[AS] Welcome New Faculty, 2023-2024 (May 2023)

    Head of School Letter header

    Dear SSIS Parents,

    As we eagerly anticipate the extended weekend, I wish you and your family a delightful and restful break. Quality family time is essential for our community’s well-being, and I hope you are able to make the most of this time together. 

    In the spirit of continuous growth and improvement, I am thrilled to introduce you to the 13 faculty members joining SSIS in August.

    After the long weekend, two of them, Don McNamee, our newly appointed Director of Educational Technology, will return for a second visit to SSIS. A few days before his arrival, Daniel Kerr, next year’s new Middle School Principal, will visit and meet with parents for the first time.

    We are confident that our new faculty’s expertise, passion, and dedication will further enhance the outstanding educational experience we provide our students. 

    Your feedback is essential in ensuring we provide your children with the best opportunities possible. On that note, we are so grateful that more than half of you were able to participate in our most recent community survey, and I look forward to presenting the results at my Head of School Coffee on Tuesday, May 30, from 8:15 – 9:45 am.

    We remain committed to nurturing a positive and vibrant learning community. Thank you for your continued support and partnership in our mission to empower students to reach their full potential.  

    Wishing you a wonderful extended weekend, and we look forward to welcoming students back to campus on Thursday, May 4.

    All good wishes,

    Dr. Catriona Moran

    Head of School


    Don McNamee (Canada)
    Director of Educational Technology

    Don is a seasoned educator with 26 years of experience. He’s held various leadership positions in educational technology and his experience includes being a K-12 leadership and learning executive for Apple INC, Director and Chief Innovation Officer at the American School of Dubai, and IT Manager of Learning and Services at the Kristin School in New Zealand. 

    Don brings a high level of expertise, having supported the worldwide rollout of computational thinking programs and developed international “fiber-connected” sessions with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Google, and his current school. He is committed to leveraging his strengths, knowledge, and network of relationships to support and champion SSIS’s teaching and learning initiatives. 

    When not working, Don loves to explore new cultures, music, and sports and is an avid hiker who enjoys going off the beaten path to immerse himself in outdoor adventures and travels.

    His family, including his spouse Nicky and children William (G10) and Sophie (G8), are excited about the core values of SSIS and look forward to living and working in Vietnam for many years to come.

    Education: Master’s in Education Leadership (Michigan State University, USA), Bachelor of Education (Queen’s University, Canada), Bachelor of Arts Honors – Geographic Information Systems (Queen’s University, Canada), Bachelor of Arts – Economics (Queen’s University, Canada)


    Janie Cates (USA)
    HS Math Teacher

    Janie is a passionate and experienced math teacher with over 31 years of experience! Throughout her career, she has taught in a variety of settings, from multiple schools in the US, in Florida and Georgia, a school in Egypt, and even a state university. She is passionate about her students and loves seeing their “AH-HA” moments when they finally understand a concept.

    Janie’s expertise in math has been recognized by the Georgia Council Teachers of Mathematics Conference, at which she presented annually. She is also the co-author of five mathematics activity books for grades K-2, 3-5, Algebra, and Geometry. She is excited to bring her wealth of knowledge to SSIS.

    When Janie isn’t teaching, she can be found exploring new places, reading, visiting the beach, or scuba diving. She started scuba diving when she lived in Egypt and has since reached an impressive depth of 40 meters.

    Janie is eager for new experiences and opportunities at SSIS, both in and out of the classroom.

    Education: Doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction – Mathematics Education (Florida State University, USA), Master’s of Science in Curriculum & Instruction – Mathematics Education (Florida State University, USA), Bachelor’s of Science in Curriculum & Instruction – Mathematics Education (Florida State University, USA), Certificate in Educational Leadership (University of West Georgia, USA)

    Monique Cover (USA)
    HS English and Spanish Teacher

    With 16 years of experience, Monique is a dedicated educator who has taught in various schools across the United States and overseas in China and Côte d’Ivoire. She has a passion for helping teenagers develop into contributing and empathetic members of society and is excited to bring her experience to SSIS.

    Recently, Monique completed two certificates from Cornell University in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Hospitality Management. 

    Monique is thrilled to join the innovative and impressive team at SSIS and is eager to experience all that living in Vietnam has to offer. She is half-Vietnamese and also eager to further develop her skills in the language.

    Monique will be joined by her husband, Geoff, a skilled and multi-talented craftsman. Together, they enjoy cooking and baking, reading, exercising, traveling, planning events, and spending time with their 12-year-old dog, Jorge Luis.

    Education: Master’s of Science in Education (Old Dominion University, USA), Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Concordia University, USA)

    Nicholas Haywood (Australia)
    HS PE Teacher

    Nicholas is a skilled teacher and program coordinator with 18 years of experience in education. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for his ability to create and lead successful athletic programs. Besides teaching, Nicholas is passionate about curriculum development and student services. But what Nicholas loves most is nurturing relationships—with students, colleagues, departmental and senior leadership teams.

    Nicholas comes to SSIS from Sandgate District State High School in Brisbane, where he has taught, coordinated, and coached sports programs. A particular highlight was leading the senior boys’ team to the city district championship. 

    Nicholas will be coming to Vietnam with his wife, Emma, who will be teaching PE in middle school, and their two children, Mo (age 6) and Izzy (age 4). When not teaching, Nicholas likes to explore, play basketball, and surf. In fact, he shares that he “hasn’t missed a day in the ocean for 6 years.” 

    Education: Bachelor’s degree in Human Movement (University of Tasmania, Australia)

    Albert Pena (Canada)
    HS Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering Design

    Albert is a tech-savvy educator with a passion for innovation and empowering his students. With four years of teaching experience at another international school in HCMC, he initiated and developed the school’s first-ever Computer Science course, helping students gain confidence and build creative projects. He’s always on the lookout for new opportunities to inspire his students and push the boundaries of technology.

    When he’s not teaching, Albert loves spending time outdoors, playing sports, cooking healthy meals, and spending time with his wife, Nhàn. She’s a former teacher turned entrepreneur and now runs her own business selling fresh fruit juice and delicious food. 

    Albert is impressed by the positive and welcoming environment at SSIS. He strongly believes in our not-for-profit model and that it ensures a high-quality experience for everyone. With his passion for teaching and love of technology, he’s sure to make a lasting impact on our students.

    Education: Master’s of Teaching (University of Toronto, Canada), Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Physics and Mathematics (University of Toronto, Canada)


    Daniel Kerr (Canada)
    Middle School Principal

    Dan Kerr is a highly experienced and dedicated educator with a passion for working with young people. With 10 years of teaching experience and 14 years of administrative experience, Dan has had a successful career in education and has worked in schools across the world, including in Ecuador, China, Indonesia, and the UAE. He is a 2021 National Association of Elementary Schools Distinguished Principal Award Winner and a Featured Educational Voice and Blogger for The International Educator Website (TIE ONLINE).

    As Adjunct Professor at Endicott College Dan has taught Masters Degree classes on Innovation in International Schools and Change Management. He is also a TED X Speaker and enjoys writing his personal blog.

    Dan is the father of two children, a 12th grade boy and a 9th grade girl (Max and Gabby), and his wife, Jocelyn Kerr, will join SSIS as our second middle school counselor. In his free time, Dan is passionate about running, cooking, travel, and spending time with his family. People may be surprised to learn that he’s also been skydiving, bungee jumping, and has run with the bulls in Pamplona.

    Education: Masters of International Education and Educational Leadership (Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, USA), Bachelor of Education (University of Maine at Fort Kent, USA), Bachelor of Arts (Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) and a Certificate of International School Leadership from The Principals Training Center.

    Kyle Arkeilpane (USA)
    MS English Language Arts & Social Studies Teacher

    With 10 years of experience, Kyle is a dynamic and dedicated educator who has taught in various schools across the United States, South Korea, and Ecuador. He is passionate about igniting a fire in his students and has a proven track record of creating engaging and impactful lessons that bring the curriculum to life.

    Kyle is proud of his ability to adapt and thrive in a variety of educational settings and cultures. He is a lifelong learner who constantly seeks new ways to improve his craft and make a positive impact in the lives of his students.

    In his free time, Kyle enjoys playing sports, exploring new areas, and going on adventures. He also likes to stay active through running, cycling, and trekking.

    Kyle is thrilled to be joining the dedicated and innovative team at SSIS and is excited to learn more about Vietnam and its rich culture. He is committed to bringing his passion and expertise to the classroom and helping students reach their full potential.

    Education: Bachelor’s in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies (University of Cincinnati, USA)

    Jacob Isaac (Australia)
    MS Science and Math Teacher

    With 8 years of experience, Jacob is passionate about inspiring students and having a positive impact on their learning. He has taught at Sandgate District State High School in Brisbane, Australia, and the Korean International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

    As a basketball coach, Jacob led his team to the state championships in Queensland, Australia. In his free time, he loves to take photos, ride motorbikes, play basketball, and cook.

    Jacob is eager to join such a reputable school as SSIS and to connect with students while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. He’s also excited to explore the beauty of Vietnam and capture it through his passion for photography. A morning person, Jacob is always up before sunrise.

    Education: Bachelor’s of Education – Secondary (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

    Emma Haywood (Australia)
    MS PE Teacher

    Emma believes that a healthy mind and body are the key foundations to becoming a well-rounded human, and she’s excited to help the students at SSIS develop and strengthen these building blocks.

    Emma has 8 years of experience, having taught physical education in Tasmania, Australia, before joining SSIS. She’s passionate about sports and physical activity, and her love for both are reflected in her own athletic achievements. Emma has completed the challenging Overland Track in Tasmania, even in the harshest of weather conditions. She also captained her basketball team to the national finals and was named MVP for the state netball team. Regardless of what she’s doing, Emma’s goal is to make it enjoyable and worthwhile.

    In her free time, Emma enjoys running, basketball, netball, ultimate frisbee, surfing, pilates, and hiking. She also enjoys reading. She will be joined by her husband, Nicholas, who will teach High School PE. They have two children, ages 6 and 4.

    Emma and her family are excited about the new life they will be creating in Vietnam and the opportunities it presents.

    Education: Bachelor’s in Education specializing in Health and Physical Education (University of Tasmania, Australia)

    Jocelyn Kerr (Canada)
    Middle School Counselor

    With 26 years of experience, Jocelyn is an experienced educator who has taught in international schools all over the world, including France, Ecuador, China, Indonesia, and the UAE. Before becoming a counselor, she taught middle school math and served as an Advisor, where she found joy in connecting with students and developing trusted relationships with families, leading her to pursue her Master’s in Counseling.

    Jocelyn’s family includes her husband, Daniel Kerr, who will join SSIS as the new Middle School Principal, their daughter, Gabby, who will start grade 10 at SSIS, and their son, Max, who is a university student in Canada. In her free time, Jocelyn enjoys running, hiking, baking, reading, and arts and crafts. She also loves trying new foods and is eager to start exploring Vietnam.

    Jocelyn is excited to start building relationships with the SSIS community members, explore Vietnam, and find some great hiking in the region.

    Education: Master’s degree in Counseling (Monash University, Australia), Bachelor’s of Education with a major in Mathematics and Science (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada)


    Philip Drewett (United Kingdom)
    Grade 3 Teacher

    With 8 years of experience, Philip is an experienced educator who is passionate about guiding students on their journey of discovery and growth. 

    One of Philip’s proudest moments was winning Coach of the Year award at the American School Foundation in Mexico City, where he had the privilege of guiding the varsity boys’ basketball team to victory at the American Schools Championship in Mexico. 

    In his free time, Philip enjoys reading, playing, and watching sports like basketball and football, exploring nature through hiking and swimming, and playing board games. He has a deep love for camping in the great outdoors and relishes the chance to disconnect from the world and immerse himself in nature’s tranquility.

    Philip is thrilled about the opportunity to join SSIS and experience all that Vietnam has to offer. He’s especially excited about the chance to meet new people and build meaningful connections with colleagues, students, and community members.

    Education: Post Graduate Certificate in Education – Primary Years (Gloucestershire University, UK), Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Youth Sport (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

    Phú Hua (Canada)
    Elementary School STEAM Coach

    With 13 years of experience, Phú is a seasoned educator and Digital Learning Coach. He joins us from Stamford American International School in Singapore where he developed a deep passion for teaching and a commitment to staying up-to-date in the ever-evolving field of education.

    Phú is a strong believer in the power of creative thinking and is known for his ability to encourage innovation and foster collaboration, modeling the incorporation of design thinking and problem-solving. 

    He brings great experience to the role of ES STEAM Coach, in part from experiences like hosting VEX National Robotics at his current school. He is excited to move back to Vietnam, where he lived for almost a decade and where his family is from.

    Phú will be joined by his wife, a certified MS science teacher, who will do her school counseling internship when they arrive in Vietnam. His son will be enrolled in KG and his daughter, age 2, will be going to daycare.

    In his free time, Phú enjoys playing softball and cooking. 

    Education: Bachelor’s degree in General Studies (Athabasca University, Canada), Diploma of Education (University of Toronto), Diploma of Business Marketing (Georgian College), Web Page Design and Production (Georgian College), Graphic Design and Production Diploma (Niagara College)

    Thomas McBurney (Australia)
    Grade 4 Teacher

    Thomas brings 5 years of teaching experience to SSIS, most recently from a primary school in Melbourne, Australia, where he served as curriculum leader of his grade level. 

    Thomas enjoys being an active member of the community and looks forward to working with the ES Super Units in our expansive co-curricular space. He is also excited about the international-mindedness of SSIS. 

    In his free time, Thomas enjoys the outdoors, hiking, and running. He is a sports enthusiast and loves playing Australian football. He also enjoys cooking, exploring hidden food gems, listening to live music, and is looking forward to learning more about Vietnam’s thriving street food scene and rich history.

    Education: Master’s of Teaching Primary (University of Melbourne, Australia), Bachelor’s degree in Asia Pacific Studies (Australian National University, Australia)

    Maricela Rodriguez (USA)
    Grade 4 Teacher

    A dedicated educator, Maricela grew up understanding the importance of hard work and determination in achieving one’s goals; a passion she now shares with her students. Her 15 years of teaching experience ranges from teaching in inner-city schools in Los Angeles to working at a charter academy and an international school in Panama.

    One of her proudest achievements is running a successful program that trained inner-city middle school students to participate in the LA marathon and presenting at the AASSA conference in Chile. She also earned a second master’s degree after many years of teaching.

    Maricela and her husband, Wilking, love travel, sports, and the arts. Wilking is a huge soccer fan and loves to dance, while Maricela is an avid reader and enjoys staying active through boxing classes. They both love spending time with their dog Mando, going out for breakfast or brunch, and exploring new parts of the world.

    Maricela is eager to bring her passion for education and her diverse experiences to the SSIS community. She is excited to be part of the school’s integrated units and to learn more about the culture and people of Vietnam.

    Education: Master’s degree in Educational Leadership (Framingham State University, USA), Master’s degree in Education (University of California, Los Angeles), Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies (University of California, Los Angeles)