A Look Back At The Academic Year 2018/19, New Initiatives And Staffing Updates

Jan Stipek, Secondary Years Principal May 24, 2019
A Look Back At The Academic Year 2018/19, New Initiatives And Staffing Updates

The end of a school year is in sight but that does not mean that things have slowed down just yet. I hope this article will help you navigate around and plan for busy last month of school.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your support and patience with the DP and IGCSE examinations. The SY leadership team realizes the impact the no-access zone has had on Early Years students and parents and would like to extend our sincere thank you to everyone – we aim to create the optimal examination conditions for our students, your children. We feel we have achieved this – with your help. The SY examination week (for grades 9 and 11) will take place from 6-12 June.


Report Cards

Report cards will be published on ManageBac at 4 pm on Friday 21 June 2019.

Class of 2019 Graduation Ceremony

Class of 2019 Graduation Ceremony will take place on Friday 31 May at the GEMS Auditorium (Level 4). It is a special milestone in the lives of the 2019 graduates as we see them off into the next stage of their studies. I would like to thank the organizing team led by Mr Cox. 

Group 4 Project Residential Trip

Our Grade 11 students will be going to Tioman Island on a science-focused trip. This IB compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary and provides an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions. 

End-of-year Assembly & Student Awards

I hope many parents will join us for the annual end-of-year and student awards assembly which will take place on Thursday 20 June 2019 at 2 pm in the Auditorium. This event is a celebration our students, their successes, achievements and contributions to school life in front of their peers. If you are unable to attend, we invite you to join us via live streaming. The link can be found here.


We continue further improve the Secondary Years for our students: in the 2018/2019 academic year, we introduced the Middle/High School sections and two Deputy principals and grew our DP subject offerings (we added Environmental Systems and Societies; Theatre; Sports, Exercise and Health Science; and Design Technology).

For the next academic year, we are introducing the positions of Pastoral leaders. These positions will coordinate grade level activities aimed to improve student wellbeing through the personal-social-health-education (PSHE) programme which is delivered during our allocated homeroom time. I would like to congratulate the following teachers for being appointed in these roles: Sara Thompson (grade 6), Ben Tomlinson (grade 7/8), Kim Emery (grade 9), and Ria Millington (grade 10). Refer to Mr Petterson’s newsletter entry for more details.


A part of international schools’ life is saying good-bye. Please join me in saying thank you to these wonderful teachers who will be pursuing new challenges outside of Singapore after this year: Mr Christopher Brandt (Music), Ms Elizabeth Starkey (Mathematics), Mr Tony McMullen (PE), Mrs Rachel Cox (English Language and Literature/CAS Coordinator), Shanaz Akhtar (Design).

I am very pleased to share with our new staff joining us in August 2019: 

Mr Ben Tomlinson (PE teacher)
Ben is originally from London, UK and has been teaching at GEMS Singapore Primary Years since August 2018. Prior to this, Ben was teaching PE at Kingsbury High School in the UK. Ben is passionate about sports, especially about football and cricket both of which he has played semi-professionally. Ben has also been active with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Expeditions. Although not new to GEMS Singapore, we are looking forward to welcoming him to the Secondary Years.

Mr Christopher Hoddinott (MYP Music)
Chris is originally from the UK but has lived in Singapore since 2014, having taught at the Australian International School and International School of Singapore. Chris has had extensive experience teaching MYP, IGCSE and DP Music, and is an IB DP examiner for Extended Essay and Musical Links Investigation. Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, a Master’s degree in Music composition, a Master’s degree in Education and PGCE in Educational leadership and Administration.

Mr Evan Smith (MYP Mathematics)
Evan is originally from Texas, USA and joins us after 14 years of teaching Math and Science in the USA, China, and most recently Tokyo International School, Japan. Evan is a basketball and lacrosse coach and holds a Master’s degree in education from Texas State University.

Mrs Katie Deacon Boyd (MYP Design)
Katie is a Design and Design Technology teacher, with 17 years of experience in a number of schools across Asia and the Middle East. Originally from the UK, Katie is joining us from Dulwich College (Shanghai) after also having taught at the British Schools in Jakarta and Ho Chi Min City. Katie has also taught Art and is closely involved with the IB assessment team as a scriptwriter for DP Design Technology examinations, a member of the IB Internal assessment standardization team, and an examiner for DP Design Technology, paper 2. Katie is very passionate about experiential and outdoor education and service learning and has taken students on a number of trips in Asia and Europe. 

Mr Robert McCormack (MYP Design)
Robert is originally from Ireland and has previously taught Design and Design Technology in schools in Ireland, South Korea, Beijing China, and will be joining us from UWC Changshu, China. Robert has a keen interest in photography, DIY, music and sports – he is currently playing the with the Suzhou Gaelic Athletic Association club, having won the Asian title last year. 

Mrs Heidi Pullen (MYP/DP Language and literature/Individuals and societies; DP Psychology)
Heidi is originally from the USA and joining us after almost two decades teaching internationally in Cote d’Ivoire, India, Myanmar, Hong Kong and most recently from the United Nations International School in Hanoi where she has been teaching MYP and DP Language and literature, as well as being the Extended Essay coordinator. Heidi has also served as school’s Council of International Schools (CIS) committee chair, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visiting team leader chair and member. Heidi holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology and a Bachelor’s degree in English and Education. 

Mrs Marianne Harvey (English as an Additional Language)
Marianne is originally from the UK and will be joining us after a successful career as the Head of EAL department at Dover Court International School here in Singapore. Prior to this, Marianne taught EAL, English, Media studies, and Drama at a number of schools in the UK and Thailand. 

Mr David Berg (English as an Additional Language)
David will be joining us as the new English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher. David is from Nova Scotia, Canada and has previously taught EAL and English in schools in China and Spain. David will complete his Master’s degree in Education in July 2019. David has supervised a number of ECAs in the past – from basketball to ultimate frisbee to debating.

I am also pleased to announce that Mr Ebby Adukkalil has been appointed the new CAS Coordinator from August 2019. 

Finally, I would also like to let you know that Mr Jonathan Cox has decided to pursue another opportunity and will be leaving us at the end of this academic year. Jonathan has been a key member of the Educational leadership team since joining GEMS Singapore in 2015. He has been actively advising our students on their academic pathways and university choices, worked closely with the Admissions team in helping in the enrolment process and led the school on a successful authorization for the IB Career-related programme as well as the impressive partnerships with SCAD and Embry-Riddle as part of our CP offerings. In addition to his Academic Advisor role, Jonathan was appointed as the Deputy Principal (grades 9-12) from August 2018. I would like to express my gratitude and wish him all the best in his new appointment in Cambodia.  

I am pleased to announce that after an extensive search, we have appointed Mr Sean McAuley as the Deputy Principal/Academic Advisor from August 2019. Sean is originally from the USA and is joining us after 20 years in international education, 15 years of which were in the roles of university counsellor and academic advisor at a number of large international schools. Sean is very familiar with the context of international schools here in Singapore, having worked at UWC and SAS for the past 8 years. Sean is also an experienced MYP, IGCSE and DP History teacher, DP Theory of knowledge teacher, and an IB DP examiner for both subjects. Sean has been very active in global university conferences and initiatives, having chaired webinars and presented at a number of conferences with admissions officers from Columbia University, Toronto, King’s College London, the University of Southern California, Edinburgh, and Utrecht University. He has also co-founded Global University Counsellor Connect, the first college admissions seminar in Southeast Asia that brings university counsellors and admissions officers for an annual conference in Singapore. Sean is currently completing his Master’s degree in Leadership and Principal licensure from the University of Northern Iowa. I am very excited to have Sean join GEMS and the SY leadership team, and am confident that his expertise and experience will help further strengthen the guidance provided to our growing student body. 

Please join me in welcoming our new teachers!

Jan Stipek
Secondary Years Principal


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