Learning Leadership Team

Kathleen Naglee, the Head of School at the International School in Helsinki, is an award-winning international teacher and educational leader. For the past 29 years she has championed progressive pedagogical practices, diversity and creativity. Kathleen serves as a keynote speaker for various business and educational organizations, with recent topics on leadership, vision, sustainability and internationalism.  She serves as a Commissioner for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. She is the former Chair of the Board  and current Board Member of the U.S. State Department sponsored Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA).

Ben Thrash is the Deputy Head of School. Ben has spent 25 years as a constructivist teacher, learning leader, and progressive educational thinker. After 10 years teaching at-risk youth in the US and international students in Europe, he has spent the past 15 years as a school leader focused on high student engagement, social emotional learning, and meaningful learning impacts. Ben has led IB World School authorizations and served on multiple visiting teams for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. His career has spanned Reggio Emilia learning through Diploma level challenge. Ben holds two Masters degrees: a degree in teaching secondary science from Brown University and a degree in Educational Leadership from Michigan State University. He is married to Rachael who teaches English at ISH and they have two children who attend the school.

Ben Bacon is the PYP Division Lead and PYP Coordinator.  He is joining ISH this year after working in international schools in Albania, China, and in independent and public schools in the United States. As an elementary classroom teacher for over twenty years, Ben is passionate about working with teachers, students, and parents. In his practice, he strives to create relationships and foster creative thinking, curiosity, and a quest for understanding. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree focused on international education. Ben joins us in Helsinki with his wife Ann, an RN, now studying for her Master’s of Public Health. Ben and Ann also have a daughter Louisa who attends ISH and their son Noah is attending university in The Hague studying governance, policy, and public health.

Minna Tammivuori-Piraux is currently the MYP Division Lead and MYP Coordinator at the International School of Helsinki. She joined ISH in 2002 after having worked in various Finnish schools as French and German teacher. At ISH Minna has been teaching French in PYP, MYP and DP. In addition to her teaching role, she has undertaken different leadership roles as Personal Project Coordinator, Language Acquisition Subject Area leader, MYP Coordinator and Occupational Health and Safety Officer. Minna has a keen interest in supporting students’ individual learning process as well as building strategies for their independent learning. In her spare time, Minna enjoys exercising, reading and spending time with family and friends. Her husband, Olivier, works also at the ISH as French teacher and they have a daughter, who attends ISH.

Mark Kilmer is currently the Diplomas Division Lead and Diploma Coordinator at the International School of Helsinki. He came to ISH in 2001 and has also taught in California and London. Mark’s goal is for all students to experience the joy of learning while becoming fully actualised individuals and citizens. He also teaches the Diploma Film course and spent more than 20 years primarily as a mother-tongue English teacher with experience in grades 6-12, with a particular interest in media literacy. Mark has also taught History, English B, Drama, Economics, Technology and Government/Civics. He has written textbooks, speeches, plays, poems and screenplays, and has been a consultant for educational innovation companies and publishers. He has a bunch of degrees and that sort of thing. He is married with four sons, all of whom attend ISH.

Amy Leino is our Individualized Learning Lead and Catalyst Lead of Belonging. Amy Leino believes that high quality education is a human right for all learners. She is passionate about collaborating with individual students, fellow educators and parents to uncover successful pathways for learning. Originally from Washington State, she holds a masters degree in inclusive education. She currently serves as the Individualized Learning Lead at the International School of Helsinki (ISH). During her 20 years at ISH, she has led the school to become a model in personalized instruction for a wide range of learners. She is eager to further develop ways to unlock every student’s learning potential.

Harriet Francis-Ehnholm (Dr. Hatty) is our School Psychologist and Catalyst Lead of Wellbeing.

From a young age Hatty knew that she wanted to work with children and young people. She has also had a long interest in health and the interface between physical and mental wellbeing. In her training to become a Clinical Psychologist in the UK, it was therefore an obvious choice to specialise in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Health Psychology. She has been supporting young people and their families ever since, and feels grateful to have a career that she feels so passionate about. At ISH, she has been lucky enough to develop her professional interests further, and feels privileged to have assisted in the development of the school’s student support services, which are based upon the latest findings in pedagogy, neuroscience and positive psychology. A truly cutting edge approach. As Wellbeing Catalyst Lead, Hatty is excited to further develop the ISH support services, and to prioritise and catalyse wellbeing and positive psychology principles across the community. Hatty’s dream would be that every student who passes through the doors at ISH would be equipped with a wide variety of wellbeing tools such as great self-esteem, resilience, a growth mindset for life-long learning, and compassion for themselves and others. Hatty strongly believes that these essential skills will truly equip young people for the challenges of life in an ever changing and complex world.

Laura Ohls is our Catalyst Lead of Autonomy and is a 5th grade teacher. Laura has been an enthusiastic and longstanding member of the ISH community whose passion for education was sparked by ISH close to 20 years ago. Laura believes that developing a strong connection with her students and understanding them is the foundation for authentically individualizing learning, promoting student voice and choice, and challenging students as learners. She has been a PYP classroom teacher across grade levels for several years, a Learning Support Teacher, a valued member of the Lower School Teaching and Learning Team, and is an active teacher leader at the ISH. Laura aims to empower students to feel passionate and care about their learning as well as encourage student driven action to make connections that extend beyond the curriculum. Laura holds her Finnish-ness close and as a third culture student herself, recognizes the importance of global citizenship. Alongside teaching she also loves running, skiing, Finland’s many lakes and all things music.

Rachael Thrash is our Catalyst Lead of Connection, an Upper School English Language and Literature teacher and the MYP Service as Learning Coordinator. Rachael is a master teacher who has spent her career supporting students and teachers facing challenging questions. With a Masters from Brown University, Rachael has taught Humanities and English in independent US schools, public community colleges, and international IB schools. She launched a school-wide enrichment department providing co-curricular learning for preK-12 students while developing a mentor program for early career educators. Currently, Rachael teaches MYP English, acts as lead advisory for the Gr. 9 and 10s and oversees the School’s growing Service Learning. Cofounder of a Cultivating Connections that Matter, a toolkit for transformational teaching, she coaches other teachers to develop their practice. She is married to Ben, the Deputy Head of School, with two children who are thriving in the ISH community.

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