Our Faculty and Staff

Administrative Team


Board of Directors

X Nigel Austen

Nigel Austen

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.

X Daniel Hayashi

Daniel Hayashi

Marketing and Admissions Officer

Daniel Hayashi is a marketing professional passionate about promoting education and working with international students. Multiculturalism is part of his identity. He has lived, studied, and worked in the USA, Brazil, Australia, and Canada. His parents are Japanese, but he was born and raised in Latin America.

Learning is what motivates him every day. He has a Master's degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a postgraduate degree in Strategic Management, a Bachelor's degree in Economics, and two diplomas: Marketing and Digital Design.

During his career, Daniel led international marketing projects across different industries, and in the past four years, he has focused on the Education sector. As Marketing and Admissions Officer at Alexander Academy, he works closely with the Head of the School and the Admissions and Business Development Director, providing admissions support and working on recruitment and marketing initiatives for the institution.

In his spare time, Daniel searches for inspiration from all art forms, especially cinema. He is also a foodie and a coffee lover.

X Spencer Todd

Spencer Todd

Head Teacher

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.

X Berenice Lewis

Berenice Lewis

Admissions & Business Development Director

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.

X Apekchha Sapkota

Apekchha Sapkota

Health & Wellness Counsellor

Apekchha (Apek) Sapkota is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and provides counselling therapy services at both Alexander Academy and Alexander College. She holds a Master of Counselling Psychology from Adler University, and a BA in Psychology from UBC.

She likes to take a holistic, inclusive, and collaborative approach to counselling. It’s important for her to create a safe and comfortable environment for clients, while allowing for deep and meaningful conversations and reflections to occur in the therapy room.

As someone who grew up and lived in Nepal, the Philippines, and Canada, and attended international schools, Apek has had the greatest opportunities to meet and interact with people from diverse cultures, identities, and experiences.

She has worked with clients of various backgrounds, presenting issues, and therapy goals. Through her knowledge, education, and research, Apek combines concepts and techniques from multiple therapies to best fit the clients’ goals and learning styles.

Apek speaks English and Nepali, and also understands Hindi. She has experience providing counselling in English.

Apek also loves nature, dance, music, cooking, and spending time with her loved ones. She looks forward to working with you!

X Ummehani Shakir

Ummehani Shakir

Marketing and Admissions Officer

Ummehani Shakir is a Public Relations and Communication specialist who also branched out into digital marketing and content creation. She is originally from India and has lived in different countries around the world, which encompass all her academic and personal growth experience. She started in India, then lived in Singapore, England, and now Canada. She is excited to be working in the Marketing and Admissions department at Alexander Academy. She especially likes Alexander Academy's diverse culture, as she enjoys learning and interacting with people from all walks of life.

She holds a post graduate degree in Public Relations and corporate communications, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from London, UK. She has worked for corporate conglomerates like Procter and Gamble, Marico Ltd, Skechers, Sony Pictures Network, and Starbucks Ltd, to successfully carry out public relations and influencer led campaigns to increase organic brand awareness and sales.

She is also a holistic healthcare practitioner, trained in 6 different healing modalities over the span of 8 years and continues to add more feathers to her cap. She enjoys reading, creating content, and traveling in her spare time.

X Bilguun Ganbaatar

Bilguun Ganbaatar

Finance and Admissions Officer

Bilguun (Beku) Ganbaatar is a former Alexander Academy student. She is happy to be back on campus, working as an intern in the marketing and admissions office. She significantly improved her English during her stay here thanks to the fantastic and friendly teachers who taught her effectively.

After graduating from Alexander Academy in 2018, she attended Alexander College and studied Business Management. During her college years, she learned business fundamentals, such as market research, marketing campaigns, and strategies. She is currently enrolled in her 4th year of studies at the University of British Columbia, majoring in Business Management and minoring in Economics.

It has been 6 years since she moved to Canada to study at Alexander Academy, and she has overcome various hardships to become the person she is today. She believes an investment in a dream is an investment worth pursuing. Throughout this journey of reflection, she is starting to understand who she was before and who she wants to become.

X Adriano-Jermano-Pigozzo

Adriano Jermano Pigozzo



X Yara Machado

Yara Machado

Administrative Assistant

Yara Machado started her career back in Brazil. She grew up in São Paulo and moved to Vancouver in 2015.

Prior to working at Alexander Academy, Yara worked three years at PwC Brazil as an Executive Assistant, two years at Murchies Tea & Coffee as a Retail Store Supervisor, and two years at Sprott Shaw College as an Administrative Assistant, as well as an Employment Service Specialist.

She brings over 10 years of Office Administration experience. Yara holds a Bachelor in Bilingual Secretary and a Post Degree in Events Management.

In her spare time she enjoys playing with her 4 years old son, cooking, decorating and traveling.

X Tarik El Babarti

Tarik El Babarti

French and Humanities Teacher

Tarik El Babarti was born and raised in Montréal, Québec. As the son of immigrants from Spain and Morocco, he has spoken English, Spanish, and French since early childhood, and brings a uniquely multicultural perspective to his teaching. He graduated from Concordia University in Montréal in 2018, with a Bachelor of Education in English as a Second Language, and a minor in Spanish Language and Culture that he earned through intensive coursework at the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Spain.

He joined the Alexander Academy Team in September of 2022, as a language teacher. Through his inclusive and supportive instruction, he inculcates his passion for language learning and intercultural exchange. When he isn't looking up at the stars or planting something in the dirt, in his spare time, Tarik enjoys hiking, camping, and cooking.

X Javier Garcia

Javier Garcia

Mathematics and Physics 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.

X Jenny Guan

Jenny Guan

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.

X Clifford Hildebrand

Clifford Hildebrand

Business & Science Teacher

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 since 2013. During his time in Canada, he has taught a variety of subjects including Economics, Physical Education, Social Studies, Math, Environmental Science 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.

X Holly Swaine

Holly Swaine

Biology and Chemistry Teacher

Holly Swaine was born in Leeds, United Kingdom and grew up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She graduated from the University of Northumbria, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences, accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science. During her studies, Holly conducted research into leukemia and atherosclerosis. She then gained her postgraduate certificate in education from the University of York in science with a concentration in biology.

Throughout her teaching career, Holly has contributed to a variety of research into the pedagogy of teaching and learning through the University of York and Leeds Trinity University. Holly moved to Vancouver in 2022 and is excited to develop her teaching career here. She is very passionate about science, especially biology and environmental sciences; her favorite person in the world is David Attenborough.

Outside of work, Holly enjoys traveling, reading and running. She is looking forward to exploring the abundance of fauna and flora that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

X Ryan Spencer

Ryan Spencer

English and Business Teacher

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.

X murtaza-velji

Murtaza Velji

Mathematics & IT Teacher

Murtaza Velji received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Calgary and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. He spent four and a half years teaching in China and two years teaching in Malaysia.

Murtaza is most interested in technology and programming as both teachable subjects and as a hobby. He also has teaching experience in various other subjects, such as senior level Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Chemistry, English, and Filmmaking.

Outside the classroom, Murtaza plays board games, develops and tests open-source Android software, and perfects his at-home coffee routine.

X Melissa Berthelet

Melissa Berthelet

Art and English Teacher

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.

X Rachel Maher

Rachel Maher

English Teacher

Rachel was born and raised in Ireland. She graduated from Maynooth University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History and went on to receive her Master's degree in Education from University College Dublin.

Rachel has taught in high schools in Ireland teaching both English and History. She also created and taught a photography workshop for students within the Autism Spectrum department in her previous school. During her time teaching Rachel has been keen to focus on adapting learning for students with various educational needs or academic abilities. She is highly enthusiastic about making sure each student is confident and reaches their full potential in a way that suits them.

Rachel is very passionate about photography and videography and really enjoys the creative process of taking and editing pictures and videos. In her free time, she also enjoys playing the ukulele and listening to Taylor Swift.

X Mark Lappan

Mark Lappan

Social Studies Teacher

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.

X Mihaela Negoita

Frances Treanor

Art and ELL Teacher

Frances Treanor was born and grew up in County Monaghan, Ireland. She graduated from the National College of Art and Design Dublin, Ireland, with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art; specialising in ceramics. Frances then progressed onto a Professional Master’s in Art and Design Education from the same university.

Throughout her teaching career, Frances has worked in a variety of educational settings including; elementary, secondary, and further education in Ireland. She also spent over a year teaching in London, UK, in a school of students with special educational needs. Frances is an avid artist who spends time outside of teaching creating and displaying her own artwork.

Frances is also a passionate musician and has accomplished her Senior Certificate grade in piano from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, the highest level that can be awarded. She likes to spend her spare time baking, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors.

X Grace Chen

Grace Chen


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.

X Stacey Franklin

Stacey Franklin

English and Physical Health Education Teacher

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.