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.


Lydia Jones is the PYP Program Lead.  

Lydia has worked at ISH since 2014 but began her educational career over 20 years ago in England as a Physical Education teacher, working as a consultant coaching elementary teachers across 14 schools in her region. Lydia has a passion for international-mindedness and spent time as a volunteer in the townships of Capetown, working with children. She loves to collaborate with students, teachers, parents and the community, empowering people and helping them thrive in all areas of life and leadership. She is motivated to help students discover how even small actions can have global impact. Her husband, Kevin, works also at the ISH as a grade 3 teacher, they have two daughters and two sons.

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.

Katie Allen (she/her) is our Wellbeing Catalyst Lead and counselor for Diplomas Programme students in grades 11-12.  She has worked for over 20 years with youth and schools in a variety of capacities including as a private practice mental health therapist, university instructor for school social workers, and clinical supervisor.  Her true passion is working directly with youth to nurture their transformation into strong and resilient young adults.  She believes in the power of a healthy community of peers, teachers, and parents to support student wellbeing.  She strives to elevate student voice and embrace culturally-responsive practices.  In her free time Katie can be found teaching yoga or exploring the outdoors with her partner and two children who attend ISH.

Rachael Thrash is our Catalyst Lead of Connection and Autonomy, 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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