Ms. Maria Arias, PreK-K

Ms. Maria Arias was born in Honduras, she is usually called by her nickname Ms. Vivi ever since she was a child. She… Read More

has a Bachelors in teaching English and a Masters in Psychopedagogy.She is fluent in English and Spanish languages, and loves teaching different grades and ages. She believes in helping children become independent learners, confident, righteous citizens and critical thinkers. Every child is different and unique and each one has its own brightness and her role as an educator is helping her students achieve their personal goals. Her hobbies are coloring, painting, and working out.


Ms. Kathryn White, 1-2

I went to Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. I got a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. After teaching in Korea… Read More

for two years I went back to the US and got my teaching certification in 6-12 Physics and K-12 ESOL.


Ms. Kaley Petersen, 3-4

Ms. Petersen comes from a small town in Minnesota, USA. She studied elementary education with a pre-primary … Read More

focus at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and earned a STEM certificate. Ms. Petersen starts this school year with 6 years experience in grades pre-k, kindergarten, and grade 3-4; all of which took place here at Kwangju Foreign School. She believes in teaching children to be hardworking, independent, and respectful people who value their worth and the worth of others. When she’s not teaching, you can find her baking, reading, coloring, travelling, or video calling her dog Lokie who lives in Minnesota.

Middle School


Mr. Derek Iwanuk, MS ELA

Originally from Toronto Ontario Canada, Mr. Iwanuk graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a BA in English… Read More

and Communication Studies. Originally inspiring to be a journalist, Mr. Iwanuk wrote for his student newspaper in college, several small community newspapers and a national publisher before diving into the wonderful world of teaching. After arriving in Korea in 2009, and meeting the love of his life, Mr. Iwanuk went back to school to earn his Massachusetts state teaching licence. In Massachusetts, Mr. Iwanuk taught English to immigrants who recently immigrated to the United States. When not teaching, Mr. Iwanuk enjoys watching his beloved Toronto sport franchises, spending time with his family, hiking and travelling around Asia.


Mr. PJ Baybay, MS Science

Originally from the Philippines, Mr.PJ has started his career at KFS in August 2018 but before that, he was a middle… Read More

school Science teacher in the Philippines for 3 years and Malaysia for 4 years. He has been teaching for nine years now and eight years of those are International Schools following the International Baccalaureate programme from Primary to Diploma and WASC accredited school. Mr.PJ has a degree in Secondary Education major in Biology and completed the academics in Master of Education major in Educational Management both taken in the Philippines. He also took the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainees and is currently enrolled at American College of Education taking up Master of Education in STEM Leadership. As an educator, Mr.PJ’s experiences have provided him with in-depth knowledge and helped him to grow into a more understanding, reliable and creative teacher. The learning journey which not only a student, but a teacher goes through is critically important for the progress of the modern world. He feels extremely proud that he plays a role in this.


Mr. Kyle Hammel, MS Social Studies

Mr. Hammel was born in San Diego, California, and lived there until moving to Korea seven years ago after finishing… Read More

graduate school and having a strong desire to live and teach abroad. He received both his Bachelor of Arts (2009) and Master of Arts (2012) in History from San Diego State University with his M.A. focusing on Republican Rome and Hellenistic Egypt. This will be his first year at our school after teaching the previous six at Incheon National University where along with teaching, he got to be involved in a variety of activities such as being a mentor for INU’s yearly Model United Nations. Mr. Hammel thinks that having an enthusiastic lifelong curiosity about the world is something we should foster in students so that they become adaptable and open minded adults. In his free time he enjoys reading history books, hiking, traveling in Korea and abroad and is a big sports fan.


Mr. Anthony Courtney, Assistant Principal, MS Math, MS/HS PE

Mr. Courtney has 13 years of teaching experience. He taught in the United States for 4 years in North Carolina and 9 years in South Korea at KFS. Read More

He believes each and every student regardless of his or her learning abilities adds to the rich tapestry of their classrooms. Each student has a unique set of strength that offers distinctive rewards to their school community. He works hard to create an engaging classroom experience for all my students, while providing a safe environment that encourages them to think critically and take chances. In science and mathematics there is often more than one way to solve a problem. He pushes his students to work hard and keep an open mind. Mr. Courtney wants my students to know that they are not defined by their great weakness or limited by their greatest success. As educators in the 21st century, it is our responsibility to equip today’s youth with skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome tomorrow’s challenges. Mr. Courtney earned a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction in the fall of 2015. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Middle Childhood Education in the spring of 2006. Both degrees were earned through Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

High School


Mr. Aaron Coyle, HS Social Studies

Mr. Coyle has a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Temple University and a M.A. in Secondary Social… Read More

Studies Education from Ursuline College. His teaching certification is from the state of Arizona. Mr. Coyle is originally from Buffalo, New York, but has spent the last 23 years living in Korea. This is his 10th year with KFS. He is married to Keong-ah Coyle and has three children: Emily (22), Johnny (21) and Gabriel (11). Mr. Coyle utilizes an activity-based approach to teaching and enjoys coaching basketball and futsal, in addition to being the Athletic Director for the school. Mr. Coyle loves to travel and to engage in outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, biking, and boating. Naturally he is very interested in reading, particularly books related to science and history.


Carrie Sullivan, HS ELA and Performing Arts

Ms. Sullivan is from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA and is very excited to be a part of the Kwangju Foreign School… Read More

team. She has a Bachelors in Spanish and a Masters in the Art of Teaching Languages: TESOL, and she has been teaching various ages, cultural backgrounds and levels of ability for the past 13 years. Most recently, Ms. Sullivan has worked as an educator, translator and parent liaison with the immigrant population of the Greater New Orleans area and is now excited for this opportunity to learn more about the Korean culture and language. She and her son enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and camping and are looking forward to the many beautiful, weekend trips Korea has to offer.


Ms. Arlene Oducayen, HS Science

Ms. Oducayen was born in Batac City, Ilocos Norte in the island of Luzon, Philippines. Her teaching qualifications… Read More

include a Bachelor of Science major in Biology with 18 units of credit in professional education degree from the College of the Holy Spirit, Manila. She completed her three years international faculty exchange program with the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2009. She has been teaching secondary science for almost two decades and in three countries, namely, in the Philippines, in the United States and in South Korea. Ms. Oducayen has worked with students from the Elementary level to the Collegiate Level and from different socio-economic status, race, ethnicities and learning capabilities. She considers herself a lifelong learner and takes pleasure in gaining new insights and sharing her own views with others. Ms. Oducayen is interested in health and wellness and enjoys hiking, walking, meditating and reading self-motivational books. She has been an avid Spartan Race participant since 2014.


Mr. Mike Higgins, HS Math

Mr. Higgins was born in Alaska, but did not stay long (Parents did not like the cold!). He has lived in Seattle,… Read More

San Diego, and western Colorado. Mr. Higgins was an engineering major in college until he was hired to work at a children’s center with 2 – 5 year olds.He loved it! He has degrees in Mathematics and a variety of teaching credentials. He has taught everything from Kindergarten through college. This is his 36th year of teaching and he still loves the job. His education heros are Rebecca Abbott and Emily Heck (The first two teachers he observed and worked with, Kindergarten teachers. They were an incredible inspiration to Mr. Higgins!), and Maria Montessori. He enjoys hiking, music, art, and great stories.



Ms. Hayon Jeon, Art

Ms. Jeon was born in France to the parents who studied art there. She then moved to Korea and grew up in Seoul… Read More

Her family’s artistic background deeply influenced her to have a keen interest in art. Ms. Jeon graduated at the top of her class from Seoul National University with a degree in Fine Arts majoring in Sculpture. While studying art in university, she also participated in an art exchange program at the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). After completing her teaching practice as an art teacher at International School of Koje(ISK), she received Art PreK-12 teaching license from District of Columbia. Ms. Jeon believes art begins by closely observing the world and her goal is to help her students grow as global citizens who celebrate differences while developing and expressing their own sights through various artistic mediums. She is very excited to start her career at Kwangju Foreign School and is eager to bring her rich experience to her classroom. During her spare time she enjoys visiting galleries, hiking, and traveling.


Mr. Ryne Santos, Music

Mr. Santos was born in San Diego, California, studied and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from California… Read More

State University, Fresno in 2010 and has been teaching for upwards of nine years. His main musical instrument is the saxophone, but he also knows the clarinet, guitar, bass, piano, drums, trumpet, and several more instruments. He’s the son of a US Navy sailor traveling the world in his youth in places such as Alaska, Guam, Japan, and the Philippines. He loves photography, discovering new foods, travelling, doing the New York Times Crossword puzzle everyday, watching sports and movies, and has been a lifelong fan of video games. He has visited 24 countries in his life including Spain, Laos, Croatia, Belgium, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates to name a few and performed music in a variety of places like the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Tokyo Disneyland, and Memphis, Tennessee’s famed Beale Street. Music is an amazing language that can unite people from a variety of cultures onto one stage. I have never met anyone in my life that has regretted ever learning an instrument, only people that wished they learned to play music when they were younger.


Mr. Tony Zhao, Chinese

Mr. Zhao comes from Shandong Province, China. He graduated from Sichuan International Studies University… Read More

with a Bachelor of Arts in TCSOL (Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages). After graduation, he has been teaching in different schools in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Korea. Mr. Zhao has rich experience in teaching at high school with different curriculums including IGCSE and IB. This is his third year at our school and he is looking forward to continuing to develop his skills as a teacher and get involved in the local community. It is his belief that students should be developed in an all-round way — morally, intellectually and physically. Mr.Zhao has a wide range of interests such as reading, traveling, soccer and badminton.