Wendy Lee, Ed.D., Academy Director
Dr. Wendy Lee has over 15 years of experience working with children of diverse cultural backgrounds in a wide range of settings. Most recently, she has been an elementary school teacher in Irvine Unified School District, with a specialization in teaching English as a Second Language to newcomers to the country. Previously, she was Assistant Director of the Center for Learning through the Arts at UC Irvine. Dr. Lee holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at UCLA with a focus on teacher training and teachers’ use of technology. She is also the mother of three young children, and understands the importance of building foundations in learning at an early age.
Frances Tan, Director of Chinese Curriculum
Frances Tan has been teaching Mandarin Chinese to elementary school students for over 10 years, most recently as part of the federal Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) in Walnut Valley Unified School District. Mrs. Tan is a native Chinese speaker who earned her M.A. in the U.S., where she has resided for over 40 years. Her strong bilingual skills and participation in training conferences for teaching Chinese with documented strategies have enabled her to work successfully with young people to learn about her home language and culture.
Shu Pan previously served as an Educational Department Director of the Family Education Committee of Nanjing, with a Bachelor’s Degree from Jinling Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China. Her management experience is coupled with an extensive 10-year research background in children and family education, during which she published multiple articles on children’s education. In her current position as a Chinese teacher and Curriculum Coordinator, Ms. Pan integrates her native Chinese language skills, comprehensive field expertise, and passion for helping children learn through interpersonal communication skills.
Johanne Galloway Liang
Johanne Galloway Liang obtained her B.A. from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and an A.A. from FIDM in Los Angeles. In addition to being a native Chinese speaker, she has a Chinese learning certificate from National Taiwan University and served as a bilingual preschool and kindergarten teacher in Taiwan for five years. Mrs. Liang hopes to help each of her students develop a solid foundation in Chinese language.
Sunny Ding graduated from National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Literature. She taught Chinese at a vocational high school and an afterschool program when she was in Taiwan. She also earned her Montessori Early Childhood teacher credential in Los Angeles. After working at Montessori preschools for two years, she found that her true passion is teaching Chinese. Before joining Karis Academy, she taught Chinese for several years at a preschool and an afterschool program.
Linda Kuo earned a bachelor degree from Tokyo Bunga University In Japan. She obtained an official teaching license and has been teaching students for more than 20 years. She is passionate and dedicated to helping students who are interested in learning Japanese or Mandarin Chinese. She has taught students ranging in ages from 3 to 20.
Ping (Apple) Wang
Ping Wang graduated from Sichuan Conservatory of Music with a B.A. in Music Education. After graduating, she earned her teaching certificate at Confucius Institute, and she taught accordion and piano to kindergarten-aged students in her alma mater. Ms. Wang has been teaching children since 1999, and has been using her teaching aptitutde to teach Chinese for the past 10 years. At Karis Academy, she teaches and tutors children of all ages, including Kinder Chinese, Chinese 1, and Chinese 2.
Ying ( Tina ) Plummer
Ying graduated from Hua Dong Normal University in Shanghai with a Bachelor Degree in Education. She has 17 years of teaching experience in a bilingual elementary school in China. She has taught both English and Chinese for all grades in her school. Tina Lao Shi earned her International Chinese Language Teaching Certificate in Nan Jing. Recently she successfully finished a government Chinese training project in Berlitz Language Center in Costa Mesa. She loves to use her excellent teaching experience to help students with their Chinese skills
Alice Liao was born and raised in Taiwan, where she lived until high school. She attended California State University, Fullerton to earn her B. A. degree in the U.S. She has a solid background and spoken fluency in Modern Standard Chinese (putonghua) and has taught her own two children Chinese since the age of 3. Mrs. Liao is now in her 4th year at Karis Academy and has thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the dedicated and happy staff and of course the wonderful children and parents here. No two days in school are ever the same, and watching the children grow and flourish and become passionate about their leaning is a joy to be involved in. And finally, when she is not at school, she enjoys travelling, gardening and spending time with her family.
Molly (Yue) Fan earned a B.A. in Education and a B.A. in Economics from UCI, as well as a specialization in After School Learning and Development. Miss Fan is a native Chinese speaker who previously worked as a tutor and teacher for a Bilingual Mandarin immersion program in China. She has gained practical teaching experience through Mandarin Immersion teaching and volunteering to teach in disadvantaged regions in China. Miss Fan has taught at Karis Academy since 2016! She loves her students and has a strong passion to combine language learning with her native culture.
Soon Im Park
Soon Im Park attended Incheon Teacher’s College in Korea and was an elementary school teacher who taught for over 30 years. She also helped found a Korean International School in China. In the U.S., she has been teaching Korean-American children for over 4 years, constantly coming up with new ways to make learning fun and interesting for kids. Mrs. Park’s students love her warm and caring personality. Her experience teaching Korean ranges from beginning levels through advanced, including SAT II test prep.
Inhee Hwang has always enjoyed sharing Korean with non-native speakers. She obtained her M.A in Education of Korean Language and Literature at Sungkyunkwan University Graduate School of Education. Before she moved to California in 2017, she taught Korean to students from ages 10 to 60—from beginner to advanced—at a private academy in Seoul, South Korea. She also taught Korean to international students at a university in Seoul and worked as a career coach for elementary school students. Mrs. Hwang enjoys working with students of all ages!
Suzi Kim is an award-winning teacher with over 20 years of teaching students Korean, Japanese and English. She attended International Christian University High School and Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan majoring in international management. She returned to her native Korea to attend Seoul National University graduate school, majoring in linguistic anthropology with a focus on children’s second language acquisition and social adaptation in Kobe, Japan. While teaching at Tokyo Korean School she developed curriculum and published 4 textbooks in Korea and Japan. Her recent areas of interest and expertise include teaching Korean to children with multi-cultural backgrounds, developing Korean curriculum, and writing Korean language books for children. She has been recognized with awards from Yisunshin America Institute for her excellent Korean teaching plans and Korean School Association of America for her teaching materials. Suzi lives in Irvine with her husband and two young children.
Debbie De Santis
Debbie De Santis has a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in Social Ecology from UC Irvine. She has a Master’s Degree in English with a specialty in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Chapman University. Debbie has taught elementary school in Irvine Unified for over 35 years to students of diverse language and cultural backgrounds. She has extensive experience teaching limited and non-English speaking children speaking skills, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension skills, and all aspects of written language. In addition, her MA studies make her especially well qualified to teach English to adults. Debbie has experience teaching English to adults at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. Finally, Debbie is a singer who has sung with Orange Coast College Big Bands and at weddings and private parties. She likes to incorporate song and movement into her teaching to facilitate learning and make learning English fun!
Miss Jen has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, with an Emphasis on Professional Writing, and a Minor in Communication from California State University of Long Beach. She is also TEFL/TESOL Certified to teach English as a Second Language, with an Emphasis on Teaching Young Learners and Business English. Her teaching experience involves working with many students from all different cultural backgrounds, from Preschool to Business Adults. She is currently Teaching our ESL Summer Camp Program and the Curriculum Coordinator, as well as tutoring private English lessons at Karis Academy. Her educational expertise and passion for working with children have helped her serve as a guide to help young learners build more confidence and succeed in learning English.
Chi Le received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of California Los Angeles, where she gained valuable teaching experience administering health modules and tutoring to at-risk youth in Venice, CA through UCLA COPE and serving the youth of military families at the Rheindahlen Military Complex in Germany as a camp counselor. Her passion for the environment led her to rehabilitate hundreds of oiled and injured seabirds as a clinical intern, present her research on Harmful Algal Blooms at the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium, and WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) on sustainable farms in Italy and France. Chi is a certified yoga teacher, scuba diver, surfer, and lives zero waste as a way to align with her values on conservation. She wishes to inspire each and every student on the importance of Nature, global awareness, and overcoming challenges together. Her proudest moments are watching her younger sister graduate top of her class from MidWestern University and younger brother, Sean, compete on Masterchef Junior Season 2.
Laura has taught violin, viola, and piano in the Southern California area to over 100 young students. She began her music studies at age 5 with piano, and violin at age 11. She started teaching at two music studios after graduating from Chapman University in 2015. Laura received her Bachelors of Arts in Music with a minor in Integrated Educational Studies, and was under the instruction of William Fitzpatrick and Robert Becker. She also enjoyed performing violin seasonally as a part of Olaf’s Snowfest at Disney’s California Adventure from 2014-2016.
Chihiro Takebayashi is an education major at UC Irvine and has been dancing for 18 years (ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, modern, contemporary) and teaching for over 3 years. Her dance classes at Karis focus on hip hop for kids, but also incorporate contemporary dancing and ballet! Her focus is for children to expand their knowledge of movements through new dance moves, learning improv, and games that engage their mind by creating their own movements. Chihiro also tutors and teaches enrichment classes, and she enjoys working with children of all ages!