Dear Middle School Students and Parents,
As we start to bring this year to a close, I’m excited to share some news with you about our incoming faculty for next year, which promises to be another exciting and engaging year of learning.
You will find that each of our new teachers have impressive qualifications, outstanding experience, and experience that will further support our mission, vision and core values.
We hope you enjoy getting to know our newest faculty members through their biographies on eNews. We are very proud of who will be joining our division and excited to share their information with you.
All my very best,
Ms. Molly Burger
Middle School Principal
PS: In addition, at the bottom of this post, we have provided information about the new all-school employees that will join our SSIS community.
Bryce Boudreau (Canada)
Middle School Mathematics Teacher
“I am passionate about teaching mathematics and showing students how fun and applicable it is to their lives outside of school.”
Mr. Boudreau will join our middle school division as a Math teacher. Although not his first time teaching abroad— he has also taught in the Dominican Republic and in Colombia—it will be his first time living in Asia. He is very excited to dive into a new culture and all the experiences that come along with finding a home away from home.
Mr. Boudreau will be joined by his wife, Katie, who will be teaching grade 3 in the elementary school, and their two dogs, Artie and Theo.
Outside of work, Mr. Boudreau loves singing, being active and keeping up with popular music and events.
Education: Master’s degree in Education (University of Alabama, USA), Bachelor’s degree in Education (St. Thomas University, Canada)
Chia Lun (Ivory) Chang (Taiwan)
Middle School Mandarin Teacher
“I enjoy the interaction with students, and it’s always fantastic to know that I have helped students reach their full potential.”
In her 15 years as an educator, Ms. Chang has worked in Dubai, Myanmar, and Thailand. Passionate about volunteering, she was the instructor of the Community Action group at her school in Myanmar. The group played with and taught orphans in need, building them a library to have a safe environment for them to read, think, share and grow.
Ms. Chang believes that the mission and core values at SSIS will allow her to use her skills and qualities to their greatest potential. She looks forward to joining our community and getting to know her students, parents and colleagues.
In 2020 she went to the Dubai Expo 25 times so she could explore 192 countries in one place, and she can’t wait to explore Vietnam in person!
Education: Master of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language (National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan), Bachelor of English Language and Literature (National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan)
Blaire Hart (United States)
Middle School EAL Teacher
“Watching students’ confidence grow over time as they learn to express their ideas in English is the best part of teaching for me!”
Recently, Ms. Hart, who will be joining us from Hanoi, had the opportunity to observe a group of her former students now comfortably using the skills they had learned in her class during an in-class discussion. She was thrilled by their progress and confidence in leading others in meaningful classroom discussions.
Ms. Hart has worked as an educator in the US, South Korea, India, and Vietnam. As an English Language Fellow through the US State Department, she has worked on projects that promote gender equality and access to education. Ms. Hart will be joined by her husband, who will also teach in the middle school, and her daughter, Iris (age 8), who will attend our elementary school.
She and her family have loved living in Hanoi for the past four years, and they are looking forward to new adventures in Ho Chi Minh City.
Education: Master of Education in Language and Literacy Education in TESOL (University of Georgia, USA), Bachelor of Arts in English (University of Oregon, USA)
Matthew Hart (United States)
Middle School Physical Education / Health and Social Studies Teacher
“Learning to decide for oneself how to make choices that are healthy and beneficial is such an important part of the MS/HS years. Working with students in both PE and Social Studies is an exceptional way to help them navigate this process.”
It feels like the world today is so full of choices for many people. Mr. Hart emphasizes the importance of helping young people learn to make good decisions for themselves. He enjoys pushing the boundaries of his own comfort zone and growing into new roles and experiences.
Mr. Hart enjoys an active lifestyle and likes sports and athletics, especially cycling and swimming. He also enjoys spending time with his family, his wife, Blaire, who will teach EAL in middle school, and his daughter, Iris, who will join SSIS in grade 3.
Mr. Hart and his family have spent the last several years in Hanoi and are looking forward to moving to HCMC and joining the educational community at SSIS.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in History (Michigan State University, USA), Associate degree in Nursing (Georgia State University, USA)
Danial Hogg (United Kingdom)
Middle School Physical Education / Health Teacher
“I feel like I was led into teaching with a burning desire to create opportunities for students and to help guide them on the path to realizing their ambitions. To inspire and empower students to believe that anything is possible and to share my passion and enthusiasm along the way.”
“I genuinely love teaching, working with students and being around education,” says Mr. Hogg, who is currently working toward an MBA in Educational Leadership. Mr. Hogg is particularly proud of having grown a summer program from 1,200 to over 3,000 students and creating new and exciting enrichment programs for students.
Outside of work, Mr. Hogg is passionate about organizing events and groups in the local community. During the COVID-19 lockdown, he helped to create an online community that provided daily free yoga and fitness classes for more than 500 people each week.
A former semi-professional footballer in England who played in the English FA Cup, Mr. Hogg is currently the chairman of the oldest amateur football (soccer) team in Saigon, The Saigon Raiders, which has over 70 members and two competitive teams.
Mr. Hogg is excited by the prospect of working with the SSIS middle school team and students and can’t wait to meet his new colleagues, be inspired and learn from them and contribute to the team.
Education: Master of Business Administration in Educational Leadership in progress (University of Cumbria, UK), Bachelor of Education in Physical Education (University of Exeter, UK)
Megan Kottwitz (United States)
Middle School Science Teacher
“Making the learning applicable to our students’ lives is something that we all strive for, and seeing a student take charge of that learning and want to learn in a more personal way sends me to my happy place.”
One of Ms. Kottwitz’s favorite teaching moments is when she witnesses a student begin to take their learning in their own direction. She has taught students in the US, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico and loves the energy that new people give. She’s looking forward to working with a collaborative team for the betterment of our students’ learning and to learn from others.
Although Ms. Kottwitz is new to the region, she’s excited to be joining family already here. Her sister, Bev Larson, teaches in the middle school at SSIS.
Before undergoing a titanium hip replacement some years ago, Ms. Kottwitz, who enjoys being active, ran 14 half-marathons in four different countries.
Education: Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies (State University of New York, USA), Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Fort Lewis College, USA)
Carlos Simón Lázaro (Spain)
Middle School Spanish Teacher
“Being a member of the school community, supporting students in their progress, and collaborating with great teachers are the main reasons why I’m excited about teaching.”
In his previous career as a sound engineer, Mr. Lázaro designed the soundtrack to several TV shows and a feature film. He later went on to found a clothing brand. But Mr. Lázaro says that teaching is the most fulfilling work he’s done.
Besides building deep bonds with his students, Mr. Lázaro’s goal as the head of the department at his previous school was to also create a positive culture for teachers, where all were heard and everyone collaborated and supported each other.
Outside of work, Mr. Lázaro enjoys traveling, reading, playing the guitar, playing board games, and being with friends. Most of all he enjoys spending time with his dog. Next year will be Mr. Lázaro’s sixth year in Vietnam. He loves riding his motorbike on the city streets, getting out of the city to explore various beach getaways around the country and eating Vietnamese food.
Education: Master of Education in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (Universidad Europea del Atlántico, Spain), Teacher Certification Program (Moreland University, USA), Postgraduate Degree in Coaching, Leadership, and Management (Universidad Isabel I, Spain), EMBA in Fashion Companies Management (ESDEN Business School, Spain), Bachelor of Art in Communication (Open University of Catalonia, Spain)
Ann Laros-Weaver (United States)
Middle School Learning Support
“I was working in a day treatment center and the lead teacher—a mentor—said that everyone deserves to learn in the way they can and everyone needs a champion. I wanted to be that champion.”
With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Laros-Weaver has mentored many students during her years as an educator. She enjoys gardening, taking walks, spending time with friends and family, having adventures and traveling. Her husband, Grant, will be our new IT Director. They have two daughters in college. Ms. Laros-Weaver is looking forward to getting to know our community, the school and Vietnam!
Education: Master of Education (University of Colorado, USA)
Patrick O’Brien (United States)
Middle School English Language Arts / Yearbook Teacher
“…On the first day, in front of 22 students, I wrote my name on a whiteboard and thought, ‘Yeah, I could get used to this.’ “
As the director of technical writing for an Indian-American internet company, Mr. O’Brien was sent to India to train colleagues in “Business American.” It was during this trip that he discovered that teaching and being in front of students was something he really enjoyed.
While teaching in Ghana, Mr. O’Brien worked closely with a local artist in a yearlong partnership, documenting the creation of his sculpture series. As Mr. O’Brien is also a professional photographer, the projected ended with a gallery show of the artist’s finished work and Mr. O’Brien’s photos of the process. Mr. O’Brien has also taken photographs of the US American football team, the Oakland Raiders.
Coming to Saigon has been a dream of Mr. O’Brien and his wife, Cassie, who will join our HS mathematics department—they are both very excited to be joining our community. They enjoy cooking and hosting get-togethers, and during lockdown they took on new interests including birdwatching, and can’t wait to explore Vietnam and discover birds they’ve never seen before.
Education: Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies (State University of New York, USA), California Single-Subject Teaching Credential (San Francisco State University, USA), Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (Hofstra University, USA)
Lan Pham (United States)
Middle School Instructional Technology Teacher
“The fulfillment of teaching others compelled me to follow my heart and turn this passion into a career by getting a Master in Education and starting to work as a technology coordinator and teacher.”
Ms. Pham’s journey to becoming an educator began after 13 years of working in a fast-paced, technology-driven environment in Silicon Valley. She discovered she was most passionate about the instructional design aspect of her tech career.
At her current school, Ms. Pham has supported high school female students to start a technology club speaker series that brought in Silicon Valley’s top CEOs, innovators, and entrepreneurs to provide insights into what young women can do to pursue their dream careers, including the importance of mentors. She was humbled to see her students take the initiative, develop leadership skills and motivate others.
When not working, Ms. Pham’s creative outlet is photography, and she loves capturing the essence of wherever she is through her photos. Photography makes her slow down and appreciate her surroundings. In 2018 she was awarded first prize in a photo contest run by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco.
As a technology teacher, people are often surprised about Ms. Pham’s interest in history. She loves reading and researching historical events, figures and cultures. She is looking forward to collaborating and learning from the talented, diverse and passionate educators at SSIS and returning to the city of her birth.
Education: Master of Arts in Digital Media and Learning (University of San Francisco, USA), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (University of Illinois, USA)
Meghan Ricker (United States)
Middle School Counselor
“I love celebrating and recognizing the small victories students have each day.”
Ms. Ricker recalls that her first flight and experience abroad was when, as a high school student, she participated in an exchange program in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since then, during her nearly 20-year career, Ms. Ricker has worked in China, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus and the United States. Ho Chi Minh City is one of her favorite cities and she’s looking forward to calling it home. Her two sons, Evan and Colin, will enter grade 2 and Kindergarten at SSIS, and Ms. Ricker’s husband, Chad McGarlin, will serve as the new HS associate principal.
Ms. Ricker loves reading and the pandemic prompted her to rediscover her love of sewing.
Education: Postgraduate Certificate in Education Policy (UMASS Dartmouth, USA), Master of Education in School Counseling (University of West Alabama, USA), Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education (University of New Hampshire, USA), Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching (University of New Hampshire, USA)
Juan José Sanz del Alamo (Spain)
Middle School Spanish Teacher
“I have always wanted to be a teacher.”
Ever since he can recall, Mr. Sanz del Alamo knew he wanted to be a teacher, opting for a degree in education over a degree in law in college. As a young child, he would spend time teaching his younger sister and checking her homework. For the past 16 years, Mr. Sanz del Alamo has lived his dream.
He is no stranger to Southeast Asia and has spent several years teaching in international schools in the Philippines. He was drawn to SSIS as it is a family-oriented school where children are valued and supported with a superb campus and amazing professionals. Ho Chi Minh City has always been one of his favorite cities, and he can’t wait to discover more about our city.
Mr. Sanz del Alamo shares that his sons, Mauro (7) and Gael (5), are the most wonderful gift of his life. Saturday nights are movie and pizza nights, but otherwise, they lead a very active life outdoors. When not teaching, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, going for motorbike rides, listening to jazz, working out or reading Japanese novels.
Education: Masters in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (Universidad de Barcelona, Spain), Bachelor of Arts in English (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)
Janelle Sculley (United States)
Middle School Math Teacher
“My favorite teaching moments occur every time I see my students experience the beauty of math.”
Nothing makes Ms. Sculley prouder than when students overcome any stress or fear they may have of math and begin to see it in a positive light. She feels privileged to get to be the person who opens students’ minds to the wonderful, dynamic world of mathematics.
Excited to join SSIS, as she feels very strongly about the school’s mission to educate the whole child and help them find positive balance in life, Ms. Sculley is someone who aims to push herself out of her comfort zone and loves trying new things, going new places and meeting new people.
When not working, Ms. Sculley loves everything outdoors and spends a lot of time walking, hiking, biking and playing sports. As someone who also loves being on and in the water, she hopes to become a Divemaster and eventually teach scuba diving as well. She plans to spend her weekends exploring towns outside of HCMC to experience as much of Vietnam as possible.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Middle Childhood Education (University of Dayton, USA)
Lisa Strock (United States)
Middle School Mathematics Teacher
“I love the energy of our math classrooms and seeing my students grow their mathematical thinking.”
Before teaching middle school math, Ms. Strock loved her job as a middle school counselor, but she realized that she felt the most passion and energy when she would informally help students who were struggling with math. Over time, she decided to make the jump from counseling to teaching.
At her current school, Ms. Strock is the only math teacher in her grade level, and she’s very excited to join a team of math teachers to expand her thinking and collaborate together.
Although Ms. Strock has not lived in Vietnam before, she describes a 15-day cycling trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City a few years ago as one of the highlights of her life. She is looking forward to seeing more of Vietnam on her bicycle, exploring neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City and trying Vietnamese food. When not cycling or teaching, she enjoys yoga, finding coffee houses, going to the beach, hiking and traveling to new countries.
Education: Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (University of Denver, USA), Master of Education in School Counseling (Georgia State University, USA), Bachelor of Science in Computer Technology (Purdue University, USA)
Education: Master of Arts in Education Technology (University of San Francisco, USA), Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)
Phil Wendel (United States)
Middle School Associate Principal
“I’ve had so many great mentors who were educators, and I always aspire to have that type of positive influence on my students and colleagues. This is why I love working in education… ”
Currently Co-Head of School at Waldorf School of Atlanta, USA, Mr. Wendel has more than 35 years of experience as an educator. During his extensive career at schools in the United States and Lebanon, Mr. Wendel has served as a teacher, associate principal, principal and co-head of school.
Along with two principal exchanges abroad, Mr. Wendel was selected to take part in a summer study program that took him to Cambodia. That experience enhanced his ability to relate to students and parents from cultures other than his own and motivated him to pursue international educational opportunities.
Mr. Wendel spent nine years in Lebanon at American Community School Beirut as Middle School Assistant Principal and later as Principal, where he helped to design and navigate several key changes in the middle school.
A certified yoga instructor and avid photographer, Mr. Wendel also loves being active outdoors, either running or biking. He is very excited to return to work in a middle school setting and to live in a part of the world that he’s never lived in before. Mr. Wendel will be joined by his wife, Sara.
Education: Master’s degree in Sport Administration (Georgia State University, USA), Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (DePauw University, USA)
Elisia Brodeur (United States)
“I love that SSIS focuses on so much more than academics and that the school is always looking to improve and invest in its infrastructure and programs.”
Ms. Brodeur brings almost 20 years of experience as an editor in the field of educational publishing and 5 years as the Communications Specialist at Ruamrudee International School in Thailand. She is particularly proud of her contributions there, including single-handedly writing and editing the school magazine (published 3 times a year), collaborating to redesign the school website, and her work to improve the school’s overall communication systems and processes.
Ms. Brodeur is also passionate about building community and sought out various ways to support and celebrate the students, parents, and faculty at her previous school. She is very much looking forward to helping with the communications at SSIS and being an active member of our community.
Although Ms. Brodeur will be joining SSIS this coming school year, she and her family became part of the SSIS community in 2021. Her husband, Kevin, teaches middle school language arts, and their sons, Duncan (Gr 10) and Tobin (Gr 8), are very happy here. She feels that the school’s values align with their own and can already see how much their children have blossomed since being here.
When not nerding about words or nitpicking over grammar, Ms. Brodeur enjoys being in nature (except for the bugs), reading, jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, traveling and having conversations with her kids, who she suspects are now officially smarter than she is.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Communications Processes (University of Humberside, UK)
Kimberly Harris (United States)
EC–12 Learning Coordinator
“My curriculum coordinator interest stemmed from my second teaching position when I noticed big gaps and overlaps in the program.”
While teaching at a previous school, Ms. Harris realized that she was interested in moving into a position that focused on improving curricular design and articulation. She was pleased to take on such a role, especially as she enjoys working with teachers at all stages of their careers.
Ms. Harris has worked at international schools in Nigeria and Mexico, as well as at several well-regarded independent schools in the US. Her husband, Kevin, will join the high school. They have one child, William, who is almost 2 years old. When not working, Ms. Harris likes to spend time with her son and husband, cook, read, run and spend time in nature.
Education: Master of Arts in Teaching (Johns Hopkins University, USA), Bachelor of Arts (Eastern Illinois University, USA)
Dr. Daniel Long (United States)
Director of Activities and Community Engagement
“Watching students connect with each other, grow in confidence, jump in and get involved in school life, and share joy with others is fantastic.”
During his 30 years as an educator, Dr. Long has had the opportunity to work across all grade levels and is amazed at how much children of all ages—and adults—have in common in terms of wanting to be motivated, encouraged, challenged and experience success.
Having spent more than 18 years overseas in Taiwan and Singapore, Dr. Long comes to us most recently from Taipei American School. He shares that he finds it tremendously satisfying to be part of students’ learning and growing experiences.
Dr. Long and his wife, Melissa, who is a registered nurse, are parents of three grown children. Visiting SSIS three years ago, they were impressed by the people: students, faculty, staff and administrators and are looking forward to joining our team.
Education: Doctorate of Education in Teaching, Learning, Curriculum, Leadership (Northeastern University, USA), Master of Education in Educational Administration (Columbia International University, USA), Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (Houghton College, USA)
Wanda Luinenburg (Netherlands)
Marketing and Events Officer
“As an all-round marketer with extensive experience in numerous industries, I enjoy working collaboratively to produce excellent results for all stakeholders.”
With a passion for sports and events, Ms. Luinenburg is an all-around marketer with extensive experience in numerous industries. An avid soccer enthusiast, Ms. Luinenburg has worked for FIFA’s local organizing committee in New Zealand for the U-20 World Cup and also served as the operational manager for Canterbury United.
Ms. Luinenburg likes to lead an active life, both personally and professionally. She enjoys working collaboratively and is known for motivating others through her energy, dedication, diligence and ability to set up and work to a plan. Ms. Luinenburg’s husband, Josh, will join our high school as a PE teacher. They have an 18-month-old daughter, Jade.
Ms. Luinenberg is looking forward to a new adventure and culture and to exploring new places.
Education: Bachelor of Arts (Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Ma. Socorro Marcelo (Philippines)
“I make friends very fast but I am a little bit introverted.”
Ms. Michelle Marcelo is a former Property Manager at an international company in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Originally from the Philippines, Ms. Marcelo has lived abroad for almost 15 years.
Ms. Marcelo believes herself to be a life-long learner and that there is so much more to learn and discover about life if only one is willing to open her heart and mind to learning. When not working, Ms. Marcelo enjoys reading, yoga, and playing badminton.
Education: Siena College of Quezon City (Philippines)
Nicol Stevens (United States)
Health Office Manager
“I am a registered nurse because I am fascinated by science and have a passion for helping others and educating people about health and wellness.”
A front-line worker during the COVID pandemic, Ms. Stevens has been a registered nurse for 24 years. She’s worked in hospitals, outpatient surgery, post-anesthesia care unit, multi-specialty clinic, family practice, eye surgery, and plastic and reconstructive surgery as an RN first-assist and circulator, as well as in the immediate/urgent care setting.
When she’s not working, Ms. Stevens’ other passions include landscaping, taking walks, hiking, kayaking, reading, baking and going to the beach. She’s excited to meet and learn about new people from all around the world, to live in another country, to learn about different cultures and to work in a school with such a welcoming environment.
Ms. Stevens will be joined by her husband, Matt, our new HS Counselor, and children, Brooke, age 10, and Blake, age 14.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing in progress (Western Governors University, USA), Associate degree (Centralia Community College, USA), Associate degree in Nursing (South Puget Sound Community College, USA)
Grant Weaver (United States)
“I’m really looking forward to a new adventure with a school that is growing. Excited to try and stay one step ahead with technology to support all of the things the school will do over the next several years.”
For 14 of his 22 years as an IT director, Mr. Weaver has worked in IT management at schools. He loves it for several reasons—it allows him to channel his inner nerd and also because he gets to work with a cool and fascinating community, plus the network is quiet over the summer for maintenance.
Mr. Weaver is looking forward to a new adventure in our growing school and all of the great things SSIS will be doing over the coming years. He’s excited to work and interact closely with the local population on a daily basis as he loves getting to know people’s stories. Outside of IT, Mr. Weaver is known for his excellent cooking skills!
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Lewis and Clark College, USA)