Superintendent

Dr. Mark Wenzel

Dr. Mark Wenzel

Mark joins Stamford from Washington State, where he has served as superintendent in two districts over 12 years. His career also includes positions as a communications director for a school district of 18,000 students; teaching at the middle school and college level; television broadcasting; and political communications. Mark earned his doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Washington, with master's degrees from the University of Washington and the London School of Economics. Mark was born in Ethiopia, where his father worked as a diplomat. He lived in Japan and Korea for 10 years. His wife, Julie, recently completed a master's degree in school counseling. They have three Stamford lions: Ruby (11), Eli (8) and Finn (6). Hobbies include singing, acting, hiking, reading and travel. Fun fact: Mark spent several hours on Skype working with a dialect coach in London last year to master the traditional RP British accent for a role as Henry Higgins in a local production of My Fair Lady.

Deputy Superintendent

Dr. Thalia Nawi

Dr. Thalia Nawi

Thalia, leading the organization's academic operations, has worked for the last six years as lead strategist and senior consultant with National Center for Teacher residencies and Education First Consulting. A former teacher, principal, state level policy advisor and founding program director of the Denver Teacher Residency, she has served in school leadership in the United States, India and The Gambia. Thalia holds a doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University and a master's in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington.

She is joined by her daughter, a feisty toddler, and together they explore arts, cultural events and scenic swimming spots

Executive Director of Teaching & Learning

Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall

Tom comes to Stamford from the American International School in Israel, where he served as Director of Teaching & Learning and Deputy Head of its Jerusalem campus. He has served at public, independent, and international schools including Shanghai American School, St. John's International School in Belgium, and the American College of Sofia in Bulgaria. Tom also spent a decade working as a full-time education journalist, covering statewide and national news for Florida's largest daily newspaper, and contributing to outlets including The New York Times , Associated Press, and NBC News. Tom earned master's degrees from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and Columbia University's School of International Affairs. His daughter, Olivia, will be a first-year student in biosciences at the University of Exeter in the U.K. this fall. He enjoys swimming, photography, writing, and Liverpool Football Club. Fun fact: last summer, Tom performed two of his poems at the Boston Poetry Slam.

Secondary School Principal

Ocki Fernandes

Ocki Fernandes

Ocki joined Stamford from Graded, the American School in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he served as High School Principal for five years. Ocki has been an educator since 1980 having taught in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil. Before going on to the international circuit, Ocki was a lecturer at the College of Education of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Ocki served as IBDP Authorisation Team Leader and MSA Accreditation Team leader in Africa and the Middle East for 18 years. Ocki earned his academic and professional qualifications from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of South Africa. Most recently he completed his certification in Leading Schools and Leading Change through the Harvard Business School. Ocki is in Singapore with his wife, Lila. He is the proud dad of Carina, a medical doctor, and grandfather to Shaun and Kara. Ocki competed in trampoline, tumbling and gymnastics at the international level and was the South African Tumbling Technical Coach for many years. His hobbies include swimming, running, playing guitar and flying jets. Fun fact: Ocki and a teacher colleague set a new 24-hour biathlon world record in 2004 that still stands.

Middle School Principal

Elizabeth Durkin

Elizabeth Durkin

Prior to joining Stamford in August 2019, Liz served as Secondary School Associate Principal at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan for six years. Originally a teacher of secondary school mathematics, Liz has taught in New Zealand, England, and at the Anglo American School of Moscow and Jakarta International School. Liz holds a bachelor's in French and Mathematics and a master's in Computers in Education. Liz also has a certificate in International School Leadership from the Principals' Training Center. Her husband, Peter, is the Head of Mathematics in the High School here at SAIS, and they are joined by their two children, Philippa (class of 2021) and Owen (class of 2022). Liz enjoys walking, swimming, traveling with the family and learning new languages when time permits. Fun fact: Liz is from New Zealand, Peter is from Northern Ireland, while Philippa and Owen both speak with an American accent.

Elementary Principal

Clare Johnstone

Clare Johnstone

Clare has been part of the Stamford community for the last six years, after being an educator in Australia for 30 years. Her career includes deputy principal, curriculum director, and various leadership and classroom teacher roles across many Australian private elementary schools. Clare earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Deakin University in Australia. She is also an international trainer for Kagan Cooperative Learning out of the US. Clare is married to Peter, who joins her in Singapore and together they have adult children who are currently living in Queensland, Australia. Clare loves the beach and loves to spend many hours there, having lived on the beautiful Australian coast her whole life. Her family home still remains on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Contrary to popular belief, Clare maintains that she is 5 foot 4 inches tall, but avoids all forms of measurement to justify this belief.

Early Years Principal

Michael Day

Michael Day

Michael has been with Stamford for almost eight years. He worked in the elementary division as Deputy Principal for two years and is now Principal of Early Years at the Early Learning Village. His wife, Heather, works in Stamford’s Lincoln Library and they have two children, Lachie (Grade 9) and Sophie (Grade 6). Before joining Stamford, Michael worked in Australia in educational leadership positions for close to 10 years. The last role he held in Australia was Head of Middle School at Brisbane School of Distance Education. Prior to this, he held various appointments in a wide variety of educational institutions ranging from small country schools to large metropolitan schools. Heather and Michael both taught at one of the most remote schools in Australia, Doomadgee State School, nine hours drive to the nearest town.  They have fond memories of exploring the outback from Doomadgee in their old Landcruiser.

Preparatory Course for Secondary Principal

Ave Womack

Ave Womack

Ave is a dedicated, globally-minded international educator, who has worked both overseas in international schools and in the American independent school system. He has more than 12 years of professional experience. Prior to his current position as PCS Principal, Ave served as the High School Deputy Principal at Stamford for 3 years. He also served in leadership positions in an international school in Shanghai, China and his hometown of Los Angeles, CA, USA. Ave places great value on high quality instruction, collaboration, teamwork, cultural awareness/sensitivity, and cultural diversity. As a lifelong learner and IB educator, Ave believes every student can learn and he is committed to assisting students in discovering their innate and unique abilities.

Ave Womack holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Pepperdine University, a global MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, a certification in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey. He is conversant in Mandarin.

Ave is a proud father of two boys and two girls. He enjoys traveling, exercising, watching movies, and learning languages. Fun Fact: Ave has been vegetarian his whole life.

Athletics and Activities Director

Erik Richardson

Erik Richardson

Erik Richardson hails from Colorado, but has lived and worked as an international educator since 1995. As an undergraduate in drama, Erik's initial intentions were to act on stage. But a path of life-long learning taught him to play many different roles in schools around the world. Bulgaria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and The Philippines are countries where Erik has worked in a variety of capacities: secondary PE teacher, elementary classroom teacher, drama teacher, climbing wall supervisor, Athletics and Activities Director, and coach of several sports. Erik speaks German and Malay decently, and is learning Mandarin slowly. He is also a lover of spicy food, football (soccer), music, and his family (daughter Steffi, Grade 2 at Stamford and partner Kim Cheah, Head of College Counseling). In his spare time, Erik can be seen playing piano or drums, running or biking, adventure traveling, or eating at Hawker Centers. Erik is beginning his second year at Stamford as Athletics Director.

Director of Digital Learning

Paul Swanson

Paul Swanson

Paul began as Director of Digital Learning at Stamford in 2019 after working for six years as MS/HS Tech Coordinator at the United Nations International School of Hanoi. Prior to that, he taught social studies and worked as tech coordinator at a small independent school in Indiana, where he earned his master's degree in education. Paul has lived, worked and studied in Ghana, Nepal, Brazil, India, Japan, and Vietnam, but he grew up in Boston. For the past 30 years he has also studied a variety of martial arts and musical instruments. World music has been a passion for years, and as an undergraduate Paul designed his own major in ethnomusicology at Oberlin College. He met his wife, Melissa, in Vietnam where they had their daughters, Hazel and Maya.

Managing Director, Operations

Belma Yebka

Belma Yebka

Belma joined Stamford in July 2021. Prior to this, she spent 15 years in healthcare, managing operations and accomplishing an ideal patient journey, ensured by clinical governance accountable for safety, quality and efficient clinical care delivered to patients.

Belma started her career in humanitarian logistics working for the most prestigious French NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger, delivering assistance to the most vulnerable across central Africa. She then joined International SOS and managed their medical emergency Assistance Centres in France and Singapore. Lastly, she has run medical clinics across Singapore, and her knowledge of Singapore private and public healthcare is extensive.

Belma holds a Master’s of Science in Management of Healthcare Industries from the ESSEC Business School, with a Master thesis focused on the Singapore healthcare system future-readiness. She also holds a Diploma in Healthcare Leadership and Management from the Singapore Management University and a Bachelor of Humanitarian Logistics from Bioforce Institute in Lyon, France.

Belma is 6 foot 1 and, by default, a passionate volleyball player since a very young age. She also enjoys running at the Mac Ritchie Reservoir and never gets bored of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where she states that she raised her three children in the past 12 years that she’s lived in Singapore.

She’s married to Kader, a passionate rugby player, and their children are 15 (Naël), 9 (Emil) and 5 (Imaé).

For more information about School Management, click here.