WISS Today Article

Today China celebrates Teachers’ Day. A perfect day to thank teachers and recognize all their intensive work. Teachers not only transmit knowledge to kids but also lifelong values that will help them to become open-minded people and global citizens.

The importance of education can’t be understated. As John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. Education is essential to living happy and productive lives. WISS students receive a world-class IB education that instills the values and knowledge that they will someday need in the real world.

A Diverse Community of Teachers at WISS

Currently, more than 150 teachers are working at the Western International School of Shanghai. Our school is made up of a diverse community of teachers which reinforces our international identity and vision of education. But, all of our teachers share one thing in common: commitment to their vocation. Proof of that is that 70% of #WISSteachers have more than 10 years of teaching experience, acquired all around the world.

As an international school, diversity is one of our core values. Our teachers come from different countries and continents. This contributes to a multicultural environment where both students and teachers can learn from each other, from their traditions, cultures, and values.  At WISS we have a chance to live together in a diverse school where we are always learning new things.

Our teachers are masters in the art of student-motivation, on awakening curiosity, stirring passions, improving knowledge, and nurturing people – so WISS students are challenged to fulfill their potential to exemplify the WISS and IB values.

There is no doubt that teachers are indispensable in our lives. We’re sure that each one of us holds special memories of one or more teachers who taught us during our school life and thanks to them, today we are doctors, lawyers, journalists, artists, or even teachers ourselves.  

Teachers Who Never Cease to Learn

At the Western International School of Shanghai, we are convinced that knowledge is enriched with more knowledge.  For this reason, the professional development for our teaching staff is a priority for us. Our teachers have the opportunity to enrich their professional development focus both on campus and around the world. 

Having updated knowledge and skills is key to being an effective teacher. Specialized training throughout a teacher’s career creates expertise in approaches such as the Forest School experience used in our Pre-Nursery classes. We are one of the few schools in Shanghai offering this outdoor activity, improving our little Tigers’ learning and skill development.

A teacher never ceases to improve their teaching. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs because kids also teach them with their questions and inspire teachers to research and investigate new areas or subjects. 

But there’s nobody better than #WISSteachers to explain to us what it means for them to be a teacher and why teaching is their passion. We invite you to get to know some of our teachers and their experiences at WISS.

Kira Botton, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at WISS


Kira Botton, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at WISS with one of her students
Kira Botton, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?

I’ve always loved working with children, but when I took my first education class in university, I knew I was in the right place.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher?

To me, being a teacher means nurturing children’s love of learning through creating an environment that invites them to make their own discoveries and where they know they are genuinely cared about.

When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

The teachers that I considered special in school were those that cared to go the extra mile to be there for all of their students. They taught me that everyone deserves to have someone that is willing to put forth that effort.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?

WISS students show me new ways to look at anything they happen to be learning. The connections they make to the world is usually very different from the way we see things as adults.

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS?

One of my favorite moments at WISS was when reading “Do Not Open This Book” to one of my Pre-K classes. Their excitement for this book was so high they couldn’t keep in their seats and yelled their responses through the whole book.

What made you move to China and teach at WISS?

I joined WISS for a few reasons including the reputation it has as an IB school and the welcoming, knowledgeable administration.

Faith Cao, Kindergarten Teacher / Chinese Teacher


Faith Cao, Kindergarten Teacher / Chinese Teacher  at WISS with her students
Faith Cao,
Kindergarten Teacher / Chinese Teacher at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  

I realized that I wanted to be a teacher after doing a summer camp at an English language training center. That was the first time I got to choose the content to teach and to plan and deliver lessons as a lead teacher, and I really enjoyed that experience.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher?

Being a teacher, to me, means helping young students to find out where their passion lays and who they want to be. In this school, we get to constantly provide the students with choices and options to try things out from a very young age. And while teaching the disciplines, we always talk about what the right thing to do is and the reasons why. And hopefully, that allows them to feel a sense of ownership for being who they are and to think about who they want to be.

When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

I did indeed have a special teacher in my life, she was my math tutor in my senior year in high school. She was also my math teacher for my first and second year in high school, and she never took on any tutoring until she retired in my senior year. She knew that I was always quite good at geometry but terrible at algebra. The entire year she tutored me, we took our time to focus on the foundations. She was always very calm and patient, never pushed me. She charged a very very low price and I would stay there the whole afternoon. She let me take my time, made sure I understood every single one of those questions no matter if I got them right or wrong, and she would always prepare snacks and drinks for me just to keep me in a good mood. I scored 12 out of 100 on my first Math exam at the beginning of the year, and I was able to score 92 out of 150 on the College Entrance Examination. I am pretty sure my whole life changed because of her. Now looking back, I know that she didn’t only teach me math, she taught me patience, respect, and how to believe in others.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?  

WISS students always impress me with how independent young children can be. By independent, I mean both when it comes to tasks and their initiative to think and act while interacting with others. In Early Years, I often see students approaching new students when the students seem to be left out. Or offer a hand when their peers are having difficulty making things happen. It is a very natural response to the situation without prompts, which constantly reminds me that although these are very young children, they are capable of empowering others, and we as adults should do the same to the best of our ability.

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS?

One of the best moments I have experienced at WISS occurred two years ago. I was reading a story to a group of students in the morning, and the ending was a little sad. A student sensed that I was sad because of it, and she came to sit next to me and put her arm around me. I am grateful for moments like that when the students remind us that we are educators and learners, at the same time. We are also people who relate and care for each other and will support one and another in times of need.

Angela Wang, Grade 2 Teacher


Angela Wang,  Grade 2 Teacher  at WISS with her students
Angela Wang, Grade 2 Teacher at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  

When I was in kindergarten I had made my decision to be a teacher, I still remember that I loved to play those games like taking care of others, leading the groups, and designing different games for my peers to play.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher? 

Being a teacher for me is becoming a lifelong learner, fulfilling my dream, inspiring more and more young people to pursue their dreams, and preparing this generation to be ready for their future.

When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

The very special teacher for me was from my graduate school. She is from California, U.S. and she had a special connection with China. When she first came to Shanghai to teach, she told me her father was one of the members of the Flying Tigers who actually came to China to help to train the pilots in WWII. She was my first foreign professor and she trained me to be a teacher and inspired me to be an international educator. From this experience, I do feel the connection between the US and China became deeper (for me) and I understood the multicultural world better.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?  

My students teach me every day! I always get inspiration from them and it makes me think more about how to be a better educator and most importantly to never stop learning or being curious to explore life like a kid!

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS?

The best moment just happened this summer! I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 6thGAIL Conference and to teach students from 8 different countries and 7 continents around the world to make delicious Chinese dumplings.

Stacy Doyle, Grade 1 Teacher


Stacy Doyle, Grade 1 Teacher  at WISS with his students
Stacy Doyle, Grade 1 Teacher at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  

I was teaching ESL in Korea and I realized that I absolutely loved being a teacher, so I went back to school and got my teaching degree and have been teaching for the past 10 years.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher? 

Being a teacher, to me, means building relationships and helping a community to learn.


When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

Having a very good memory, I remember each of my teachers, from when I was 3 years old (Mrs. Techrobe) to when I graduated (English – Mr. Moore). I remember something about each of them. Although, Mrs. Korsch (Grade 3) handled a particularly difficult class by keeping us organized and on routines.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?

The WISS students are very special as they come from such diverse backgrounds and make a great learning community of unique individuals.

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS?

My first year here was very special and the students and parents organized an end of year present that was a painting of a tree with all of the students’ fingerprints as the leaves. It was very touching and will treasure it always.

Terri Mosher, Secondary Science/ Biology Teacher


Terri Mosher,  Science/ Biology Teacher at WISS with her students
Terri Mosher, Science/ Biology Teacher at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  

I decided to become a teacher later in life not for any particular reason other than I like to help people learn. There was not one defining moment where I knew this is what I truly wanted to do. I love it when I can help people or help people to see things in different ways, so becoming a teacher has helped me to do this, as well as for me to learn so much from my students.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher? 

For me, to be able to help someone learn or discover something is very rewarding. When a student tells me something that they learned in my class (related to the topic of study or not) I feel grateful that I was able to help them in some way. I enjoy it when past students come back to visit or send me a message to say how they are doing and link back to a class we had together.

When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

I did have a few special teachers, of which was my high school Biology teacher and soccer coach. She was very kind, caring and patient. She would help me to learn strategies for discovering answers as opposed to just telling me the answer. I still use some of her advice with my students, as it helped me and I pass it along. I am still in contact with her today.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?  

So many things. For instance, just learning different ways to see things through the eyes of students of different cultures. It challenges me to find ways to help students by offering multiple perspectives to see things (when I can). I really enjoy the energy of the students as it adds to a great learning community in the classroom.

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS?

Just one? I have so many! But I have to say that one of the most memorable was over the summer when I received a message from a student who graduated in 2016 to let me know that he had been accepted to the medical program in his home country. He had to spend a few years in his home country re-learning his native language and had worked as a Biology tutor at the university. He talked about his time at WISS and as a science and math student of mine for grades 8, 9, 11 and 12. He shared memories of the classes and specific skills he learned that helped him. It was so rewarding to hear from him and to know that he never gave up on his dream and goal of becoming a doctor.

What made you move to China and teach at WISS? 

Before WISS I lived in the North of China for 5 years (this is my 9th year at WISS). Our family wanted to have more international influences and experiences, and WISS welcomed us here in 2011. We were excited to make the move from the North to the South here and have had many amazing experiences here.

Curt Farnham Head of Humanities / Humanities / History Teacher / EE Coordinator


Curt Farnham Head of Humanities / Humanities / History Teacher / EE Coordinator at WISS with his students
Curt Farnham Head of Humanities / Humanities / History Teacher / EE Coordinator at WISS

When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  

After earning my first university degree, I traveled to Taiwan to teach English and pay back my student loans.  About halfway through my second year I knew that I wanted to make a career out of teaching.

What does it mean to you to be a teacher? 

It means that I get to keep learning.  I am just one more of the people learning in my classroom.

When you were a student, did you have a special teacher in your school? What did you learn from him or her?

My high school geography teacher, a man named Peter MacLeod, was always relaxed and confident with his class; probably because he was always honest with us and with himself.

What kind of things do WISS students teach you?  

WISS students are really comfortable with being who they are.  They don’t judge their peers and don’t live in fear of being judged.

Could you share with us one of your best moments teaching at WISS? 

Each time an old student comes back to school to reconnect with their old teachers, each one of those moments is the best moment.

What made you move to China and teach at WISS?

It was a long time ago.  I was teaching at a very reputable and very traditional school in another part of Asia and my daughter was reaching school age.  I wanted her to have a more open and creative kind of education.

At WISS, we are proud of our community of teachers. #WISSteachers are committed professionals who are passionate about teaching and learning and who transmit this passion in every single thing that they do.