Our Teachers

Wendy Lee, Ed.D., Academic 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.

Stephanie Cao, Administrative Director
Stephanie Cao has 10 years of experience in a variety of fields in diverse cultural settings and international affairs, from International Economics to Education. She obtained her MBA at James Cook University in Australia and BA at Nanjing University, China. Before pursuing graduate education, she earned the Certificate of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at Beijing Language University. Prior to joining Karis Academy, she worked as an education program consultant in China. After coming to the States, she taught language in an elementary school in Orange County. She is excited to apply her interpersonal and intercultural skills and passion for education in Karis.

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
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.

Linda Kuo
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.

Ying ( Tina ) Plummer
Ying Plummer 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 and has completed two Government Chinese Training Projects (2018, 2019) in Berlitz Language Center in Costa Mesa. She loves to use her excellent teaching experience to help students of all ages with their Chinese skills.

Alice Liao
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.  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 6th 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 learning is a joy to be involved in. When she is not at school, she enjoys travelling, gardening and spending time with her family.

Sissi Chen
Sissi Chen earned her Master’s Degree of Arts in Education Administration in 2013. In addition to 12 years of experience as a Preschool Teacher, including Language and Mathematics instruction, she also served as a Preschool Director for 8 years.  She supervised the daily activities of the teaching team, organized teacher training, and oversaw Mandarin instruction.  Sissi loves to use flexible and diverse teaching methods to help children feel relaxed and happy, while mastering the language knowledge they have learned.  The Key to Language Learning is Application – thus Sissi utilizes many games and real-life situations to help students better apply their new language skills.

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
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
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!