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2017-2018 New Staff Members

Robert Stearns, Head of School

From: CanadaEducation: B.Sc. (Honors) Biology, University of Ottawa; B.Ed., Queens University, Canada

Other Schools: Confederation High School, AY Jackson Secondary School, South Carleton High School, Earl of March Secondary School, Canada; Lahr Secondary School, Germany; Dresden International School, Germany; Renaissance College, Hong Kong; International School of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Years in education: 43

My lifelong goal to be a scientist was achieved when I became a researcher investigating diseases in cattle and sheep. However, my passion for this work slowly dwindled with the isolation of working in a small laboratory all day, every day. I found out that what I really wanted was to be with people to talk about science, to wonder together about the unknown, to experience with them the joy of discovery and learning. It was this thrill of sharing discovery and learning with others that led me into teaching. Helping young people especially, to wonder and learn about the world around them, became for me a stronger passion than working with test tubes and germs. So, I became a science teacher. Over the years, I found fulfillment in helping new teachers hone their teaching skills and collaborating with schools do things better. So, I became an administrator. In the eighties, I had the opportunity to teach on a Canadian military base in Germany and I discovered the stimulation of discovering new lands and cultures. So, I became an international educator. And now, as I get close to the end of my career, I am honoured to take up my final overseas assignment at Shekou International School - a school with students from all over the world who love learning at SIS; a school with teachers from all over the world who thrill in learning with these students. I look forward to a year of passionate discovery and learning with the SIS students and teachers.

Harish Kanabar, Elementary School Principal

From: United Kingdom
Education: B.Ed., (Honors) Primary Eduction, University of Brighton; MSc in Education, State University of New York
Other Schools: Qatar Academy Sidra, Qatar; Qatar Academy Doha, Qatar; Lorna Whiston Schools, Singapore; William Torbitt School, England; Ifield School, England
Years in education: 23

My name is Harish and I am very excited about joining the vibrant and dynamic community of SIS. After living in the Gulf for nearly 12 years I am looking forward to returning to Asia and particularly the landscape of Shenzen. My wife, Paula and three children will be joining me. Paula will be the High SchoolCounsellor and we will have children at both campuses. We both love to cook, travel and would consider ourselves open minded and adventurous.

Rob Cormack, Director of Learning Innovation

From: Canada
Education: B.Ed., University of Alberta, M.Ed. in Education Administration, University of Victoria, Canada
Other Schools: International School of Beijing, China; Caltex American School, Indonesia; Pasir Ridge International School, Indonesia; Tabuk International School, Saudi Arabia; Campbellton Elementary School, Canada
Years in education: 29

My name is Rob Cormack. I am from Victoria, Canada. My teaching career has taken me from the snows of northern Alberta, to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the jungles of Indonesia. SIS is well known among the international teaching community as an innovative school where teachers continuously seek ways to improve the learning of their students. I have known about SIS for many years and am excited to join the team. I look forward to join a team that is caring and committed to the learning of its students. My wife, Sharlene, will be teaching kindergarten. We have two grown children who both live in Vancouver, Canada. Brian graduated from UBC and is now working. Hannah will finish her degree this coming year at UBC. Though we have been in China for many years, we look forward to this new “jumping off” point from which to further explore this part of the world.

Leda Cedo, PYP Coordinator (Elementary and ECC)

From: Philippines
Education: BS, Philippine Normal University; Teaching Research,Osaka University of Education; currently taking MA in International Educational Leadership and Change , The Education University of Hong Kong
Other Schools: Busan International Foreign School, Korea; Changchun American International School, China; Kyoto International School, Japan; Friends International Preschool, Japan; Philippine Science High School, Philippines; Saint Jude Catholic School, Philippines
Years in education: 20

My name is Leda and I am thrilled to join the SIS community! I will share my new adventures in China with my husband, Rick, and our daughter, Erika. She joins as a 9th grader from August 2017. We chose SIS for its commitment to excellence and innovation, while ensuring that every member is valued and cared for. I am looking forward to working with students, parents and staff as we build our IB program in the elementary and ECC!

Paula Brunning, HS Counselor

From: Canada
Education: B.A. in Psychology and Spanish, Trent University; B.Ed., Queen's University; Master of SocSc in Counselling, University of South Australia
Other Schools: Qatar Academy Doha, Qatar; HBKU Student Services, Qatar; SACAC, Singapore; Lorna Whiston Study Center, Singapore
Years in education: 20

Hello, I'm Paula. I have been living overseas for most of my adult life, as I love travelling and learning about different cultures. The green, bustling atmosphere of Shenzhen is in contrast to the subdued, rocky desert of Qatar which my family and I have called home for more than a decade now, so I am super excited to begin exploring the food, culture and history of a new area. I love being outdoors, baking and spending time with my family; Harish will be the Elementary Principal, and three of our children will be joining SIS. A big attraction for working at SIS is the innovative, personalised approach to learning. I look forward to working alongside colleagues and families to support the future ambition of our high school students!

Ryan Kolano, Early Childhood Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Education, Niagara University
Other Schools: Victoria Educational Kindergarten, China
Years in education: 4

My name is Ryan Kolano and I am from Marcy, New York. I am an avid runner and enjoy reading and cooking in my downtime. Upon graduating university I decided to jump on a plane and teach in China. Over the years I have been here, I have come to enjoy the humid weather, speaking a difficult language, and understanding a unique culture. I look forward to joining the SIS community and teaching at a new amazing school!

Virginie Cabrera, PreK-1 and 2, Kindergarten, French Bilingual Program

From: France
Education: French Literature, Univeristy of Pau and Pays de l’Adour, France; Teaching diploma CRPE, IUFM of Pau, France
Other Schools: France, Pyrénées Atlantique Publics Schools; French School of Siem Reap, Cambodia; French International School of Bali, Indonesia
Years in education: 12

My name is Virginie Cabrera and I am from Pau, a small town in southwest France. Although I have been living by the countryside most part of my life, I love cities and can't wait to discover Shenzhen. I love dancing and I am looking forward to learnin about Chinese dances. My daughter Capucine will be joining me and learning at SIS as well. I am excited to pursue my career as a teacher at SIS and be part of a team with such a motivating philosophy.

Scott Porter, Kindergarten Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in History, University of California, Santa Cruz
Other Schools: International School of Myanmar, Myanmar; Busan International Foreign School, South Korea
Years in education: 3

My name is Scott Porter and I will be joining the SIS team as a Kindergarten teacher for the 2017-2018 school year. All the testimonials I have read on the school website and people I have spoken to make me excited to join an experienced, diverse, and motivated community. For the past year I have been teaching Grade 4 at Busan International Foreign School in Busan, South Korea. Before that I taught Kindergarten at the International School of Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar. In my free time I enjoy snowboarding, mountain biking, scuba diving, and hiking. In Shenzhen I’m really looking forward to the hiking, mountain biking, and just being outdoors. It will be an amazing experience to explore what this city has to offer.

Sharlene Cormack, Kindergarten Teacher

From: Canada
Education: B.Ed., University of Alberta, Canada
Other Schools: Teepee Creek school, Alberta, Canada; Tabuk International School, Saudi Arabia; Pasir Ridge International School, Indonesia; Caltex American School, Indonesia; International School of Beijing, China
Years in education: 26

My husband, Rob, and I are from Victoria, Canada and we have been teaching internationally for most of our careers. Our two children have graduated from Beijing and have gone on to attend the University of British Columbia. We love to sail and enjoy some time most summers sailing in the Gulf Islands. We have enjoyed our time in all our schools and have spent the longest time in Beijing. After being in Beijing for 12 years, I look forward to warmer weather, less pollution, exploring a new area, and teaching in a smaller school environment.

Shannon Van Zandt, Grade 1 Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Elementary Education and Teaching English as an Additional Language, Central Washington University
Other Schools: Edmonds School District, WA; Giddens School, Seattle, Washington; American Embassy School, New Delhi, India; The American School in England; The International School, Portland, Oregon
Years in education: 16

My name is Shannon and I am excited to join SIS this fall. I am from the beautiful Pacific Northwest (Seattle, WA) and most recently lived in Portland, Oregon. My one-year-old daughter, Miriam, will be joining me on this adventure to China. Before returning to the States, I taught in Incredible India and look forward to returning to Asia. I love all that travel provides including connecting with others, exploring, appreciating new experiences, and lots of great food! I chose SIS as it seems to fit what I was carefully looking for; a progressive learning environment and supportive community. I am looking forward to sharing the overseas life with my young daughter!

Dan Fredericks, Grade 2 Teacher

From: Canada
Education: B.Ed., University of Ottawa; B.A. in Criminology and Psychology, Saint Mary's University
Other Schools: Qatar Academy, Al Wakra, Qatar; SLP English School, South Korea
Years in education: 9

Hi everyone. My name is Dan Fredericks and I am very excited to be joining the team at SIS next year! I am coming from Qatar where I have been working for the last five years so I am looking forward to getting outdoors a bit more, and seeing rain more than a few times a year. This will be my first time in China, though I lived in South Korea for almost four years before moving to Qatar. I am looking forward to moving back to Asia and seeing some amazing sights in China. I’m also looking forward to planning some scuba diving trips around South East Asia as there are some amazing sights to be seen underwater. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in a few months.

Jamie Koch, Grade 2 Teacher

From: Canada
Education: B.A. in Education, University of British Columbia
Other Schools: Korea International School, Korea; British Columbia Public Schools, Canada
Years in education: 7

My name is Jamie Koch and I’m from Vancouver, Canada. I’ve spent the past 5 years teaching 2nd Grade at an international school in Seoul, South Korea and am looking forward to new adventures in China! My husband, Rob, will be accompanying me in the move to Shenzhen. We are both eager to learn a bit of the local language and delve into a new culture. In my spare time I love traveling, getting out into nature, and doing yoga. I’m very excited to be joining the SIS team!

Jonathan Nock, Grade 2 Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Interdisciplinary Teacher Education, Fort Lewis College Associates of General Studies; Outdoor Recreation Leadership, Colorado Mountain College
Other Schools: American International School of Bucharest, Romania; International School of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; United World College of South East Asia, Singapore
Years in education: 5

Hello SIS and the SIS community. My name is Jonathan Nock and I will be joining you in Grade 2 this year. I am originally from the Metro Detroit area and have spent most of the time since between Colorado and Asia. Although I will be sad to pack away my fly fishing rods for the next few seasons, I am excited for all of what China has to offer, including some great climbing. I completed my student teaching at a PYP school in Singapore and have since been in schools using the curriculum. I am looking forward to joining SIS in its journey to building our PYP and to meeting a brand new group of people!

Megan Kuemmerlin, Grade 3 Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Elementary Education, Furman University; M.A. International Education Administration, Endicott College
Other Schools: Blythe Academy of Languages, United States; Dalian American International School, China; Escola Americana de Campinas, Brazil
Years in education: 10

My name is Megan Kuemmerlin, I am originally from Fairfax, Virginia (close to Washington DC). My husband and I love to travel with our two children, Tae and Elea. Outside of school I have lots of hobbies. I enjoy photography, playing sports, hand-lettering, and reading. My favorite genres are historical fiction and mystery. In my opinion there's nothing better than laying on the beach with a good book. I played basketball in college and still love to play. We are excited to be Geckos and look forward to growing & learning with you.

Charles Denson, Grade 3 Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Elementary Education, University of Arizona; M.S. Multidisciplinary Studies, State University of New York College at Buffalo
Other Schools: San Cayetano Elementary School, USA; Colegio Americano, Ecuador
Years in education: 10

Greetings SIS. I’m excited and honored to join your team. I already feel welcomed and comforted. I currently call Ecuador home, and I’m enjoying living in the clouds at close to 10,000 feet. Before moving to Quito, I spent my days in the Sonoran desert’s hot sun surrounded by the mountains of Tucson, Arizona. I attended college at the University of Arizona, and I recently earned a Master of Science at State University of New York College at Buffalo. I enjoy reading, strength training, running, photography, and traveling with Alli, my wife. She will be joining the SIS team as a secondary art teacher. I met Alli while working as a fitness specialist at a wellness spa called Canyon Ranch. I personally believe life is about growing mentally, physically and spiritually while having fun and helping out along the way. I enjoy encouraging my students to become excited about learning, thinking critically and reaching their potential.

Peter Damroth, Grade 5 Teacher

From: United States
Education: B.S. in Elementary Education (K-6 Licensure), Barton College; M.Ed. in Elementary Education (Teacher Leadership Focus), Barton College
Other Schools: Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, USA; Wake County Public Schools, USA
Years in education: 8

你好。My name is Peter Damroth. I was born in New York but have since been living in North Carolina for the majority of my life. After graduating from Barton College in Wilson, NC with my teaching license, I went back to my alma mater to attain my master’s. I absolutely love to travel and am ready to continue that on a new continent. I love experiencing new cultures and meeting new people, which I hope to do in abundance while in China. Besides traveling, I also enjoy reading, art, running, and teaching of course. I have been a teacher the past eight years and while it will be bittersweet to leave my school and home, I am certainly ready for a change. I am thoroughly excited to join the amazing endeavors already happening at SIS during the 2017-2018 academic year. 再见。

Gina Ballesteros, Elementary EAL Teacher

From: Ecuador
Education: B.A., Early Childhood, Central University of Ecuador; M.S., Teaching Languages SPA&ESL, University of Southern Mississippi; Dyslexia T. Certificate, University of San Diego
Other Schools: International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Xiamen International School, China; Oak Grove Elementary School, USA; International School of Kenya, Kenya; Colegio Henry Becquerel, Ecuador
Years in education: 16

Hi, I am Gina Ballesteros, soon to be joining the EAL team. I hail from Ecuador and started globe-trotting in July 2000. I’ve lived and worked as an elementary teacher/ESL specialist in Kenya, the USA, China, and Malaysia (the last four years). I enjoy walking, slow jogging, reading, and beach vacations. I have two children. Markos, my son, lives and works in America. Mary is an eighth grader who is an avid ballet and contemporary dancer. My partner, Richard, is a retired international Teacher and an avid reader who keeps thinking that he has one more marathon left to run! I am ready to join SIS’ vibrant community of learners. I look forward to growing personally and professionally in the student centered and innovative environment that SIS promotes.

Jess Kuemmerlin, Learning Innovation Coach

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science, Colorado College; Masters International Education Administration (MIEA), Endicott College
Other Schools: Episcopal High School, USA; Pasadena Polytechnic, USA; Dalian American International School, China; Escola Americana de Campinas, Brazil
Years in education: 13

My name is Jess Kuemmerlin and I have been teaching overseas for the past eight years on two amazing continents. This opportunity has allowed me to travel to various countries, learn two vibrant cultures and languages, sample amazing cuisine from all across the world, and enjoy many great experiences. In addition, I met my beautiful wife in China and our son and daughter were born in Brazil. We are truly an international family. I love to be INNOVATIVE; problem solve, be creative, and add the most VALUE to others. This can take on many forms, such as helping teachers enhance student learning or sharing strategies on how to identify your passions in the face of everyday challenges. My wife and two kids are excited to join the #SISrocks community and embark on our next adventure in China.

Rob Elliott, Elementary PE Teacher

From: Canada
Education: Bachelors in Kinesiology, Brock University; Bachelors of Primary Education Studies, Charles Sturt University; Mast. of Educational Technology, Boise State University
Other Schools: Instituto San Roberto, Mexico; American School of Doha, Qatar
Years in education: 10

My wife, Lauren, and I are very excited to join the SIS community. We’ll be making the move with our 2 children, Jack (4) and Sybil (almost 2). We’re originally from Ontario, Canada and as much as we love summers at our cottage we really enjoy being international teachers. SIS will be our third stop after spending 2 years in Mexico and 8 years in Qatar. I love sports and am hoping to find somewhere to play basketball, volleyball, squash, and/or softball.

Danielle Gahr, Middle School Math and Humanities

From: United States
Education: B.A. in Anthropology and Religion, Bates College; M.A.T., Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education
Other Schools: Qatar Academy, Al Wakrah, Qatar; McBride Elementary, Columbia City School, Lewis and Clark Intermediate, United States
Years in education: 11

My name is Danielle Gahr and I'm from Ashland, Oregon. I've been living in Qatar the last three years and I'm really looking forward to being outdoors in a green place next year. I've never been to China, but I have lived in Asia before in Vietnam and India. Some of my hobbies are cooking, meditating, yoga, and scuba. However I would say that travel is my biggest passion. Some of my favorite trips have been to Tanzania and Iceland. I am so excited to be joining the team at SIS. 6th grade is my favorite and I can't wait to be part of the Bayside team.

Russell Williams, Middle School Humanities

From: United States
Education: M.Ed., Antioch New England Graduate School
Other Schools: American International School, Dhaka; Westminster Community School, Bellows Falls Middle School, Greenfield Center School, United States
Years in education: 17

Currently, I am teaching grades 6 & 7 humanities and public speaking at the American International School Dhaka in Bangladesh. Over the last 17 years, I have taught all subjects in grades 3 - 8, but middle school humanities is where my heart is. I have two sons, one who is graduating from AISD this year, and one who is currently going to college in the states. I like being active, making things and exploring new places. I have heard a lot about the collaboration and innovation at SIS, and I’m looking forward to working in such an exciting school.

Daiju Vithayathil, IB DP Coordinator

From: India
Education: B.A., University of Madras; B.Ed., Indira Gandhi National Open University; MBA, Madurai Kamaraj University
Other Schools: The International School Bangalore, India; K. International School ,Tokyo, Japan; Beijing BISS International School, China; International School Manila, Philippines
Years in education: 16

My journey as an educator started over fifteen years ago in my home country India and I have worked internationally in Japan, China and Philippines. I teach Business and Management, Economics and TOK. I'm an examiner for HL Business and Management and Extended Essays. I speak five languages and while in Shekou, I plan to add Mandarin to the list of languages I can speak. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling in the region, playing sports, and spending time with the family. My wife Christine, our 5-year-old daughter Nina and I are all very excited about our move to SIS.

Christine Vithayathil, MS and HS EAL

From: Austria
Education: Teaching Qualification, Pädagogische Akademie der Diözese Innsbruck in Stams, Austria; M.A. in English Literature, Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, India
Other Schools: International School Manila, Philippines; Beijing BISS International School, China; K. International School, Tokyo, Japan; The International School, Bangalore, India; The Hemel Hempstead School, UK; Various Public Schools in Tirol, Austria
Years in education: 20

Grüss Gott! Or, hello! My name is Christine Vithayathil and I come from a very small village in the beautiful Tyrolean Alps in Austria. I am moving to Shekou with my husband Daiju who will be the IB DP Coordinator and our 5-year old daughter Nina who will be in Kindergarten. We will also be joined by our two cats Oreo and Rollo. Having previously lived in Beijing for 5 years, we are excited to move back and explore different parts of China, as well as revisit some of our favorite places. As a family, we enjoy spending time together exploring new places, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen and playing games like carrom. We are all very excited about joining and contributing to the supportive community that is SIS.

Elisa Korhonen, IB Mandarin and MS EAL

From: Finland
Education: M.A. in Translation, Interpreting and Education, University of Joensuu; Teacher Diploma, University of Oulu
Other Schools: Schools in Finland
Years in education: 16

We have been living in Shekou for more than 11 years and have seen so much change. Our 3 children all attend SIS middle and high school. During my free time, I love to dance, do all kinds of exercise and study Chinese. I am looking forward to taking this new position!

Alli Denson, MS/HS and IB Art

From: United States
Education: B.F.A. in Art Education, University of Arizona; M.S. in multidisciplinary Studies, State University of New York College at Buffalo
Other Schools: Amphitheater High School, Tucson, AZ; Coatimundi Middle School, Rio Rico, AZ; Colegio Americano, Quito, Ecuador
Years in education: 16

My name is Alli Denson. I have been teaching for the better part of two decades, first in the warm sun of Southern Arizona, and most currently in the crisp air of the Andean mountains in Quito, Ecuador. I am recently married, and my spouse, Charles Denson, is a primary teacher. Together we enjoy traveling, working out and spending time with friends and family. I am an avid runner and triathlete. I have also been known to climb glacier-capped mountains with a very influential friend. I am a foodie. I love to eat good food whether it is at a new restaurant or something I have whipped up in my own kitchen.

Amy Atkinson, MS/HS and IB Art

From: Canada
Education: B.A., University of Toronto; GradDipEd, University of Wollongong; M.A., University of San Francisco
Other Schools: St. Joseph’s, Hong Kong; Barrie Central, Canada; Serangoon Gardens, Singapore, ISE, Thailand; Yew Chung International Schoo, China
Years in education: 10

I'm from Toronto, Canada and I grew up in Orillia. My parents now live in St. Catharines. I'm from a large family so I spend most of my summers travelling around Ontario visiting family. I originally taught in Barrie, Ontario, and then took the leap internationally - teaching in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and now China. I'm working at YCIS in Qingdao currently, and am super excited to return to cleaner air and a more tropical climate. Outside of work, I enjoy developing my own creative projects; painting, writing, dreaming.... I'm a big fan of (hot) yoga and am looking forward to biking, hiking and enjoying a variety of good food. I am excited to join SIS's amazing art program. I'm looking forward to great students and exciting creative projects!

Lauren Elliott, Middle and High School Librarian

From: Canada
Education: B.A. in History, Brock University; B.Ed.,Trent University; Masters of Library Science, Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
Other Schools: Instituto San Roberto, Mexico; American School of Doha, Qatar
Years in education: 10

My name is Lauren Elliott and I am from Ontario, Canada. My husband Rob and I will be moving with our two kids, Jack and Sybil, after 8 years in Doha, Qatar. Before Qatar we lived and taught in Mexico. I am excited to join the SIS community, and to live in and explore a new part of the world. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming, and I am excited to settle into the library. I enjoy reading, baking, travel and being outside with my kids. I am really looking forward to the green after 8 years in the desert!

Kevin Krouse, Middle School Humanities and EAL

From: United States
Education: B.A. in English, Concentration in Writing, Indiana University; M.S. in English Education, Reading Endorsement, Indiana University
Other Schools: Mishawaka High School, Dickinson Middle School, Greene Middle School, John Adams High School, Chewning Middle School, United States
Years in education: 13

My name is Kevin Krouse. I have been a part of the SIS community for several years while I worked in the private sector here in China. I have come to know SIS through my wife, Faye, who has worked at SIS for five years. I have always been deeply impressed by the sense of family that the SIS community projects and am delighted to move a bit closer in that relationship by accepting a job as a seventh grade humanities teacher. The warmth of the school and its dedication to all aspects of the student experience has always been deeply impressive to me. I can’t think of a better place to resume my teaching career.


Shekou International School

Early Childhood and Elementary School Mountainside Campus

Jing Shan Villas, Nanhai Blvd
Shekou, Nanshan,
Shenzhen, Guangdong 518067 PRC
Phone: 86-755-2669-3669
Fax: 86-755-2667-4099

Middle School and High School Bayside Campus

A-101, Coastal Rose Phase 2, Wanghai Road,
Shekou, Nanshan,
Shenzhen, Guangdong PRC, 518067


International Schools Services

15 Roszel Road, PO Box 5910
Princeton, NJ 08543
Phone: 01-609-452-0990
Fax: 01-609-452-2690

About SIS

Welcome to Shekou International School (SIS). Established in 1988, SIS is dedicated to meeting the diverse educational needs of the expatriate community in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.


Shekou International School presently has over 800 students representing more than 40 different countries including the US, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, France and Germany.

Learning @ SIS

At SIS learning is the focus. See how students are challenged from an early age in a contemporary and academically rigorous environment.

Life @ SIS

SIS provides students with a wide range of creative, scholastic and athletic experiences to engage in.

Working @ SIS

Are you a passionate educator looking to join a contemporary learning community? We'd love to hear from you.


Stay connected. Keep in touch with key information for parents and guardians of our students.

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