Dr. Eric Sands
Dr. Sands is an experienced strategic education administration leader with 23 years’ experience in 6 international schools, across 4 continents. He has set and implemented strong strategic plans, designed and built educational models, and been instrumental as an accreditation officer for his schools. The foundation for his experience, is a Doctorate of Philosophy Education Administration from the University of South Carolina, USA.
Dr. Sands joined Stamford following a 4-year term as Director of the Qatar Academy in Doha, Qatar. During his time there, he was responsible for the development of their Middle School educational model which also included working with Qatar Foundation Capital Projects on the design of their new purpose built Middle School construction. Eric spearheaded the 5-year strategic plan, and reaccreditation process for the Institution from Council of International Schools, International Baccalaureate Organization and National Educational Association of Schools and Colleges.
Prior to his time in Qatar, he served as Director of the International School of Belgrade in Belgrade, Serbia. There he led two consecutive 5-Year strategic plans and worked with a representative group of constituents in developing a master site plan for the High School campus, which included a significant grant from the US Embassy for security.
His administration experience began with the role of Upper School Principal at Taipei American School, Taipei, Taiwan. He designed the master schedule for High School and led the Upper School in strategic planning, while supervising instructional activities and the co-curricular program.
In addition to his doctorate, he is also a Master’s graduate of Missouri University in Educational Specialist in Educational Administration. His tertiary learning pathway started with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa Studying Arts in Political Science.
Dr. Sands arrived in the fall of 2016 and is accompanied by his wife, Patricia. Together they have 2 adult children, Andrea and Nicholas. Eric is an avid sportsman and has a keen interest in music.
Dr. Steven Desroches
Dr. Steven Desroches has an unwavering commitment to fostering a challenging academic environment that sets high expectations and helps all students maximize their potential via data driven decision making, quality instruction, and a focus on 21st century curriculum. He has the confidence, sensitivity and resilience to both inspire and celebrate high performance and to constructively challenge under performance in any aspect of school life.
With 21 years of experience as an educator, he has a proven track record in recruiting high caliber professionals, guiding their professional growth, and effective retention strategies. As Head of the George Washington School in Cartegena (2013-18) and Head of the Panamerican School of Bucaramanga (2008-13) he led school improvement goals and strategic planning initiatives through balanced scoreboards and key performance indicators aligned to the school's mission and accreditation process. Steve's professional experience also includes times as an Upper Primary Principal, Middle School Math Coordinator and Elementary Classroom Teacher.
He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, an MA in Education from the University of Alabama, and two BA degrees in Education (University of Toronto) and Environmental Studies (University of Waterloo). He also has an Advanced BA of Educational Leadership and Principal Certification from Ontario, Canada.
Steve is joining Stamford with his wife Zoraya and three children. Originally from Canada, Steve has spent the last 21 years in Latin America and holds a firm belief that schools serve as a sanctuary and safe harbour where awareness, compassion, and commitment to individuals should resound in every aspect of the organization.
Director of Curriculum and Assessment
Dr. Christie Powell
Christie has had a life-long dedication to ensuring engaging, enriched learning experiences within a culture of care and equity. Throughout her 30-year career – both statestide and internationally – Christie’s expanded worldview, appreciation of diverse perspectives and unwavering focus on student-centered decision-making have been instrumental in her success in facilitating diverse educational teams at both divisional and whole-school levels as well as engaging students and parents as partners.
After six years in the United States teaching English and Communications to students from Middle School through University, Christie started her international career as a Middle School Leader and English teacher at the American School of Yaounde in Cameroon, West Africa. Her journey then led her to Asia where she served in curriculum, professional development, and divisional leadership roles as well in teaching roles for both students and faculty at Jakarta Intercultural School in Indonesia and Ruamrudee International School in Thailand. Before joining Stamford, she was the Elementary School Principal as well as the K-12 Curriculum Director at Lincoln School in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Throughout her career as a learning leader, Christie has demonstrated a high level of commitment to building strong communities; high quality, joyful learning opportunities for students and teachers alike; and strategic planning initiatives that support all stakeholders in achieving both collective and individual aspirations. Along with her development and leadership work within her own community, Christie has also served as a visiting educator and consultant; she is a certified trainer in Understanding by Design, Concept-based Teaching and Learning, the 6+1 Traits of Writing, Teaching ESL in the Mainstream and SIOP. She also serves as a member and chair with CIS and WASC on accreditation teams.
Christie’s formal qualifications include a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University, a Masters in Organizational Communication and a K-12 Educational Administration Certification from Washington State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English.
She joins Stamford with two high school sons.
Secondary School Principal
Mr. Ocki Fernandes
With a strong background prior to joining Stamford, Ocki Fernandes served as the High School principal at Graded the American School of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a highly regarded school with a dual American, IB and Brazilian Ministry curriculum. Ocki has more than 35 years of experience in various capacities as Principal, Deputy Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, Head of Departments, Athletics Director, IB Geography teacher, PE teacher, and Model United Nations Director.
Ocki holds a B.Ed. in Teacher Education and Curriculum Development from University of Witwatersrand, a H. Dip in Education in PE from the same university and a B.A. from the University of South Africa.
Middle School Principal
Ms. Elizabeth Durkin
Ms. Elizabeth Durkin grew up in New Zealand and earned a B.A, with double major in French and Mathematics. She also holds a M.Sc. Computers in Education from Shenandoah University, VA, USA. After earning her Diploma of Teaching, she taught for three years in New Zealand before traveling overseas.
She gained her professional experience in the UK, Russia, Indonesia and Japan before coming to Singapore. She has taught in the New Zealand education system and has prepared students for School Certificate and University Bursary examinations. In the UK, she taught in the National Curriculum, and prepared students for the GCSE examinations.
Since moving into international education in 1992, she has taught in the IB DP, IB MYP and AP programs. She has attended training in leadership, adaptive schools, IB Approaches to Learning and IB Interdisciplinary Learning, Creating Cultures of Thinking, as well as many other pedagogical and leadership training opportunities.
Upper Elementary School Principal
Ms. Clare Johnstone
Ms. Clare Johnstone has been with the Upper Elementary teaching team since she joined Stamford American.
Originally from Australia, Ms. Johnstone has been in education for more than 30 years. She has spent the majority of her education career in the Elementary grade levels. Ms. Johnstone has experience as a literacy and numeracy coach, curriculum coordinator, reading recovery teacher, teacher trainer and educator and head of various educational departments. She is also a certified teacher trainer for Kagan Summer Academy in Florida, which delivers professional development for teachers in using cooperative learning in their classrooms.
Ms. Johnstone enjoys working with children and watching them grow and develop as learners and seeing them happy and excited to come to school each day.
Lower Elementary School Principal
Ms. Elena De La Rosa
Ms. Elena De La Rosa has been part of the American public school system for over 25 years and has spent her whole career working in schools with a high number of English Language Learners. She strongly believes in supporting English Language Learners with a curriculum and strategies that will best meet their needs. She believes in creating a safe and nurturing environment in order for all students to succeed. She strives to create a school culture that is safe, where all members are respectful, responsibility and kind.
Early Years Principal
Mr. Michael Day
Mr. Michael Day has held leadership positions over the last 10 years in a wide variety of schools. Prior to taking up the role as Early Years Principal, Mr. Day was the Deputy Director to the Elementary Principal here at Stamford American. In addition to his experience here at Stamford American, Mr. Day has also worked as Deputy Principal of large P-12 and Elementary schools in Brisbane, Australia and has also been the Teaching Principal of country schools in regional Australia.
He has a Masters of Education, with a focus on Education Management from Northern Territory University in Darwin, Australia and a Graduate Diploma of Teacher with a focus on Pre-Service Primary from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.
Mr. Day is married to Heather, who is an Elementary teacher. They have two young children, who attend Stamford American. Mr. Day enjoys bushwalking, swimming, yoga, scuba diving and exploring new places with his family.
Preparatory Course for Secondary School (PCS) Principal
Mr. Ian Smith
Mr. Ian Smith has over 14 years of professional experience in the field of English language acquisition. He began his career in China, where he taught Western Civilization, US Government, and a host of other content-rich English language courses in the Chinese University system. Following 6 years teaching in China, he served for 8 years as Dean of International Students and Director of ESL at Montverde Academy in Florida, where he expanded subject area course offerings for students and pioneered a summer school program in Shanghai.
Ian is an avid student of Chinese language, history, and culture. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies and History from Colby College, a M.A. in International Affairs and Administration from Missouri State University, and a M.A. in East Asian Studies from Washington University in Saint Louis.
Ian moved to Singapore with his wife Angel and son Trevor.
Director of Athletics/Activities
Mr. Erik Richardson
Over the past twenty years, Erik has served in various positions directly related to Athletics/Activities. From 2001 to 2005, he was the Assistant High School Athletics/Activities Director at the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL). In 2005 he was promoted to lead the High School Athletics/Activities department which he did until his departure in 2013. Subsequent to his successful tenure at ISKL, in 2013 Erik joined UWCSEA (East Campus - Singapore) and was the High School Activities Coordinator. In his most recent posting, Erik was employed at the International School of Manila as a Middle School Physical Education Instructor.
From a professional development and certification perspective, Erik was a South East Asian Student Activities Conference (SEASAC) Board Member, an Inter-scholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) Board Member and an Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS) presenter. Moreover, he has a United States Soccer Federation Coaching License (Level C), Rescue Scuba Diver certification and Australian certification in Vertical Rescue and Climbing Rigging. During his posting at ISM, he was the CIS/WASC Accreditation Committee Chair. Erik has an MA in Elementary Education as well as EAL Teaching Certification.
With Erik’s appointment coupled with an existing strong core team in our Athletics/Activities office, our Athletics/Activities department is well positioned to cultivate a philosophy of long-term athlete development at all levels of participation.
Erik’s wife is Kim Cheah, and she is our Director of College Counseling. Their daughter, Steffi, is a Lower Elementary student. Erik is excited about this leadership opportunity and looks forward to working with the Stamford community while promoting the school’s values within the context of our Athletics/Activities program.
Mr. Paul Swanson
Mr. Paul Swanson leads the Digital Learning team at Stamford and helps both students and teachers use technology to enable transformative teaching and learning.
He has a Master of Education (Secondary Social Studies) from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and a Bachelor of Arts (Ethnomusicology) from Oberlin College, Ohio, USA. His professional career includes supporting over 60 teachers in tech integration and digital learning as MSHS Technology Coordinator in United Nations International School of Hanoi. As a high school Social Studies Teacher before, he had designed and taught over 20 semester-long courses to students ranging from grades 9-12 covering subjects such as cultural arts, graphic and web design, programming, music, and media arts.
He is passionate about connecting students to authentic projects and problems, personalizing learning based on deep knowledge of students, and empowering students to be creators rather than consumers.
Managing Director - Operations
Ms. Gwendolene Yeo
Ms. Yeo is an intrinsically motivated leader with more than 18 years of experience in Business Development and Sales and Marketing in the Medical and Biomedical Sectors and has previously been with Radiology Division at Radlink (Asia) as a Managing Director. She has a Masters in Business Administration in Global Finance from Manchester Business School and a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (Mass Communications) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Singapore. Ms. Yeo joined Stamford in February 2018 and will work closely with various stakeholders to maximize the school’s operational excellence and support the school’s strategic goals towards achieving our new Mission and Vision.
A firm believer in the power of diversity in groups, Ms. Yeo has a proven track record in assembling diverse and effective teams that drive execution and deliver sustainable operational excellence. As Managing Director of Operations, Ms. Yeo will be part of the Senior Leadership team which will oversee the cross functional alignment between the different operations teams as well as between the operations and academics, which is key to Stamford’s success. She will also work very closely with Dr. Sands and the Academic and Support leadership teams on the various strategic initiatives the school will be rolling out within the new Strategic Plan.
Ms. Yeo is a mother to two young children and is excited to become a part of the Education sector which aligns to her personal ethos of connecting her work to her life, to help achieve a greater purpose.
Chief Operating Officer, Cognita Schools Asia
Mr. Eric Van Den Berg
Eric joined Cognita Schools as a Chief Operating Officer Asia in June 2017. Prior to this, he had over 20 years of experience in the logistic industry, with his recent role as Regional Vice President of FedEx Express, South Pacific.
In addition to Singapore, he has been based in the Netherlands, Germany, and China where he held roles that ranged from Marketing, Strategy, Operations & Engineering and General Management.
He has played a leading role in key projects like the acquisition and integration of companies into in Germany, market entry into China, and leading change in the management across a number of strategic programs. He also thrives on large transformational assignments and driving business results through strong performance management.
Eric holds a Master of Business Administration from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), in Communication at The Hague University of Applied Science.
His hobbies are playing drums, Thai boxing and Scuba Diving. As a Dutch native, he enjoys good food and fine wine.
Eric is married to his wife, Emily and has two boys.
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