Secondary

Our Academic Staff members are at the very heart of our School. It is their enthusiasm and commitment in providing learning to our students that inspires our high standards and continued success.

HeadStart’s over 90 specialist teachers have British, Australian, US or similar internationally recognised qualifications which include Bachelor and Master Degrees and Doctorates. They bring with them a wealth of current experience from their home countries and from other international schools. Teachers in Foundation and Primary School are supported by a team of qualified teaching assistants.

The dedication and commitment of our Operational Staff in supporting the day-to-day running of HeadStart ensures that our students receive the very best in learning and extra-curricular activities.


‘Throughout the school, teachers’ subject knowledge and understanding of how students learn are strong. Relationships between students and teachers are positive. The ratio of qualified teachers to students, especially in the early years and lower primary classes, is high. ‘Deputy’ teachers, who are fully qualified teachers in their home countries, support class teachers. Due to their expertise, they make a significant difference to the rates of progress that students make. Teachers know students well and assess them accurately. This enables teachers to plan work that matches the ability of individual students and caters well for their varying needs.’ Education Development Trust (EDT) Accreditation Report, June 2017

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David Pollicutt

Head of English
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My name is David Pollicutt and I joined HeadStart International School in 2018. I am from the UK and grew up in the large port city of Bristol. I studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia, and trained to teach at The Institute of Education in The University of London. I taught in East London for four years, before moving to teach for eight years as Head of English in Viet Nam and China. I am a firm believer in developing students to be natural enquirers, following the Sir Ken Robinson model of best preparing students to use transferable skills for the shifting landscapes of their futures. I seek to encourage an epistemological approach in my lessons, urging students to evaluate the efficacy of the information they consume and the validity of interpretations. I am passionate about literature and will often be chortling at David Lodge’s tragicomedy or swooning at Ian Mcewan’s literary sleight of hand. Outside of the classroom I am a keen student of Philosophy, Politics and Psychology. I am a particular fan of the intellect and charisma exuded by Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and the late and much missed Christopher Hitchens. I have a terminal case of devotion to Tottenham Hotspsur Football Club; it teaches me patience and humility.

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Ashley Paice

Key Stage 3 Coordinator and English Teacher
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My name is Ashley and I joined HeadStart International School in 2018. I have been a teacher of English for around seven years and have taught English in several different schools around the UK as well as Krabi, Thailand. I studied English Language & Linguistics at The University of Manchester and completed my teacher training course at Edge Hill University in Liverpool, UK. I am extremely excited to be starting the new school year at HeadStart. I am very keen to hit the ground running and have lots of fantastic activities lined up for my new and existing classes. Outside of the classroom, I can usually be found on one of the many sunny beaches on the island. I am also a keen runner and enjoy exploring the island with my running trainers. I’m also well known for being a glutton for punishment, frequently setting my alarm for 2am in order to compete in the many racing competitions around Phuket. Thailand is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to continue exploring more of it. I am truly looking forward to continuing my journey at HeadStart and providing students with opportunities to allow them to flourish both in and outside of the classroom. High School can be a tough time for some students, and if I can provide students with opportunities that will open doors for them in the future; it’s an amazing feeling.

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Kelly Tuppen

English Teacher
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Hello everyone and welcome to my classroom! My name is Kelly Tuppen and I am a Secondary English Teacher, as well as the Homeroom Teacher for Year 9 White. I am new to HeadStart and very excited to get to know the students, staff and the wider school community here. I have a First Class Honours BA in English Literature and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education for Secondary English from the Institute of Education UCL. Prior to moving to Phuket, I taught KS3 and IGCSE English Language, Literature and some Drama for 4 years at international schools in Yangon, Myanmar. I have also more recently taught for the rural Canadian school system in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada: ask me about my grizzly bear stories! As an internationally-minded teacher, I take pride in cultivating a plurality of perspectives in my English classroom. I inspire my students to learn how to think, nurturing analytical skills, cultural understanding, open-mindedness and tolerance. Along with developing reading and writing proficiency, I encourage my students to be creative - we might roleplay, hold debates, put a character from a novel on trial and even try to sketch poetic imagery to help us visualise it. Developing pupil independence and confidence in their communication abilities is central to my role as an English teacher. I also encourage students to see mistakes as opportunities to improve, and never to give up! As an English teacher, I especially love poetry and puns, so you may see some around the classroom. I am very much looking forward to being in school for this academic year, getting to know my new classes and helping them to progress. If there is anything you wish to talk to me about please come to see me. Best of luck to everyone this year.

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Daniel Portelli

Head of Maths & Computing
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My name is Daniel Portelli and I joined Headstart in January 2021. I am from Kent in the UK and moved to Thailand with my wife in June 2019. After my BSc at the University of Kent, I went to work for the UK government on engineering projects, then afterwards did a PhD in mathematics – more specifically mathematical modelling which is basically developing new mathematics to create virtual environments that are representative of real-life as possible. Why? To put simply, every time to drop your phone and it doesn’t break, this is due to mathematical modelling. Rather than building 1000s upon 1000s of phones to test under thousands and thousands of different conditions which would cost so much time and money, it is cheaper and more efficient to simulate these tests on a computer. To do this, however, you need to create a reality that is almost as real as real life, which is extremely challenging, both mathematically and computationally and requires the combination of knowledge and skills of mathematics, physics, computing and engineering. It was during this time I had a conversation with a friend of mine who asked me why in schools did they not teach us the more fascinating, challenging and interesting aspects of mathematics. Why did we have to wait until university to get those rewards. I decided then and there that I would bring this to schools and the best way to do this was to become a teacher. I obtained a Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarship from the Institute of Mathematics and did my teacher training PGCSE at Imperial College. After this, I taught GCSE and A-Level for several years at an international school in the UK, then moved to Bangkok as a Head of Department for another few years, before I joined Headstart as Head of Mathematics and Computing. I am very happy to be at Headstart and believe the school and the students to have huge potential. I see my role as helping all students of mathematics achieve not only the best they can academically but to fall in love with mathematics. Hopefully, even just by reading my profile, you have gained a bit of new insight into the nature of mathematics. In my free time, I like to go on walks, read, write, cook and spend time with my family – including my blind cat Beep-Boop. I am also a qualified public speaker from Toastmaster International.

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Letitia Bekker

Maths/DofE Coordinator
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My name is Letitia and I am from South Africa. I completed my degree in BSc Chemistry and PGCE at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. I have a passion for young people and through teaching I want to make a difference in students’ lives. I firmly believe in student oriented education where learners must be fully involved in their education and I am willing to go the extra mile for each learner. My teaching experience in South Africa included working at IMPAK as a part-time teacher while completing my studies after which I moved, as a full time teacher to Hoërskool Warmbad which is a parallel medium High school teaching Mathematics and Physical Science. Besides teaching I love to travel, scuba dive and to camp. In 2015 my husband and I decided to move to Thailand where I taught Primary Science at an English programme school in Rayong and in January 2016 I joined the Mathematics team at HeadStart International School. I am looking forward to continue working with staff and students from around the world and cannot wait to see what the new academic year holds.

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Sara Wilson

Maths Teacher
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My name is Sara and I have been pleased to be a member of the HeadStart teaching staff since August 2019. I am from New Brunswick on the East Coast of Canada. I attended two universities in the Atlantic Provinces before fulfilling my dream of becoming a teacher. At Mount Allison University, I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Mathematics in 2010. I then obtained my Bachelor of Education degree at St Francis Xavier University in 2012. Thrilled to travel and to gain international teaching experience, I accepted a secondary mathematics teaching position in Colchester, UK in 2012. I enjoyed seven years of teaching a wide range of children from varying backgrounds and ethnicities in a multicultural secondary school. My passion for mathematics and learning brought me into teaching, but getting to work with brilliant young minds and personalities is what reenergizes me every year. I aim to cultivate real enthusiasm and appreciation of mathematics with my students through dynamic and methodical teaching practice. I hope to encourage a cooperative and supportive learning culture in my classroom, where we learn from mistakes and actively engage our minds in every facet of the subject. It is also a joy to see students having opportunities at HeadStart to become more well-rounded individuals through clubs and activities. Outside of the classroom I spend as much time as possible exploring, travelling and embracing new experiences. I have a particular fondness for water sports and spend much of my free time in the water. I also try to balance my love of food with my love of health and wellbeing, so when I am not eating, I am trying to keep active.

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Suzanne Downes

Maths Teacher
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My name is Suzannne and I joined Headstart in January 2021. I am from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. My love for Mathematics started when I was young. I loved numbers, problem-solving, family board games and solving logic riddles. This led me to study at Delft University of Technology where I gained a Master of Science in Information Technology specializing in Artificial Intelligence. During the first 21 years of my career, I used my numerical and problem-solving skills while working in finance for banks and consumer goods companies in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. When friends and children of friends were struggling with mathematics, I always liked helping them to understand. This resulted in me wanting to become a mathematics teacher and I gained a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education) from Sunderland University in the UK. I then taught mathematics in a large international school in Hong Kong for four years. I came to Phuket five years ago and have taught in international schools doing extensive private tutoring and homeschooling. I enjoy maintaining a small website with suggestions for fun and interesting mathematics activities for families of mathematics learners and fellow teachers. Based on the work of Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, I truly believe that everyone can learn and love mathematics and that the learning journey can be a journey of discovery, wonder, and interesting and relevant applications. To me, mathematics is a subject that involves a deep understanding of concepts, rather than memorization of procedures and formulas. Working through real-world applications, making connections and practising in relevant and enjoyable ways are all part of building conceptual understanding. I believe that when students are struggling, this is usually caused by gaps in understanding of more fundamental building blocks. Caring support to address these can lead to students becoming more confident and enjoying mathematics more. I am happy to be working for Headstart as it not only offers a solid academics program but also great opportunities for students to develop themselves further in sports and the arts. I especially like the Duke of Edinburgh program (I have supported students in this program both in Hong Kong for hiking, and in Phuket for kayaking) and I like the environmental programs of the school such as the significant generation of power through solar panels and the growing of food in the roof garden. In my free time, I love sailing, running, hiking, swimming and spending time with our two dogs.

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Ross Armstrong

ICT and Computing Coordinator
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My name is Ross I began working for HeadStart International School in August 2018, as well as being a teacher I am also the school’s computing coordinator. Overall, this will be my sixth year of teaching Computer Science and IT. I am from Bushey, just outside London, in the UK. I first studied Psychology at the University of Essex and in-between term time worked for a computer company as an Engineer. After two years I then decided that I wanted to become a teacher and commenced on a fulfilling journey by doing a Computing course at Reading University and, finally, my PGCE at UCL’s Institute of Education. I have experience in various types of schools and I have run school clubs such as CCF, which is a cadet force for both the Army and RAF. This included teaching (and learning myself!) a whole squadron how to sail, kayak, canoe and mountain bike – I also learnt how to pilot a small plane! I’m a firm believer that a student’s experience of school should extend beyond academic success. Being able to offer students extracurricular activities is an important process of growing up, making friends and understanding commitment within a team. I like to live an active lifestyle which I believe can be transferred into a classroom. One of the main reasons I went into teaching was to be able to visit cultures around the world and truly immerse myself in them; HeadStart has given me the opportunity to do this. I’m extremely excited to make a positive impact with my new role at HeadStart, making my mark on an already thriving institution.

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Alicia Niemand

ICT Teacher
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Hello everyone! My name is Alicia and I have been working at HeadStart since October 2018. I am entering my eight year of teaching meaning I am extremely well equipped for the exciting year ahead. I have taught in a variety of settings; including my home country of South Africa, the Middle East and other parts of Thailand. I studied to become a teacher at the University of Pretoria; gaining a Bachelor of Education degree. I then taught ICT in South Africa for two years before embarking on my international teaching career; where I have spent the past five years as both a homeroom, IT, ICT and IB MYP Digital Design Teacher. I strive towards perfection for both myself and my students, working each day to ensure outstanding practice and outcomes. I am very passionate about my subject which means I have a breadth of knowledge to share and can do so in engaging and stimulating ways. I am a stimulating, eager and dedicated person with a natural ability to build rapport with students. My high quality approach ensures rapid progress and results. With a devoted outlook towards lessons; through differentiation, challenge, a happy and humorous approach, my teaching style has been positively welcomed by learners over the years. As well as being a passionate teacher, I am also very interested in sports. I love training in a range of physical activity; including weight-lifting, team sports, coaching and refereeing. With this, I have played provincial hockey for my country and also represented an established Emirates rugby team while living in Dubai. I look forward to continuing touch rugby with the staff and students this year. I am looking forward to the next academic year, seeing familiar faces and getting to know all of the new students. I’m happy to be spending my time at HeadStart and in Phuket. 2021 Let’s go!

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Timothy Davidson

Head of Science
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My name is Tim and the 2020-2021 academic year will be my third at HeadStart International School. I was born and raised in the beautiful county of Cornwall; located in the southwestern tip of the UK. After sitting my A-levels at Cornwall College I was awarded a scholarship from Pilkington Optronics to study Physics at Reading University. Post University I entered research at the National Physical Laboratory researching the use of quantum dots to replace fluorescent tag molecules for medical diagnosis. However the life of a researcher often left me in need of human interaction and I decided to opt for a career change; studying a PGCE at the Institute of Education, in London. After my PGCE I took up my first full time teaching post in West London. I remained at this school for seven and a half years during which time I took on a variety of roles including Head of Physics, running the school’s science specialism and Learning Leader; a role which saw me helping to develop the teaching practice of my peers. I then took up my first International post in Prague where I worked as both the Head of Physics and the Teaching and Learning Coordinator for four years. Post Prague I moved to Phuket where I took on the role of Head of Science at HeadStart. My approach to teaching has been formed from educational research and personal experience. The key to creating lifelong learners to is to give the students ownership of their learning and ensure they are suitably challenged and engaged throughout their time in education. To do this I endeavour to create an environment that fosters deep learning and stimulates students’ curiosity. In Science we are blessed as we can not only apply the teaching strategies used in other faculties but we can also give the students the opportunity to carry out practical investigations. On top of this the key concepts they learn can then be seen/experienced in their everyday life. Last year was undoubtedly the strangest year I have experienced as an educator, or for that matter as a person. Nonetheless I was impressed by the continued increase of attainment across the science department. I have no doubt that the current cohort is capable of surpassing this benchmark and I look forward to helping, and ensuring, that this prediction is proven to be true! I am also looking forward to getting back in the laboratories as practical work is a key component in ensuring a well-rounded science education. I am excited about continuing my adventure at HeadStart International School and being given the opportunity to further aid the students in exploring the rules that shape our Universe.

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Patrick Brown

Science Teacher
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My name is Patrick Brown, I am from Rochester, Kent in England. I graduated with a BSc from The University of London. After working at Greenwich University for 18 years I completed a TEFL course in 1999 and then went on to a PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch University in 2006. I have worked for 8 years teaching science in the UK, 6 of them as Deputy Head of Science. I’m currently looking forward to my Seventh year teaching at Headstart and look forward to helping pupils develop their skills in scientific enquiry and critical thinking, which I firmly believe help to enrich their overall experience in life and important decisions they will make in it. I am a keen cyclist and photographer and continue to put both these skills to good use on this beautiful island.

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Christopher Brown

Science Teacher
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My name is Chris and I am happy to be returning to HeadStart International School for my fourth year teaching science here. I grew up in North West England and completed my degree in Biochemistry at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, before doing my PGCE in Secondary Science at the University of Manchester. I continue to enjoy putting this experience to good use at HeadStart where I can share my passion for science with students from so many different backgrounds. I feel that all young people have a natural curiosity and drive to understand the world around them, which makes teaching science a pleasure. I aim to keep this curiosity and excitement alive in my classroom and strive to make sure that my students see science as something interesting that they can relate to their own day to day lives. My science lessons allow students to explore ideas and discover answers for themselves as much as possible, giving them hands on experience of what it really means to be a scientist. I feel very lucky that I am able to combine my love of teaching with living in one of my favourite places in the world.

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Steven Finn

Science Teacher
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My name is Steven Finn and I will be the Homeroom tutor for Year 12 Yellow. I was born in Manchester and spent most of my childhood there. For the most part, I enjoyed school both in sport and academically. I am more naturally gifted in maths and science rather than the arts, although I did go to the theatre on many occasions to see plays. I captained the school in rugby, football and cricket as well as playing tennis. After obtaining good grades at school I went to university and obtained a degree in Chemistry. In the holidays, I helped to run the family business doing jobs in accounts, stock control and sales. I was also involved in a house conversion throughout my academic studies. After leaving university, I worked in the chemical industry in sales, marketing, planning, production and as a formulation chemist. I entered the teaching profession in 2005 where I obtained my PGCE. Since then I have been teaching science and maths in the U.K. and internationally. I have taught in England, Guernsey, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and China. Since 2009 I have taught IGCSE and either ‘A’ Level or IB Chemistry as well occasionally other sciences such as Physics. I have a passion for Chemistry, as it has greatly benefitted modern society, for instance in cancer treatment. Chemistry is not an easy subject, but it has so much variety, combining practical and theoretical skills. Chemistry provides a great education for students to attain higher order thinking skills which will benefit them all through their life. In the classroom, I use a variety of strategies to aid learning to make it as engaging to the students as possible. I want both, myself and the students to enjoy lessons as well as it to be thought provoking. For me, teaching, is about facilitating a students’ development so that they can realise their potential and ambitions. In my career to date it has given me great pleasure to see students go onto study medicine and engineering at such places as Imperial College, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Kings College, London, MIT, Max Plank Institute and the University of British Columbia. Outside of the classroom, I have been on residential trips with students to Chengdu and the ‘Tiger Leaping Gorge’ in China as well photos shoots around Guernsey. In my spare time I enjoy travel, golf, swimming, fine cuisine, film and skiing as well as watching the local football team.

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Ellie Leamon

Science Teacher
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My name is Ellie Leamon and I am originally from South-East London in the UK. I studied Biology, Chemistry and PE at A-level and then went on to graduate with a Biology Degree from Sussex University. The main areas I studied during my degree were conservation, genetics and marine sciences for which I won an award as a result of my dissertation thesis for conservation and ecology. As a result of my love for field science, travelling and exploring new places and cultures I have always tried to work in different places around the world; working in Indonesia studying fish physiology for my dissertation, in Portugal studying sand dune ecology and most recently I worked in the Honduran rainforest as a schools co-ordinator teaching field survey techniques to A-level and college students from around the world. Shortly after finishing my degree I decided that I wanted to work with young people permanently and share my passion for science. The thought of potentially inspiring a new generation of scientists in these technological and scientifically advancing times being a very exciting prospect. I completed a school direct PGCE at St Mary’s University Twickenham and completed my NQT with my placement school, during which I was appointed SEN link for the science department as a result of my work with students with learning difficulties. I fully believe that every student is capable of achieving and exceeding expectations if given the motivation, encouragement and the specific tools they need as individuals. Science is crucial for young people to understand the way in which the world works around them and my primary aim as a teacher is to encourage children’s natural curiosity for this and create self-sufficient, confident students that have the knowledge and skills in which to engage with the interesting world that surrounds them. Outside of teaching I enjoy hiking, diving and photography. Last year I really enjoyed getting to know all of the talented HeadStart students and working as a part of the brilliant HeadStart team as well as living on beautiful Phuket. I look forward to continuing to work hard with the students and helping them to achieve everything they are capable of.

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Narumon Kunjun

Science Technician
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My name is Kanwara Kunjun or Bow. I graduated from Prince of Songkla University where I achieved a Bachelor of Science, I majored in Biotechnology. I was working as Science assistant during that time. After I graduated, I worked as a lecturer at The Biochemistry department at Taksin University for a year and I used to work as a science tutor for secondary students at Hatyaiwittayalai Somboon Kunkunya School. It has been a great opportunity to join Headstart International School in the position of Science Technician. Two years have passed since joining the team but I still have so much fun working in the school because of the lovely management team and students.

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Richard Cramp

Head of Humanities
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Hi, my name is Rich and although I have been at HeadStart since 2015 as a History teacher, this will be my first year as Head of a brand new Humanities faculty. Previously, I was an English and History teacher at Bromsgrove International School in Bangkok. My experience as an English and History teacher in international schools, along with a strong EAL background, has given me the tools to effectively teach students of differing abilities from all over the world. I am also in a position to empathise with international school students, having been one myself (I spent my first 12 years in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan). As a History teacher, I will ensure that students not only access the History curriculum, but do so in a lively, engaged classroom that inspires a love of history while developing the knowledge, skills and concepts needed to make sense of the world. Every student has a higher potential that must be unlocked, nurtured and encouraged continually. I do this by creating an active and engaged classroom culture where formative assessment is the nexus of their learning. Involving students in the learning process and nurturing a mind-set approach to their learning not only manifests excellent progress but, more importantly, creates happy and confident learners for life. Apart from teaching, other passions include music (listening and composing), travel, quoting Alan Partridge and being a consistently disappointed Tottenham Hotspur fan. To be able to live near the coast and teach a subject I’m so passionate about is fantastic. My wife and I are enjoying teaching and living in Phuket, especially because the lifestyle here gives our two children (also at HeadStart) an opportunity to grow up in the great outdoors.

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Simon Downes

Business Teacher
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Hi and Sawadee kap! I’m Simon Downes from the UK. Over the years, I’ve collected a mix of qualifications, including a Degree in Business & Linguistics, a Postgraduate Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Education. After teaching English and business in the UK, I moved to Thailand to teach in Chiang Mai, in 2014. I’m excited to continue my Thai journey in Phuket. As a teacher, I focus on creating a friendly, positive class atmosphere. This can encourage learners to take risks, and even make a few mistakes, which accelerates learning. I also find the yearly teaching cycle allows me to evolve my teaching; steadily incorporating fresh resources and technologies. Business ideas are core features of our HeadStart class experience. I like to bring our studies ‘to life’ by encouraging students to consider how they personally experience and interact with business ideas in their own lives. I’m more of a generalist than a specialist so I have a wide range of interests, including arts, sciences, economics, philosophy, psychology; the list is very long. I’m very curious so I’m hoping to learn about what interests you and how I can best support your learning. So, I’m looking forward to fresh adventures at HeadStart School. Thailand has taught me many things, particularly about the power of a smile, and confirmed that ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood’.

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Dale Benham

Geography Teacher
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My name is Dale this is my second year at Headstart International School I started working at HeadStart in 2019. I am from the United Kingdom and grew up in East Anglia in a small market town called St Ives in Cambridgeshire. I studied at the University of Glamorgan, now the University of South Wales, gaining a degree in Physical Geography. I completed my teacher training at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in 2009, earning a PGCE in Geography. I taught in Colchester which is located in the county of Essex. During this time I taught a wide range of children from varying backgrounds and ethnicities in a multicultural school. 6 of these years at this school were spent as a Head of Year to Years 8 to 11. I am passionate about Geography as a subject; I was inspired by my Geography teacher at school which led me on the path to become a teacher. I am enthusiastic and a great believer in providing exciting and interesting lessons to all of the students that I teach. I want them to become independent thinkers, gaining knowledge by learning through their mistakes and making marginal gains in everything they do. I am dedicated to creating a safe, fun and challenging learning environment where the students are at the center of a positive learning experience. Outside of the classroom I enjoy listening to an eclectic variety of music and watching sport (football and rugby in particular.) I am looking forward to another positive year for our school and most importantly our students who are a pleasure to teach.

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Yardenna Jones

BTEC Coordinator
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My name is Yardenna Jones and I joined HeadStart in 2019. I am from the UK and I grew up in South Wales. I have a BA Honours degree in Journalism which I studied at Southampton Solent University. After university I assisted in the set-up of a small business, a fashion retailer in Bournemouth. I also continued with my love of journalism and travel by becoming an assistant editor of a travel & lifestyle magazine. Educating others and working with young people had always been a passion of mine and I was keen to further my lifelong learning as I believe this is important continue with personal growth and development. With this in mind I moved to London and studied a DTLLS (Diploma to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) with Business and Travel & Tourism being my subject specialisms because of my industry experience. In the UK I was working at Brooklands College in Surrey teaching Business and Travel & Tourism. More recently I have taught at Westminster Kingsway College in London an inner city school with children from varying backgrounds and ethnicities. I have now been teaching these subjects with awarding bodies BTEC, OCR City & Guilds and NCFE for 5 years and I am very experienced with the 14-19 age group. I love working with these ages- it's such an exciting and significant time for students. I’m very passionate about creating a positive learning environment and want to inspire my students to be independent and motivated during this crucial time of becoming a young adult. I am so excited to be continuing with the delivery and coordination of the BTEC programmes at HeadStart. For a learner it can be such a valuable experience and enjoyable way of achieving a qualification. Watching a student grow and learn an array of transferable and employability skills in a holistic environment is a wonderful experience for all involved. Outside of the classroom I practice mindfulness, yoga and I am passionate about spreading the importance of sustainable living. I have travelled much of South East Asia and look forward to more adventures this year as travel is a great passion of mine!

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Ben Morris

Travel & Tourism at IGCSE and BTEC
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My name is Ben Morris and I have just joined Headstart International School for the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year. I will be teaching Travel & Tourism at IGCSE and BTEC, along with Geography in Years 7 and 8. I was born a long time ago in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales in the UK. I went to the University of Manchester where I gained a BA (Hons.) degree in History, and an M.Phil. about the history of Burma during the Cold War. I have published some History articles on these themes, as well as some travel writing. After training to be a teacher at the University of London, I worked in state education for many years in south London, where I was Head of History. We organised many trips around London, but also to Berlin, to Rome, and even a month-long adventure in Venezuela. I spent my holidays walking and cycling around Europe. As the travel bug bit me, I decamped to Colombia to teach History and Geography at The English School of Bogota, where we followed the IB MYP and Diploma programs. Colombia is a wonderful country, full of music and dance. This was followed by seven years teaching IB History and Theory of Knowledge in The British School, Rio de Janeiro, where I met Nicole (the new Art teacher) and lived by the beach in Copacabana. Recently we moved to teach in Shanghai, but were stranded outside of China’s borders due to Covid-19. Teaching has allowed me not just to travel, but to experience day to day living in different countries. Thailand has been so generous in welcoming us to stay, and I am really excited about living in Phuket and working with you all at Headstart.

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Dean Wells

Design and Technology
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My name is Dean Wells and I am from the UK. I grew up in Poole, Dorset but moved to Bristol to study a degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and then stayed there for 18 years. As a Production Engineer I worked on top engineering projects such as the Typhoon Eurofighter, underwater and flying Unmanned Automated Vehicles and setting up a company for Mitsubishi before eventually going back to university and studying for my PGCE to become a qualified Design and Technology teacher. I moved to Penang, Malaysia in 2013 to work at a new international school where my role was to design and overlook the building of the Design and Technology educational spaces as well as to set up and teach an exciting curriculum for Key Stage 3, Cambridge IGCSE to Key Stage 4 and Product Design A Level to Key Stage 5. I am now really looking forward to my new role at Headstart International school and to continue helping with the progression, positive energy and academic successes of the Creative Arts and DT subjects. I am committed to helping young people achieve their best and striving to ensure they have a happy and successful life. In the past I have also had some varied jobs that possibly reflect my personality and interests, I have taught corporate groups how to sail tall ships, had my own weekly radio show and been a sound engineer for London Westend shows such as Cats and Mary Poppins.

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Alexandra Holmes

Music Teacher
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My name is Alex and I have been teaching at HeadStart International School since 2018. I am from the UK, growing up in South Yorkshire in the north of England. Having spent some time working in the Netherlands and travelling in Asia in my twenties, I then returned to college to study music and completed my music degree at Leeds College of Music. I worked in schools in West Yorkshire as a peripatetic woodwind teacher before enrolling on a PGCE course at Leeds University in 2001. I have taught in several independent schools in West Yorkshire since then, spending 10 years teaching music at the Grammar School at Leeds, a leading independent school in the area. It is my belief that a teacher should inspire a love of learning in their students, encouraging in them a desire to seek out new information for themselves. I will be encouraging my pupils to explore the vast array of musical styles and genres available to them both inside and outside the classroom. I foster a supportive and nurturing environment in my lessons, where children are not afraid to try new things, stretch and challenge themselves, take risks or make mistakes. Music takes up a good deal of my time, but I also love to exercise, enjoying running and spending time in the gym. Over the last 12 months I have started to attend yoga classes, which I also really enjoy. When I came to Thailand in 2009 to perform in the World Saxophone Congress at Mahidol University I took the opportunity to learn to scuba dive on Koh Tao. I am hoping to build my confidence with this during my time on Phuket. I love to travel and will be exploring more of Thailand until international travel becomes available again. I hope to explore some of the other countries in South East Asia, including Vietnam and Cambodia. I am slowly learning the Thai language and will try and move a bit faster with that this year.

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Jody Leow

Art
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I come from England and I have worked as a teacher in Phuket since 2001. I worked as an EAL teacher for 3 years and then as a foundation and preschool teacher for 3 years. I have been working as an Art teacher with Headstart since 2008 during which time I have enjoyed being part of the school’s expansion. I have always been passionate about art, I studied Fine Art at the University of Brighton in the UK during which time I spent six months studying at Alfred University in New York State. Although my main subject was painting, my studies included working with a wide variety of media including clay, printmaking and sculpture. I am dedicated to providing a classroom environment which is stimulating and inspiring to students, which encourages creative expression and allows students to explore and develop their ideas and learn about the work of different artists and cultures.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” --Pablo Picasso
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Pailin Issalam

Head of Thai
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My name is Pailin Issalam and my nickname is Dia. I attended Assumption University, where I achieved my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business. Graduating in 2009, I majored in English and gained additional credits in Hospitality and Tourism Management. As to achieve my professional development, I enrolled in Graduate Diploma Program in Teaching Profession at Phuket Rajabhat University, after which I have officially earned the teaching license from the Teachers’ Council of Thailand. In 2010, I applied for a position at HeadStart International School as an Assistant Teacher. I have since worked here for ten years. I not only worked as an Assistant Teacher, but I also gained the trust of the Thai Department and have been afforded the opportunity to teach Thai to non-native students. This has been a great experience that has allowed me to develop my knowledge and skills to become a better teacher. Furthermore, I have gained the trust of parents enabling me to become a private tutor of English and Thai to Foundation, Primary and Year 10 students. In 2014, I was promoted to the role of Thai Teacher teaching the Thai First Language, Thai Second language and Thai Foreigner language programme. I am grateful for this opportunity and am confident that it will give me a rewarding experience. I have made it my goal to strive to become the best teacher that I can be and will do my best to develop and encourage my students to speak, read and write in Thai, inspiring in them a love of Thai studies so that they can usefully apply their knowledge to all aspects of their lives. In 2018, I was promoted to the position of Head of Thai Department. I am very proud to be a member of the professional team of management at HeadStart. I look forward to the start of the new school year and to working productively with students, colleagues and parents. Please contact me at: [email protected]

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Hathaikan Korkimseng

Thai Teacher
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I am Hathaikan Korkimseng, or you can call me Kru Kan. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Language for Development (English – Thai) from Prince of Songkla University and I got the Graduate Diploma in Teaching Profession from Phuket Rajabhat University. This Academic Year, I am teaching Thai Foreign Language in Primary and Secondary and Thai First Language Programme in Year 7 and co-teaching Thai IGCSE for Year 10 – 11 Students. As I have been teaching at HeadStart since it was a small school, I feel very delighted to see the school keeps growing with a number of students, the developing of academic results and now we are known on the island as one of the best international schools! I believe that children are our future. Each and every child has the potential to contribute something unique and special to the world. As a Thai teacher, I believe that learning Thai is very essential to students as they need to understand both language and culture which leads them to be able to succeed in living in Thai society and in the world. Helping the students to develop their potential by believing in them as capable individuals, I will assist them in learning to communicate and understand the cross culture. I want them to feel free to express their own opinions and ideas. I have a vision of society where people learn to respect, accept, and embrace the differences as the core of what makes life so fascinating. Please contact me at: [email protected]

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Pornsuda Rattanasen

Thai Teacher
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Hello, my name is Pornsuda Rattanasen (Gen). I was born in Nongkai, Northeast of Thailand. After I finished high school I went to Buriram Rajabhat University and graduated with my Bachelor’s in English in 2009. My first teaching experience was in Darasamuth Phuket School, English Programme. I worked there for three years in Primary 2 as a homeroom teacher and taught English and Thai subjects as well. After that I worked at British International School Phuket as a Teacher Assistant in Year 2 for two and a half years. I also teach Thai to Russian students for private class outside of school in my free time as I speak a little bit of Russian. It has been quite a challenge working in these different school systems. I have enjoyed all of the new things I have learnt. All these experiences have allowed me to develop my skills to be a good teacher. What I enjoy most about teaching is how the students can express themselves in Thai and understand conversations as well. To enhance this experience, I source new materials for the lessons and I keep updated with the most recent communicative approaches. My method is mostly based on communication and also adding cultural and language games for a more enjoyable learning environment. This will be my third academic year teaching at HeadStart International School Phuket. I’d like to thank the school for this opportunity. It has been a great working experience in my life to be a Thai teacher in this fabulous school. In This academic year, I will be teaching 8 class levels start from Year 1 - 6 for Primary and Year 7 - 9 for Secondary. I am excited for the year’s adventures and I will make sure I provide a positive learning experience for all my students. Please contact me at: [email protected]

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Phatcharaphorn Phermkaew

Thai Teacher
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My name is Phatcharaphorn Phermkaew. I am originally from Phatthalung, the deep south of Thailand. I joined HeadStart International School in 2018 and I hold the position of a Thai teacher both Primary and Secondary at HeadStart International School. I hold a bachelor of Business Education degree (Teacher License) as well as a Master degree in Business Administration and now I'm doing a PhD in Educational Administration. I love studying and working. My previous jobs were in a variety of schools and this year will be my seventh year of teaching. I experienced teaching English for Thai kids, Thai for Thai kids and Thai for foreigners. Before I moved to Headstart International School, I worked at UWC Thailand as an Education Assistant. I taught Nursery to Grade 5, worked with homeroom teachers to set challenging goals for the students. My method is mostly based on communication and also adding culture and language. My passion is continuously learn more about what I am teaching so I can be a better teacher. I always learn new things for developing myself and have worked hard to continually upgrade my teaching skills by attending additional training courses and workshops for example Certificate of Teaching Thai language for foreigners, Certificate of Teaching Leadership, Performance Teaching 2019 and Teaching foreigner language by Active Learning Method and Certificate Teaching Thai for foreigners by Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan). Recently I was a guest speaker How to teach Thai for foreigners by Active Learning, Thai Teachers’ Meet 4th. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the professional team of educators. I am extremely ready for teaching Thai as a second language in Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 and teaching Thai as a foreigner in Year 3. I am looking forward to provide a positive learning experience for students, parents and our team.

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Piwara Chumnum

University Placement Officer & Sixth Form Assistant
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Mike Opaliski

Head of EAL & Languages
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Hello, my name is Mike and I was born and raised in Philadelphia, located on the east coast of the United States of America (USA). Prior to moving overseas in 2014, I spent over 15 years living in Seattle – which is over 4,500km from where I grew up – and a world away with regards to the cultural differences between the east and west coasts of the USA. I am extremely passionate about education and have dedicated my entire career to the learning sciences field. In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, I also hold a Master’s Degree in Education from The Pennsylvania State University and earned a TESOL certificate while living in Cambodia and Vietnam six year ago. Prior to becoming a teacher I had a successful career in corporate education providing strategic direction for learning and development initiatives for some of the world’s largest technology companies. I have extensive experience designing, implementing and managing learning programs for KS3, KS4 and adult learners on multiple continents. As the Head of Faculty for English as an Additional Language (EAL) & Languages here at HeadStart International School Phuket, I support and help develop an amazing team of Mandarin, French and Russian language teachers in both Primary and Secondary. In addition, I manage the Fast ForWord online learning program for EAL pupils across the entire school. This academic year I will also be teaching KS3 EAL and Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language to KS4 pupils. I really enjoy traveling and exploring new places and cultures, and strongly believe the world is too big to stay in one place forever. Learning about different cultures continues to broaden my view of the world and helps me appreciate what I have even more. Outside of school you will find me living an active and healthy lifestyle while enjoying any number of the beautiful beaches on this island that I’ve called home for the past five years.

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Benjamin Salmon

French Coordinator and Teacher
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My name is Ben Salmon and I have been working at HeadStart International School since 2016. I was born in Paris, France and grew up on the outskirts of the French capital not far from Versailles Castle. I hold an International Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Nottingham as well as a Master Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from BridgeTEFL. I started my teaching career in 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand and have also lived a year on the Canadian East coast before coming to Phuket. On top of my teaching qualifications, I also hold a Master’s Degree in International affairs. I have a true passion for teaching as well as learning new languages. I intend to continue using this passion to inspire my students. My classroom is always a positive environment where students are free to express themselves, through fun language activities and dynamic expression. I have had the chance to teach both Primary and Secondary schools, and really enjoy what each age group has to bring to the lessons. I am looking forward to make this new academic year an exciting and successful one. This year I will also be taking on the new role of French Coordinator, I will be working closely with the primary French teacher to continue to ensure that the foreign language French program delivered is of quality, as well as consistent throughout the school. Outside of school, I am a very active person and enjoy working out several times per week. I also like to swim, play football and try to go to the beach every weekend. My likes in music include jazz, pop, rock, electro, hip-hop, salsa and more…

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Lingyun Ni

Chinese Teacher
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Hello everyone(大家好! My name is Lingyun Ni and I am Mandarin Teacher for Year 5-9. I have been living in Phuket for two years and I have taught Mandarin at public school for couple of years. Now I'm so glad to join Headstart. I was born in Beijing, the capital of China where I grew up. I graduated from China University of political science and law. I have rich teaching experience and skills for wide range of age, level and class size. My point of view is learning should not be serious atmosphere. Happy education is the key to let students study consciously and actively. In my classroom, I will create a relaxed, harmonious, and pleasant learning environment for students. They are free to ask any questions since I believe in freedom of speech. At the same time, I will form an interaction bond with students though feelings and develop two-ways communication class. There will be an interesting lesson in every class. There are some teaching material which I am good at such as Media and physical display or role playing in teaching to create an active classroom atmosphere. I am not allowed sleepy face in my class. I am encouraging to let students express their ideas, feeling and see what I can support them in their way. I am happy in learning and enjoy the class with children. I look forward to seeing you in my classroom and hearing your views. Thank you!

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Tatiana Oparenko

Russian Teacher
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Я работаю учителем уже 17 лет. Каждое утро я иду на работу с радостью, потому что знаю –меня очень ждут мои школьные дети, открывающие для себя новый мир. И каким они его увидят – жестоким или милосердным, равнодушным или увлекательным – зависит во многом от меня. Моя работа приносит мне чувство полноты жизни, ведь это самая творческая профессия. Быть учителем – это значит снова и снова проживать детство с каждым ребенком, видеть мир его глазами. Стать учителем я захотела еще когда сама училась в школе. И ни разу не пожалела о сделанном выборе. Самое интересное для меня — мир детства. Я всегда училась с интересом и в школе, и в институте, читала много книг, и очень хотелось делиться всем тем интересным, что открывалось мне. Я преподавала русский язык, литературу, историю... открывала начальные школы, работала с авторами различных методик в России, в Черногории и Таиланде. И за все эти годы убедилась, учитель – это человек с огромным, чистым и добрым сердцем, безграничным терпением, строгий и мягкий, человек, которому доверяют. --- I've been teaching for 17 years now. Every morning I am happy to go to work as I know my students, who are discovering a new world are waiting for me. Their success and outlook depends largely on me so I take my job seriously. My work brings me a sense of fullness of life because it is the most creative profession. Being a teacher means delving into your own childhood with each child as we see the world through his or her eyes. I wanted to become a teacher when I was at school and I have never regretted the choice I have made. The most interesting thing for me is the world of childhood. I have always been studying with interest both at school and university. I have read many books and I really wanted to share all the interesting things I learned. I taught Russian, literature, history, I opened primary schools, worked with authors of various methodologies in Russia, Montenegro and Thailand. Over all these years I have learned that teachers are people with a huge, pure and kind heart, boundless patience, strict and gentle, and people who are trusted.

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Tian Banchao

Chinese Teacher
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My name is Banchao Tian and I have been working at HeadStart since January 2019. I am from China and grew up in the southwest in a small tourism city called Guilin. I studied at Jinan University in Guangzhou, gaining a master degree in Linguistics and a certificate of Teaching Mandarin as a Foreign Language. I have taught Mandarin to secondary students at public schools in Bangkok and Phuket for 8 years prior to my move to HeadStart. In my teaching practice, besides delivering the knowledge and skills of Mandarin, it is my aim to inspire and motivate my students to learn the language. I believe the most efficient language learning happens through students’ own engagement and self-effort. Besides, I believe culture is a crucial concept in language teaching, in a certain sense, language learning is culture learning. Exposure to culture will in turn inspire students' interest in learning the language as well. In my teaching, I often introduce aspects of Chinese culture to my students, e.g. Chinese paper-cut, Chinese calligraphy, Beijing opera, Chinese Food and so on. Outside of classroom I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and cats. I’m a tennis lover and always want to play whenever I have free time.

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Pharadee Praprutchob (Fon)

Thai Teacher
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My name is Pharadee Praprutchob and my nickname is Fon. I am extremely excited for joining my second year of teaching at HeadStart International School. I gained my Bachelor Degree in Faculty of Humanities and Social, majoring in Thai Language. After graduation, I worked at a tutoring school in Samut Sakhon for six years, teaching Thai and Social Studies for Primary. After this, I worked at private school in Bangkok called Na Darun School. Over the past eight years, I have gained valuable teaching experience working with children of various ages and have discovered a true passion for teaching children from a range of different classes. Seeking a new challenge, I decided to apply at HeadStart International School, as a Thai Teacher. I am grateful for this professional opportunity that I have been given by HeadStart International School. This Term, I’m teaching Thai First Language programme in Year 6, Year 7 and Year 8. I'm looking forward to continuing my journey at HeadStart, and working with all of the students, alongside my amazing colleagues. Please contact me at: [email protected]

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Kanokwan Tantawanit

Thai Teacher
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Hi, my name is Kanokwan Tantawanit or Kru Pla. I am a huge fan of reading as well as yoga and meditation. I also love to travel, eat and teach! What I have always believed and proved it to myself is that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin In 2012, I graduated with second-class honours from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, achieving my Bachelor Degree in Spanish. I take pride in studying at Thailand’s first university founded over the century, and ranked by the QS World University Rankings 2020 as the top in the country and listed in the top 50 universities in Asia. There, I have also earned a massive number of course credits in English and Thai throughout the programme with my passionate interest in languages. Experiences in hospitality for a number of years afterwards have developed my interpersonal and communication skills, but never seemed to fulfil my potential and my passion. As the saying goes “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life!” This reminded me of the joy I had as a part-time tutor during my time at the university. In the pursuit of my new goal, I had a fascinating glimpse into the world of international education while being part of the supporting team at Top Scholars, a personalised college prep in Bangkok. I eventually became a full time English teacher in my home town in a private school here in Phuket where I had a memorable experience teaching the students in Prathom 5 and Prathom 6 for over a year, helping many of them to get into the high schools of their dreams, but most importantly bringing out the best in my students. I am wholeheartedly committed to ongoing professional development, so I enrolled in Graduate Diploma Program in Teaching Profession, after which I have officially earned the teaching license from the Teachers’ Council of Thailand. I have truly enjoyed my first year at HeadStart International School. I wish to continue to utilise my enthusiasm for teaching to grow together with the school. I am excitedly looking forward to this next academic year, teaching Thai Foreign Language Programme. It's always worth it to see the students learn, laugh, have fun, and successfully navigate learning and life, and so I couldn’t be happier.

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