Head of School Letter: Meet New Teacher Hires 2020


    Dear SSIS Parents,

    It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the newest group of extraordinary teachers to join SSIS. Under normal circumstances, we would have made these introductions early last semester. This year, given the uncertain visa regulations brought on by COVID-19, we decided to wait until as many of them as possible were securely in-country. And although we are still awaiting the arrival of the last few of our new hires, we simply can’t keep this news to ourselves any longer. 

    We are proud of the reputation we have built as a school with innovative practices and exceptional teaching and learning. This year, our effective response to COVID-19 further contributed to our outstanding reputation, and teachers from all corners of the globe were attracted to SSIS, allowing us to secure the very best educators for each position. 

    But before I introduce you to each of our exceptional new teachers individually, I want to explain how our recruitment process works. We have a multi-tiered interview process, and all candidates are interviewed by the Head of School, a divisional principal, and associate principal, as well as department heads and team leaders. In addition to verifying the candidate’s direct educational background and personal references, we put each candidate through a comprehensive background check by HireRight, in the interest of stringent child protection safety.

    Our thirty (30) new hires represent a total of 14 nationalities (66% from the US and Canada) and have, on average, 11.9 years of teaching experience. Twenty-three (23) of our new hires have masters’ degrees. 

    Below, you will find all of our new teachers’ biographies, I hope you will join me in welcoming them into our community. Our staff has truly moved mountains to ensure our new teachers’ safe arrival, and we couldn’t be more excited for you to get to know them.

    If you have any questions or concerns about recruiting or any other school-wide matters, I welcome you to contact me (hos@ssis.edu.vn).

    All good wishes,

    Dr. Catriona Moran

    Head of School



    Jennifer Mendes
    HS Principal

    Jennifer Mendes (USA) joins us as the new High School Principal. A veteran international educator, Ms. Mendes is an experienced IBDP educator having taught IBDP Spanish at the Anglo-American School of Moscow and later at the American International School of Johannesburg. Ms. Mendes also has a broad experience of the benefits of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and strategically grew the AP offerings and scheduling practices at the American School of Dubai (ASD) and Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS). Committed to achieving high standards and building collaborative relationships to achieve the mission of the schools she leads, Ms. Mendes has extensive knowledge of assessment design and performance analysis. At ASD, she supported the collaborative development and implementation of a standards-based grading initiative. A thoughtful and action-oriented leader, Ms. Mendes believes that students’ academic and social-emotional well-being comes first. At CISS, she has led the building of a relevant and meaningful advisory program. Through these efforts, her students were supported and empowered to maximize their learning. Ms. Mendes has a BA in Spanish Language and Culture, a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. She completed an MA in Spanish Language and Literature at Purdue University and holds her teaching license from the state of Colorado. Ms. Mendes completed graduate studies in educational leadership with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction leading to principal licensure at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Ms. Mendes’ husband, Daniel, is an exceptional Technology Integration Specialist and has worked in Shanghai, Dubai, Johannesburg, and Moscow. The Mendes’ have two children, one in Grade 2 and the other in EC.

    Suzanne Ede
    HS Computer Science

    Suzanne Ede (UK) has joined our Engineering and Computer Science department as a High School Computer Science Teacher. Suzanne earned her teaching certificate in Design Technology and her educational master’s degree in Technology, Creativity and Thinking from Exeter University (UK). Suzanne has 10 years of teaching experience within a range of technology disciplines including robotics, web design, game design, journalism, and computer science. Before joining SSIS, Suzanne taught computer science at The American School in Ho Chi Minh City and chaired the Arts department there. She has been living in Vietnam for 7 years.

    Jake Ferguson
    HS Math

    Jake Ferguson (Canada) has joined our High School Mathematics Department. Jake earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is currently working on a Professional Master of Education, also from Queen’s University. After graduating from Queen’s, Jake taught mathematics at the International School of Brussels (ISB) where he also ran a grade 6-10 math club and coached girls volleyball for three years. While at ISB, Jake met his fiance, Kelley, who has joined the SSIS faculty as a Middle School PE teacher. Jake is an avid board game player, plays the djembe, and loves playing a wide variety of sports.

    John Flanagan
    HS Math

    John Flanagan (Canada) has joined the High School Mathematics Department. John earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Master of Business Administration from the University of Windsor and his Bachelor of Education and Honours Specialist (Math) from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining SSIS, John taught SL and HL math, as well as MYP mathematics, at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS), where he coached SEASAC girls basketball and the cross country teams. John has also taught AP Calculus and AP Statistics (AB and BC) at The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. John labels himself as a slow but avid cyclist who loves to travel.

    Laura Hogg
    HS English

    Laura Hogg (Zimbabwe/UK) has joined our HS English department. Laura earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, as well as her Teaching Qualification, from Rhodes University, South Africa, and her master’s from Birkbeck College, University of London. She has over 15 years of teaching experience – most recently in Harare, Zimbabwe, at Harare International School (HIS) where she taught HS MYP and DP Language and Literature and Theory of Knowledge for seven years. Prior to teaching at HIS, Laura taught in the UK for over a decade – IGCSE and A level Language and Literature as well as DP Literature. At her last UK school, The Abbey School, she combined English teaching with her role as Deputy Head of the 6th Form – working with students on their university applications and helping to design their learning plans. Laura is excited about her new adventure in South East Asia and trying new foods.

    Charl Goussard
    HS Economics

    Charl Goussard (South Africa) joins our High School Social Studies Department. Charl teaches IB and AP Economics. After completing a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Charl a qualified business and technology development lawyer from South Africa taught IBDP Economics in Turkey. 



    Sam Jeong
    University Counselor

    Sam Jeong (South Korea/USA) is beyond excited to have joined SSIS’s High School counseling team as a University Counselor. Sam started his international teaching career at United World College (UWC) Changshu China, where he was an inaugural member of the counseling department. Prior to UWC, Sam served as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College, taught elementary school students in Kinmen, Taiwan through the Fulbright Fellowship, and was a Chinese Government Scholar in Shanghai, where he studied journalism at Fudan University. Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in 2014 from Williams College as a Sociology and Chinese major and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Private School Leadership at Columbia University. Sam plays the viola and can be found playing with students, chamber orchestras, and semi-professional symphonies. He loves to cook, go on hikes, and look for grassy areas to read. He speaks Korean, English, Chinese, and is currently learning Japanese. He plans to tackle Vietnamese as well!

    Regina Lewis
    HS Learning Support Teacher

    Regina Lewis (USA) has joined our High School as a Learning Support Teacher. Regina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Alabama A&M University (USA), a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management from Troy University (USA), a Master of Arts degree in Collaborative Special Education from Auburn University Montgomery (USA), and a Doctorate in Education degree in Education with a specialization in Special Education from Northcentral University (USA). Regina has over 12 years of experience in the field of education. Prior to joining SSIS, Regina worked as a high school collaborative special education teacher at Jefferson Davis High School (USA) for seven years, and she has taught both middle and elementary school. Regina is joined by her son, Jailyn, who is in the sixth grade.

    Rebeca Lozano
    MS HS Spanish

    Rebeca Lozano (Spain) has joined our Modern World Languages Department and is teaching MS Spanish and Spanish Ab Initio for the IB Diploma. She earned her master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second and Foreign Language from the University of La Rioja. Rebeca has a wealth of experience teaching Spanish from grade 1 to 12 in different international curricula. Rebeca has taught Spanish for the IB Diploma for all levels, and she is an examiner for Spanish B and Extended Essays in Spanish. Rebeca has over 8 years of teaching experience, most recently in Bangladesh at the American International School of Dhaka, for three years. Prior to that, Rebeca taught at the International School of Hyderabad and Indus International School, both in Hyderabad (India). Before Rebeca discovered her passion for teaching her mother tongue and culture, she worked for nine years as a geologist in the geotechnics and engineering sector and holds both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences. Rebeca is joined by her husband Diogo, an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys trekking in the Himalayas and climbing, and their toddler Helena, who is in EC3.

    Erin Matheson
    HS Math

    Erin Matheson (Cook Islands) has joined our High School Mathematics Department. Erin earned both her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science as well as her post-graduate diploma in Teaching at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently studying towards a Master of Mathematics for Teachers from the University of Waterloo, Canada. Erin has over 16 years of experience teaching mathematics in the Cook Islands, Istanbul, Northern Cyprus, Shanghai, and, most recently, Thailand. She brings a wealth of experience in both academic and pastoral leadership having held the posts of Deputy Head, Head of Department, and Head of Year in the past. She is joined by her supportive and patient husband, Dale, who is looking forward to finding an active role in the SSIS and HCMC communities.

    Chris Polley
    HS Counselor

    Chris Polley (USA) has joined our High School Team as a High School Counselor. Chris earned his Bachelor of Business Administration at the College of Charleston (USA) and his Master of Science in School Counseling from Long Island University (USA). Chris’s almost 15-year career as a counselor has spanned from running a private practice in New York, where he guided clients in personalized college admissions counseling, to developing, implementing, and integrating an innovative counseling curriculum at one of the biggest international schools in Shanghai. Curious by nature, Chris, who worked on Wall Street for a number of years in the early 2000s, enjoys new challenges and earned a captain’s license to pilot large vessels/boats in 2015. On land, Chris enjoys spending time with his niece and nephew, staying in shape with Crossfit, golf, and snowboarding, and reading about financial and macroeconomic markets.

    Diana Sorobey
    HS EAL

    Diana Sorobey (Canada) has joined SSIS as an EAL specialist in the High School. Diana earned her Bachelor of Arts degree and secondary Education Degree from the University of Alberta. She has gone on to earn a Specialist Qualification in Teaching English Language Learners from Queen’s University. Diana has a wealth of experience teaching English, Social Studies, and English as an Additional Language in Canadian and IB systems. Diana has over 12 years of teaching experience, most recently in Ho Chi Minh City at the Canadian International School. She also leads the city-wide English Language Learning Specialists of Asia (ELLSA) professional chapter in Saigon. Before moving to Vietnam, she taught with the Edmonton Public School Board for eight years. Diana is joined by her husband Greg and two daughters, Maria, who will be in grade 5, and Mila, in grade 3.


    Hillary Banks
    MS Counselor

    Hillary Banks (USA) has joined our Middle School team as our Middle School Counselor. Hillary earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the University of Washington (USA) and her Master of Education in School Counseling from City University (USA). Hillary has over nine years of experience in the field of international school counseling, most recently as a PK-12 School Counselor at Lincoln School (Nepal). Previous experiences include High School/College Counselor and Elementary Counselor at American International School (Vietnam) as well as Interim High School Counselor at Saigon South International School (Vietnam). Hillary is joined by her husband Tyler who teaches Language Arts in the Middle School, as well as her two children, Harley, in grade 2, and Greyson, who is in EC 3.

    Tyler Banks
    MS English

    Tyler Banks (USA) has joined our Middle School English department, teaching Grade 6. Tyler earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Business and a minor in English Literature, from Western Washington University (USA) and a teaching degree in Secondary English and Master of Education from The College of New Jersey (USA). Chris was also awarded a Certificate for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Seattle University (USA). He has a keen interest in storytelling, written structures, and multimedia presentations. He has a wealth of experience working with Middle School students, having previously taught English Language Arts and Language Development courses with grades 6, 7, and 8, as well as courses in Design Thinking, Video Production and Exploratory Learning. Tyler has 9 years of teaching experience, previously working at international schools in both Vietnam and Nepal. Before entering the classroom as a teacher, Tyler worked at the University of Washington as a Project Coordinator and with the Bureau of Education and Research as a Program Manager. Tyler is joined by his wife, Hillary, who has joined the Middle School team as a School Counselor, and their sons, Harley, in grade 2 and Greyson in EC 3. Tyler has an interest in popular culture and is always on the lookout for interesting things happening in film, music and media.

    Ana Maria Gomez
    MS Spanish & MS Drama

    Ana Maria Gomez (Colombia) has joined SSIS as our Middle School Spanish and Drama Teacher. Ana Maria has more than eight years of teaching experience. Prior to joining our team, Ana Maria worked as a Middle School Spanish teacher at the American International School of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her previous experiences include High School Spanish teacher at the British International College in Johannesburg; as well as Social Skills Developer at the Melrose Kids Nursery School in Johannesburg.

    Craig Morris
    MS Physical Education

    Craig Morris (Canada) has joined our Physical Education team in the Middle School division. Craig earned his Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics (Guelph), Bachelor of Education (Nipissing), and Master of Physical Education (Memorial). He has worked in a variety of curriculum settings including using Ontario, New Brunswick, British, and IB curriculum. Craig has worked with the IBDP SEHS for 7 years and is on the curriculum review panel and serves as an examiner for the course. He has 12 years of experience in education and prior to joining SSIS, spent 6 years at the International School of Luxembourg. Before that, Chris taught in the Canadian International School of Beijing (China) and Taipei European School (Taiwan). Craig will be looking for help to find the best coffee and pho in Saigon.

    Daisy Lo 
    MS & HS Mandarin

    Daisy Lo (Taiwan) has joined our Middle School World Languages department, teaching both Middle School and High School Mandarin. Daisy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied English from Taiwan and her Master of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University of Southern California (USA). Daisy has eight years of experience teaching Mandarin in middle school and high school. Before joining SSIS, Daisy worked as a high school Mandarin teacher at the Korea International School Jeju (KISJ), where she worked closely with the ELL department to support students’ English learning. Before that, Daisy worked on the administrative side of two international schools in Taipei for 6 years. Daisy is happy to have joined SSIS and is looking forward to opportunities to contribute to the community!

    Kelley McKenna 
    MS Physical Education

    Kelley McKenna (USA) has joined our Middle School PE Department. Kelley earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Human Development, and her master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Boston College (USA). Before joining SSIS, Kelley was at the International School of Brussels for 8 years, where she taught Middle School PE/Health, and coached a variety of U-14 and Varsity sports. She was also the Special Olympics Coordinator for the school. Kelley has previously worked in Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 4 as a classroom teacher. She is joined by her fiance, Jake, who teaches is in the HS Math Department. Kelley loves all things active but especially loves soccer, running, and a good workout. A (not yet) dog owner, but a lover of all dogs, Kelley also enjoys reading and trying out new recipes. She is looking forward to exploring all HCMC has to offer.

    Andrew Ward
    MS Social Studies

    Andrew Ward (USA) has joined our Middle School as a Social Studies teacher. Andrew earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University (USA), minoring in Social Studies and Language Arts. Aside from teaching, Andrew has worked as the curriculum liaison, studying best teaching practices and designing curricula that align with standards. Andrew has over 8 years of teaching experience, most recently at Jiaxiang Foreign Languages School in China. Prior to China, he taught at The American School of Guatemala for three years, earning his master’s degree in International Education. Andrew loves playing and watching basketball, learning guitar, and traveling.


    Elena Anello
    ES Kindergarten

    Elena Anello (Indonesia) has joined our Kindergarten team. Elena has over 9 years of experience working in Early Childhood. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Psychology from Wesleyan University (USA). Through Teach for America, she earned her Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University (USA). Before joining SSIS Elena taught K2 (4-5 year-olds) at Chatsworth International School in Singapore. Prior to that, Elena taught Pre-K at the American School of Guatemala and Kindergarten at Amistad Academy Elementary School in New Haven, Connecticut. Elena is joined by her partner Andrew, who teaches Social Studies in Middle School. In her spare time, Elena enjoys exercising, exploring different parts of the city, and finding the best places to sample the local cuisine.

    Alisa Blundon
    ES Art Grades 3-5

    Alisa Blundon (USA) has joined our Elementary School Art Department as an Art Teacher for grades 3-5. Alisa earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education with a concentration in Photography and a minor in Art History through the University of Southern Maine (USA). She has earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and is recognized as an established Teaching for Artistic Behaviors teacher, focusing on student ownership in the art-making process. Alisa has previously taught elementary art in the US, High School AP and Digital Art in Myanmar. She has also worked as a Technology Integration Specialist at the primary level. Alisa joined us from Istanbul, Turkey where she was Head of the Secondary Specialists Department and taught middle school art, including IB PYP. Alisa is an artist who works in a variety of mediums including cut paper and photography, as well as many traditional forms. She is joined by her wife, Kim, a chef and aspiring EAL teacher, and their Turkish rescue golden retriever, Penny.

    Tiffany Filter 
    ES Grade 1

    Tiffany Filter (USA) joins our Grade 1 team as a Classroom Teacher. Tiffany earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities for Teaching and her master’s in Teaching from Seattle University (USA). She has earned her Early Childhood Generalist National Board Certification and has a teaching endorsement in Elementary Education. Tiffany has over eleven years of experience in the field of education. Prior to SSIS, Tiffany worked as a Grade 2 teacher at the American International School of Chennai (AISC). Earlier experience includes Kindergarten and Grade 3 Classroom Teacher in Bellevue Public Schools (USA). Tiffany is joined by her husband Clayton, our new Curriculum Coordinator, as well as her two children, Emily who is three, and Eleanor who is one.

    Noel Madrid 
    ES Grade 1

    Noel Madrid (Mexico) has joined the Grade 1 team as a Classroom Teacher. Noel earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a master’s in Corporate Communications before deciding to become a classroom teacher. Noel taught in the state of Texas, where he worked as a 1st-grade teacher for two years. He has also taught in Myanmar and the Dominican Republic. Altogether, he has 9 years of experience as a classroom teacher in Kindergarten through grade 2. His husband Thomas has joined SSIS as a Grade 5 ELA specialist. Their twins, Noel and Clara, are in Kindergarten.

    Peter Minasz 
    ES Music Grades 1 & 2

    Peter Minasz (Poland) has joined our Elementary School as the Grade 1 and Grade 2 Music Teacher. Peter earned his Master of Music Education degree at the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. During his continued education in Poland and the U.S., Peter earned certificates in Voice Pedagogy, Orff-Schulwerk approach, Kodaly method, and Classroom Guitar. Peter brings 23 years of experience teaching elementary school music with a choral program at the American School of Warsaw in Poland. He also led extracurricular after school elementary choir and middle school musical productions and coached after school swimming and soccer. A 15-year member of the Warsaw Chamber Opera Choir, Peter has enjoyed performing in numerous festival concerts and opera performances. His mountain-biking and marathon-running balance his musical pursuits! Peter is joined by his wife Dorota, who is ready to explore and experience new flavors of Vietnamese life, culture, and cuisine after 20 years of career service in a government office. Their son Pawel (21), holds his IB diploma and is currently studying automotive engineering at the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland.

    Thomas Potter 
    ES EAL Grade 5

    Thomas Potter (USA) has joined our Grade 5 team as an EAL Specialist. He received his Master in Elementary Education with an ESL endorsement from the University of Washington. He has been teaching overseas since 2008, both in Myanmar and, most recently, in the Dominican Republic, where he was a 3rd-grade EAL specialist. Thomas has also taught in the U.S., in California, Washington, and Texas. In all, Thomas has worked with students in Kindergarten through grade 8 either as a specialist or as a homeroom teacher. Thomas has moved to Vietnam with his husband Noel, who has joined our Grade 1 team. They are accompanied by their twins, Clara and Noel, who are in Kindergarten.

    Brianna Spencer
    ES Grade 2

    Brianna Spencer (USA) joins us as a new Grade 2 Classroom Teacher. She earned her bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, DC (USA) in Literature and her master’s as a Reading Specialist at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois (USA). Before coming to SSIS, Brianna spent 5 years at an IB school in Kuwait, teaching Pre-Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 3. Brianna has hosted various professional development events for her previous school and neighboring schools, mostly focusing on Seesaw, literacy, and mindfulness. Brianna has brought her positive energy and her sense of adventure with her to Saigon.

    Nick Stonehouse
    ES Art Grades 1 & 2

    Nick Stonehouse (UK) is the new Grade 1 and 2 Art Teacher. Nick earned his PGCE in Primary and Art Education from Exeter University (UK), and his Qualified Teaching Status through teaching early years in the UK. He was awarded a Master of Arts in Photography (Fine Art) from the University of the Arts London (UK), a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Art and Design from Leeds Beckett University (UK), and a BTEC in Art and Design from Warwickshire College (UK). Nick was also granted a one-year JASSO Scholarship to study Language, Arts and Culture at Hiroshima University in Japan. Nick has a range of experience teaching visual arts, design, and homeroom, following the UK National, IPC, and IB curriculums, in a variety of age settings including early years, primary and middle school. Prior to coming to SSIS, Nick taught MYP Art and Design at KIS in Bangkok, Thailand. And directly before that, Nick was the PYP Arts Coordinator and teacher at EIS in Ho Chi Minh City and a homeroom teacher and Arts Award Adviser At Gainsborough Primary School in the UK. Nick is a practicing artist and is very happy to have returned to Vietnam.

    Ana Margarida Ferreira
    ES Grade 4

    Ana Margarida Ferreira (Portugal) joins the Elementary School as a Grade 4 Teacher. Prior to joining SSIS Ana taught at the Canadian Vietnam Kindergarten – part of the Canadian International School System – for four years. Ana holds two masters’ degrees, one from Lisbon University (Portugal) and the other from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain).


    Valerie Van Elswyk
    ES EAL Kindergarten

    Valerie Van Elswyk (Canada) is pleased to have joined the Kindergarten team as an EAL Specialist. She has been teaching internationally for nine years, including four years in South Korea and five years in Hangzhou, China. Just before joining SSIS, Valerie had taken a one-year hiatus from teaching to support her daughter and son-in-law at the birth of their twin daughters. She is originally from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and graduated from the University of Waterloo (Canada) with a degree in Religious Studies. She pursued a diploma in TESOL through Coventry House and has completed the Teach-Now qualification as an authorized TESOL teacher through the Hawai’i Teacher Standards Board. Valerie is an avid traveler and has visited numerous destinations throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. She enjoys the outdoors, catching the latest movie, biking, or exploring the hidden streets of her local city.


    Clayton Filter
    EC-12 Curriculum Coordinator

    Clayton Filter (USA) has joined our Curriculum Office as the EC-12 Curriculum Coordinator. Clayton earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Teaching from the University of Washington (USA). He has also earned National Board Certification in the area of Early Adolescent Social Studies & History. Clayton has over 13 years of experience in the field of education, most recently at the American International School Chennai (India) where he served as a Learning Coach for 5 years. Before that, Clayton spent 8 years working for the Bellevue School District, teaching Social Studies, Physical Education, and developing curricula. Clayton is accompanied by his partner, Tiffany, who has joined our Grade 1 team and their two children, Emily (EC3) and Eleanor (age 1).