Meet The
Teachers

Ms. Balakkrishnon

Humanities
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Ms. Balakkrishnon

Subject Expert Teacher Humanities

Ms. Balakkrishnon received her Bachelor’s in Commerce degree from Bharathiar University in India. She chose to work at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley because she was attracted to the advanced curriculum that engages and challenges students’ minds. As a Subject Expert Teacher in Humanities, her main goal is to facilitate the growth and development of her students with enthusiasm, positive attitude, and hands-on experience. Ms. Balakkrishnon is extremely passionate about creating relationships with her students and putting together an ideal learning environment with a focus on active learning. She instills a love for learning in her students, through analysis and critical thinking.

In her experience, Ms. Balakkrishnon has seen that students learn best by connecting new knowledge with concepts they already know from the classroom. She incorporates interesting and challenging lessons to keep the students’ intrinsically motivated. Along with this, she frequently asks thought-provoking questions, uses games, flash cards, music and art to maximize student engagement.

One of her favorite lessons that she did in her class included an activity where she introduced story writing to her students. They brainstormed many settings, characters, and plots for the stories and came up with innovative ideas. The class enjoyed their group sessions where they would develop stories together and it was a fun process! Outside of the classroom, Ms. Balakkrishnon enjoys reading, listening to music, and cooking. She also loves trying new cuisines and coming up with innovative recipes for her family.

Ms. Baybayan

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Ms. Baybayan

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Baybayan received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Social Work, along with a preliminary Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She also holds a Certificate of Competency for Early Childhood Education from San Jose City College. As a Learning Expert teacher, Ms. Baybayan’s goal is to support students in all aspects of their educational journey, so they can develop their talents, skills, and creativity, with joy. She chose to work at BASIS Independent as she wanted to be in an environment that places high regard on a well-rounded education to support the whole child.

Ms. Baybayan believes that it is important to create an environment that nurtures students’ growth, both personally and academically. The classroom and the school are made up of a community of learners. She wishes that her class share knowledge and curiosity, kindness and support, along with joy and enthusiasm to help each other in their learning journey. Students learn best when they feel valued. To show that they are valued, Ms. Baybayan celebrates each students’ unique qualities so they can flourish and make an impact within themselves and the world.

When she is not teaching, Ms. Baybayan likes to soak in the wonders of nature and capture them in photographs.

Ms. Beaver

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Ms. Beaver

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Firdausi

Physical Geography, Science
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Ms. Firdausi

Subject Expert Teacher Physical Geography, Science

Ms. Fisk

Drama
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Ms. Fisk

Subject Expert Teacher Drama

Ms. Fisk received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Theatre Performance with a concentration in musical theatre from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. While studying for her undergraduate degree, she earned a certificate from T. Schreiber Studios Acting Conservatory, a prestigious acting training program in New York. After working in theatre for a few years, Ms. Fisk found her way to teaching and earned her Master’s of Arts in Childhood Education.

As one of our Drama teachers at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, her goal is to inspire a love of theatre in students while using theatre techniques and exercises to build social, emotional and life skills that are necessary to communicate with their peers. Ms. Fisk believes that students learn best from hands-on experience. She strives to create a space that encourages students to try new things without fear of failure or judgement.  She feels that students respond best to a teacher who is encouraging and warm, but who also holds them to high expectations which inspire student growth.

Ms. Fisk expresses how a teacher’s job is to guide students to create a community that is predictable, equitable, and productive for all.  She feels this allows students to feel valued and to take responsibility for their learning. In her free time, Ms. Fisk enjoys performing or stage managing for professional theatrical productions.  Some of her favorite shows that she has worked on include Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Sondheim on Sondheim.  She also enjoys singing, playing music, dancing and spending time in nature!

Ms. Gao

Drama, Music
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Ms. Gao

Subject Expert Teacher Drama, Music

Ms. Gao obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Music Education from Dalian University in China. She then went on to receive her Master’s of Arts in Music Education from California Baptist University. Currently, Ms. Gao teaches Music and Drama class for students in the early learning and primary program. Her goal is to create dynamic, interactive, and fun lesson plans that engage the students, encourage them to be creative, and help them to be successful in musicals and plays.

As a music and drama teacher, Ms. Gao believes all students are unique individuals who learn in unique ways. Due to this, she utilizes multiple methods of teaching (linguistic, visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to cater to each child, helping make sure that no one is left behind. Ms. Gao explains how students learn best when they take an active role in what they are learning. The more often an act is practiced and repeated, the more quickly and permanently it is remembered.

One of Ms. Gao’s favorite activities to do in class is a music listening and responding game with her students. The students walk in a circle with the music on and stop at certain points of the music. Students perform different motions every time they stop. Listening skills are key here as they need to listen to the music carefully and respond to it accordingly.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Gao loves hiking and travelling. As for music, she is a big lover of Rock and Roll songs!

Ms. Gera

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Ms. Gera

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Guo

Mandarin
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Ms. Guo

Subject Expert Teacher Mandarin

Graduating from the Yunnan University of China with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science, Ms. Guo is currently one of our brilliant Mandarin teachers here at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. Her goal as an educator is to stimulate students’ enthusiasm for learning Chinese, guide them to find correct and effective ways to learn Chinese, and help them understand the characteristics of Chinese so they can firmly grasp what they have learned.

Ms. Guo explains how Chinese and English belong to two completely different language systems, with Chinese being pictographic and English being phonetic. She believes if students learn these two languages at the same time, it can better develop their intelligence and improve their learning. Ms. Guo also emphasizes how her teaching philosophy is to allow students to learn happily and effectively. She uses a variety of teaching methods, according to the age, interests, and hobbies of my students to stimulate the learning interest of students and the students’ passion for self-driven in-depth exploration.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Guo likes dancing and watching sports competitions. She also enjoys trying different kinds of food!

Mr. Haberlach

Physical Education
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Mr. Haberlach

Subject Expert Teacher Physical Education

Mr. Haberlach has a Bachelor of Science in Education with a Major in Physical Education from Western Oregon University, as well as a Master of Science in Exercise Science from Concordia University – Chicago. He is also a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer.

As a Physical Education Subject Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School, his goal is to teach the students that exercise is important for physical, mental, emotional, and social health. He teaches different exercises that are fun, but that also build strength and endurance. Mr. Haberlach ensures that his classes encourage and motivate students to make exercise as part of their everyday routine so that they eventually turn into lifelong habits. Students will participate regularly in a wide variety of exercises and sport activities. They will learn that exercise can be done individually or in small groups and that both methods can be fun and rewarding. They will learn that exercise will make them feel more alert and more energized and that it is an important daily activity.

Some of his favorite activities to teach TK- Grade 5 students are motor skills with a focus on how to move the body correctly. Developing motor skills at a young age is the foundation for all types of exercise, sports, or activities that they will participate in throughout their lives. Students learn best in physical education classes by using a progression method that starts at an easy level that slowly builds to more difficult skills. The progression method allows many repetitions and practicing those skills before advancing to another level of skills.

In his free time, Mr. Haberlach enjoys going backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with his wife and three children. Backpacking is a great opportunity to spend quality time with family, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Ms. Han

Mandarin
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Ms. Han

Subject Expert Teacher Mandarin

Ms. Hetu

Art, Engineering
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Ms. Hetu

Subject Expert Teacher Art, Engineering

Ms. Hetu received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Art Education at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. At the previous school where she worked, she was awarded the “2022 Teacher of the Year” award, culminating her years of experience in teaching along with the amazing passion she has for her students and their learning. As a proud educator, she teaches Art and STEM classes for students in our Early Learning and Primary program. Her teaching philosophy is to foster a love and excitement for visual art and help them understand how it relates to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, combining both creativity and reasoning.

Ms. Hetu believes that students learn best when they can see how passionate their teachers are about the subject material, and when they are able to connect subjects to their personal life and experiences. In addition, students learn better when they are engaged and excited about the topics. She loves when students first complain about a topic, and then become obsessed with it after a lesson! Ms. Hetu enjoys using dancing, books, demonstrations, current events, and other such interactive activities to engage her students.

In her free time, she is an artist and loves to draw and paint. She is also a very passionate swimmer and has an amazing pet dog named Foxy!

Mr. Hicks

Physical Education
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Mr. Hicks

Subject Expert Teacher Physical Education

Ms. Jayapal

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Ms. Jayapal

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Jayapal received a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering with Distinction from Madras University. More recently, she completed 13 core units of Early Childhood Education from Ohlone College in Fremont.

One of the reasons our school is a good fit for her is that she appreciates the challenging curriculum. She believes that each student is unique and helps to create a warm learning environment in the classroom by their specific participation. She takes her role in education very seriously, feeling that schools have an incredible responsibility. “Both substantial morals and academic knowledge must be imparted to students during their education to help them do well in society and beyond school.” Ms. Jayapal explained that her part in this is a commitment to understanding the concepts well enough to be able to explain them to the students in a formulated way.  Her main goal in the classroom is to spend time on concept building and helping kids develop a productive learning ethics. Ms. Jayapal finds it especially rewarding to witness students achieving academic excellence.

Ms. Jayapal loves outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and going on walks. She is also a licensed Zumba instructor.

Ms. Ju

Mandarin
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Ms. Ju

Learning Expert Teacher Mandarin

Ms. Ju earned a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at Shanghai Normal University, and then a Master of Science in TESOL at University at Albany-SUNY. Teaching is her passion. She has taught at other private schools in the Bay Area and is very excited to work for BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School. Our school mission is to educate students to the highest international levels, which Ms. Ju feels perfectly matches her teaching philosophy. “BASIS Independent school has intelligent students, excellent expert teachers and an amazing curriculum,” she explained. This is a wonderful environment for me to continue to hone mydevelopment as a teacher.”

As an educator, her goal is to guide students while they explore, follow, and achieve their dreams. Another key goal is to help her students understand and appreciate that learning is an ongoing process that never ends. Ms. Ju feels that it is important to teach students about respecting others and to treat others how they would like to be treated. She believes that each student is unique and should be valued. She commits to assisting stu-dents in discovering who they are and what they need, so they can express their own opinions and nurture their own ideas. Ms. Ju helps students to fulfill their potential by believing in them as capable individuals. She believes that it is her responsibility as a teacher to facilitate the learning process, and to promote a safe, productive and inclusive environment, which in turn improves her students’ social, intellectual, and emotional skills. She hopes that her students feel comfortable in relating to her as a tool to help lead them to success.

As a Chinese language teacher, Ms. Ju believes that students not only learn various linguistic knowledge, they also develop skills on how to use Mandarin as a tool of communication. An important part of her teaching is to guide students to learn and understand Chinese culture. For example, to incorporate all kinds of cultural elements in her lessons, such as history, social values, customs,beliefs, traditions and so on. These help guide classroom discussions and encourage students to participate in cul-tural events. She enjoys using tools like group discussions in these lessons, so that they can collaborate together and think of things they might not have otherwise on their own. She will include music whenever possible, as it maximizes engagement on any topic. And it’s a lot of fun!

When Ms. Ju is not teaching, she enjoys hiking, traveling, watching movies, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Ms. Kato

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Ms. Kato

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Kato earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts with a focus in Playwriting from California State University, Fullerton. She received her Associate of Arts in Theater and in Dance from Cabrillo College before transferring to California State University, Fullerton. She has experience in performing arts and creative writing and has written and directed full-length plays.

Ms. Kato is passionate about performing arts and has performed as an actor, singer, dancer, poet, improvisational actor, and musician. This passion has helped spark the creative imagination of her students in the classroom.

Ms. Kato works as a 4th-grade Learning Expert Teacher at Basis Independent Silicon Valley Lower and plans to eventually teach theater or creative writing at the college level after pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in fiction or playwriting.

When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Kato enjoys spending time with her partner and papillon puppy exploring the beautiful views of San Francisco.

Ms. Lin

Music
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Ms. Lin

Learning Expert Teacher Music

Ms. Lin earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Music Communication at the Communication University of China in Beijing. She then went on to get her Master’s of Science degree in Music Therapy at the State University of New York – New Paltz. As a Learning Expert Teacher, Ms. Lin cares to create a supportive, respectful, and trustful environment for her students. She chose BASIS Independent as she can believes that their curriculum is strong and comprehensive, allowing students to prepare for success.

Ms. Lin wishes to be a strong support system for her students, and strives to build a trustful rapport with them. She believes that in an engaging and inspiring learning environment, students can learn how to find and activate their positive resources when they are having a challenging time. Ms. Lin also explains how being patient and consistent is the key to learning best. She feels that each student can go above their limits and climb to the highest, if they have strong confidence while they practice their skills.

In her free time, Ms. Lin enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family. Playing music is always her way to restore energy and helps her to be resilient.

Ms. Martosoetjipto

Science
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Ms. Martosoetjipto

Subject Expert Teacher Science

Ms. Matsuoka

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Ms. Matsuoka

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Moraba

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Ms. Moraba

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Moraba graduated from Gulbarga University in India with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Secondary Education with a GPA of 4.0! She also holds 27 units in Early Childhood Education from De Anza College in Cupertino, CA with a GPA of 4.0 as well. As a Learning Expert Teacher, Ms. Moraba’s goal is to support each student for all their requirements. As all students are different, she wants to make sure that each student will achieve their academic goals and get ready for the next level. Ms. Moraba also wants to help her students understand basic life essentials such as social-emotional learning, taking accountability, having respect for individuals, and listening.

Ms. Moraba believes every student has potential and the teacher has to believe in them individually and support them to achieve their goals, not only academically but also in their endeavors outside of school such as sports and more. She feels that teaching children is an art that requires full commitment from the teacher. She wants to create a friendly environment that encourages creativity and freedom, based on responsibility. Ms. Moraba also enjoys organizing interactive activities in the classroom, such as arranging a classroom discussion in a debate-style activity.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Moraba likes cooking and experimenting with new recipes for healthy food. She also loves watching movies in her free time!

Ms. Moran

Math & Science
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Ms. Moran

Subject Expert Teacher Math & Science

Ms. Nichols

Art
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Ms. Nichols

Subject Expert Teacher Art

Ms. Palacio

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Ms. Palacio

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Palacio earned her Early Childhood Education credits from Mission College and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education at Pacific Oaks College. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2012, most recently as a Pre-Kindergarten English-speaking teacher at an English and Chinese Bilingual school. Her goal as a Grade 1 LET is to inspire and guide students to be successful in their educational journey. She helps them learn by connecting the lesson to the real world and engaging with their interests. Ms. Palacio also allows children to collaborate and share what they are learning with one another, and offers them the opportunity to share their own opinions and ideas in a respectful environment.

She chose BASIS Independent because our curriculum provides children the opportunity to gain new knowledge by making connections between their classes. The foundational skills and knowledge that are imparted to students in our program inspires and motivates her to excel as an educator. She believes children are capable and passionate learners. Ms. Palacio’s teaching philosophy focuses on the uniqueness of every child’s learning abilities and personality, while guiding them to achieve their educational goals and beyond. By providing children the support and engagement in a stimulating learning environment, they are able to gain independence and become critical-thinkers. She continued, “Students learn best when they are faced with challenges and problem-solving opportunities, when teachers support their learning and are empathetic towards their needs, and when student and teachers create a trusting and respectful relationship.”

When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Palacio loves to experience new places! Whenever she gets the chance, she also loves to go to Disneyland! Spending time with loved ones and her two dogs is always a treasured opportunity. Some fun facts: she loves to sing, dance/choreograph hip hop, and draw!

Mr. Parsons

Classics, Latin
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Mr. Parsons

Classics, Latin

Ms. Serran

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Ms. Serran

Learning Expert Teacher

Ms. Mokhber Shahin

English, History
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Ms. Mokhber Shahin

Learning Expert Teacher English, History

Ms. Mokhber Shahin double majored at the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies She graduated with honors and distinction in Religious Studies. For her honors thesis and coinciding work in the fields of sociology and religion, she was awarded the Thomas F. O’Dea Memorial Award.

As an english and history teacher, Ms. Mokhber Shahin energizes students to think critically in the face of new information. She chose BASIS Independent to launch her teaching career because their rigorous academic standards reflect her educational philosophy: to best learn and grow, students need to push beyond their comfort zones. A lover of games and literature, Ms. Mokhber Shahin incorporates these into her classroom to facilitate an environment that’s both challenging and fun.

In her free time, she loves to frequent the beach, practice Pilates, create mosaic art, and drink iced coffee. She always has a book in her bag!

Dr. Singh

Math & Science
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Dr. Singh

Subject Expert Teacher Math & Science

Dr. Ubellacker

English
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Dr. Ubellacker

Subject Expert Teacher English

Ms. Vuong

Humanities
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Ms. Vuong

Subject Expert Teacher Humanities

Ms. Vuong has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Educational Studies from the University of Washington – Bothell. She specialized in the concentration of Curriculum, Instruction and Equity and was a member of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society during her time at university. After completing her undergraduate degree, she obtained her Master’s of Arts degree in Teaching at the University of Washington – Seattle and received the Bilingual Educator Capacity (BECA) Scholarship. During this time, she was a member of the Pi Lambda Theta honor society and professional association for educators.

As a Humanities Subject Expert Teacher, Ms. Vuong is committed to providing her students with high-quality education that meets each individual’s learning needs to ensure they reach their fullest potential. She incorporates different activities and modalities in her lessons to maximize student engagement, stimulate students’ minds and help gain confidence in learning. Ms. Vuong believes students learn best when they are in a classroom where they feel secure. As part of this, she seeks to educate her students about different cultures as she believes this will help them learn to appreciate each other’s differences, through empathy and acceptance. In order to help foster a love for learning and prepare them with the right skills, she wants to motivate her students to think outside the box and explore beyond the classroom walls.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Vuong really enjoys cooking. She sees it as a way for her to show love to family and friends, along with teaching her children about her Vietnamese culture!

Ms. Wang

Mandarin
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Ms. Wang

Subject Expert Teacher Mandarin

Ms. Wang holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Shanghai Fudan University. Two years after obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree, she received her Master of Science in Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Rochester. Ms. Wang is currently one of our phenomenal Mandarin Subject Expert Teachers at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower Campus.

Ms. Wang is great at creating an interactive and innovative adventure through a curriculum that motivates students to engage in interdisciplinary projects and activities.  She believes that through every subject that her students learn and every project that they participate in, they will grow to become lifelong learners who always view the world with curiosity, humbleness, and an open mind.

Ms. Wang prides herself in being the “bridge” of connection and communication when teaching her students Mandarin. She knows that like any other skill, language learning can be very tedious and difficult. Learning Mandarin is not just associated with the language itself, it is about learning a new culture and mindset. Ms. Wang is aware that ongoing motivation for her students is needed to help them continue in their studies, and once they embark on their Mandarin learning journey, students will become critical thinkers because they will view the world from multicultural perspectives.

When Ms. Wang is not teaching Mandarin, she spends her free time singing. Over the past 25 years, she has been closely associated with choir and vocal performance. She has taken private voice lessons with her coach for years and she really enjoys how she is able to perfect her pitch and sound. The Hakone Garden in Saratoga is one of Ms. Wang’s favorite spots to relax. The ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha allows her to channel inner peace and stay focused on finding the Zen inside her heart and mind.

Dr. Xue

Math
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Dr. Xue

Subject Expert Teacher Math

Dr. Xue earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Xidian University, and earned her Ph.D in Microelectronics and solid state electronics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. She worked at Arizona State University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate from 2006 to 2008. Dr. Xue has been in California since then.

She was very excited to join BASIS Independent Silicon Valley as it is very well known and she has heard a lot of amazing things about our network of schools, including our great curriculum and faculty members. “Students who graduate from BASIS Independent Schools have bright futures and excellent reputations. I am thrilled to work at and contribute to this great community.”

As a Math Subject Expert Teacher, her goal is to ensure her students are engaged in the classroom to help them learn that math is fun, practical and challenging. They need to not only grasp the ‘What’ and ‘How’ but also should be eager to look for the ‘Why’ behind concepts. Dr. Xue is always excited to experience the learning journey with her elementary students. She explained, “Students may have different learning paths and different destinations but improvement should be always expected. As a teacher, I am happy to inspire their motivation, guide them to move ahead and develop their true love of math.” Math is a core subject which helps build students’ logical and critical thinking abilities, along with their growth mindset. Dr. Xue has students partner up or work in groups so that they can help each other and reinforce their collective understanding with the teacher available for guidance. She strives to create an environment that allows students to be relaxed, have fun and be confident while they practice their skills. She believes that an environment like this, coupled with their desire to work hard, allows student to learn best.

In her spare time, Dr. Xue loves reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Ms. Zhang

Music
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Ms. Zhang

Subject Expert Teacher Music

Ms. Zhu

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Ms. Zhu

Learning Expert Teacher