winning awards in both the private and public sectors. In 2019, I was awarded an OBE for services to ‘Customer Service and Inclusion’.
To support continuous professional development, I have delivered learning to senior professionals at events ranging from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Westminster Hall in London to the Prince Rainier Conference Centre in Monaco.
I teach Global Perspectives which is a ground-breaking and stimulating course that stretches across traditional subject boundaries and develops transferable skills. It is both cross-curricular and skills-based and taps into the way learners of today enjoy learning, including team work, presentations and projects.
I also teach ‘Business at AS and A level’ which covers the scope of business, the markets they serve and stakeholder management. The course develops problem solving, decision making and communication skills required within the business environment.
In 2018, I realised my ambition and moved to Portugal and now live, with my beloved pet ‘Beagle Ben’, on a former farm in Monchique which has become my life project.
I am delighted to be part of the amazing team at Aljezur International School because we pride ourselves in offering a truly unique secondary school education to children from across the world.
Diogo Casimiro – Administration
I have worked in administration at both Aljezur International and Barlavento Primary since joining the staff in 2018. I love working with children and supporting their learning in whatever way I can. I also deal with a variety of administration tasks as and when I am needed.
Since 2014 I have taught inline skating to students of all ages and am proud to have been Portuguese champion in this sport on 33 occasions. I also run an inline club for the children of Barlavento school. I am delighted to be part of this amazing team of teachers and support staff.
Elisabete Santos – Computer Studies and ICT
As one of the more recent teachers in Aljezur International, I was really happy with the level of friendship and relaxed environment I found. With a background in International Studies, I’ve worked extensively with Marketing and Computing Training. While living in England I worked in marketing and in the care industry, where I was able to extend my learning in the healthcare area. After returning to Portugal, my place of birth, I started teaching English and then Computer Studies.
My interests include reading, photography and lots of traveling.
Giacomo Osti – Marine Science & Spanish
I teach Marine Science to AS and A level students, and I am teaching assistant in Spanish as a Foreign Language for IGCSE students.
I have a Masters degree in Underground Geology and Hydrocarbons from the University of Padua (Italy). I have been working for four years as a PhD researcher at the Norwegian centre of excellence CAGE (Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate) where I specialised in marine geology, glaciology and climate.
During these years, I had the chance to teach courses of sedimentology to university Bachelor and Masters students. For two years I worked at the Folkeuniversitetet i Tromsø (Norway) where I taught Italian (my mother tongue) for foreigners. In addition, I have also been giving classes of Italian for foreigners at the Kongsbakken Videregående Skole, in Tromsø (Norway) as a teaching assistant.
Teaching has always been my passion and I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to pass my knowledge over, both during my professional career and in my free time. In my life, I have been travelling all around the world, learning the language of the country where I was living in order to fully discover and dive into each of the new cultures that I met on the way. Now I feel it is time to stop, settle down and contribute to the community of this beautiful part of Portugal.
Ilda Luís – Supervisor
I have worked for 10 years at Aljezur International School supervising the children, cooking and cleaning. I love my job and the chance to be around young people and also take care of the live stock at school which includes chickens, ducks, cats and a turkey. I even have my own little vegetable garden and I love to show everybody the vegetables I grow there.
I was born in Barreiro, Lisbon area, and in 1976 I move to Aljezur and since then my life has been here with my husband, my two daughters and now my two grandchildren: Gustavo and Bernardo. They are the joy of my life.
I like to do gardening, travel and spend time with my grandchildren.
Jill Falkous – Maths, Physics & Chemistry
I am a teacher of Maths, Physics and Chemistry at Aljezur International School. I grew up in Yorkshire and worked in Research and Development labs for some years after school after which I followed my passion for the ocean and scuba diving which took me to Egypt where I lived for over 15 years.
During my time in Egypt, I started tutoring and also decided to continue my own studies so completed a BSc in Mathematics and Economics with LSE. I spent many holidays in the Algarve when I was growing up and always loved the area so it was a natural choice when we decided as a family to change locations.
It is a pleasure to be part of the team at Aljezur International and it is my goal to try to make maths and science as fun and rewarding as possible.
Jonathan Bergius – English, Mindfulness & Sociology
I work as the Mindfulness and Wellbeing teacher at Aljezur International and our primary school, Barlavento. I grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden and moved two years ago to the Algarve, where I am currently running ‘The Happy Minds Project’, which aims to bring awareness of mental and emotional well-being through mindfulness and meditation practices.
I am a qualified English and Yoga teacher and am currently studying, practising and teaching Indian philosophy.
There is a growing body of evidence strongly suggesting that if we can educate children early on how to cultivate kindness, compassion and mental well-being, as well as resilience, awareness and emotional literacy, they will not only have higher rates of academic success, but will gain a more complete understanding of who they are as they continue their journey through life. I very much enjoy sharing this with the children of Barlavento and Aljezur International.
José Mártires – Physical Education & Biology
I teach Physical Education across all year groups, as well as Biology in Years 7, 8 & 9. I have a BA in Physical Education from the Instituto Superior Dom Afonso III, Portugal and have more than 12 years teaching experience in Portugal, Morocco and Guernsey (UK).
For 10 years I played and coached football in the national youth league. This year I am an assessor for our Duke of Edinburgh participants and I also teach PE, Portuguese and Science at Barlavento International Primary School.
My interests include travelling and hiking. I am very happy to be part of the teaching teams at Barlavento and Aljezur International Schools.
Karen Sunderland – Support teacher
I qualified as a Nursery Nurse (NNEB) in England over 30 years ago and since then I have worked in a variety of childcare settings. For many years I worked in Social Services in England supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds, before taking time out to bring up my own children.
I returned to my career in mainstream schools in the UK before transferring to the more specialised Special Educational Needs (SEN) sector where I gained new skills and qualifications. Just before I moved to Portugal, I fostered a number of children with emotional difficulties and challenging behaviour.
Now at Aljezur International, I am happy to be working with dedicated teaching staff to support pupils with their varying needs and I enjoy every minute of it.
Kate Podmore – A level Biology & lab technician
I moved to the Algarve in 2009 after my retirement from the National Health Service, UK where I qualified and worked as a Biomedical Scientist for 35 years.
I have worked at Aljezur International School for five years and love being part of the team. My role at the school is as a teacher of Biology and also to organise the laboratory, including assisting the other science teachers with any practical science projects they may wish to undertake.
I have always had a keen interest in the sciences and I enjoy encouraging the students to learn and investigate the subject in a safe environment.
Keeley Cheston – English Language & English Literature
Linda – Business
My career began in finance, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and Project Manager, working in senior Finance, HR, Legal and IT roles within multinational organisations. My wide-ranging business experience includes European head of finance within a diverse range of organisations such as Ping, Kerry Foods and Icon Clinical Research. With a desire to expand my horizons I went on to establish my own management consultancy, a property management business and taught GCSE Mathematics in UK state secondary schools.
Portugal stole my heart during my first visit twenty years ago. I always knew that I would one day make a permanent move from the UK. I finally realised that dream three years ago, assisted by the opportunity for home working via the internet and moved to Monchique with my husband Graham and our three lovely lurcher dogs. Living in the countryside also provided an opportunity for me to fulfil another ambition by establishing a ceramics workshop.
I first worked with Sílvia and Karen two years ago, assisting with strategic planning and modelling for the future sustainability of the school. Coming to understand the ethos of the school was such a refreshing experience and when an opportunity arose for a teacher of A Level Business, I did not hesitate to seek to join the team.
The opportunity to work in a school which is dedicated to instilling traditional values of kindness, compassion and mutual support could not be missed. 2021/22 will be my third academic year with Aljezur International. My approach to teaching is to share real world examples which marry into the syllabus area and to be available to support students outside of the school day to ensure momentum for their learning. In addition to curriculum, I enjoy focussing students in how to prioritise subject matter and develop the strong evaluation techniques which will give them a head start not only for examination success, but also in life in general.
It is my absolute pleasure to teach at Aljezur International and be part of the team dedicated to developing the minds, spirits and individuality of our students.
Lindsay Gear – Drama
I have the privilege to teach Drama for the IGCSE program and the new A-Level program, here at Aljezur International. I have been teaching here since 2018, and find it a fantastic environment to work in and watch students blossom. I am delighted to work with this age group and to see the drama students developing their skills over the course, as they grow in confidence, creative expression, and collaborative abilities.
I received my undergraduate degree from Rose Bruford Drama College, London, and MFA in Theatre Practice and Psycho-physical Actor Training at Exeter University. Over the years, I have been involved in the formation of three physical theatre companies, creating work, acting, and touring the world with exciting projects.
I also teach informal acting classes for children and adults in Lagos, and enjoy collaborating with other artistic professionals in the area.
Maria João Sacadura – Biology, Geography, Marine Science, Environmental Management
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Applied and Environmental Geology, a Masters in Environmental Management, and I’m still finishing a PhD in Environmental Sedimentology. My working experience is mainly as a teacher, both in Portuguese public schools and international schools, and as a Scientific Researcher in CIMA (Marine and Environmental Research Center) at Algarve University.
Besides these, and as side activities and hobbies, I have been projecting and dimensioning organic pools, do organic farming in my very little spare time and collaborate with environmental and animal protection organizations. I am involved with the PAN (People, Animals and Nature) party which is an eco-centric political party, and I have written a romance.
I do love teaching in Aljezur International, which I find is the best school I’ve ever worked in, both Portuguese and international, and find it not to be a business, but a family. In this school no child is let down, no colleague is left unsupported, while at the same time, common sense rules are maintained.
Richard Jackson – Computer Science
During the last 16 years I have enjoyed teaching and learning in a variety of different disciplines, from computer science to cooking. I love food, especially very dark chocolate.
I have worked in finance, food, education, technology and science industries and hold graduate and postgraduate degrees (in design and teaching). I am currently studying for a Masters in Artificial Intelligence.
The school’s philosophy of respect relates directly to the students themselves, those around them and the environment. This fits well with my personal ideals and it’s a joy to work in Aljezur International.
Out of school I enjoy most outdoor sports, although I still need to learn to surf well!
Sonia Tomé – French & Portuguese
I am originally from Paris, where I studied and worked for many years before I chose to live abroad. I lived in Lisbon for several years, then moved to Yorkshire in the UK. I taught French online for students and professionals then later I created a French Club for young children aged 5 to 11, introducing the French language through creative activities and play in primary schools.
I believe learning foreign languages at a young age helps to boost confidence for later studies, to connect with other cultures and encourage tolerance.
I joined the Aljezur International team in 2019 as a French & Portuguese teacher and I’m grateful to be a part of this wonderful school family.
Susie Mayes – Drama & Admissions
I am originally from England and moved in 2006 to the Algarve, where I have been raising my three daughters.
My training is in theatre and I worked with the travelling company “Women in Theatre” delivering Theatre in Education programmes in Primary schools in Birmingham.
In the Algarve I have taught English in the Escola Livre do Algarve primary school in Figueira, English (disguised as a drama class) in the state kindergartens in the concelho of Vila do Bispo and I also teach Drama at our primary school, Barlavento.
I am also a seamstress with stage costumes being a personal favourite of mine. I love my jobs and all the little people that I am privileged to teach and am very happy to be part of the Aljezur International school family.
Tor Ramsbottom – Admin
I was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. I trained as a Stage Technician and worked in theatre in London and New York for 10 years before returning to Yorkshire to raise my family. In my thirties I went back to education and gained a BA in Modern Languages and an MA in Translation. After graduating I worked in administrative roles in various fields in England and Portugal, including Manufacturing & Export and International Transport, before joining the Admin team at Aljezur International.
My duties vary every day and include purchasing books and classroom supplies, communicating with parents on matters such as absences, homework and schoolbooks, proof-reading and printing tests and reports, and helping to organise school events and fund-raisers.
In my spare time I enjoy walking, gardening, drawing and reading. I am passionate about nature and conservation, and I am proud and happy to be part of our great team of professionals providing an inspiring first-class education, with its strong emphasis on respect and sustainability, in this beautiful part of the world.
Tycho Huussen – Maths & Physics
I am originally from Amsterdam, Holland, where I studied Physics at the University of Amsterdam. While still a student, I started a business employing students and graduates in IT projects. After selling the business I earned a PhD degree in Physical Oceanography from the University of Southampton (UK), while doing most of my research in San Diego, California, where I lived for 6 years.
When I decided to come back to Europe, I knew two things: I love the outdoors and I love working with people. For me working as a Maths and Physics teacher at Aljezur International School is a blessing. I am happy and excited I can share my passion for Mathematics and Science with the students and I enjoy working with them. Never a dull moment with young humans coming of age!
I am convinced most kids and young adults love Mathematics and Physics when given the chance to discover the fascinating secrets in a playful way. Solving problems requires analytical skills and self-confidence. I try to teach both and I see it as my challenge to tailor the way I teach to the individual needs of each student.
Xana Ronen – Agriculture
I currently work as the Agriculture assistant at Aljezur International, and have experience of working on organic farms in different countries. I really love my job helping the children to connect with nature, and learn more about the ecological cycles of life through working in the garden to grow their own food.
I am also trained as a secondary French and Spanish teacher in England, a Waldorf teacher, and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. I have been living and working in the Algarve for over 6 years and have worked as a French teacher in the school, as well as an English teacher in the Waldorf Escola da Oliveira, and as a private English tutor for both children and adults.
My other great passions are music and healing. I sing and play the guitar, facilitate women’s singing circles in the area, and also give sound healings, reiki and breathwork sessions.