We are lucky to have attracted a dedicated staff, who are passionate about education and genuinely care about their students’ well-being as much as about their academic performance. Please scroll down to learn more about the GIS team.
I have been working as a teacher and administrator for many more years than I am willing to admit… I hold a bachelor’s degree in teaching English and a master’s degree in American literature. Apart from my teaching qualifications, I also studied art history and German. Since I started teaching, I have always worked at IB World Schools, GIS being my sixth adventure. My previous schools were in Poland, Turkey, China, Kazakhstan and Switzerland, respectively.
I also play a number of roles within the IB’s School Services department, ranging from mentoring IB consultants to training new as well as experienced IB teachers, to examining and visiting candidate schools on behalf of the IB in order to assess their readiness to offer IB programmes.
As the head of school at GIS, I want to create an environment in which both students and teachers grow as learners. I am very excited to be able to utilise all my experience to establish an international school that the Gjøvik region can be proud of. However, first of all, I am a proud IB parent, my son Maciek being a Grade 6 student at GIS this academic year.
My name is Leif Olav Thoresen and I am very happy and excited to be joining the GIS team this winter.
After finishing my teaching education at the Hamar College of Education, I started my teaching career on the other side of lake Mjøsa in the late 1990s. I taught at the elementary school level for more than a decade before I became the Principal at Ringsaker Montessori School in 2010. I have also worked as the Assistant Principal at Kirkekretsen Elementary School in Ringsaker. While being the Principal at Ringsaker Montessori School I studied for a degree in administration and leadership at the University of Oslo.
I am excited to now be a part of the IB school system; I feel quite familiar with it since my wife is the IB Diploma Programme Coordinator at Gjøvik High School and we have three children who attend GIS.
With my background from both public schools and a private school in Norway, I hope to make positive contributions to the development of this exciting and fast-growing school.
Cindy van den Heuvel, Primary Principal & Grade 4 teacher
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Cindy has used her teaching qualifications to see the world. Over the past 30 years, Cindy has taught and lived in 11 different countries. Her 3 children, now adults, travelled with her and all received an international education. Cindy is passionate about the PYP and is an IB workshop leader and school visitor. She has been both a PYP Coordinator and Head of Primary in the past, and also started a school for children who can´t cope in mainstream education where she was the principal and founder. Cindy enjoys being back in the classroom and facilitating her student´s growth in the programme. She enjoys travelling, cooking, reading and writing books. Cindy is very excited to experience all Norway has to offer.
It has been my pleasure to join the GIS community in 2017, after a 28-year career in government schools in Canberra. My involvement with IB schools began in 1999, when I joined Australia’s first IB school, Narrabundah College, to teach IB DP Biology and coordinate its CAS programme. In 2002 I was promoted to Head of Science at Telopea Park School, and later lead this binational French-Australian school to authorization as Canberra’s first IB MYP school. Since then I have worked in three other IB schools, both in the Australian Capital Territory and in Malaysia.
Like many of the staff at GIS, I have also contributed to the wider IB community. I managed parts of the On-line Curriculum Centre (a resource available to IB teachers), and was a member of teams involved in science curriculum review cycles, monitoring and moderating assessment samples. I am currently an examiner for Integrated Sciences e-assessment tasks that are used for MYP Certification.
My vision for GIS is to develop this tiny school as an exemplar of curriculum design and assessment of the IB MYP. This means supporting all staff with the extensive documentation required. This includes all the materials needed to coordinate the MYP Personal Project, which our Grade 9 students at GIS will be starting in 2019.
Because I know students find practical work motivating, I aim to provide all MYP students at GIS with regular laboratory experiences. At GIS, my special challenge is to prepare all the required materials and to dispose of these in an environmentally safe manner.
I anticipate our Grade 10 students who graduate are caring and passionate global citizens, whose outstanding self-knowledge and academic preparation will see them excel in all of the next stages of their education.
I began my international experience in 1990 when I took on a position teaching English at a “frontesteria” in Larissa, Greece. I passed my personal test and did not become homesick, so in 1992 I accepted my first teaching position at Copenhagen International School. It was at this school that I was introduced to the programme that would become the IB PYP. I continued teaching at international schools as a PYP teacher in Munich, Germany and Bucharest, Romania. After 14 years in the classroom I embraced the position of PYP Coordinator in Wroclaw, Poland. I continued in this role in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Durres, Albania.
Elisabeth Dahlstrøm, Grade 1 teacher
Life has lead me to several different destinations, and I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten to know so many interesting people and their unique cultures throughout the years. After living in Brazil off and on for a long time, I have finally fulfilled my dream of returning to Norway.
I am a Norwegian-American who has made education the center of my professional life since the early age of eighteen. Throughout my university years, I taught swimming as I acquired my Bachelor of Arts degree. I went on to get my Master’s in education with focus on international teaching, followed by a post-graduate degree in educational psychology. I first went to Brazil to teach English to Brazilians, and since then my career trajectory has provided me with the opportunity to work in different places as an early childhood homeroom teacher, PYP arts and music teacher, Brazilian Portuguese for Foreigners instructor, university professor, learning specialist, and translator.
During my last job as a PYP teacher of arts and music at an American school in Brazil, I began to truly identify with the holistic educational experience that the PYP has to offer. I noticed our students acquiring independent learning skills and taking responsibility for their own learning. It’s beautiful and inspiring to see children become self-motivated and confident, building their knowledge in concrete ways, and enjoying every minute of it! Needless to say, I am very happy to have joined the GIS team this school year as the PYP Grade 1 teacher.
I am from Kent in the United Kingdom. At the age of seven I moved to the south coast of Spain where I lived for the next eleven years, attending an IB school and completing the IB diploma. After my schooling I returned to the UK to pursue a Master’s degree in Drama and Theatre Studies. I later trained to become a teacher, specialising in English, and my career has taken me to SEN schools in England, to IB world schools in Japan. Before joining GIS, I taught the IB Primary Years Programme to grades 3 and 5 at an international school in Kobe, Japan.
As an educator I strive to encourage my students to embrace challenge and the unfamiliar with greater confidence, value and share their opinions, consider and respect alternative perspectives, and to celebrate effort as well as attainment. I am an advocate of the IB programmes, the IB learner profile, and inquiry-based learning approach, and I enjoy navigating my students at Gjøvikregionen International School towards global citizenry and becoming resilient lifelong learners.
Outside of the classroom I love travelling and the outdoors, exploring all that nature has to offer through hiking, running, camping, and skiing. I also enjoy singing, songwriting, and all manner of the dramatic arts.
Kimberley Zemlak, Grade 5 teacher
I am most excited about relocating to Norway and joining the GIS community this fall. With programme development well underway and an IB verification visit on the near horizon, what an exciting time of growth and change!
Arriving from Ottawa, Canada, I bring with me a passion for teaching, learning and 25 years of international classroom experience (Singapore, Amsterdam, Port-of-Spain, Toronto, Ottawa). I hold a Bachelor of Education from McGill University and a Masters of Educational Psychology from the University of Ottawa. My background includes interims as K-8 homeroom teacher, French language teacher, IT specialist, K-12 academic support team member and coach for various sports. Over the last decade I’ve enjoyed being an active PYP Workshop and Online Course facilitator, IB site visitor and accreditation team member. I can’t wait to explore the many facets of school life and curriculum implementation with Gjovik students, families and colleagues.
Eric Toohey, Grade 6 teacher
I joined the GIS community in August 2018, when my wife, Diane, my daughter, Elisa, and I relocated to Gjovik from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. During the past 5 years, I taught grades 4 through 7 at a long-established international school at the heart of Salvador.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, and my Master of Science in Education from Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York. In addition to my dedication to teaching within the framework of the Primary Years Programme philosophy and my own passion for lifelong learning, I bring with me leadership skills I honed while serving in the U.S. Navy, counseling experience I gained as the assistant director of CURE Childhood Cancer Association of Rochester, and technical design knowledge I acquired as an engineer for WEG Industries.
As a PYP educator, I believe that when people choose to experience what life has to offer as opportunities for inquiry, reflection, growth, and action – the logical consequence is that their perspectives will continue to broaden and transform over time. Throughout my life, I have embraced challenges with the same zeal that I count blessings – and, as a result, I see the world through lenses of possibilities. My aim as an educator is to encourage my students embrace the challenges they encounter as opportunities to grow, and to explore with them with the attitudes and tools that will develop and use as lifelong learners and internationally-minded citizens of our global society.
Reflections on who we are and our place and role in the world are essential in lifelong learning, also regarding the understanding of cultural references in music. Being a global musical citizen is just as much about recognizing the common language of music, as it is about acknowledging and respecting the individual voices that surround us. In the end, music is just sounds interpreted as something meaningful.
GIS Music is about creating, wondering and experiencing a meaningful existence through various activities and approaches. Children are curious and creative by nature, and in music they have an opportunity to discover a diverse world, both outside and within themselves.
At GIS, our students and I will explore music through creating, experiencing and reflecting. In this task, composition and listening are key activities, constantly supported by conversation about what we do and what we hear, not to mention how we perceive music. By revealing the various layers in music, we will also reveal ourselves as musical human beings. In our school, we are lucky to have class sets of various instruments, allowing every child to engage in the activity of practical musicianship; musicking. In addition to being meaningful in itself, learning to play instruments is also about creating a basis for our understanding of what music is, what role it has and what it can be in our everyday life.
To follow your child’s musical journey for ten years is a tremendous privilege for a music teacher. This entails just as tremendous responsibility for your child’s learning in music their individuality and integrity. As a composer, I am always subject to the enigmatic force in music and art, and how this force affects us in various ways. Experiencing oneself as a whole but ever growing human being makes every day a thrilling journey, and I hope to provide our students with similar experiences and reflections along the way. As a father of three, I acknowledge the fact that no two children are the same, and that they therefore both need and deserve to be met each in their own way.
I feel very privileged and excited to be joining the GIS team from August 2017. I am a native Norwegian who recently moved back to Gjøvik after having lived in the UK for 15 years. I studied in London for four years and obtained a bachelor degree in Internet Computing. I then moved to Macclesfield, near Manchester, where I worked for six years in an IT company. Whilst there I ran some customer training sessions for new software and realised I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching aspect of my work. It was hardly a surprise as I come from a family of teachers. Having completed a PGCE in the UK I then worked for two years before moving to Norway where I worked in Vestre Toten before going on maternity leave.
Outside the classroom I am a busy mother of three who enjoys running and exploring the local area on foot, on skiis or by bike.
“I believe that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” I aim to inspire my students to became motivated and independent learners, and to make every student in my class feel valued and appreciated.
Anne Aarvik, MYP Norwegian teacher
My experience to date includes being the head of a clinic and before that a counsellor providing support regarding intoxication and psychiatric issues. I have also worked in the educational system in Vestre Toten kommune (PPT among other things) and Gjøvik kommune. Most recently, I have worked with students with special educational needs at Gjøvik læringssenter. I am still engaged as supervisor for Gjøvik kommune via Gjøvik læringssenter.
My education is in social pedagogy, special pedagogy, leadership training, counseling, career education and Nordic languages. I have attended courses in psychiatry, e.g., regarding AD/HD and suicide prevention.
Privately, I live with my husband in Eina and have twin daughters. My hobbies include reading books, physical activity, family and friends.
Teaching is one of the earliest dreams I can remember. Following it, I gained my BA in teaching and MA in the English Language and Literature. I started teaching in Poland when I was still a university student and I’ve loved it ever since.
Initially a secondary school teacher in the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), I gradually moved towards primary teaching in the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), which I find one of my most rewarding professional experiences.
Having worked in a variety of roles at six IB world schools in five countries prior to GIS, I have developed multiple perspectives on education. In the meantime, I also became a happy mother of Maciek, which added yet another dimension to my teaching. In my eighteenth year in the profession, I still believe I was born to be a teacher and to inspire some of my students to choose this unique profession for themselves.
I strive to make curiosity, passion and commitment shared attitudes in my classroom.
I am a Hungarian and I come from Hungary’s Puszta (Pannonian steppe).
I am a certified Multimedia-developer and I also hold a BA degree in English and American Studies. Specialising in Theatre and Communication at university, I studied the use of theatre as a form of cultural and political expression in post-colonial countries as well as the importance and use of drama in education.
Therefore, my educational background and personal research have granted me insight into different religions, philosophies and cultures and have led me to the understanding that each and every person with their own individual background is unique. I aim to help students understand the importance of inclusiveness, mutual respect and finding what is similar as opposed to what is different, which is one of the goals of IB programmes.
I have been swimming since the age of three and I have actively trained for competitions in amateur category for 8 years in primary school. I was a junior pro table tennis player for 6 years and I trained newcomers at my club. Currently, I frequent the gym three times a week and I enjoy hiking and tent camping while listening to and observing wild animals as I go. I have learned to play the cello in classical music school and later the electric guitar in rock school. I still practice on the latter in my free time.
I believe that sport, art, music and singing as well as philosophy and ethics are the cornerstones in any child’s education. My experience in 1-on-1 teaching in English and Hungarian add up to a total of 15 years ranging from primary school to university level. At GIS, I provide in-class assistance in Grade 5, teach swimming in the PYP. My fourth responsibility, when I am not interacting with students, is to provide in-house IT support for the staff.
I am an American certified teacher with a Master’s degree in education from the University of Iowa. In addition to my teacher credentials, I also hold a Master´s in International Development and over 15 years of international teaching experience.
I have a diverse background having taught a wide-range of subjects from grades 6-12. My career has taken me around the world teaching in Costa Rica, Micronesia, Dubai and most recently Berlin. In addition to teaching, I have coached several sports and have been an advisor for various clubs and after school activities.
When I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy participating in sports such as tennis, volleyball and innebandy. I’m also an avid runner and look forward to exploring some of the running trails in and around Gjøvik. During the winter months, I enjoy snowboarding and will hopefully learn more about cross country skiing.
I enjoy finding ways to help students make connections between the learning that happens in school and the world outside the classroom. I aim to create a learning environment where students can be challenged and grow with integrity, curiosity and courage.
I am a primary trained teacher from Canada. I have taught at the British International School of Stavanger for the past 10 years. I taught pupils from ages 4-5 in their first year of school and more recently I taught special education lessons, including English as an additional language lessons, Maths and Literacy support lessons as well as ran the school library. Whilst at BISS, I enjoyed running after school author study and craft clubs and organizing the Scholastic Book Club as a fundraising tool for the school library. GIS has given me the opportunity to continue the Scholastic Book Club and help enrich the lives of our students.
I strongly believe in a rich Literacy basic classroom curriculum. Books are a way of opening pupils’ minds to the wider world. Stepping into a new story allows pupils the opportunity to experience a new culture, a new view on life or perspective.
Alice Lisa Wanda, School Counsellor and Learning Support.
I was born and raised in Uganda in East Africa. I have lived in Norway for 11 years now.
It’s boundless joy and happiness for me to be part of GIS team to serve children, staff and parents. I love listening, talking and helping students learn social skills. My belief is to always encourage all students strive to achieve their goals.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in education from Inland University College in Lillehammer. I have also just completed a course on Restorative Practice and Special Needs from Australia. I have 7 years’ work experience as a social worker with Gjøvik Children’s Care Center for migrant children under the age of 15 coming to Norway without parents. I also worked at Steiner school as an assistant during my study training program. My last work place before joining GIS was the Office of Integration and Diversity Gjøvik branch.
My husband also comes from Uganda and we have 4 children, Gift, David, Debra and Deron. When am not at school, I like spending time together with my family, taking walks, cooking and inviting friends to dine with us.
My duties at GIS vary widely. I take care of many administrative tasks such as communications and translation but I can also be a teacher substitute when needed. I am a qualified teacher and have worked in Norwegian primary schools before joining GIS. I enjoy working in a school environment a lot and love the mix of administration duties and interaction with students.
I come from Uganda, East Africa, but have been living in Norway since March 2011. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Makerere University Business School in Uganda. Currently, I am pursuing further education to achieve my dream here, which is to become a qualified teacher in Norway. I can speak English, Swahili and quite good Norwegian.
I have previously worked as a class assistant at Gjøvik barneskole in the inføringsklasse (introduction class for children with Norwegian as a foreign language) as part of my language and work practice.
I am married with 4 children: Gift, David, Debra and Daron.
My friendly nature makes it easy for me to connect with children and adults from diverse backgrounds. I am so excited and privileged to be a part of the GIS community.
I come from Poland, but I have been living in Norway for six years. This is my third year as a teacher assistant in grade 1. Before, I worked as an SFO assistant at GIS. I had a great opportunity to work under the professional supervision of Mrs. Rasen and Ms. Michelotti. That time confirmed my belief that I was going the right way.
I have a master’s degree in Journalism and Communication, but I decided to extend my education. I also have bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy, specializing in preschool and lower primary school education (Grades 1-3). Of course, I would like to continue my education in the future.
In my free time, I love reading eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, crime stories and watching costume movies. My other passions include practical art classes and art therapy.
GIS gives me an opportunity to work with wonderful children and teachers. I am glad that I can learn from the best and be part of the development of GIS’s youngest students.
Diane Toohey, MYP English Language Acquisition and Grade 2 Assistant
I am from Salvador, Brazil, and I am very excited about relocating to Norway with my husband Eric and our 3-year-old daughter Elisa. I feel much honored to be joining the GIS team and I hope I can add to the warm and diverse nature of this community.
I started my career as a computer programmer in 1989 and worked in the IT field for more than 18 years, in areas such as web design, system analysis, training, and project management. After some time living in the USA, I came back to my hometown and decided to teach English as a hobby. That was when I found my true vocation as a teacher. Later I became a Certified EFL Teacher and worked for the best EFL schools in town, including ACBEU (The Brazil-United States Cultural Association) – a 76-year-old binational center of public, cultural and educational use without profit.
After 8 years working as an EFL teacher at ACBEU, I joined a team responsible for advancing the Maker Movement in our school and last January I became the manager of the first bilingual Makerspace in town. I am passionate about Educational Technology and Maker-style Learning, and I truly believe in a “learn by doing” approach as a way to help students achieve XXI Century Skills.
When I am not working I am usually busy with my daughter but I also enjoy going out for a walk or riding a bike. As a typical Baiana, I love making new friends and spending time with people. Traveling is also a must for both me and my husband. We are looking forward to this new season in our lives!
I am very excited to join GIS this year. I am from the U.S. and have lived in nine different states
throughout my life before moving to Norway in 2012. Moving so much throughout my childhood and changing schools so often was sometimes challenging for me and my early education. Therefore, I understand how valuable it is for children to have a solid foundation throughout their school years.
Most recently I lived in California and worked in hotel/ restaurant management and event coordinating. I studied art and photography and Santa Monica College. I am looking forward to getting to know all the children at GIS.
This is my first year at GIS. I am originally from Norway but I have been fortunate enough to live in a number of different countries. My first experience with an international school was when I lived for a year in Germany during elementary school. It was a great experience and gave me an opportunity to learn the English language, which later in life influenced many other decisions. For example, I completed the IB Diploma Programme at high school here in Gjøvik and spent a semester in California as a part of my Bachelor’s degree.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in special education, so my main responsibility at GIS is to assist students who need additional support. I have previously worked with children as well as adults both here in Gjøvik, Oslo and in Stockholm. My main goal is to give students the tools they need to function independently.
Deepika Senthilkumar, SFO supervisor
I am originally from India, but have been living in Norway for 8 years now. I completed my professional degree in computer engineering at Anna University in India. As I had always had a passion for teaching, after graduation I started to work as a lecturer at an engineering college in India.
After moving to Norway, my passion for teaching made me learn Norwegian and led me to work with children in a playschool. I also worked as a graphic designer in Drammen.
As I always loved working with children, I got trained as an abacus teacher and have run abacus clubs at GIS. Last year, I started as a substitute teacher at GIS. I loved my work and the GIS environment to the core. I am now very excited about running rthe childcare programme (SFO) at GIS.
My hobbies are drawing, handmade crafts, painting and engaging children in quality, fun-filled activities.