Meet Our Team

ESF Explore (part of English School Foundation) is a registered charitable organisation established in 1994, and since then has provided English language and sports programmes in ESF schools and non ESF venues. Subsequently, Spanish as a foreign language was added in 2011. We offer classes in 22 ESF schools across Hong Kong and in ESF Language & Learning Centre, which opened in Wan Chai in 2016.
Premium Learning Centre
Valerie Lagarde
Senior Teacher (Playgroups, Curriculum Development)
About Valerie
Valerie Lagarde is a former nursery and kindergarten headteacher and has been an educator for 18 years. She started her career in London before moving to Hong Kong in 2007. She holds a teaching degree covering both early years and primary education, a master of arts in international educational leadership from EduHK, a certificate in school management and leadership from Harvard Business School and a certificate in early education leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a doctoral student, she specialises in positive education and performance improvement leadership. She has a passion for creating psychologically safe environments where young children can learn at their own pace, and develop their creativity and own interests to experience the best start in their learning journey.
Man Tik Poon
Coach, Football
About Man Tik
Man Tik was trained at the Hong Kong Sports Institute since he was young and represented Hong Kong in many international competitions. At the age of eighteen, he was selected by a professional football team and stared his life as a professional football player. He played against Barcelona in 2007 and many other renowned football clubs.
Chris Lowcook
Coach, Football
About Chris
Started playing sports from a young age and found passion in football. Began football career in Hong Kong playing for ESF Lions before moving on to other academies and football clubs. Continued passion of sports and football at university in the UK both playing for the university team and taking up a sports coaching degree. I was a former ESF student at both primary and secondary school, and want to provide the same opportunities and instil the same passion and love for the sport in other children interested in football too.
Shaun Tobin
Coach, Football
About Shaun
Playing sport from as early as he can remember, Shaun has a coaching career spanning over 10 years, coaching all ages and abilities from fun beginner classes to high level performance teams. A former ESF student himself, Shaun is passionate about how football can be an important tool in one's overall development.
George Taffs
Coach, Swimming
About George
Coach George is a former competitive swimmer that swam for the squad in ESF Sharks at South Island School. He has competed as a swimmer in quite a few swimming competitions around Asia. He tries to bring the best out of his students every single lesson by making the sessions fun and engaging.
Ken Tsang
Coach, Swimming
About Ken
Ken is a a very experienced swimmer and coach, have coached a lot of competitive swimmers. He used to represent Hong Kong to join various international competitions in the Hong Kong team. Also went to one of the most famous swimming clubs in UK to coach!
Ricky Lau
Coach, Swimming
About Ricky
Coach Ricky has over 10 years experience in competitive swimming and triathlon, also a former triathlon national junior squad member. Still active in marathon and distance running after being a coach. He hope the students can feel passionate in swimming or even any sports by his experience and knowledge.
Jonathan Tam
Programme Manager - Football
About Jonathan
Coach Jonathan joined the ESF in 2013. He has 10 years of experience and expertise in football development from grassroots to high-performance. Coming from the most renown sports university in UK to the football governing body of Hong Kong, HKFA, at ESF he is widely recognised for his enthusiasm and big smile.
Christopher Banks
Programme Manager - Basketball
About Christopher
With 10+ years expertise managing basketball teams and programmes, Chris, an MMU graduate and former player (Manchester Giants), gained professional experiences coaching/playing across UK, ZM, and NZ. Chris encourages young people in HK to reach their full potential and value the importance of persistence, commitment, and dedication.
Dickson Chan
Senior Coach, Swimming
About Dickson
Coach Dickson swam competitively for more than 10 years. He is now a professional swimming coach with over 20 years of experience. He likes to make swimming classes fun for swimmers, so they can enjoy training. He believes everyone can be a great swimmer when they enjoy swim training.
Cherrie Chan
Senior Coach, Swimming
About Cherrie
Cherrie was a former member of Hong Kong junior squad swimming team. She started her coaching career in 2002. Her mission is to bring all her experience and knowledge to the swimmers. She keeps joining swimming and triathlon competitions because they are challenging yet fun. She believes sports is a lifelong learning process.

Joe Tuohy
Programme Coordinator, Multi-Sports
About Joe
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Coach Joe was an ESF student too! Growing up here, he was exposed to a range of different sports, and his passion further grew by studying Sports Science at university. Now, back with ESF Sports, Coach Joe's goal is to transfer his knowledge and love of sports to the next generation.
Agatha Chan
Programme Manager - Swimming
About Agatha
Here is Coach Agatha. She was a competitive swimmer at the age of 11 and started a career as a development coach after her graduation. She loves to make the atmosphere and experience fun in her lessons. She believes that a healthy body comes from a happy soul.
Neetu Sharma
Playgroup Teacher and Educational Assistant
About Neetu
Neetu is a Montessori qualified teacher and has been teaching for over 10 years. She joined ESF in 2017 as an Educational Assistant and Playgroup Teacher. She has great patience and the magic touch to help children feel secure and safe as they begin their school journey.
Catherine Ho
Senior Teacher for Early Years
About Catherine
Catherine was educated in the UK and holds Master's degree and PGDE in the areas of psychology and special education. She has been working for ESF since 2008 in different settings. Her job is to manage after school classes and she teaches Pre K and playgroups. She uses her lively teaching technique to unlock children's potential.
Ivy Tang
Language Centre Teacher
About Ivy
After graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education in the United States, Ivy has been working in Early Years settings for over 10 years and joined ESF in 2016. She has also completed her PGDE and MEd. Ivy believes that open-ended play can help children provoke their interests in learning, increase self-confidence and enhance their creativity. As a mother of a ESF primary school student and being an Early Childhood Educator, there’s nothing more rewarding than watching a child learn in a caring, loving and play-based environment.
Chloe Chan
Senior Administrator
About Chloe
Chloe joined ESF in 2016 and holds a bachelor's degree in Hong Kong. She is responsible for the daily operation of the Language and Learning Centre and assists with the coordination of various activities including workshops. She strives to provide practical advice for parents based on parents' needs.
Cristal Mills
Language Centre Teacher-In-Charge of Afterschool classes and Camps
About Cristal
Cristal is a Playgroup Teacher for ESF. She joined in 2017. Cristal has been teaching for over 10 years and really enjoys working with the younger age-groups. She finds it very rewarding when the children achieve something on their own for the first time. Cristal holds a PGDE in Early Childhood Education and a TEFL.
Cecilia Bedoya
Senior Teacher, Spanish
About Cecilia
Originally from Peru, Cecilia has lived in HK since 2006 teaching Spanish to children at ESF and young adults at CUHK. After studying business administration and then getting a degree in Marketing Strategies, Cecilia gained her Post Graduate Diploma in teaching Spanish to children and adolescents. She is an accredited DELE examiner.
Ivy Wong
Senior Teacher, Primary
About Ivy
Ivy has been teaching primary students from local and international schools for over 10 years. She holds a PGDE in Primary Education and a CertTESOL. Before teaching, she worked in educational publishing. Ivy enjoys building the students’ confidence in English by including fun, meaningful activities within lessons.
Chris Lau
Senior Teacher, Primary Plus (Primary & Secondary)
About Chris
Chris is a Senior Teacher for Primary and Secondary. He enjoys teaching, motivating students, developing language curriculum, and helping social media campaigns. He holds a PGDE in Education, an ABA certificate, and a TESOL diploma. He also holds Economics, Economic history, and Business Management degrees from the UK.
Dennis Lo
Senior Operations Manager
About Dennis
Dennis joined ESF in 2010, and is responsible for the operational side of the Language & Learning section. He enjoys seeing students' progress and development. Dennis is always on hand to answer questions about any of the programmes and cater to the educational needs of Hong Kong's young people.
Vincent Alarcon
Director of Sports
About Vincent
Vincent Alarcon has over twenty-five years of industry knowledge and extensive experience in Recreation & Aquatics management from around the world that includes establishing swimming schools & programs in the USA, Middle East & Asia, and Directing the daily operations of recreation facilities at Ivy League & International Universities
Emma Dorrell
Interim General Manager & Director, ESF Language & Learning
About Emma
After gaining a psychology master’s degree, English language teaching certificate, and PGCE from the UK, Emma joined ESF in 2005. She has experience teaching all ages, and enjoys getting the best out of people. Emma strives to ensure the language programmes remain relevant and of the highest quality.
Candy Leung
Office & Administration Manager
About Candy
Candy joined ESF in 1988, and is responsible for office administration, management of the student enrollment data system, and assisting with facilities bookings. She is excited to see the continuous expansion of ESF Educational Services Ltd.
Niki Ng
Marketing & Communication Manager
About Niki
Niki believes the provision of quality education is a key catalyst to inspire futures. She ensures planned marketing initiatives are implemented to maximise brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. When she’s not crunching numbers or working on analytics, you’ll most likely find her jetting off to a yoga studio or being outdoors.