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Team International Middle School

The IMS teachers are a diverse group of educators with local and international teaching experience.  The teachers are all trained and prepared in the curriculum and assessment processes of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP). We research and collaborate on the newest teaching methodologies with international schools and universities to assure the quality and academic rigor of the Middle School is first rate. In fact, English and German-speaking graduates from European universities often visit our school and assist in our classrooms.


Amanda Afshar copy

Amanda Afshar
International Middle School Principal 

This is an exciting time to be an educational leader at German-American International School. I have the honor to work with students, families, and colleagues representing several diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. I believe the International Baccalaureate Program provides an ideal context to allow for intercultural learning and awareness to occur simultaneously. As the International Middle School (IMS) Principal, it is my desire to see the IMS students develop the skills necessary to be confident global citizens, innovative thinkers, and lifelong learners. My colleagues and I work closely within the IMS community to foster a school climate that can reflect these goals.

read more about Amanda Afshar

Prior to my career at GAIS, I taught and led in Public Schools in the state of Illinois. I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education from Illinois State University with endorsements in Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, Spanish, Language Arts, and Humanities. While working as a bilingual classroom teacher, I continued my studies and completed my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration in 2009.

This led to work as the District Bilingual Program Coordinator at Bloomington Public Schools where I oversaw curriculum and instruction for English Language Learners and their families. Over the years, I have worked with students from Grades K-8 in multiple classroom settings and have a passion for international education programs.

When I moved to the Bay Area in 2010, I began teaching Spanish, Humanities, and Instructional Technology (IT) at GAIS. My enthusiasm for the IB Program and GAIS fostered my engagement and work within the administration team. I served as Assessment Leader (2011) and Assistant Principal (2012) prior to becoming the IMS Principal. I have learned much from these experiences and look forward to seeing the IMS progress even further.


David Giesen copyDavid Giesen
English/Social Studies Teacher (Grade 3 & 4)

After taking my B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara and then earning both multiple subject (3-8) and single subject (English and Social Studies) teaching credentials from Dominican University in San Rafael, I settled in Mendocino County on California’s north coast before moving to San Francisco in 1996. I’ve classroom taught grades 4-8 at schools in San Francisco where I also served as librarian and theater arts director before coming to GAIS in 2006.

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I enjoy writing plays and children’s books, but before the sun sets after school you are welcome to join me bicycling or kayaking San Francisco environs. Or come along on the weekend on my walking tour of San Francisco.

What makes teaching at an IB school special?

Perhaps owing to its European Parliament complexion, but certainly as a function of the IB emphasis on collegiality and trans-disciplinary skills, GAIS has been a welcome experience for me. I am by social inclination a sharer and consensus-seeker (not withstanding being opinionated), and the opportunity to work cooperatively towards coherent curriculum through frequent staff conferencing pleases me. In fact, I relish the give and take, push and tug of negotiation.

What qualities do you see in the students that have been through our program?

GAIS students are largely a self-confident, alert, and considerate batch of kids. The enrollment to outdoor play area ratio is good, with lots of space for semi-private space to play. Of special note is the IB emphasis on social development and relationships. I earnestly believe this emphasis cultivates the strongest sinews of citizenry, namely a commitment to cooperation.

Amy Parsons copyAmy Parsons
ESL Teacher & English Grade 5

I grew up in New Mexico, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Languages at the University of New Mexico. During this time, I spent one year as an exchange student at the Karl-Franzens University in Austria. After obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree, I went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. I obtained my teaching credential while teaching a second grade classroom in New Mexico.

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I then went on to teach first grade in a PYP international school in Brussels, Belgium. Before moving to America, my husband and I took a year long bicycle trip from Belgium to China. Happy to now be off of my bike and back in the classroom, I am looking forward to sharing my love of learning with my students.

Diane Graber copyDiane Graber
Language A (German Grade 5-8)

While teaching has always been a passion, moving from a small village in the Emmental, Switzerland to Menlo Park now creates a unique opportunity and challenge which I tackle together with my partner who just started to work at Stanford University.

Feeling very happy and honored, I look forward to being part of the GAIS Middle School Team.

read more about Diane Graber

During my childhood, I had the chance to travel a lot with my parents and these experiences finally led me to spend an exchange year in the USA during grammar school. After having learned English in South Carolina, I also spent time learning Spanish in Málaga, Spain and French in Montpellier, France.

At the university of Bern, Switzerland I completed my education as a 5th to 9th grade teacher in 2006. For the last eight years I have been teaching several subjects at two different schools, always insisting on teaching at least one German class.Endurance sports is another passion. As a child I started competing in swimming, today I participate in triathlon races. The combination of teaching and sports gives me a lot of pleasure and I appreciate the contact to a wide range of people opening new horizons to me.

I eagerly anticipate to be a German teacher at GAIS and to discover a new school with its environment.

Debbie Trimble copyDeborah Trimble
Head of Department:

Math and Science (Grade 5-6)

I have lived and worked my entire life in California. My first job was working with children as a swimming instructor and lifeguard in Salinas, CA.  After I graduated from college, I coached an AAU swim team in San Jose, and started graduate studies at San Jose State University.  I was very fortunate to be hired as a geologist at the U. S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.  For nearly 20 years I worked in the Radiocarbon Laboratory, first as a technician and later as the supervisor of the lab. 

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While working at the USGS I married my husband Mike, also a geologist, and we started our family.  We have five wonderful children, and now a granddaughter.

Children have always been close to my heart.  While at the USGS I founded GeoKids, a parent cooperative daycare center, which still remains a model for employer supported childcare.  In 1995 I left the USGS to return to school and received my teaching credential from Norte Dame De Namur University in Belmont.  As an intern, I found my passion; I love teaching Middle School.  Inspiring young teens in math and science is my great joy!

After 17 years of teaching at a parochial school in San Carlos, I am excited to begin a new phase of my teaching career.  I became aware of IB programs first as a parent; both of my younger children were enrolled in the IB diploma program at Sequoia High School.  My husband and I were very impressed by the quality and depth of the education they received.  As I teacher, I realized how closely my teaching philosophy aligns with the IB program.  Teaching at GAIS is a dream come true for me.  I was very impressed by the school’s learning environment and enthusiastically look forward to working with the wonderful teachers and students at this exceptional school.



Alex Moore copyAlex Moore
Language A (English) ESL / Advisory Grade 6

I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida.  I completed my undergraduate degree in German at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, one year of which was spent as an exchange student at the Universität Tübingen in Baden Württemberg, Germany.  That experience transformed my entire world view, and I knew that the next step in my life would involve more overseas experiences.  I completed the FAST Train international education program at George Mason University in 2001.

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Since then I have taught Kindergarten, multiple subjects to 5th through 8th grades, English to 10th and 11th and Theory of Knowledge to 11th and 12th.  I have gained teaching experience in all 3 major IB programs—PYP, MYP and DP—and the Advanced IB Curriculum and Instruction master’s degree I am working on through George Mason University continues to expand and deepen my understanding of the IB curriculum as a whole.  Although my international school teaching experiences have taken place in numerous countries—Namibia, Egypt, Uzbekistan and the Philippines—I am incredibly excited to continue my international school teaching experience in the United States.

As the new middle school English teacher it may come as no surprise that I love stories.  I am an avid reader in my personal life, and I also find deep joy in the processes and experience of writing.  I love to be outdoors either hiking or camping or boating or swimming or whatever.  I love playing sports, specifically tennis and basketball.  And I really love coaching basketball as well.

I once wrote that my role as teacher is essentially twofold:  I not only need to provide my students with the truth, but I also need to help co-create the conditions in which the students can discover the truth for themselves.  Equipping students with the tools needed to become lifelong learners is the whole thing, and I can’t wait to continue being part of such a process at GAIS.

Diana Brown copyDiana Brown
Mathematics (Grade 7-8)

Greetings! I’m an Australian, originally from country NSW, where I grew up riding horses and herding cattle on a 26 acre hobby farm. In 2001, I moved over 500 km away from home to study a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. While studying at the university, I was fortunate enough to discover my love for teaching when tutoring freshman physics classes. After graduating with majors in both physics and mathematics, I decided that teaching was the right path for me and I enrolled immediately in a graduate entry bachelor of education program.

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Upon graduation, I taught for a year in a state high school, and then was lucky enough to be contacted by the school in which I had served my internship, an IB school, asking if I was interested in a position there. I jumped at the chance to become an IB-DP teacher, as I truly believe it is one of the best education models in the world.

Two and a half years later, I was able to secure a position in Tianjin, China, at an IB world school, teaching both DP and MYP. While in China, I had many amazing experiences and even learned a little Mandarin.

My husband and I returned to Australia in November of 2012, but, as things turned out, we only stayed there for a year before he was offered a programming job in the Bay Area, and that’s how I ended up here at GAIS.

I am passionate about mathematics education, and the need to make content both engaging and relevant to students. I love using technology in the classroom, and my favorite lessons to teach involve students discovering mathematical principles by themselves.

In my spare time I enjoy running, hiking, reading and learning to program.

Alex Norwood copyAlex Norwood
MYP/DP Assistant / Head of Science & Math

Science (Grade 7-8) / Advisory Grade 8

I was born and raised in Canada where I received two degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. Since then, I have had five years of teaching experience in four different countries (Japan, Canada, Mexico, and England) and now USA, covering a breadth of subjects ranging from ESL and Science to Mathematics. As an educator my goal is to apply my academic expertise and my learning experiences to dedicated global citizens. I am excited that my international experience has brought me to the Bay Area to work within the framework of the IB curriculum at GAIS.

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I am an advocate for life long learning through academic and personal experiences.  I look forward to educating young dedicated global citizens for another year at GAIS.

What qualities do you see in the students that have been through our program?

After chaperoning the Berlin Grade 8 Trip, I can attest that the recent graduates of GAIS exhibit a strong sense of self-confidence.  Their confidence is apparent not only in their academic skills, but they are also willing to adapt easily to new responsibilities – such as navigating their peers to various destinations across Berlin using the U-Bahn.  The students have shown that they have benefited immensely from developing the IB learner profile attributes and from the support they have received from the GAIS community.

What are some qualities that you see within the GAIS teaching staff? 

Additionally, the teachers at GAIS are very dedicated to the school community.  Collaboration between teachers takes place almost daily and often there are in depth discussions on how to foster positive learning experiences for our pupils.  The teachers here are also risk takers, and will bring forth their originality and insight into their classes.  I personally enjoy the aspect that there’s a willingness to learn from and educate each other.  Simply put, lifelong learning is not limited to the students, but permeates our entire school community.  Great educators are lifelong learners too!

Nicole Mueller copyNicole Mueller
Language B (French) & Humanities German

„Bonjour“ and „Güetun Tag“! You may not understand the second phrase, but I can proudly say that after three years, some of our staff and students actually do understand some bits and pieces of my mother tongue.

Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by other cultures and always wondered what it would be like to actually live in a different culture. When studying English back in Switzerland, I fantasized about being surrounded by this language and about living in a culture that speaks it. And now, here I am, living my dream.

read more about Nicole Mueller

I enjoy teaching at GAIS very much. I feel very lucky to be able to teach French, as French has always played a big role in my life. I grew up in a bilingual region and have family and friends in the French speaking part of Switzerland as well as in France. In addition to teaching French, I rediscovered my passion for Humanities. For several years, I worked in the Historic Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where I did guided tours in French, German and English. I worked in the Einstein exhibition primarily, but I did guided tours for our Middle Ages exhibition and other exhibitions as well. Teaching Humanities and thus being able to bring some of the topics of the Historic Museum to the classroom is really inspiring and gives me a lot of joy.

What makes you an international teacher?

My passion for languages, my open-mindedness, my interest in and curiosity about different cultures and the joy I get from living abroad.

Why did you choose to teach at GAIS?

It’s a school that’s just the right size (neither too big, nor too small). I know that the school administration and the parents have high expectations of me and also of the students, therefore it’s a challenging, yet fascinating and very instructive setting. Moreover, I like the spirit of this school.

 Susanna Arango copySusana Arango
Language B (Spanish) & Humanities English

Don’t be misled by the fancy scarf and beret: although I will be traveling thousands of miles to join the GAIS team, it won’t be from Europe, but from South America. I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, but now, my maverick spirit and my love for new challenges is taking me to the breathtaking San Francisco Bay Area. I was an IB student once, too, and once I finished high school, my profound interest and curiosity for other cultures led me into studying Languages and Sociocultural Studies at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia’s #1 University) were I graduated Magna Cum Laude.

read more about Susana Arango

This year, I will be enrolling as the new Spanish (“Language Acquisition”) and Humanities (soon to be known as “Individuals and Societies”) teacher. I like to describe myself as an MYP aficionada not only because I have dedicated the last three years to make it my field of expertise, but also because I cannot picture my life without teaching this exhilarating program.

As a matter of fact, this June I will be attending the IB Academy in Philadelphia, so you might be saying hello to a soon-to-become member of the IB Educators Network.

Janine Weers copyJanine Weers
Head of Department:
Physical Education (PE)

PE and Language B (German) / Advisory Grade 7

Being born and raised, graduated highschool, graduated college and having started my career in Germany, I felt somehow stuck having just lived in Germany all these years, so I decided to take the road less traveled and was lucky to be hired by GAIS in 2011. I packed up my life, put it in two suitcases and started a new life abroad in the beautiful Bay Area, not quite knowing what to expect. It’s now been three wonderful but also sometimes challenging years of experiences, adventures, and travels that have provided lots of personal growth.

read more about Janine Weers

As the Head of Department for PE, I enjoy creating the curriculum for our students and providing them with experiences in the field of Phyiscal Education that they usually don’t get exposed to in their free time.  Being and avid athlete myself, I really encourage my students to experience the benefits of being active and finding activities/ sports to keep their body moving and cultivate an active and healthy lifestyle with having all these great opportunities in the Bay Area.

After my first year at GAIS, I got the opportunity to teach German Language Acquisition and I love being back in the classroom teaching two subjects and working with languages. Being allowed to teach my native language is a wonderful chance to introduce the German language and culture to my students. I am looking forward to helping the students increase their German knowledge and language skills as the ability to speak two or more languages will open so many doors for these students.

Teaching the IB Curriculum at GAIS has broadened my own horizon tremendously and I found my passion for teaching put into perfect context. Working with small classes and open-minded global learners is the most rewarding and valuable teaching experience I can imagine for myself and I highly enjoy teaching and learning within the GAIS environment.

Ron Pence copyRon Pence
Design Technology / Integrated Technology / Advisory Grade 5

I was born in Heidelberg Germany to a German mother and an American father who was stationed there as a soldier. I grew up traveling a lot and ended up settling down in Florida where I received an A.S. Degree in Graphic Design Technology.

While attending school, I worked as a Behavioral Training Specialist, teaching children with severe autism spectrum disorders. From there, I landed a job with Walt Disney Feature Animation and was transferred to California. L.A. that is, swimming pools, movie stars…

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Anyways, after a fun run animating for Disney and DreamWorks, I received a teaching credential to teach Multimedia Production, and taught High School for eight years. I also received a B.S. Degree in Organizational Leadership and taught ESL to students from China and South Korea.

When I have free time, you can probably find me at the beach playing volleyball or working on some kind of art project. I love all art and really enjoy helping students succeed.

Now, I have embarked on a new journey with my lovely wife and beautiful baby girl. We love it up here in the Bay Area, and look forward to the good times to come.


Daniela Klimetschek copyDaniela Klimetschek
Performing Arts/Drama

„Einen wunderschönen, guten Morgen,” that’s how I used to welcome my students in Berlin, where I studied and worked for more than ten years.

I grew up in Lower-Saxony next to Hanover, where I got my accent-free German. After my Abitur I went to Spain to work in the entertainment department at a resort. That was the first time I worked with children and teenagers. I enjoyed it a lot and I decided to become a teacher. I studied German and History in Berlin.

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During my years at university I was able to work at a school for students with special needs, teaching them English, German and History and also provided them skills to cope in life. I then worked at a private international school with 250 students from countries including Russia, Korea, Croatia, and Australia. The teachers came from all over the world too and everyone benefited from the differnet cultures.

I very much enjoy teaching and am looking forward to continuing my career at GAIS.


Elisabeth Boegl copyElisabeth Bögl
Music & Band Teacher (Grade 5-8 & ES)

I was born and raised in a small village in Upper Austria, where I completed my college training in Kindergarten education. After that I studied Music and German pedagogy at the Mozarteum and the Paris Lodron Universität in Salzburg. I continued there with my PhD studies in Musicology to deepen my music theory knowledge as well as to broaden my German language skills. In my past seven years of teaching, my emphasis has been on teaching Music and German.

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During my studies and teaching career in Austria, I had the opportunity to teach vocals and lead the mixed choir at my former Austrian High School and fulfill a passion of my own. The diverse school performances I planned, organized and led all benefited from my desire to improve my own voice and singing technique which included participating in concerts with a professional Austrian choir (e.g. at the well known Salzburger Summer Festival).

The height of my studies was my three years of additional ECHA-education (European Council for High Ability) in supporting gifted and talented students. It led me to participate in two very inspiring conferences on gifted education in the US in 2013 and motivated me to apply to GAIS.

Inspiring my students with my personal love of music and literature has proven to be my most precious educational aim. The daily experience of fulfilling this aim fills me with great joy.

Anke Glueck copyAnke Glück
Math (German)

I never thought I would leave my beloved Leipzig – but life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. I must admit I really enjoy living in California! After receiving my Master’s Degree in Physics I rejected a career as a physicist and finally decided to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. I continued my studies at the University of Leipzig and earned a Master’s Degree in teaching Math and Physics.

I taught students in middle and high school and learned to juggle both my job and my two kids. As a volunteer I assisted the math and science staff at GAIS and am now very much looking forward to contributing even more by working as a math teacher here.

Ulrike List copyUlrike List
Visual Arts Teacher

I was born and raised in Austria, and studied Primary Education at the Pädagogische Akademie in Baden. I also studied Fine Arts at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. After 4 years of teaching in Vienna I had the opportunity to work in France, while still thinking of my lifelong dream to live and work in the U.S. Sharing creativity is a wonderful way to learn from each other.