Head of School
Theory of Knowledge
Math SL Diploma Programme Teacher
Biology and Chemistry
Head of School
Nigel Austen joined Alexander Academy as the Head of School in June 2021. Originally from Victoria on beautiful Vancouver Island, Nigel holds a Master of Education and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in world history and political science from the University of Victoria.
He also studied marketing management at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Nigel has spent the past two decades working in various administrative and teaching roles in public and private schools in China, Japan and Canada. He has now worked at 7 high schools of sizes between 100 to 2700 students.
He has most recently spent the last 11 years working as a Principal, Vice Principal, Educational Coordinator, Department Head and teacher at British Columbia offshore schools in China.
He has served as a school inspector for Cognia, formerly AdvancED, which is the biggest pre-university accreditation organization in the world. He has also been a guest speaker at educational conferences in Asia and worked at the Canada Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
In his spare time, Nigel enjoys the outdoors, playing hockey, basketball, and golf, attending concerts, and reading about history.
Nigel is an avid traveller and has visited more than 30 countries. Nigel and his wife Yohko became proud parents to twin girls in October 2019.
Head Teacher and Diploma Programme Coordinator
Spencer Todd has enjoyed the challenge of making class content relevant to the lives of his students since 1998 when he first became a Humanities teacher.
Initially, he started as an English teacher in the public system in Victoria where he stayed for several years before moving back to his hometown of Vancouver. Soon thereafter, he became involved with working with international students in a number of different roles to help them prepare for success in the British Columbia high school system and beyond.
He especially relishes the challenge of aiding international students in their senior English classes and on their Provincial exams. Spencer has a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies and a Post Degree Professional Program in Education from the University of Victoria, as well as a Post Degree Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading about history, listening to music, following the Miami Dolphins, and spending as much time as possible with his wife and two daughters.
Director of Admissions and Business Development
Berenice Lewis is a graduate of the University of Calgary where she received her Bachelor of Education. She also holds a Master of Arts from the University of Phoenix with a specialization in Leadership and Administration.
Berenice oversees all enrolment activities at Alexander Academy and works closely with the Head Teacher and administrative team to bring students to Alexander Academy. Berenice is committed to ensuring that students can access all that Alexander Academy has to offer.
Berenice has extensive experience in independent schools, working as a former educator, principal, Head of School, and now Director of Admissions. Her diverse experiences in the field of education confirm her belief in the power of education to drive positive change within her community and beyond.
Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator
Ellie Kwon received her Bachelor of Commerce (specializing in Marketing) from the University of British Columbia.
She studied at Alexander College, a sister school of Alexander Academy, before transferring to UBC Sauder as a second year and had various leadership experiences as vice president of the student association. She joined Alexander Academy in September 2019 as a marketing assistant. She is always delighted to support students is thrilled to utilize her marketing skills at Alexander Academy.
Serena Ning received her master’s degree of education in Administration and Leadership at Brock University. She joined Alexander College as an Education Advisor in 2005. While working, she pursued a Certificate of Business Administration and Management at SFU, and took more responsibilities as Assistant to the Vice President.
She is thrilled to switch to a high school environment after working at the college level for 13 years, where she will put her new passion to help Alexander Academy in becoming a pathway for students to achieve their success. Serena enjoys working in a dynamic environment where she embraces the beauty of diversity and multiculturalism.
Theory of Knowledge
Ryan Cook received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and has spent over 6 years living and teaching abroad. He taught for two years in South Korea and four years in China.
Ryan is most interested in Social Studies, but teaches a wide variety of subjects including Physical Education, Information Technology, and Drama. Ryan is a big sports fan and grew up playing baseball and ice hockey. He is an avid snowboarder, guitar player, and enjoys travelling. Ryan has visited over 20 countries all over the world.
Math SL Diploma Programme Teacher
Javier Garcia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. He has many years of teaching experience with university level courses such as Calculus, Linear Algebra, Probabilities and Statistics. He has also taught Mathematics and Physics at secondary schools in Cuba, Bolivia and Canada.
Mr. Garcia received his bachelor’s degree and completed a Master’s degree from the Havana Pedagogical University Enrique Jose Varona, and he completed his certification as a British Columbia certified teacher at Simon Fraser University.
Mr. Garcia is a fan of all sports and plays volleyball, tennis and chess in his spare time. He has also enjoyed coaching and personal training in the past. He enjoys music, salsa dancing, getting involved in community activities, and spending time with family and friends.
Student Services Manager
Jenny Guan received her Bachelor of Science (major in Biology) and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. She had taught various subjects at a secondary level, including Math and Science, in British Columbia. She enjoys working with students from a variety of backgrounds.
Jenny highly values the cultural diversity in Vancouver and she is thrilled to join the Alexander Academy community. She believes in the importance of acknowledging each student's individual needs and unique learning styles. When not teaching, Jenny enjoys spending time with her family, doing yoga and playing badminton.
Clifford Hildebrand is a teacher with a wealth of experience. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, he moved to Taiwan where he spent 15 years teaching English and experiencing a new culture.
While in Taiwan, Cliff earned a Master’s degree in Education, focusing on Curriculum and Instructional Development. He taught at a variety of institutes including high schools and a university, where he was the course coordinator for the third year writing course for the English department.
Cliff then returned to Canada where he has been teaching for the last five years. During his time in Canada he has taught a variety of subjects including Economics, Marketing, Physical Education, Social Studies, Math, English and more. Cliff enjoys many things including sports, music, and reading. What he loves the most, however, is helping students understand new things. He hopes he can be a help to you while you are at Alexander Academy.
Daniel received his first Bachelor of Science degree (Mathematics and Statistics) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After teaching secondary schools in Hong Kong for ten years, he moved to Vancouver Canada to continue his teaching career.
Daniel obtained his second degree in Computer Science and his third degree in Education from UBC, and his TESOL Diploma from VCC. Mr. Lai has more than eight years local teaching experience in senior Mathematics, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and general Science.
He is excited to join the Alexander Academy to help students to develop their full potentials and brighten their future. Mr. Lai enjoys traveling, hiking, gardening, photography, and spending time with his family.
Biology and Chemistry
Ramina Sandhu has been with Alexander Academy for about a year. She is originally from India, where she completed her Bachelor of Science (Biology and Chemistry), Bachelor of Education, and Master of English Literature.
Ms. Sandhu completed her Master of Biomedical Engineering from one of the top universities in London (Queen Mary, University of London, UK). She moved to Vancouver 3 years ago and has been teaching ever since. She is an avid reader, is passionate about both Science and English Literature. She is always looking for opportunities to expand her knowledge; she is currently studying Medical Neuroscience.
Apart from learning and teaching, she likes hiking, driving, traveling, playing chess, and photography. She is happy to be a part of the Alexander Academy family and hopes to help everyone to the best of her ability.
Ryan Spencer graduated from Simon Fraser University with an Honors Degree in History and a minor in Psychology. After completing his degree, he enrolled in the Simon Fraser University Professional Development Program where he specialized in Social Studies and Gifted Education.
During his teaching career, Ryan has taught: English, Communications, Social Studies, ICT, and Career Education, amongst other courses. Yet, no matter what he has taught, Ryan has always striven to embed a student-centered teaching approach into his classrooms.
When not at school you can often find Ryan at a local coffee shop working on his latest novel; or and about the trails of the North Shore, often times with his nose planted firmly in a book.
Art and English
Melissa Berthelet (she/her) is originally from Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia.
Melissa has worked extensively with young people in the arts and beyond, creating and implementing programing that is youth oriented and art focused. She was the recipient of the Sam Black Prize for her art education curriculum: What's Cooking", in 2018. She has been an Educator working within British Colombia for the past 3 years.
In her down time Melissa is an avid traveller (pre-COVID), enjoys reading and creates art both professionally and personally. Ms. Berthelet enjoys being outside whenever possible, going on hikes and exploring British Colombia. Melissa is very excited to be joining the Alexander Academy family.
Marketing & Admissions Officer
Mallory has been active in the fields of education and counseling for over 10 years, as an educational consultant, Mandarin teacher, and first year international application reader, in Canada and China. She has successfully helped students maximize their academic and other talents to gain entrance to many universities, and she has always had a deep understanding and passion for working with students and families.
Mallory holds a MTCSOL degree specialized in studies of overseas culture promotion institutions from Tianjin Normal University and a MEd degree from University of Victoria in Curriculum and Instruction specialized in differentiated instruction. She is now pursuing for a professional college counselling certificate at UCLA and is a member of NACAC.
As Marketing and Admissions Officer, Mallory works closely with the Head of School and Director of Admissions and Business Development on recruiting and marketing initiatives.
Mallory’s interests outside of academia include watching movies, writing scripts, running and cooking. She is an active member of Lu Xun Art Academy and China Youth Writers Association.
Mark Lappan graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in History and a minor in Medieval Studies. He then went on to enroll in Simon Fraser University’s Professional Development Program where he specialized in Social Studies. Soon after, he earned his MSc in History through the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh.
Mark’s time as both student and teacher has taken him across the globe. Highlights include teaching English and organizing culture fairs in Japan, working as part of the excavation team at the necropolis of ancient Pronnoi, and delivering lectures on Canadian military history, including Canada’s ongoing NATO and UN commitments, as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
In his down time Mark is an avid outdoorsman, something he attributes to being born and raised on the North Shore. Rain or shine you can find him on the trails of the Pacific Ranges, or organizing an impromptu overnight on Crown land.
Born and raised in Romania, Mihaela speaks four languages and has a Master’s Degree in Interculturality, Plurality, Politics in Linguistics and Teaching from François Rabelais University as well as two Bachelor's degrees.
As a certified French teacher, she has taught Core French, French Immersion, and French IB in Canada and Europe. She has also worked for IDP Education Canada and Oxford International/Eurocenters as a IELTS Exam Supervisor.
Mihaela is keen on enhancing diversity, inclusion, and multilingualism as well as leadership and entrepreneurship to generate impact in her teaching. She also likes to promote a safe and positive environment where the students become knowledgeable, build excellent skills, mindsets, and habits.
Her passion is to help students succeed academically and as a whole. In her spare time, she likes volunteering, dancing (salsa, bachata), hiking, painting, playing tennis, and reading, especially books in her work field as well as motivational and personal/relationships growth.
Grace Chen (she/her) is a librarian from Vancouver. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Grace previously worked as an archivist for the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre, a library assistant for Lululemon Athletica, and a library collections manager for the Royal BC Museum and Archives. She is passionate about improving the accessibility and discoverability of resources and research materials for all audiences, and is excited to contribute to the development of the Alexander Academy library collection and services.
Outside of work, Grace is a fitness enthusiast and loves powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and hiking. She adores the nature and beauty of the Pacific North West and is always looking for opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
As an ex-figure skater, Grace continues to be an avid fan of the sport and her preferred winter activity involves watching skating competitions online and cheering very loudly from her couch.
Stacey Franklin is passionate about both teaching and her subject area, English.
Ms. Franklin has completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, where she graduated with high distinction; she also has a Master’s degree in teaching (MT), which she earned from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto; and she has a Master of Arts in English, also from the University of Toronto.
Outside the classroom, Ms. Franklin’s hobbies include rock climbing and yoga--she is even an experienced and certified climbing wall instructor and yoga teacher. She also enjoys camping, hiking, and spending time outdoors.