Weekly Head’s Update 06.09.2019

We are a learning community, passionate about providing an International Education,which inspires and encourages learning and intercultural understanding.
We facilitate self-discovery and the development of unique interests, gifts and talents, whilst promoting service learning as a force for good in the world.

6th September 2019

Versión española 

 School Calendar

Monday, 9 September⋅9:00 – 10:00amNew M1-M5 Parents/Guardians Meet the MYP Coordinator and Head of Pastoral Care
Tuesday, 10 September⋅4:00 – 5:00pmPrimary. Meet the Teaching Teams. P2, P3, P4
Wednesday, 11 September⋅4:00 – 5:00pmPrimary. Meet the Teaching Teams EC2, P1
Thursday, 12 September⋅9.00– 10.30 amPTA Meeting
Thursday, 12 September⋅4:00 – 5:00pmPrimary. Meet the Teaching Teams, P5, P6
Thursday, 12 September⋅4:15 – 5:00pmM5 Personal Project Parents Information Session
Friday, 13 September 3.45-5.00pmActivity Fair

Dear Parents and Guardians,

This week has been a glorious start to the new academic year! It kicked off with a really well attended Welcome Day for new families, which allowed new parents and students to connect with each other and with existing families. I would like to extend a huge thank you to the PTA members and Parent Ambassadors who gave their time to help integrate new parents. Additionally I would like to thank our student helpers from across the school, who gave up their last day of holiday to meet new students and form new friendships. This is a true indication of community in action. Thank you!

It was a delight on Wednesday to welcome students both new and existing for the first day of school. This year we have a number of new staff and I will pass the remainder of this newsletter to them, so they can introduce themselves to you.

I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Jak Kearney

A little bit about me – meet our new teaching staff


Samuel Keillor

Born in the USA (Minneapolis, Minnesota), my teaching genesis was kicked into high gear at Sotogrande as a student teacher in 2017, soaking up the vibrant community and discovering what education can be. While teaching at a small public charter school in urban Minnesota, I was fortunate to build classrooms where students use their unique voice as a collaborative tool in uncovering and deciphering truths of the past and the present. As an instructor in TOK, Drama, and Individuals and Societies, I look forward to continuing my exploration of the space where performance and discrete subject instruction collide. In my free-time I enjoy hiking, Dungeons and Dragons, and Ultimate Frisbee.


Samantha Weaver

Originally from Yorkshire in the UK, I lived in the wild, wonderful (but unfortunately very wet!) West of Ireland for 25 years and recently relocated to Spain along with my husband, where I’m taking on the new role of Swimming Coach at SIS.

I’ve coached swimming at all levels, from beginners starting out on their competitive careers to elite swimmers taking part in international competitions. I’m really looking forward to making use of the fantastic facilities available and developing a strong swimming culture within the school.

I’m a mother of five (four boys, one girl) and I enjoy running, skiing, horse-riding and spending time in or on the water. I also love to write and I work as a freelance features editor for a children’s magazine.

Andrea Welsh


I am originally from Glasgow, Scotland and I moved to Spain last month. I have a rescue dog called Heidi and my husband and I enjoy hillwalking, so I am looking forward to exploring the beautiful Andaluthian hills. I love reading science fiction and experimental cooking. I teach Visual Art and my background is in fashion and fine art printmaking. I am really excited to be here at SIS and look forward to working with you and sharing my passion for creativity.



Julie Ann Hilton

From Cardiff, Wales to London, UK, to the Dominican Republic to Grand Cayman to Santiago de Chile, to Sotogrande, Andalusia; it’s been a circuitous route to get to where I want to go and what I want to be. Being a Philosophy and Religion teacher for some of that journey has kept me, well, philosophical about it. However, international experience has also given me the opportunity to return to some of my first loves in life: English literature and Drama. Thus, I arrive at SIS to embrace the opportunity to share my passion for discovering meaning and purpose in life through Language, Literature and the Arts. My other interests include writing poetry, singing, being in the mountains, and speaking Spanish. Not sure where I’ll sing (World Cup Rugby coming up, mind you); Español is clearly sorted, and the Serranía de Ronda has already brought out the Bard in me. Happy days!


Joel Bihary


I am highly enthusiastic about joining the English Language Development team and starting as an ELD teacher at SIS. Although originally from Cleveland, Ohio, USA, I feel like Spain is my home as I have been teaching English as a foreign language here for about ten years in a variety of educational institutions since I graduated from university as a Spanish teacher. I believe my firsthand experience as a foreign language learner and passion for learning languages will be fundamental in contributing to students’ English knowledge and language skills. Outside of work I enjoy running, cycling and cooking too.


Laetitia Knight

I am originally from France and I have lived and trained as a teacher in the UK. I started my career in British schools and then moved on to international schools in Asia and South America. Lately, I have been designing and teaching IB courses online and written textbooks.

I am excited to be back in the classroom, teaching English Language Acquisition at SIS. My husband works as a Maths teacher at the school and our two children study here too. I love travelling, learning languages, reading, going to the movies or to the theatre and cooking.



Joey Neale Jennings

Following a successful career in telecommunications, I retrained as a mathematics teacher at the University of Sussex, and have subsequently worked in a West Sussex comprehensive school teaching both mathematics and computer science. I have relocated to Gibraltar with my wife and our two boys, Leo, 6, and Thomas, 4 to be closer to our in-laws. I am looking forward to the challenge of teaching mathematics at SIS, working as part of the Elite Sports Programme. I love baking, watching a variety of sports and spending time with my family.



Katie Rowlands

I am originally from South Wales, but have spent most of my adult life in Hampshire, England. At University of Southampton I completed my Maths degree and completed a PGCE with an IMA scholarship. Professionally, I have worked in several large English state schools and more recently in an independent school in the New Forest. I’m looking forward to teaching energetic and creative lessons, with the purpose of making Maths fun. Outside of work I’ve always had a passion for learning, from playing piano, adventure sports and arts & crafts. I can’t wait to be immersed in the varied culture of SIS. 



Paul Teale

After nine years of teaching at Laude San Pedro, I have made the move along the coast to the Maths Department at Sotogrande. I had visited the school on a number of occasions for Maths Challenge days, and I am looking forward to being a part of the vibrant and energetic community here. I am passionate about both mathematics and education, and I also enjoy playing football and tennis in my free time. My wife and I are the proud parents of two children, Melissa and Oliver.



Diana Szyperska

My passion about communication, wellbeing and holistic learning developed during my work as a natural horsemanship trainer of race horses and hunters in Ireland and Poland. I did my MA in interdisciplinary English Studies at the University of Warsaw, Poland and at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Additionally, I completed post-graduate studies in Positive Psychology (the science of happiness) and Ethics. My 11 years of educational experience ranges from teaching Ethics, English, PSHE, History, Critical Thinking and Personal Project, to co-ordinating and examining TOK and implementing Careers Programme across the secondary school. I’m excited about teaching MYP I&S and TOK, contributing to initiatives related to MUN and Positive Psychology at SIS, and stirring things up a bit – I enjoy promoting thinking outside the box. In my spare time, I love hiking, travelling, cycling, eco-friendly lifestyle and exploring places, people and ideas.


Isabel Marín

I will be teaching Spanish Language and Literature in Secondary. For me to teach at SIS is a great opportunity to learn and progress as a professional. I will ensure to put all my knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for my job into the SIS Community.

In my free time I enjoy sports and travelling with my family.



Grace Carter


I am from the University of Bath in the UK and am here on a placement year. I will be working in the Learning Support department with PYP students and also in the boarding house. At home I love baking, singing and socialising. I can’t wait to get stuck into life at the school.




Monica Popham


I am a student from Loughborough University in the UK studying Fine Art and I am working with the Marketing department and living at the boarding house. I am excited to spend my placement year learning new skills, surrounded by the wonderful community of SIS. I enjoy clever art, a good book and travelling and I cannot wait to start!




Rheanne Lee

I am originally from Somerset in England and I am currently reading Sport and Social Science at the University of Bath. The rich community of Sotogrande allows me to explore my passions of education and teaching alongside international development. 

In the sports department I hope to enrich students’ understanding of health as well as introduce the sport of netball- a favourite among many women across the world including Aussies, Kiwis and the English! I have a keen interest in The Kindred Project after having previously volunteered in a Zambian community, harnessing students’ global citizenship is an imperative skill unique to SIS. 

You will also find me as a friendly face in the boarding house where I will be getting stuck in to the amazing activities on offer and ensuring the students get all the support necessary to thrive across all realms of student life.


Barme Rondán Benítez

My name is Barme and I’m from Jimena, a little village 25 kilometres from SIS. I arrived at the school 4 years ago and from the first day I thought that SIS would be a special place. For me it’s a dream to work in a school like this. I have been in different departments and last year I was in the Spanish Department teaching in Primary. This year I will be in the PE Department and I’m so excited for this new challenge.



                                                         Sara Hagglof 

I am very excited to be taking over the role of school librarian from Ms Anne who retired last year. 

My husband and I settled in Sotogrande seven years ago after which we enrolled our two young children at SIS. For the past four years I have been the Head of the Parent Ambassador programme which is a brilliant way for new and existing parents to learn more about our school and the IB system. I will continue to run the programme this year as well alongside my new duties as school librarian. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that our library also has books for adults, in both English and Spanish, which you are very welcome to borrow. So please feel free to come and see me in the library which is located on the first floor of the main building.

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