Our Teachers, Their Passion, Their Commitment
Founder and President
Mark Efinger won a scholarship to Andover and left his home on a dirt road in Vermont to begin his training as an actor and athlete. He went on to win nine varsity letters and star in many mainstage plays. Upon graduation, he attended Middlebury College on an US Army R.O.T.C. scholarship, where he was a double Major in English and Theatre. After graduating from Middlebury, Mark was commissioned as an officer in the US Army and served four years with distinguished service, winning two Army Commendation awards. Three years of this service were in Germany, where he met and eventually married his wife, Cindy, of 38 years.
He was awarded an honorable discharge in 1982 and immediately began work for Pfizer Labs, selling pharmaceuticals. During this period, he was trained as an alumni interviewer by Middlebury College and conducted many interviews on behalf of his alma mater. Mark was a successful salesman and was soon promoted to management as the youngest Sales manager in the History of Pfizer Labs. He credits his ability to coach interpersonal presentations with the success of his sales team who moved from their 61st ranking of 61 districts, to number 4 in just four short years.
After this successful foray into business, Mark decided to change careers and was awarded a fellowship to teach and study a Master of Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro. Three years later, he and his wife Cindy moved their three young boys to Andover, after he was hired and named the Chair of Theatre and Dance at Phillips Academy. Here he taught theatre, public speaking, English and several other interdisciplinary courses with other departments. He also worked as a house counselor and coached the Varsity Wrestling team for 19 years. Andover also trained Mark to deliver prep school interviews, and he conducted three interviews a week for the rest of his career at the school whilst simultaneously reading admissions files and making recommendations to the Admissions decisions.
It was at Andover as part of his public speaking courses that he recognized a large and important hole in the education of students: they did not know how to prepare for an interview.In 1996, therefore, he began to include interview training as part of his public speaking classes. The successful results of this work prompted the Andover college counseling office to enlist Mark’s services for all of the students in their Jr. year. Eventually, this work led to the founding of the Interview Skill Coaching Academy for which Mark is still the President.
Mark Efinger has trained well over 1,000 students for college or prep school interviews, the great majority of which have been accepted to their first-choice institution, including Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, the US Naval Academy, and The US Army’s West Point. His secondary school students have attended many prestigious schools including Exeter, Andover, Deerfield, Choate, Lawrenceville, St Paul’s, and Milton. Meanwhile, he has been hired to provide interview training and public presentation training at many institutions, including International Educational Consultants’ semi-annual conferences and the graduate schools of both Harvard and Dartmouth.
Cindy’s adventurous spirit and interest in serving her country led her to enlist in the US Army shortly after high school. Early in her military career, she was chosen to be one of ten women who would open the doors of West Point to female soldiers. By the end of her military career, she had served in Germany, Arizona, South Carolina, and Georgia. She finished her degree in Communications from the University of Utah. She is proud of her family, happily married to Mark for 37 years and raised three boys. She currently enjoys two granddaughters, Charlee Ray, and Madison Jo.
Cindy has a passion for Art History and Photography, both of which she studied and practiced. She founded a photography studio and began to teach classes to students from elementary age to adults in various programs including Essex Community College and Phillips Academy (Andover) Summer Session. Her passion as a teacher leads to full-time employment at Andover where she served in various faculty positions over 20 years. She leads her varsity Water Polo team to three consecutive undefeated New England Prep School Championships. She served as a house counselor, student advisor, and admissions reader and interviewer, taught classes in life issues and was promoted to the position of Dean where she managed 35 faculty and the academic and residential lives of over 200 students.
After Leaving Andover in 2012, Cindy served on the faculty as a senior administrator at several small boarding schools, including Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She completed a certificate in Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice at Skidmore College. She is trained and has served as a Title IX resolution officer in higher education. With over twenty years of experience as a teacher, coach, and school administrator, Cindy is an enthusiastic educator with experience from elementary school to college with an emphasis on practical hands-on learning and experiential curricula.
Cindy decided to leave the education world full time, and return to her home in Windsor, where she owns and operates a small farm. She also travels and co-teaches, from time to time, with her husband Mark in various schools around the world. She is currently teaching a few times a year in China.
Business Manager and Teacher
Creative Writing Teacher
Angie Smith graduated magnum cum laude from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA with a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature, developing her own voice, whilst discovering a true passion for all creative arts. She brought these together in her work as the Editor-in-Chief of the university creative magazine: The Expressionists. During her tenure at Pepperdine, Angie also found an insatiable desire to travel after a year abroad in London. Her extensive travels around Europe and The United Kingdom planted a seed so that in 2004, after she had completed her Bachelor’s Degree, she moved to Britain.
For 15 years, Angie thrived in London, eventually becoming a dual citizen of America and the United Kingdom. At first, she completed a Master’s degree in Victorian Literature at the University of London, Birkbeck. During her studies, she worked for an independent children’s book publishing company as an administrative assistant, but then went on to lead a marketing department there, and in other publishing companies, including: Anness Publishing and Palgrave MacMillan. Whilst working with writers and illustrators, and indeed young people at book events, she became curious about what it would like to be a teacher. Angie left publishing to re-train to become a secondary school English, Media and Drama teacher, earning her teaching credential from The Institute of Education, University College London.
As a teacher, Angie worked with students aged 16-19, delivering creative writing and English linguistic and literature curriculums. She also helped to secure her students highly competitive positions to study at: Oxbridge and other Russell Group universities. Angie founded the Haringey Sixth Form College’s creative blog and literary magazine, www.haringeyunchained.com, through which she delivered a work-experienced-based enrichment. Students made their own creative pieces, edited and designed the platforms for their peers’ work and engaged in the cultural and art sectors in Central London through a wide range of events. Eventually, Angie was promoted to the Head of the Creative Arts departments, which included: English, Media, Art and ESOL.
In her spare time, Angie tutors individual students. She has also been commissioned to run summer drama and media studies workshops at Oxford University. She was also invited to deliver lectures about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to hundreds of university students at The Royal Opera House in Central London, and has visited the Pepperdine and Lipscomb University study abroad programs as a guest speaker. Now, Angie is preparing for a PhD programme in English Literature and Victorian Gender Studies, which she hopes to begin in September 2020.
Nate won a scholarship to Governor’s Academy and graduated with honors as a scholar, athlete, and musician. He applied for and was granted a music merit scholarship to further his studies at Ohio Wesleyan University. At Ohio Wesleyan, he continued to study music, but he majored in voice, studying all of the technical and physiological components of the human vocal instrument. He was also elected captain of the Track team, and his physical training for track also contributed to his understanding of how the whole body contributes to breathing and supporting the voice.
For the next ten years, Nate was a professional musician and singer in a band. He traveled the country performing on television, and stage, while also serving as the Master of Ceremonies for many events, including weddings, bar mitzvahs, and balls. His years of studying the voice were now put to the test, as his voice became his livelihood.
In 2014, he got married, began a young family and left the band. At this time he was hired as a vocal music teacher at the Landmark School in Beverly, MA, and began his Master’s degree training to support children with language-based learning disabilities. Once again his training focused on the technicalities of language. He is now the Chair of the Performing Arts department and the Varsity Wrestling Coach.
Nate has 5 years of experience coaching and teaching students to produce clear and understandable language. He has discovered that accents are derived similarly to speech impediments. We learn to shape sounds by imitating our parents. Once learned these positions of the mouth become habits. Teaching people to speak so that they can make clear English sounds begins with teaching them new habits.
Accent Reduction Teacher
John Dugan has spent his career in education as a teacher, coach, tutor, and school leader. He is currently Assistant Headmaster at Mater Dei School in Bethesda, MD, an all-boys Catholic school outside of Washington, D.C. He also spent time in New England as an undergraduate at Trinity College in Connecticut and as an admission officer, English teacher, dorm head, and boys’ varsity lacrosse coach at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. John holds a Masters in the Great Books, having studied at St. John’s College in both Sante Fe, NM and Annapolis, MD. John just celebrated his tenth anniversary with his wife Katie, who are the proud parents of two busy and happy children. John has tutored the SSAT for over 15 years to great success, working with over sixty students a year in the greater Washington, D.C. area. He has a deep understanding of all aspects of the SSAT and enjoys helping students succeed on this challenging and nuanced test.