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Teachers Change the World

This month we’ll be starting to share on our blog some interviews with our teacher trainers, alumni and staff, where they will talk about their current projects and ideas. The first interview is with David Baroni, founder and director of Europass Teacher Academy. In 2006, he started working at Europass SRL in Florence and 2009 he opened our Academy. He believes that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of teachers through lifelong education, to promote global citizenship and a culture of peace. Enjoy!

Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your favorite book?

My name is David Baroni, I am 46 years old, husband to a wonderful, strong Mexican lady, and proud father of 2 boys (7-year-old twins!). I come from the Tuscan countryside, about 1.5 hours from Florence. I love living in Florence but as I always say, deep down I am still a mountain boy! I love classic Russian literature, let’s say anything by Dostoevsky could be at the top of my list.

Why are you working in Europass Teacher Academy? What do you value most about Europass culture and vision?

Before ending up at Europass, I taught all around, in American colleges and in language schools. In 2006 I started teaching at Europass with a short-term summer contract. Having already had few experiences elsewhere, I immediately fell in love with the relaxed, welcoming and yet efficient atmosphere in the school. While in other workplaces I sometimes felt pressures and stress from management and colleagues, at Europass I immediately became friends with everybody. The school welcomes you and it rapidly becomes a place where you want to stay, even after work, to chat or just to watch TV with friends.

I believe this efficient and yet laidback, friendly atmosphere is what I value the most at Europass. It proves that there is no need to be angry or mad at work, you can work well under pressure while keeping a smile in your face and always being ready to crack a joke.

As Hannah our latest British intern told me: ‘you are the happiest person I know’ and I replied, ‘that’s because I love working here!’

Describe your management style?

I like the principle of a sharing economy. I believe in collaboration and in learning from each other, being open to others, without jealously holding back your ideas and products. Being open to share and being ready to learn from one other.

I try to apply and push these principles among our trainers and on our local campuses in different countries to incentivise collaboration. Sharing ideas, products and results is at the core of our business model – and after all, that’s what’s at the heart of the Erasmus+ programme too.

I like the idea that at Europass everyone can do what he/she is best at and that we are ready to change the what, the when or the how so that they are able to express their full potential.

We usually hire personnel to cover specific positions and to complete given tasks, but very often they end up changing position to do different tasks that are more in line with their personal mindset, tasks that we did not even foresee at the beginning.

Quoting Steve Jobs: It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.I like to think this sentence inspired my management style even before I came across it (meaning few weeks ago).

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like traveling and I am always ready to travel. I visit all our local campuses at least once a year, mixing work and free time to get to know each place better. I love visiting new places, but I also love going to the same place, again and again, to better explore the local culture and character.

I love talking in different languages. I can’t say I speak many, but I have for sure studied many, in many different countries, and I am always ready to register for another language course!

What makes you excited about Mondays?

Sometimes it is stressful to get back to work, especially after a few days break. I usually arrive at school late on Mondays, and even if some days it is stressful to get back to work, my mood gets better when I get to see my colleagues again along with the newly arrived teachers from abroad.

I enjoy switching things on, to see work get up and running, and to see us start answering and solving people’s questions, concerns and issues. Working with international mobility projects, our participants must face several difficult steps in order to successfully complete their projects. I like to provide them with solutions and to be able to alleviate their doubts.

This is probably the most rewarding part of our job, reaching out to people from all over the world and step by step, helping them to successfully realize the learning mobility abroad they dreamed of!

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