Suzhou is an ancient city, but in recent years it has become a regional center of commerce and industry, with beautiful ancient buildings juxtaposed to glittering skyscrapers. In the 1990’s development of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), a smaller area outside of Suzhou’s downtown area, commenced under the partnership of the Chinese and Singapore governments. The creation of SIP was carefully planned, managed and curated to create a zone in China that would attract both multinationals and large Chinese businesses to the area. The intent was to modernize, digitalize and internationalize Suzhou. At the same time the two countries saw it as a way for two great and sovereign nations to join together. The partnership, which still exists today, allowed China to learn Singaporean management practices while giving Singapore the opportunity to become a closer partner with China, a growing super power. The partnership was the first of its kind in China and cities like Chengdu and Tianjin later followed suit.During the development process the team recognized there would be a strong need for an international school to educate the children of the incoming expats and the Suzhou Singapore International School was established.
SSIS is owned by China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group commonly known as CSSD. CSSD was founded as a partnership between the governments of Suzhou and Singapore in order to support the on-going growth and development of Suzhou and the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP).
China Singapore International Education Service commonly known as CSIES, is an affiliated company of CSSD and provides professional management services and administrative support to SSIS. CSIES staff work every day with SSIS staff under the direction of our Head of School to ensure the daily operations and smooth running of our school. HR, finance and other key business administrative functions are provided by CSIES.
The Governing Board of SSIS is made up five directors drawn from the management teams of CSSD, CSIES and our Head of School. The Board must approve major actions taken by the school (sale of assets, etc.), and generally acts as an oversight body to our Senior Management Team with the Head of School reporting directly to the Board. The Board along with the Chinese and Singaporean governments recognize that SSIS is essential in the on-going success of Suzhou and SIP.
The SSIS Senior Management Team (SMT) team consists of our Head of School, our Secondary and Elementary School Principals, our Assistant Secondary and Elementary School Principals, and our Director of Marketing and Admissions.
The responsibilities of the team extend beyond managing the school’s day-to-day operations and implementing school policy. The team also provides strategic direction for the school, setting school policy, budgeting functions and submitting an annual report regarding the management status of the school to the Board of Directors. Our Senior Management Team completes all of these functions while focused on excellence through continuous improvement, working together to create a school culture of personal leadership, compassionate interaction, and cultural synergy.
- Head of School, Samer Khouri
- Elementary School Principal, Zeb Johnson
- Secondary School Principal, Lucy Burden
- Early Years Assistant Principal, Carmen Murray
- Secondary School Assistant Principal (Academic), Robbie Cunningham
- Secondary School Assistant Principal (Pastoral), Will Paananen
It is with great excitement and pleasure that I joined SSIS in 2020. In 1989 I received my bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and in 1998 my master’s degree from the University of Bath (UK) in International Education. In 2019, I was awarded a fellowship from Columbia University Teachers’ College (USA) for heads of schools to work collaboratively on perspectives in international education. Over the last thirty years I have worked in international schools in the Middle East, Africa, UK and Italy. Most recently I was the Head of School at ICS Milan, and before that I was the Head of School at the International School in Genoa. I served as the Principal at the American School of Milan and Head of Mathematics at the International School of Tanganyika and The Amman Baccalaureate School. I have experience with the Advanced and Ordinary Levels, IGCSE, APs and SATs and the IB. My most extensive experience is in IB schools, and I introduced one or more of the IB programmes into several of the schools in which I served as an educational leader. I also worked at the International Baccalaureate Organization in Cardiff as the Subject Area Manager responsible for the curriculum and assessment of Mathematics and Computer Science. For the past nine years, I organized and hosted Education Across Frontiers, staff development workshops focused on coaching, inclusion and Adaptive School, which were attended by over 800 educators and school leaders from more than 50 countries. I met my wife, Elizabeth, who is also an educator, while working at the American School in Milan. We have two children, Tarik James (age 11) and Zayne Edward (age 6). Both boys were born in Italy and are true representatives of multicultural children. As an international educator, my dedication and passion have focused on inclusion and differentiation of instruction to ensure that all students and teachers are successful and building a truly united school community where the students are at the centre of all that we do.
I consider myself very lucky to work as an Elementary Principal. Prior to serving in this role at SSIS, I served in a similar capacity for a total of 14 years in 2 other international schools. Living and working internationally has always been a big part of my life. Born and raised in Canada, I quickly journeyed abroad, spending years in Brazil, Ecuador, South Korea, Colombia, the UAE, and now China. Throughout the past 25 years, my fondest moments and greatest learnings have centered around work with Elementary students and communities: creating positive cultures and celebrating both big and small successes. I received my Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in 2013, have served on many school accreditation teams, and have completed specialised training in many areas. I'm very fortunate to be joined in Suzhou by my two sons, Connor and Brady, and my lovely wife Evelyn. On the weekends, you'll find us playing sports, enjoying a board game, or curled up in front of a good movie.
I joined SSIS in August 2013 as a Learning Support Teacher and Head of Grade 8 and now hold the exciting role of Principal for the Secondary School. I have a Bachelor of Educational Studies in Special Education from Melbourne University and a Master in School Leadership from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. I began my teaching career in 1989 and have worked in a number of government and non-government schools in Australia. Prior to joining SSIS I was Head of the Junior School at Bentleigh Secondary School in Melbourne where I worked for 10 years as an English, Humanities, Drama and Special Education teacher. Coming to live in China and work at SSIS is my first foray into international teaching and I am sharing this incredible experience with my husband, son and daughter.
I feel very privileged to join SSIS in 2014 as Early Years Coordinator and Teacher. I am from Auckland, New Zealand and have happily been involved in Education since 1995. My teaching career has predominantly been in Early Years and with 5 and 6 year olds. I have taught in and around various parts of New Zealand and in 2001 my husband and I spent nearly seven years teaching at Nanjing International School where I ran the Pre-Kindergarten class. Upon returning to New Zealand, I embarked on leadership roles and spent the last two and a half years fulfilling a Deputy Principals role. I am extremely excited and enthusiastic to be a part of a school that offers quality IB curriculum. I feel very fortunate that my husband and I share a passion for the same profession and I believe that parents, students and educators are members of a team, that when respectful relationships are formed, all contribute to the progress of our children’s educational journey.
My initial career after graduating from secondary school was in business, mostly in the US and Australia. However, I have always had a passion for education and so I decided to return to Ireland. After graduating with a degree from University College Cork, I completed my post graduate teaching qualification in Brighton and Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Leicester in the UK. Having worked in teaching and administrative roles in the UK, Thailand and UAE I was excited to have the opportunity to join SSIS in 2018. As an IB teacher (and indeed a parent) I believe that the curriculum provides a diverse learning platform for students. In addition the core philosophy of the programme develops internationally minded students in preparation for university and beyond. I am accompanied at SSIS by my wife and our two boys.
I am thrilled to join the SSIS community for the 2020-2021 school year as the Secondary Assistant Principal-Pastoral. Prior to joining the SSIS team I served as an Assistant Principal at Skyline High School just outside of Seattle Washington, USA. In addition, I have been lucky enough to teach a variety of social studies courses including IB History of the Americas, World History and Civics. Before receiving my Masters in Teaching from Seattle University and my Administrator Credential from Seattle Pacific University, I pursued undergraduate studies in Anthropology and History at the University of Washington and served in the US Peace Corps in Thailand. My goal is to help students grow and build the foundations for a successful, ethical and well balanced life by creating an educational environment that is both challenging and caring. I am joined on this adventure by my amazing wife Kathlyn and our children Elynor and Nathaniel, who are also excited about being part of the SSIS community.