If you know IEI, you know Allison Cavopol. As the school’s owner and executive director, she supervises operation of the school as a business, keeps students updated on their legal responsibilities, and travels internationally to promote the school and build relationships. However, she also spends lots of time working directly with the students who inspire her passion for her work. From picking up new students at the airport to issuing certificates of study, Allison is involved in every step of our students’ time at IEI. In fact, she says that her favorite part of running the school is “meeting such interesting and wonderful people from all over the world”.
Allison certainly didn’t expect this career 21 years ago when she began hosting IEI students. Originally from Massachusetts but a longtime Nashvillian, she doesn’t have a background in teaching English. On the contrary, she has a degree in genetic engineering and taught biology to her sons’ homeschool group for several years. With lots of international travel experience (including a year each in the Philippines and Japan) and her outgoing manner, Allison and her family was a great fit for helping international students feel comfortable and get used to life in Nashville. In 1998, after hosting several students herself, she became IEI’s housing coordinator, pairing even more students with local host families. A 2003 promotion made her a full-time employee at as administrative director, managing a variety of organization and communication tasks for IEI.
In 2006, school founders Ande and Frances Clark were ready to retire, and Allison was ready for a new challenge. She bought the school and became its executive director, capably managing it for the last 10 years through a change of location and the ever-changing landscape of international education. Her favorite memories of IEI, however, are still of “hosting students who became lifelong friends”. Her advice for students is to “take advantage of as many activities as possible to meet people, experience the local culture and customs, and most importantly, practice the English you are learning in classes”.
When she has time to relax, you’ll find Allison hiking, kayaking, sailing, or traveling around the country or around the world. Allison has two sons, ages 24 and 28, plus a “fat cat” named Houdini.