Middle School Team

The MS 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 high academic rigor of the Middle School. English and German-speaking graduates from European universities often visit our school and assist in our classrooms.

 


Sally Thorogood copySally Thorogood
Head of School

I was born in England, near London, and studied, lived and worked in several different parts of the country before moving to Munich in 1997. I have been an educator for more than two decades and have taught children from kindergarten through fifth grade, initially in the English state school system and from 1998-2012 in Munich International School (MIS). My family moved to Munich as a result of my husband’s two year secondment with BMW but stayed far longer, having become positively immersed in the international school environment, International Baccalaureate curriculum, Bavarian countryside, and German language and culture. Soon after joining the MIS community as a parent, I was asked to sign up for substitute teaching and the following year I accepted the position of Grade 2 homeroom teacher. Subsequently I held the positions of PYP coordinator and Junior School Assistant Principal.

During my years in Munich I completed the Certificate of International School Leadership and trained as a School Visitor for the International Baccalaureate Organisation, leading school authorization and evaluation visits in a variety of international schools from 2006 onwards. Many of these visits involved working closely with Middle School and High School administrators and my experience as a parent of children studying the MYP and IB Diploma also broadened my knowledge base of the IB as a whole. In 2008 I began studying part-time for my Masters in Education through Bath University in England and earned my M.Ed. in July 2014.

read more about Sally Thorogood

By 2012, our children, James and Jenni, had graduated from different universities in England and based themselves in Munich and London respectively. So my husband (Mark) and I decided we were ready for a new adventure and were delighted to have the opportunity to become positively immersed in the GAIS school community and life in California.

I am excited to be extending my responsibilities to K-8 Principal in the coming year after three years in the role of Elementary School Principal. I am particularly looking forward to reconnecting with many of the students and parents I have known in the younger grades, and working alongside the Middle School teachers as we implement the Next Chapter of the Middle Years Program.

When I am not working I enjoy singing, reading, playing tennis, skiing and walking in the mountains or by the ocean.

 

 

Karen Relf
Upper School Principal

I was born and grew up in Australia and have worked in education, in a number of different roles, for over 29 years in various countries around the world (Australia, South Korea, the U.K., Jordan, and China).

At the start of my career in Australia, I was a teacher of Health and Physical Education, but have also taught history, study of society, junior science, English, and drama. Later, I worked as a sports director and in head of department roles, in the areas of physical education, teaching & learning, and curriculum development. I continued with my interest in administrative roles and worked as Deputy Principal of the Middle Phase of Learning and then as whole school Deputy for Student and Staff Welfare. Additionally, I worked as a regional advisor for a group of about 60 schools to support their design, development, and resourcing of specialist learning programs for special education, learning support, gifted & talented, and students at risk.

Internationally, I have taught in the U.K. and worked in a language institute in South Korea teaching English as a second language. I was Secondary Principal for grades 6 to 12 at New English School, a large International school in Amman, Jordan. Most recently, my role was as Executive Principal at Léman International School in Chengdu, China where I was responsible for grades 3 to 12. I led the development of the secondary school and the implementation of the IB Diploma program for our first cohort of grade 12 graduates at the end of the 2015 – 16 school year.

Having grown up in sunny Queensland in Australia, I love the beach and spend as much time as possible either in or near the water. I enjoy most sports both as a participant and spectator, cooking, and travelling to new destinations.

 

Alex Norwood

Alex Norwood
Dean of Student Life

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 six 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 experience has brought me to the Bay Area to work in the IB framework. I am an advocate for life long learning through academic and personal experiences. I look forward to educating young global citizens for another year at GAIS.

 

Susanna Arango copySusana Arango
Advisory Grade 7, Spanish Language Acquisition, Individuals & Societies (English)

Don’t be misled by my fancy scarf and beret: although I have traveled thousands of miles to join the GAIS team, it isn’t 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 has taken 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 to study Languages and Sociocultural Studies at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia’s #1 University) where 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.

Debbie Trimble copyDeborah Trimble
Design

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.

read more about Deborah Trimble
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: 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 have moved into a new phase of my career teaching in the IB framework. 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 have been very impressed by the school’s learning environment and enthusiastically look forward to another year with the wonderful teachers and students at this exceptional school.

 

Alex Moore copyAlex Moore
Advisory Grade 8, English Language & Literature

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 worldview, 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.

read more about Alex Moore

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 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 look forward to continuing this process at GAIS this year.

Diana Brown copyDiana Brown
Mathematics (English)

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 pursue 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.

read more about Diana Brown

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.

Romana Rattensberger
Physical Education and Individuals & Societies

I was born and raised in Austria, near Salzburg where I received my degrees in ESL and PE. I have twelve years of teaching experience as a middle school teacher in Austria. Besides ESL and PE, I have also taught various other subjects like history, biology, IT, and dance.

From 2014 – 2016, I completed an online degree from Mercy College in order to receive an M.A. in teaching English as a foreign language.

I believe that education is an individual, unique experience for every student. My role as a teacher is to provide my students with the tools to cultivate their own gardens of knowledge. I want my classroom to be a caring, safe, and fair place where each child can blossom and grow.

When I am not working, I enjoy reading, hiking, climbing, biking, running, dancing, playing tennis or volleyball, and all kinds of water and winter sports.

Nicole Mueller copyNicole Mueller
Advisory Grade 6, French Language Acquisition, Individuals & Societies (German)

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

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 Individuals and Societies. 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.

This coming school year, I am particularly looking forward to being the advisory teacher for Grade 6. I have already taught them during the last school year, which I enjoyed very much, as they are a lively group with great academic potential. Therefore, it will be exciting to support them as their homeroom teacher and get them through the school year.

I chose to teach at GAIS because it is 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 is a challenging, yet fascinating and very instructive setting. Moreover, I like the spirit of this school.


Tamara Stauch
Biology, Mathematics (German) and German 

I grew up in Ulm, Germany and lived and worked in Freiburg for more than 15 years before moving to the Bay Area in 2012. I studied mathematics and biology at Ulm University, at the James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg. In Germany, I am a state certified teacher at the “Gymnasium” level and hold multiple certifications from various universities, including Stanford, in general didactics, didactic for math, art, P.E., programming, and haptic technology. I am passionate about exploring creative and fun teaching methods and am excited to share those with students at GAIS. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and working on various art projects.

Sean Murphy
Mathematics (English) and English 

I was born in Orange County, CA and my love of music and art brought me to San Francisco in 2008. I received my B.A., dual emphasis in computer graphics and oil painting, from San Francisco State in 2012.

While studying fine art and technology, I discovered the beauty of mathematics. I started to see math in a much different light than the drab way it was taught to me. Feeling compelled to share this perspective with others, I started researching education and saw how many students dropped out of school, specifically because of difficulty in their math classes. My career path seemed to be taking shape. I realized that if I could teach math in an engaging way, then I could be strongly influential to students in continuing their high school and college education.

read more about Sean Murphy
I became inspired to enroll in the mathematics teaching credential program at San Francisco State University, which I completed in 2015. My professors shared techniques and a philosophy that ensure a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and a spirit of inquiry among my students. I subscribe to the philosophy that mathematics is not just about memorizing formulas but should be used to develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. I also believe that this process can be very engaging for the students.

From 2015 – 2016, I worked for the non-profit Peninsula Bridge, teaching mathematics and English to sixth and seventh grade students. My vision of showing the beauty and everyday practicality of math had come to fruition and I am excited to be part of the dedicated team of teachers, administrators, and staff at GAIS.

Elisabeth Boegl copyElisabeth Bögl
German Language & Literature and Music

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 German and Music 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 German and Music.

read more about Elisabeth Bögl

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. With the diverse school performances I planned, organized and led (among others the original Musical „Omama mia“) I fulfilled a passion of my own by combining music with language and literature. I generally believe in the strong impact of interdisciplinary learning.
The height of my studies was my three years of additional ECHA-education (European Council for High Ability) in supporting gifted and talented students, for which I taught creative writing classes at my previous school. It also led me to participate in two conferences on gifted education in the US in 2013 and motivated me to apply to GAIS.
It is my goal to inspire my students with my personal love of literature and music. The daily experience of fulfilling this aim fills me with great joy.

 

Alexandra M. Liguori
Science and Language Support

I am a mathematical physicist with a Ph.D. in quantum information with an international background and a variety of passions that range from science and technology to drawing, sailing, and outdoor activities. 
I am part American, part English, and part Italian, and have lived and worked in many countries, including Italy, Germany, Spain, and the U.S. I thrive in international environments and strongly believe in the benefits of a multi-cultural and multi-lingual setting for people of all ages.

read more about Alexandra M. Liguori

My professional experiences range from conducting academic research in physics in Germany, to working in the automotive industry in Germany and Spain, and finally to being immersed in the field of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Spain and the U.S. Throughout all my professional experiences, though, beginning as early as university, I have always had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring younger students, children, and adults. I have thus gained thorough and comprehensive hands-on experience in education and discovered that this is what I really love doing.

Along with science and mathematics, my other passions are education and sailing, preferably in an international environment, which is what brought me to GAIS!

Ina BerengerIna Berenger
Academic Support & Art Teacher 

I am a credentialed elementary school teacher with German and Art as my main subjects. Before moving from Hamburg to California in 2002, I worked in an elementary and middle school, teaching 1st through 7th grade. In the States I have worked in several co-ops which my children attended. As my husband is French, our two daughters have learned three languages, which makes multilingual education a central theme of my private life as well.

I very much enjoyed teaching 3rd grade for two years. This year, I will be the support teacher for the elementary school, working side by side with the classroom teachers. I will be able to support children’s learning in small group settings using differentiated activities. I am very much looking forward to this new role as it allows me to work with so many different age groups and children. I am excited to meet many of my former students again and work with them.

read more about Ina Berenger

In 2006-2007 I studied “German as a second language” at the Goethe-Institut and graduated in 2007. I started working at GAIS in 2007 as an assistant in the Vorschule and as German teacher for the VS children. I am now the 3rd Grade teacher and I am excited about helping the students explore and understand the world.

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

Our kids are going to school with so much enthusiasm and are so curious. Learning to understand concepts and working on bigger projects and ideas rather then memorizing lots of facts makes it possible for them to stay interested and responsible for their own learning.

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

I am impressed by the amount of hard work and dedication the GAIS teaching staff has. The teachers really care about their students here and try their very best to help each one of them to succeed.