Educator profile

Inspiring confident and independent travelers with Group Leader Tamika


As someone who was born and raised in Chicago (and is now a middle-school teacher there!), some of Tamika B.’s fondest memories from childhood include experiencing what life was like beyond her city. By packing her bags and setting off on road trips with her family or youth group, not only would Tamika find adventure, but she’d also foster more responsibility and feel more independent. Travelers who eventually become educators often spark that same passion for exploring in the next generation—and Tamika is certainly no exception.

Tamika smiling and sharing old photographs of her as an independent traveler

When Tamika became an ELA teacher, she felt it was important to create opportunities for her middle-schoolers to feel like independent travelers, too. Introducing them to life outside their city (and comfort zones!) is why Tamika brings her students to Washington, D.C. each year. And in leading class trips with EF Explore America, she’s giving her middle-schoolers the freedom to develop more curiosity, empathy, and autonomy while away from home.

But Tamika’s not only encouraging her students to catch the travel bug. She also got each of her own children their first passport at just six months old. By showing her children how big the world is and how many adventures are out there waiting for them, Tamika hopes they feel empowered to figure out where they fit—whether it be in Chicago, another U.S. city, or even beyond.

Three independent travelers hugging in front of the Washington Monument

Reflecting on her 22 years as an educator (so far), Tamika’s favorite part is connecting with her former students later on in life to see where they are now. Whether she’s sparked a lifelong love of travel or motivated them to become educators themselves, these conversations remind Tamika that she’s inspiring the future leaders of tomorrow every day.

The view to the Washington Monument across the National Mall featuring independent travelers

Ready to take your own students beyond your hometown to Washington, D.C.?

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Maddie Poulin

Maddie is a copywriter at EF. She loves dissecting movies and TV shows, making playlists for every mood, staying active, and dreaming about her next trip.