International Early Years Learning Lead & International Kindergarten Teacher
Name: Charlotte Mills
HAIS Teaching Roles: Kindergarten 1 & 2 Teacher
Years of Teaching Experience: 5+
Degree & Certifications: Bachelor of Arts, PGCE, EYFS Bitesize, Middle Leadership Essentials
With degree qualifications and a PGCE, Charlotte has been teaching since 2013 in early years, primary and secondary teaching roles. Having lived in Vietnam for nearly a decade, Charlotte has focused on Early Years as her specialty.
As our Early Years Learning Lead Charlotte has taken on the role with gusto and in the last 12 months completed the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework course, Middle Leadership Essentials and Dyslexia Awareness under the HAIS Professional Development programme.
For Charlotte, teaching is more than just a job – she enjoys incorporating her passions and enjoyments into her lessons and classes, including music, dance, yoga, cooking, art and drama. She believes that the role of an Early Years teacher is to encourage children to take ownership of their thoughts and ideas, to know their voices are listened to and respected and to foster a love and motivation of learning that will continue through their educational journey.
Fun Fact: Charlotte loves walking her little dog on the beach, travelling, cooking and yoga.
Bilingual Early Years Learning Lead
Bilingual Early Years Teacher
Name: Jo Darby
HAIS Teaching Roles: Bilingual/International Early Years Teacher, Basketball Team Coach
Years of Teaching Experience: 10+
Degree & Certifications: B.A. in Early Childhood Studies, TEFL, P4C, EYFS Bitesize, Early Years SEN, IB (PYP), Middle Leadership Essentials.
Jo has over a decade of teaching experience throughout different Asian countries. Since growing up in London, he has actually spent a significant portion of his adult life working in international schools in China to build and strengthen their bilingual programmes.
Under the HAIS Continuing Professional Development programme, Jo completed professional development training in Dyslexia Awareness, Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS Bitesize), Early Years SEN, EAL for Classroom Teachers and Middle Leadership Essentials.
While his degree is specifically in Early Childhood Studies, Jo believes there are always new things to learn and has continued his professional development as a teacher by adding additional certifications, including a TEFL, P4C and IB (PYP) training.
Fun Fact: Jo likes to write music in his spare time and has released one studio album. He is also a life-long learner of languages. He is conversational in Chinese and Thai, and is currently studying Spanish during his free time.
International Early Years Teaching Assistant
Bilingual Early Years Nanny
Year 1-2 Teacher
Name: Simone Kidd
HAIS Teaching Roles: Year 1/2 Teacher
Years of Teaching Experience: 3+
Degree & Certifications: B.A. in Education.
Simone completed her bachelor’s degree at Embury Institute in South Africa before beginning her journey abroad. From 2017 – 2020, she trained on and worked with Cambridge curriculum at international schools in China and Ho Chi Minh City.
Under the HAIS Continuing Professional Development programme, Simone completed professional development training in Dyslexia Awareness, EAL for Classroom Teachers, Differentiation for Practice, Differentiation for Catch-up, Positive Relationships and the Teacher Development Programme.
Simone loves learning and obtaining new ways to reach higher and higher heights. She wants to teach and inspire her future students to be the best they can be by creating a fun, safe, and positive environment where her students can learn and express themselves.
Fun Fact: Simone loves to sew, make crafts and pain in her spare time.
Bilingual Preparatory & Grade 1 Teaching Assistant
International Year 3 Teacher, World Languages Teachers
Name: Kerry Dowden
HAIS Teaching Roles: International Year 3 Teacher, World Languages Teachers
Years of Teaching Experience: 5 years
Degree & Certifications: Bachelor Teaching (major: Early Years), Diploma Early Childhood, Certificate Effective Guided Reading and fluency, Certificate Explicit Teaching Instruction
Bio: With a degree in teaching and extensive experience in early years education, Kerry was teaching in primary schools in Australia for 2½ years, prior to making the move to Vietnam to teach in an international school near Ho Chi minh City. After 3 years in Vietnam Kerry has been able to develop her skills in teaching diverse learners and has focused on continuing to build upon her experiences in teaching instruction and in student centred support roles.
Kerry believes the aim of education is to prepare students for life. Education and a love of learning is something that is instilled in students from an early age. Education should initially focus on each individual, fostered through the promotion of positive self-esteem and the valuing of yourself and others. While teaching at HAIS, Kerry hopes to encourage students as lifelong learners and instill confidence and curiosity into each and every student she encounters.
Fun Fact: As a child, Kerry spent a lot of her time sailing and camping on the local islands around South East Queensland. She continues to enjoy a life filled with adventure and outdoor activities as she instills her passion for discovery, curiosity and travel in her two young children. Kerry is wife of HAIS’ new Primary Learning Lead, Mr Thomas Dowden, and is proud to have children, Lily and Henry along for the journey in our HAIS community.
Bilingual Grade 4 & 5 Teaching Assistant
Year 4 Teacher / General Coordinator / Swim Coach
Name: Amanda Gustin
HAIS Teaching Roles: Year 4 Teacher, Swim Coach
Years of Teaching Experience: 3+
Degree & Certifications: Postgraduate Certificate in Education, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Craft and Material Studies), Associate Degree in Arts (Art & General Education), TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certificate, Level 2 U.S. Masters Swimming Coach Certificate
Amanda started her interest in teaching early as a water safety and first-responder instructor during secondary and college years. Whilst undertaking her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Amanda worked for four years coordinating the university’s student affairs programmes for student health, wellness and recreation – this work continued well after Amanda finalised her degree.
Since leaving the United States, Amanda has taught primary and secondary students in Korea, worked as the HAIS Learning Support teacher from 2019-2020, and spent a year as the HAIS Head of Administration from 2020-2021, whilst at the same time completed her post graduate degree in primary education. In addition, Amanda is proud to have founded and be the Head Coach for the HAIS Swim Team.
Under the HAIS Continuing Professional Development programme, Amanda has completed professional development training in Dyslexia Awareness, EAL for Classroom Teachers, Preventing and Tackling Cyberbullying, Preventing Extremism and Radicalism, Sexual Exploitation and Grooming Awareness and Early Years SEN. Amanda is currently completing the SEND Inclusive Teaching programme and Cambridge Understanding Assessment course.
Amanda passionately believes that knowledge is the most valuable commodity that a person can possess and that learning can take many forms and Amanda has dedicated her life to instilling these learning values in younger generations. Although we all learn differently, the most important factor is that we always continue to learn.
Fun Fact: Amanda’s father was an army special forces instructor and growing up he taught her defensive combatives, how to train and push the mind and body, wilderness survival and respect and understanding of wildlife. Her father was continually teaching her, which instilled in her the desire to teach others.
International Year 4 Teaching Assistant
Year 5 Teacher / Debate Coach / Tennis Coach
Name: Emma Pook
HAIS Teaching Roles: Year 5 Teacher, Debate Coach
Years of Teaching Experience: 5+
Degree & Certifications: B.A. in Psychology and English Language and Linguistics, Postgraduate in Education, Certificate in Coaching Debate.
At university, Emma studied a Bachelor of Arts Degree with majors in Psychology and English Language and Linguistics. She later went on to complete her Postgraduate Certificate in Education. During her fourth year at university, she also coached tennis at a private boarding school. Starting in 2016, Emma taught for 3 years in South Africa before making the leap to Vietnam where she taught at an international school in Saigon from 2019-2020. While working in Saigon, she also accepted the role of Master of Ceremonies for school events. Emma recently completed a communications course to become a certified debating coach, as well a Special Needs course to build and refresh her knowledge of special needs.
Under the HAIS Continuing Professional Development programme, Emma completed professional development training in Dyslexia Awareness, EAL for Classroom Teachers, SEND Inclusive Teaching Programme and Effective Self-Care.
Emma decided to become a teacher because she is passionate about education and making a difference in children’s lives. Her pedagogical philosophy consists of motivating students to become their best possible self. Emma believes in education that encourages students to become solution-oriented thinkers that are passionate about making the world a better place.
Fun Fact: During her school years, Emma played tennis very seriously and was chosen to represent a South African Tennis side in Scotland and England when she was in Year 11.”
International Year 5 Teaching Assistant
International Primary Learning Lead
International Year 6 Teacher
Name: Tom Dowden
HAIS Teaching Roles: International Primary Learning Lead, International Year 6 Teacher
Years of Teaching Experience: 12 Years
Degree & Certifications: Bachelor of Journalism, Graduate Diploma of Education (middle years)
After a career in journalism and public relations in London, Tom became focused on searching for a profession that would have more of a positive impact on society and would allow him to help others in a more direct manner. This naturally led him to the profession of teaching where he has happily provided his services for more than a decade. Tom discovered his passion for teaching early on and has been working ever since on a journey of lifelong learning with the children under his care as his sole inspiration. Students in their primary years of schooling are naturally curious about the world around them and Tom found that it was his responsibility to not only nurture this curiosity, but to expand on it and take it to levels the students never imagined.
Throughout the course of his career and because of his background in journalism, Tom developed a desire to become an expert at teaching literacy. He enrolled the services of a literacy coach for 5 years to hone his craft and learn as much as he could about the explicit teaching of reading and writing. As a result of this, Tom has taught countless numbers of children to read, all of them with individual challenges and needs that needed to be met in order for them to access the incredible world of literacy. Tom inspires children to not only read to learn, but to develop a lifelong passion in reading for pleasure.
While Tom has become a specialised teacher of literacy, he is also devoted to providing the highest level of instruction in Mathematics and Science. He is passionate about the scientific methods of investigation, both inside and outside of school, and believes that Science has always been the driving force behind developing a better society. Unlike a lot of people, the heroes and inspirational people in Tom’s life have mainly been mathematicians and scientists. He believes Math and Science should be taught practically, in a hands-on manner as much as possible, to excite students and to further develop that natural curiosity.
It is with this background that Tom joins us at HAIS as the Primary Learning Lead. He is extremely excited to be joining the HAIS family and eager to support the students, parents and teachers. He does not come alone, however. Joining him in this new adventure is his wonderful family. His two children will be joining the primary school in Year Four and Six with his wife, Kerry, becoming the new Year Three teacher. His whole family cannot wait to meet all of the amazing community at HAIS and to start their new life here in Hoi An.
Fun Fact: Tom once held the Sgt. Pepper’s drum and some amplifiers belonging to Jimi Hendrix the day before helping to sell a £37 million painting. For more information, you’ll have to introduce yourself to Tom.
International Year 6 Teaching Assistant
Bilingual Preparatory & Grade 1 Teacher
Bilingual Preparatory – Grade 3 Teacher, Primary Drama Teacher
Name: Jeanri Smit
HAIS Teaching Roles: Preparatory – Grade 3 Teachers / Drama Teacher
Years of Teaching Experience: 5
Degree & Certifications: Bachelor of Arts in Education, Post Graduate Diploma in Special needs Education, Post Graduate Diploma in Autism, Certificate in Junior Drama, TEFL Certificate
Bio: Jeanri grew up in South Africa with her first passion being a career in arts. Jeanri felt a personal void in her life and had the urge to work with people and use her creativity to help others. This is when Jeanri decided to follow her dreams and become a teacher.
Jeanri remembers growing up and her mother always saying, ‘Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.’ For Jeanri her career as a teacher has never felt like a job, rather more of a calling, a passion, a lifestyle.
Prior to working at HAIS Jeanri worked as a teacher at primary schools in South Africa and Vietnam. Whilst working in South Africa Jeanri ran classes of up to 53 students. This taught Jeanri the value of good classroom management. Before moving to Hoi An, Jeanri worked as a bilingual primary teacher at a well renowned school in Hanoi, Vietnam.
During the 2019/2020 academic year Jeanri worked as the substitute teacher at HAIS and supported the school across both primary and secondary sector throughout the year. Jeanri was heavily involved in extra-curricular activities across the year, running art classes for our students. Over the last 12 months Jeanri has blended into our school and is well known for her positive attitude and warm welcoming smile.
Jeanri is excited about joining the HAIS family this year as a full time teacher. Jeanri will begin her 6th year of teaching this year and her focus will be on encouraging students to ask questions, take risks and overcome any fear that may impede their learning.
Jeanri is looking forward to a wonderful year full of learning, laughter and growth and even more so she is thrilled about meeting all of the HAIS students and families.
Jeanri loves animals and watersports. Jeanri even trained her dog to join her when she heads out to sea on her standup paddleboard.
Bilingual Primary Learning Lead, Grade 2 Teacher
Bilingual Preparatory – Grade 3 Teaching Assistant