Board Governance 

Saigon South International School is governed by a School Board which consists of three appointees from SSIS’s sponsoring company, Phu My Hung. The Board is concerned with the fundamental nature and legal status of the school, the school’s long-term development, strategic planning, long-term financial plans, general guiding policies, and employment of the Head of School. The Head of School is the designated person who communicates with the School Board when needed. Individuals with concerns that they would like expressed through the Board should relay such issues through their direct supervisor, in the case of individuals employed by the school, who will bring these to the attention of the Head of School, or directly to the Head of School, in the case of students, parents, or other community members.

Head of School

The Head of School, appointed by the SSIS School Board, acts as the chief executive officer of the school and is responsible for the effective administration and overall operation of the School. The three major areas of responsibility for the Head of School are (a) articulating the mission of the School to all segments of the School community, (b) providing guidance and direction to other members of the administration regarding the priorities, direction, and development of the School, and (c) maintaining the Core Values and the fiscal integrity of the School. The Head of School is both the administrative and the curricular leader of the whole School and is the final arbiter within SSIS for all questions of policies, procedures, processes and expectations.
The Head of School carries out his responsibilities with the help and advice of a eleven-member Senior Administrative Team comprised of Level I and Level II administrators. The School’s Senior Leadership Team meets regularly with the Head of School.

Mission and Core Values


SSIS is a college preparatory school committed to the intellectual and personal development of each student in preparation for a purposeful life as a global citizen. 


Academic Excellence

A challenging academic program, based on American standards, that teaches the student how to think, to learn, to problem solve, and to work individually and in teams while acquiring a foundational knowledge base of the world.

Sense of Self

A community atmosphere in which each student can gain a sense of who he or she is in the world; to develop self-confidence, strong character, convictions, leadership abilities, grace, courage, the desire to be a life-long learner, and the commitment to achieve excellence in all he or she does.

Dedicated Service

A view that looks beyond oneself to the assets and needs of the surrounding community and the world and finds fulfilment in unlocking potential in the service of mankind. The model SSIS graduate will demonstrate a caring attitude, be environmentally aware, and persevere for the good of the community.

Balance in Life

An academic program that promotes an appreciation for all of life and seeks to balance the sciences with the humanities; academics with the arts; mental wholeness with physical, social, and spiritual wholeness; and future career with family relationships.

Respect for All

A perspective that each individual is a person of worth. 


The Mission and Core Values of the school were established in 2003 over several days of meetings involving the founders of the School and the School leadership. As the guiding principles of the School, the serve to define who we are and guide decision making and the setting of priorities for the School.

Unlike some schools, the Mission and Core Values of SSIS are not “living documents” to be altered, amended and reinterpreted with each passing year. Rather, they are a call to a particular set of beliefs regarding education and the foundation of a shared community of learners. They define who we are as we search for like-minded and passionate educators from around the world to deliver a world-class education to young men and women of character in an ever changing world.

Our presentation of ourselves as professionals has a great impact on supporting or detracting from what we teach. All teachers, as well as assistants and all other employees of the school, are expected to model the school values and rules as part of our educational community.


The community of Phu My Hung (PMH), located in District 7 south of central Ho Chi Minh City, was the brainchild of Lawrence S. Ting and Ferdinand Tsien, founders of Saigon South International School. Together these pioneers conceived of a modern, dynamic extension of Ho Chi Minh City, a joint Taiwanese-Vietnamese venture which would transform the marshy area once thought to be undevelopable into a thriving, modern community. The Saigon South New Urban City Center, where Saigon South International School (SSIS) is located, was developed to address the region’s need for urban expansion. The vision was to create an area which would support a high population density while maintaining forty percent green space and establishing walkable neighborhoods that would minimize the need for either public or private transportation and offer housing in a wide range of price points. Additional projects in the area contributed to the city’s energy infrastructure, port capacity, and manufacturing.

To attract and maintain a diverse community, both expatriate and local Vietnamese, the Phu My Hung Corporation supported the establishment of several private schools to supplement the local area national school network. A Korean School, a Japanese School, and a Taiwanese School within District 7 offer their respective national curriculums and are attractive to those families planning a short sojourn or intent on reintegrating their children to home country schools after leaving Vietnam. A private Vietnamese curriculum school with a strong English-language focus, The Lawrence S. Ting School, serves more than 1,200 students from city and includes a boarding community.

SSIS was conceived from the start as the premier private school for expatriate students seeing an internationalized education with a structure, style and tradition that emanated from the independent schools of the United States and a curriculum that reflected the best of worldwide educational thinking. The PMH Corporation set aside prime real estate at the heart of District 7 to enable the school to offer facilities second to known in the region. Early in the school’s history the Founders, together with their children and educational advisors from the States, established the School’s Core Values (Academic Excellence, Sense of Self, Dedicated Service, Balance in Life, Respect for All) which, together with the Mission Statement, serve to guide the decision-making of the School’s administration.

Beginning in 1998 with only thirty-seven students and six faculty members in rented facilities, the SSIS has grown rapidly, especially in the past eight years, to over 950 students and 112 faculty members on its present 6 hectare campus with three purpose-built buildings housing the divisions of the school and with broad grass fields for athletics and recreation. SSIS offers a curriculum for students from EC 3 through grade 12 that challenges minds, nurtures growth, prepares students for top schools around the world, and calls them to live purposeful lives as global citizens.

SSIS Heads of School

Stephen Wilcox (1996-1998)

Dennis Clark (1998-1999)

Robert Crowther (1999-2002)

Gerry Keener (2002-2007)

Charles Barton (2007-2012)

Ellen Deitsch Stern, Interim (2012-2013)

Mark Iver Sylte (2013 - 2018)

Catriona Moran (2018 - present)

SSIS Elementary School Principals and Assistants

Mary Lower (2003-2009)

Richard Mowrey (2009)

Gary Woodford (2009-2014)

Adam Dodge (2009-2014)

Dr. Daniel Keller (2014 - present)

Barbara Reynolds (2014 - 2017)

Roxanne Amor-Ross (2016-2017)

Dr. Donna Norkeliunas (2017- present)

SSIS Middle School Principals

Molly Burger (2013 - present)

SSIS High School Principals and Assistants

John Fast (2002-2004)

Michael Connolly (2004-2007)

James "Jim" Scorgie (2007-2009)

Paul Johnson (2009-2014)

Rhonda Isley (2008-2012)

Timothy Fitzgerald (2012-2014)

John Kruk, Interim (2014-2015)

Jacob Hendrickson (2015- present)

Dr. Timothy Chute (2016 - present)

SSIS Accreditation 

Saigon South International School is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which is based in the USA. SSIS’s last visit was a full re-accreditation in the spring of 2017. The next mid-term accreditation is scheduled for the 2019-2020 school year.


SSIS Affiliations


The East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS) is an organization of 149 member schools in East Asia. These schools have a total of more than 100,000 EC to 12th grade students. EARCOS also has 173 associate members—textbook and software publishers and distributors, universities, financial planners, architectural firms, insurance companies, youth organizations, etc.— and over 33 individual members.

Membership in EARCOS is open to elementary and secondary schools in East Asia which offer an educational program using English as the primary language of instruction, and to other organizations, institutions, and individuals interested in the objectives and purposes of the Council.

SSIS administrators and teacher participate in many EARCOS conferences and professional development sessions during the year.



The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,800 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including more than 1,500 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S. Independent schools are non-profit private schools that are independent in philosophy: each is driven by a unique mission. They are also independent in the way they are managed and financed: each is governed by an independent board of trustees and each is primarily supported through tuition payments and charitable contributions. SSIS is a private, independent, international school and an affiliate of NAIS. 



SSIS is a founding member of MRISA. Membership in MRISA is open to accredite international schools in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam that use English as a medium of instruction. This association promotes interschool sports and cultural exchanges. Students travel to other schools in the region or host visiting students from participating schools.

Students who participate must be in good academiMic standing at least six weeks prior to the event. This time line is necessary in order for the list of participants to be sent to the school hosting the event. Student participants must adhere to the MRISA code of conduct during the event and collect and complete work missed during their time at the event.

The member schools of MRISA are:

Northbridge International School of Cambodia (NISC)
International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
Vientiane International School (VIS)
International School Eastern Seaboard (ISE)
Saigon South International School (SSIS)
International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) - A Cognito School Hanoi 
International School (HIS)
United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS)



The Fay School is junior boarding school (K-9), private and independent, located outside of Boston in the USA. It is a non-denominational, not-for-profit, co-educational school in which children of diverse talents and backgrounds with average to above average academic abilities are offered a high-quality education in a secure, nurturing, and academically challenging environment.

For the past several years Saigon South International School and Fay have had a sister school relationship. SSIS and The Fay School are linked through history (the writing of the SSIS Core Values), alumni (members of the SSIS board), and past projects involving students and faculty of the two schools. 



Situated along a tributary of the Saigon River and within easy walking distance to the many shops, cafes and restaurants, the school enjoys all the conveniences of being located in the new urban center of Saigon South. Although only twenty minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, this planned residential community has clean air and river breezes, wide streets and ample sidewalks, making it an ideal setting for families to live and children to go to school.

Saigon South International School has a large, 6-hectare campus with three main buildings that will accommodate approximately 1100 students in Elementary (EC3-Grade 5), Middle (Grade 6-8) and High School (Grade 9-12).

Our current facilities provide large, spacious classrooms and ample facilities for art, music, physical education, aquatics, dance, and IT education. There are separate libraries for elementary, middle and high school, a covered 25-meter swimming pool and smaller pool for introductory swim classes, an auditorium/theater, a BlackBox Theatre, outdoor growing beds for science, a double-sized gymnasium for elementary and middle school, a separate gymnasium for high school, and a shared cafeteria. Separate play areas for the early childhood program and elementary students allow for safe play and developmentally appropriate activities and behavior. Middle and high school students use our two large playing elds behind the high school building for after school athletics. The facilities and resources are what one would expect at a top-tier international school.

Safety and security of the children are a priority. Perimeter fencing, security guards, CCTV, and strict access control provide a secure campus and safe environment. 


Senior Administrative Team

The follow are general descriptions of the responsibilities held by each member of the Senior Administrative Team. These are meant to assist employees in identifying the best first point of contact with questions regarding handbooks, policies, procedures, and expectations.

Level I Administrators


Associate Head of School for Finance and Operations

The Associate Head of School for Finance and Operations is second in authority to the Head of School and the only SSIS employee who may, in his absence, speak on behalf of the Head of School and on behalf of the School. The Associate Head ofSchool is responsible for the Human Resource Department, the Business Office, facilities management, and security, health,and safety.


Elementary School Principal

The Elementary School Principal is responsible for all aspects of the operation of the elementary school. He is both the administrative and the curricular leader of the division. His responsibilities include all matters relating to students including curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, student leadership, and guidance. In matters relating to faculty, the Elementary School Principal assists the Head of School in hiring, works with the Curriculum Director on professional development, and is responsible for elementary school faculty evaluation. The Elementary School Principal reports to the Head of School.


Middle School Principal


The Middle School Principal is responsible for all aspects of the operation of the middle school. She is both the administrative and the curricular leader of the division. Her responsibilities include all matters relating to students including curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, student leadership, and guidance. In matters relating to faculty, the Middle School Principal assists the Head of School in hiring, works with the Curriculum Director in professional developments, and is responsible for middle school faculty evaluation. The Middle School Principal reports to the Head of School.


High School Principal

The High School Principal is responsible for all aspects of the operation of the high school. He is both the administrative and the curricular leader of the division. His responsibilities include all matters relating to students including curriculum,  teaching and learning, assessment, student leadership, and guidance. In matters relating to faculty, the High School Principal assists the Head of School in hiring, works with the Curriculum Director in professional developments, and is responsible for high school faculty evaluation. The High School Principal reports to the Head of School.


EC-12 Curriculum Director

The Curriculum Coordinator is responsible for the coordination and implementation of a unified, articulated curriculum across the three divisions of the School. Working with the divisional principals, the Curriculum Director oversees the School’s professional development efforts and programs, the development of the SSIS Curriculum Framework, student assessments, and the continual improvement of teaching and learning. She also manages all School subscriptions to educational and administrative databases, cloud services, and professional memberships and accreditations. The Curriculum Director reports to the Head of School.

Level II Administrators

Assistant Principal of Elementary School

The Elementary School Assistant Principal assists the Elementary Principal in the administrative and curricular oversight of the Elementary School, taking on such responsibilities as are assigned to her by the Elementary School Principal. The Elementary School Assistant Principal reports to the Elementary School Principal.


Assistant Principal of High School

The High School Assistant Principal assists the High School Principal in the administrative and curricular oversight of the High School, taking on such responsibilities as are assigned to him by the High School Principal. The High School Assistant Principal reports to the High School Principal.


Director of Admissions

The Director of Admissions oversees the first point of contact for all parents interested in enrolling their child or children at SSIS. As such, the Director has a special role in making sure that families applying to SSIS understand and embrace the Core Values and ethos of the School and understand the School expectations for students and parents. The Director oversees testing of applicants, the gathering of required documentation, and the maintenance of records. She conveys her recommendation to the divisional principal who makes the final decision regarding enrolment, subject only to appeal to the Head of School.

The Director then communicates the Schools decision with parents and assists with the child’s transition to full-time status as a student at SSIS. The Director of Admissions reports directly to the Head of School.


Director of Activities 

The Director of Activities oversees the School’s programs of co-curricular and extracurricular activities. All overnight programs in the divisions are coordinated through the office of the Director of Activities. She helps to plan and coordinate each teacher’s fulfilment of his or her obligatory after school programs (ASAs) with students and works with outside community groups, both not-for-profit and for-profit, in offering additional opportunities to students in the afternoons and on weekends. The Director of Activities reports directly to the Head of School.


Director of Athletics

The Director of Athletics provides administrative direction and oversight for all divisional athletic programs, teams, and coaches that are outside the School’s regular physical education program. She is responsible for the supervision and maintenance of all SSIS athletic facilities and ensures that their availability and use conforms to the strategic direction and priorities of the school. She oversees the School’s commitment to the health and safety of all athletes and coaches and to the principles of good sportsmanship. The Director of Athletics reports directly to the Head of School.



Director of Information, Communications and Technology 

The Director of ICT is responsible for the planning, implementation, and maintenance of the School’s informational, communications, and technology infrastructure. This includes the School network and connections to the worldwide web, hardware and software support for locally housed databases and file servers, laptops and desktop machines to support both teaching and learning and school offices, other technology hardware and digital collections, and the School’s phone, SMS, and emergency communications systems. The Director of ICT reports directly to the Head of School.


Director of Marketing 

The Director of Marketing overseas the School’s efforts to communicate with its existing and potential community members including students, parents, teachers and other employees. This includes the content of the School’s website, Facebook page, its local and overseas advertising, and community outreach efforts. The Director of Marketing assists with the coordination efforts between the School and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). The Director of Marketing reports directly to the Head of School.


Important Definitions


All schools develop handbooks and other publications to clarify what the school believes, what policies it enforce, the procedures which are followed to carry out those policies and procedures, and the expectations placed upon employees of the school.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, precise definitions at the start will clarify the differences between them and make transparent, to the extent possible, how policies, processes and procedures are adopted and altered.

It is important to remember that SSIS is a board-run school. The members of the Board of Directors of Saigon South International School are appointed by the executive leadership of the Central Trading and Development Company in Taiwan and its Phu My Hung subsidiary and bear primary responsibility for the governing of the School. It is within their purview and responsibility, when necessary, to set such policies, processes and procedures as they deem necessary for the development of the School.

In general, however, the Board of Directors’ most important task is to engage a Head of School whose chief responsibility it is to carry out the mission of the School as established by the School’s founders, Mr. Lawrence S. Ting and Mr. Ferdinand Tsien. The Head of School, with approval from the Board, engages a group of administrators who work with the Head of School to fulfilll this mission as the Senior Administrative Team. It is generally, then, at the level of the Senior Administrative Team that policies, processes, procedures, and expectations are discussed and decisions are made by the Head of School. 




Policies are the rules and guidelines, the purpose of which is to ensure consistency and compliance with the School’s mission and strategic direction. Policies are written when issues rise to the level that a Board decision is needed. SSIS policies are generally structured with the following parts:

  • A statement of why the policy is required.
  • A statement of what the policy is.
  • A statement of who is responsible for the execution and enforcement of the policy.


A process is a detailed list of the steps or activities related to a product or outcome. It may be related to a policy (e.g. what steps to take if an employee has a grievance) or simply a transparent explanation of how things are done (e.g. steps to apply for professional development funds). SSIS processes generally contain the following:

  • What major steps are to be performed.
  • Who is responsible to perform the process.
  • When is the process triggered. 


A procedure defines the specific instructions to perform a task (which may be part of a larger process). SSIS procedures detail:

  • Who performs the procedure.
  • What steps are taken.
  • When the steps are taken.
  • How the procedure is performed. 

To illustrate all three, the administration might create a policy that all leaving employees are to be surveyed before departure regarding their time at SSIS (justified by the importance we place on our Core Values and our desire for honest feedback). The Board would then be asked to afirm the policy. This survey may be part of a larger process when employees depart the school (closing of nancial accounts, return of school equipment, closure of employee school network accounts). Each step in this process may have a procedure associated with it (e.g. how and when are employee email accounts closed).


Within handbooks published by SSIS, specifically those intended for the employees and teaching faculty, will be found sections on “expectations.” These are guidelines which employees are expected to read and follow. Failure to do so can, in serious cases, become a factor in considerations of contract renewal or continued employment at the school. 


As has been mentioned above, SSIS is a board run-school. As such, the Board of Directors may, from time to time, establish policies for the School which they believe are needed to fulfill its mission. These policies are not open to alteration or elimination without the consent of the Board of Directors and will be enforced by the administration of the school without exception.

Most policies, though, are created at the senior administrative team level. The senior administrative team serves in an advisory capacity to the Head of School and is not a voting body. Policy proposals or alterations, which may be generated internally or come as suggestions from SSIS employees and faculty, are discussed among the administrative team with the hopes of achieving a consensus opinion. However, in the end, proposed policies must have the support of the Head of School and be submitted by the Head of School to the Board of Directors for their approval, amendment, or alteration.

Processes and procedures may be created at many different levels within the school (e.g. an elementary school process for student council elections or all school trip planning procedures) but must be submitted to the relevant member of the senior administrator (the Elementary Principal, in the case of the examples provided) who, in turn, will file the same with the Head of School office for inclusions within this publication.

Expectations are often contractual in nature. They may come from the Board, the Head of School, or be suggested by the various supervisory personnel on campus for approval by the Head of School.

SSIS attempts to maintain all policies, processes, and procedures, along with a great deal more information, in a unified body of handbook chapters. However, it must be understood from the start that no organization can anticipate all potential situations which may arise. In the end, the Head of School is solely responsible to the Board of Directors for the administration of SSIS.

Decision Making

The School encourages employee participation in decision-making, particularly in matters where the employee can contribute expertise and where the outcome of the decision is likely to affect the employee. Such participation may relate to areas such as:

  • Policy development, especially as it pertains to professional staff and instructional programs
  • Administrative rules and regulations development
  • Facilities planning
  • Curriculum development

When developing rules, regulations, and arrangements for the operations of the school, the Head of School or his or her designees will, whenever feasible, include opportunities for consultation with employees with relevant expertise and staff members likely to be affected by such provisions in the planning stages.

Final authority and responsibility for any decision on rules and regulations, however, rests with the Head of School. Therefore, unless the authority to decide is delegated to specific individuals by the Head of School, it should be understood that participation in such decision-making means that staff members communicate, consult, and recommend, but do not have the authority to make decisions for the School.

Likewise, each divisional principal is both the administrative and curricular leader of his or her division, reporting directly to the Head of School and is solely responsible for ensuring that all policies, procedures, processes, and expectations are enforced within the division. In the leadership of the division, the divisional principal relies heavily upon the best advice and recommendations of the teaching professional on his or her staff, but cannot delegate either his or her authority or responsibility for the division to another individual or group.

Strategic Plan 2014-2017


  1. Articulate goals in curriculum and instruction, relating these to the Core Values

  2. Further develop ways to authentically evaluate the Core Values

  3. Articulate in greater detail the Founders’ intentions for the Core Values

  4. Articulate, in greater detail, the Founders’ intentions for the school mission

    • School Culture (including student services)

    • School Campus

  5. Establish an honor/behavior code based on the Core Values

  6. Develop Curriculum Frameworks for each division that explicitly ties to the Core Values of SSIS

  7. Develop a faculty profile based on the Core Values 


Edit section

  1. Written Curriculum
    • Develop Curriculum Framework (detailed process in Framework itself)
    • Educate faculty on Curriculum Framework
    • Develop a Curriculum Framework evaluation tool for analyzing written curriculum
    • Revise and/or develop all written curriculum to be aligned with the Curriculum Framework
  2. Taught Curriculum
    • The Curriculum Framework described in the ‘written curriculum’ section also addresses taught curriculum issues. Refer to that section for additional information.
    • Identify standards to address (locate, evaluate, and use information as well as make a persuasive argument)
    • Assist departments/divisions in developing opportunities to address ability to locate, evaluate, and use information in persuasive argument
    • Common assessment tools and vocabulary for use in locate, evaluate, and use information in persuasive argument
  3. Assessed Curriculum
    1. The Curriculum Framework described in the ‘written curriculum’ section also addresses assessed curriculum issues. Refer to that section for additional information.
    2. Establish consistent understanding and practices relate to assessment.
    • Pre-assess faculty understanding
    • Pre-assess faculty practices
    • Provide differentiated PD
    • Post-assess understanding and practices to determine plan for 2016-17 school year
    1. Develop and/or improve assessments and the use of data using Assessment for Learning Strategies
    2. Develop and/or improve common assessments and related practices (formative and summative)
    3. Provide guided planning workshops to develop/improve assessments
    4. Host parent information nights on Assessment for Learning strategies
    5. Provide differentiated workshops based on specific resources
    6. Provide guided planning workshops to develop/improve assessments 


  1. Community Enrichment

    • Develop a plan for future facilities use and stakeholder connection program outside of school hours

    • Develop a plan to improve stakeholder engagement with the PTA

  2. Communications

    • Increase communication with parents concerning school mission and core values and strategic plans

    • Improving effectiveness of internal communication among professional and support staff

    • Streamline communication with stakeholders ensure that everyone has quick and easy access to digital information including programs and activities

  3. Marketing

    • Further develop marketing plan to position SSIS to attract target market

    • Raise student numbers, especially in the High School, to achieve a critical mass and sustain future program development.