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Senior Leadership Team

Dominic Liechti,
Managing Director

I was hired by GAIS in December 2008 as an internationally experienced educator — I had studied or worked in Switzerland, Italy and France — as the Director of the Middle School. In two years, I quadrupled the size of the middle school and implemented the new International Middle School and its Middle Years Program (MYP). I was appointed in 2011 as the Managing Director to oversee the three schools.

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Before that, in my role as the principal of a junior high school in Zurich, Switzerland, I had gained intensive experience in school development, especially in change management processes, staff development, and education development.

Previously, I had graduated from a private teachers training college in Berne with a degree in education through grade 9. I did my teaching practice as a homeroom teacher for grades 7 through 9 in a junior high school. While teaching very heterogeneous classes, I learned how to foster students by using individualized programs, contracts, and age-appropriate assessment for learning. Moreover, I successfully led my students to continuing schools and educational programs.

In addition, I established a non-profit organization with the objective of fostering economically disadvantaged students. The organization has helped over 1,000 students.

In addition to my teacher’s degree I obtained an M.A in school and education management from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and am also trained as an MYP coordinator on the highest level.

Amanda Afshar,
International Middle School Principal

Amanda Afshar 160x200
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.

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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.

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.


Sally Thorogood,
Elementary School Principal

Sally Thorogood 160x200

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 for my husband’s job with BMW. I have been an elementary school educator for more than two decades and have taught children from kindergarten through fifth grade, initially in the English state school system and since 1998 in Munich International School (MIS).

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My connection to MIS began with my children joining the school but, as a qualified teacher, I was soon asked to substitute and my MIS career developed from there. After several years of teaching I moved into the role of PYP coordinator and for the last 7 years have been the Assistant Principal. During this time I completed the Certificate of International School Leadership and also trained as a School Visitor for the International Baccalaureate Organisation, leading school authorization and evaluation visits in a variety of international schools since 2006. I am currently in the final stages of completing my Masters in Education through Bath University in England.

My son (James) has graduated from university and has returned to Munich to work and my daughter (Jenni) will stay in Europe after she completes her university studies this summer, so my husband (Mark) and I are the ones ‘leaving the nest’ and looking forward to new opportunities, challenges and experiences in California.

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


Heike Schmalstieg,
Preschool Principal
Heike Schmalstieg

I have been in the Bay Area for the last 20 years and started teaching at GAIS in 1994. I have taken a few breaks from the preschool to stay home with my two children. I am excited to be back full time, taking over the position as preschool director from Carol Ferrieri, who had taken that position 8 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son.

The preschool has always had a very enthusiastic and dedicated staff and I look forward to working with them again.

Read more about Heike Schmalstieg

I have taught in preschools in Germany and the US and also taught German and English as a second language to children and adults in the US as well as in Japan. I love spending time with the kids. When I get the time I love reading, hiking and skiing.