Staff

Who We Are

Our students, staff and faculty work together to make our
school a safe, engaging, rigorous, learning environment.

Full Staff Directory
Only the BEst

We Know How to Make Learning Fun For Kids

The mission of SAIS is to provide a progressive American style learning environment where all students develop and apply the knowledge, skills and habits of mind necessary for academic, workplace and personal success anywhere in the world.

Our small school serves as a community nucleus that invites strong support from parents and community members as well as closer working relationships among the school staff.

SAIS Staff

Dr. Laura Flaxman

Dr. Laura Flaxman

Principal

lflaxman@szsais.org

About Laura

Dr. Laura Flaxman holds a master’s and doctorate from Harvard University and began her teaching career in New York City. She has almost 30 years experience in education as a teacher, principal, school founder, non-profit leader, school designer, and coach. Dr. Laura Flaxman was most recently a Vice President at Pivot Learning, where she led school redesign and school culture initiatives. Dr. Laura Flaxman  also served as the Executive Director and Founding Principal of ARISE High School, the Co-Director of the Reach Teacher Incentive Fund Consortium, an English instructor for the Peralta Community College District, and as founding Principal of Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. She has worked for Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound besides consulting with many schools and organizations, including PBL Works. Dr. Laura Flaxman has co-authored Small Schools, Big Ideas: The Essential Guide to Successful School Transformation. Laura Flaxman is married and has two daughters.

 

Nathan Abbott

Nathan Abbott

Assistant Principal

nabbott@szsais.org

About Nathan

Nathan (Nate) Abbott has over a decade of experience in the classroom and over four years of administrative experience. He has enjoyed teaching students from kindergarten to university. He has a BA in Asian Studies and an MA in Secondary Education. Mr. Nate has presented at various trainings all over the United States on topics that included Project Based Learning, language acquisition, student engagement, classroom management, and staying in the target language. He has also had the opportunity to work with and give trainings for the Confucius Institute in Beijing, China, and he can speak Chinese fluently. Besides being a passionate educator Mr. Nate is a husband and father of 5.

 

Kenneth Purser

Kenneth Purser

Director of Instruction and Maker Education

kpurser@szsais.org

About Kenny

Kenneth (Kenny) Purser is an independent consultant helping schools and non-profits re-design their school and implement active, relevant, and engaging projects for students. Before becoming a consultant, Kenny developed his love for well-designed project based learning as a student who learned best by doing, creating, and designing projects. This passion found a great fit with Outward Bound and then Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound where he developed a foundation in project based learning, teaching science to middle and high school students in New York City, Boston, Berkeley, and Oakland. Mr. Kenny was one of the founding principals for Envisions Schools and then Regional Director for Expeditionary Learning. His varied career has focused on project based learning, experiential learning, Linked Learning, and the Maker movement. 

Geoff Stainton

Geoff Stainton

Director of Admissions

gstainton@szsais.org

About Geoffrey

Geoff has a BA (Hons) in Economic History and English Literature and a Masters in Business Administration from Bradford University School of Management in the UK as well as professional qualifications in International Trade and finance. His background is in manufacturing and has visited more than 50 countries throughout the world advising on production flows in the woodworking industry. For many years he ran his own company manufacturing industrial woodworking machinery before coming to China as a consultant where he was involved in change solutions for factories in the furniture industry. He has lectured at Guangzhou University of Foreign studies in business management as well as Technical Colleges in the UK in business economics and value engineering. Geoff believes strongly that the PBL philosophy of education reflects more fully the realities of 21st working practises and students will gain a fully developed education for the modern world.

Faculty

Janet Stainton

Janet Stainton

Kindergarten Teacher

jstainton@szsais.org

About Janet

BA in Early Childhood Studies

Teaching Certificate City and Guilds 710

This is my 10th year teaching abroad in China. My experience is mostly in pre-school and Kindergarten.

I have taught here in China at the Clifford International Kindergarten for 6 years and then I moved to American International School of Guangzhou in preschool for 3 years.

Previous experience has been teaching part-time in England teaching sports and dance whilst bringing my family up at home.

I love teaching because it brings me great pleasure to see young children learn something new. I love that they are inquisitive and want to know many things. I want to help the children enjoy learning. I want them to be excited about learning. I believe that when children are happy they learn well.

My hobbies are sports and dancing. I love going to the theatre and seeing musical shows and spending time with my family.

Kara Spore

Kara Spore

G2 Teacher

kspore@szsais.org

About Kara

Kara graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education in 2005. Since then, she has taught elementary school students in Seattle, Washington and Phnom Penh, Cambodia before coming to S.A.I.S in 2015. In 2018, Kara received her Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. She is passionate about encouraging the development of the whole-child in education, and believes that children’s natural creativity and curiosity needs to be nurtured and honored. Kara appreciates the creative arts, writing, exploring the outdoors, travelling, and learning about other cultures.

Edwin Nieves

Edwin Nieves

G1 Teacher

enieves@szsais.org

About Edwin

Edwin is extremely excited to be part of this great institution. He is originally from New York City, has been working in the field of education since 2005 and really enjoy teaching young minds. This will be his first-time teaching in China so he looks forward to learning so much from this country. Prior to moving to Shenzhen, he taught in South Korea for almost 7 years. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Nyack College in 2004 and currently working on his Master’s degree in Special Education at Touro College. He is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish both at native levels. In addition, he can also speak Korean and Chinese. During his time off he enjoys sight-seeing, learning, Latin dancing, and listening to music.

Finnbarr O'Callaghan

Finnbarr O'Callaghan

ELE2 Teacher

focallaghan@szsais.org

About Finn

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Justin Leventhal

Justin Leventhal

Music/ESL Teacher

jleventhal@szsais.org

About Justin

Be Active.  This is my personal motto.  Education, exercise, music, and cooking are my passions and I strive to always be doing one of them and remain active.  I majored in musical literacy in college at Vanderbilt University with a minor in English literature. I received my Master’s of Education at The City College of New York. I have taught in America for 4 years and China for 4.  Living in China is amazing and have taken advantage of the opportunity to travel, learn Chinese and eat a ridiculous amount of dumplings and hot pot.  I am incredibly happy to live in Shenzhen and teach at SAIS!

Thamarai Naik

Thamarai Naik

G3 Teacher

tnaik@szsais.org

About Tammy

Thamarai (Tammy) Naik worked for the South African Department of Education schools for 25 years as a teacher, Grade head, Head of Department and Acting Deputy Principal. She received her HDE from Transvaal College of Education, Curriculum Management from Unisa, B.Ed. (cum Laude) Hons from Tshwane University of Technology. Currently, Thamarai is completing her Masters in Education Management at Unisa.

Over the years, she has taught English, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Remedial.

In 2002, Thamarai was presented with a National Teaching Award by ex-President Thabo Mbeki and the following year, was chosen to represent South Africa in a youth exchange programme in Japan. Over the years she has been project manager for Collaboration Projects and trained over 1000 teachers in Curriculum.

Recently in September 2017, Thamarai was awarded a Mathematics Teaching Award by the Western Cape Education Department.

She has presented many workshops for the South African Department of Education and she has developed various training manuals that are conducive to the vision and mission and the specific training needs of various companies or schools.

Michael Penney

Michael Penney

PE Teacher

mpenney@szsais.org 

About Mike

Mike grew up in Belleville, Ontario, Canada and graduated from Nipissing University with a Bachelor of Physical Education and a Bachelor of Education. This will be his first year teaching PE at SAIS. Before arriving in Shenzhen he spent 4 years teaching PE in a Canadian school in Jilin city, China. When not at school Mike can be found searching for geocaches and travelling.

 

Sophia Brown

Sophia Brown

ELE2A Teacher

sbrown@szsais.org

Mary Compton

Mary Compton

G4 Teacher

mcompton@szsais.org

About Mary

Mary went to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Education. She then went on to teach middle school Mathematics and Science for 24 years in public schools in Michigan and New Jersey and at an international school in Singapore. In 2017, Mary decided to pause her teaching career to pursue an area of personal interest and earn a master’s degree in International Non-governmental Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland. After two years away from teaching, Mary excitedly prepared to begin teaching again.

Mary enjoys traveling, learning about different cultures, reading, kayaking, hiking, biking, and spending time with her two daughters who live in Germany and Michigan.

 

Anel Tromp

Anel Tromp

Art Teacher

atromp@szsais.org

About Anel

Anèl grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from The Open Window Institute with a  Bachelor of Art in Visual Communication Degree as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from UNISA. Before teaching in China, she taught English and Art in South Korea for 3 years. This will be her second year teaching Art in Shenzhen. She is passionate about Art as a way of enriching learning. Her hobbies include drawing, painting, cooking, reading, sport and travelling.

Precy Manalese

Precy Manalese

Kindergarten Teacher

pmanalese@szsais.org

Ellen Abbott

Ellen Abbott

ELE1 Teacher

eabbott@szsais.org

Dawn Yu

Dawn Yu

Chinese Teacher

dyu@szsais.org

About Dawn

Dawn graduated from Beijing Normal University with a master degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. She is an excellent Putonghua speaker, holding a Certificate of Results of Putonghua Proficiency Test, A Level. She had taught Chinese in several local schools in UK. After she came back to China, she has worked in several international schools. Dawn has a wealth of experience both in Chinese and Western education. Based on the experience, she compared and analysed the two different education systems. At SAIS, she combined with PBL teaching philosophy to develop a bunch of Chinese courses which are applicable for international schools.

Yvonne Yang

Yvonne Yang

Chinese Teacher

yyang@szsais.org

Cindy Shi

Cindy Shi

Chinese Teacher

cshi@szsais.org

Matthew Koo

Matthew Koo

Middle School Teacher

mkoo@szsais.org

About Matthew

Matt is a Canadian certified teacher who completed both his Honours of Science degree and his Bachelors of Education degree at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Matt has worked with learners of all ages, specializing in inquiry-based teaching and one-on-one tutoring. For the past two years, Matt has been the IB Coordinator at Hokmah International School. 

Matt is a passionate teacher who strives to help his learners reach their full academic potential. He aims to push his learners to do their best, all while maintaining a safe and friendly learning environment. Throughout his teaching career, Matt has worked extensively in developing a variety of differentiated teaching techniques and incorporating them into his classroom. As a strong advocate for inquiry-based learning, Matt uses activities such as games, puzzles, and scenarios in his lessons to give learners both an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

Teacher’s Assistants

Lois Hu

Lois Hu

Kindergarten TA

lhu@szsais.org

Jewel Guo

Jewel Guo

ELE1 TA

jguo@szsais.org

Miki Wu

Miki Wu

ELE2 TA

mwu@szsais.org

Summer Wu

Summer Wu

ELE2 TA

summerwu@szsais.org

 

Adena Li

Adena Li

ELE2 TA

ali@szsais.org

Mary Chen

Mary Chen

ELE2 TA

miriamchen@szsais.org 

Bella Zhang

Bella Zhang

Kindergarten TA

bzhang@szsais.org

Cici Jin

Cici Jin

ELE1 TA

cjin@szsais.org

Jessica Li

Jessica Li

Kindergarten TA

jli@szsais.org

Sonia Wu

Sonia Wu

G3 TA

swu@szsais.org

Emily Liu

Emily Liu

Kindergarten TA

eliu@szsais.org

Bella Xian

Bella Xian

G4 TA

bxian@szsais.org

Tina Zhang

Tina Zhang

G1 TA

tzhang@szsais.org

Yvonne Siu

Yvonne Siu

Maker Coach

ysiu@szsais.org

Peitan Lee

Peitan Lee

G2 TA

plee@szsais.org

Amelia Hu

Amelia Hu

ESL Specialist

ahu@szsais.org

Rachel Guo

Rachel Guo

Middle School TA

rguo@szsais.org

Administration

Lucy Zeng

Lucy Zeng

Principal's Assistant

lzeng@szsais.org

Amy Huang

Amy Huang

Admissions Assistant

ahuang@szsais.org

Freda Zheng

Freda Zheng

School Nurse

fzheng@szsais.org

Isis Lai

Isis Lai

Admissions Assistant

ilai@szsais.org

Josef  Chen

Josef Chen

Logistics Supervisor

Ou Qinglan

Ou Qinglan

Cleaner

Jack Liu

Jack Liu

Security

Wang Jizhen

Wang Jizhen

Cleaner

Jerry Chen

Jerry Chen

Security

Liang Shanying

Liang Shanying

Cleaner

Zhang Xiaoyuan

Zhang Xiaoyuan

Security