Senior Leadership Team

Mr. David Baird, Interim Head of School
Mr. Baird is an experienced academic leader with over 30 years of experience, with the majority of his career spent in international schools in Africa, Canada, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. He has served as Head of School at Prem Tinsulanonda International School and President of the Traidhos Three-Generation Community for Learning in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Principal of Maple Leaf International School in Dalian, China; the founding Director of Coast Mountain Academy in British Columbia; and the Senior Principal and Interim Head of School at the United Nations School (UNIS) Hanoi, Vietnam. As a Council of International Schools (CIS) team leader for numerous schools, he has first-hand experience in accrediting schools for CIS and IB certification.

David's formative years as a teacher were spent in Haida Gwai on Canada's west coast, and at Lester B. Pearson United World College (UWC) in Canada, and Waterford Kamhlaba UWC in Swaziland where he taught IB Chemistry, Environmental Systems, and Biology as well as being a House fellow, with his wife Marie, to 40 UWC IB scholars each year. Well-versed in the IB curriculum, he is also thoroughly acquainted with the Ontario secondary curriculum, having designed an outdoor and environmental centre to service over 100 schools with the Carleton Board of Education.

Mr. Baird is passionate about education and has spent much of his working life helping to further global understanding and internationalism. David holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration as well as postgraduate training at Harvard and Columbia universities. He loves designing, building schools and renovating homes and educational spaces. David enjoys camping, sailing, and biking; being a husband, father, and grandfather; and fixing all manner of objects.

Mr. Tim Kaiser, Upper School Principal
Mr. Kaiser is originally from Canada and has been at CDNIS for 22 years. He taught English Literature, History, and Philosophy for a number of years before becoming Vice Principal and now Principal of the Upper School. Mr. Kaiser is proud of the fact that he has seen every single graduate from CDNIS receive their diploma since the first graduating class in 2009. He constantly marvels at the dedication, drive and generosity of spirit that characterises CDNIS students, both past and present. As Principal of the Upper School, Mr. Kaiser is responsible for staff and student recruitment, for ensuring that both IB and OSSD standards are met, and in general for maintaining the standards of excellence and inventiveness for which the CDNIS Upper School is increasingly known, both within Hong Kong and the region.

Mr. Kaiser has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Arts from the University of Hong Kong, and a Master of Education from the University of Bristol. He is currently working on his EdD from the University of Bristol.

Mr. Kaiser is also an accomplished writer. One of his stories based on his experience teaching in northern Canada won a Canadian national short story competition and is now part of the syllabus in secondary English programmes in Sweden and Denmark. His short stories and poems have been published in 11 countries. In addition, Mr. Kaiser's poems are taught at HKU and CUHK and are included in the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide for HK secondary students.

Ms. Barbara Dacho, Upper School Vice Principal of Student Life and Leadership
Ms. Dacho began her career in Ontario where she spent 15 years teaching Humanities and Science to Grade 7 and 8 students. In 2005, she and her husband moved to Hong Kong and started a new life at CDNIS.  

Prior to becoming a Vice Principal in the Upper School, Ms. Dacho taught various Humanities subjects to students in Grades 7 to 12. She is OSSD, DP and MYP qualified. A Geography Major, Ms. Dacho was a DP Geography teacher for five years as well as a teacher of MYP Humanities. She was also involved in other student based activities including coaching volleyball and badminton, as well as being the teacher supervisor for the Upper School Environment Club and being a teacher advisor for the Upper School Student Council (USSC).

Ms. Dacho gained extensive leadership experience in her role as the Head of Department for Humanities. She is and has been actively involved with the implementation and development of many programmes at CDNIS including Experience Week, the Student Advisory Programme, the Sexual Health Education Programme and student group programmes (excluding athletics). Throughout her time at the school, she continues to be involved in several committees such as the Laptop Implementation Committee, the Information Literacy Committee (Chair), the SEED committee, the Parent Liaison Committee, and the Uniform Committee to name a few.

Mr. David Butler, Upper School Vice Principal of Academics

Mr. Butler is originally from Ontario Canada, where he worked in both the Durham and York Region District School Boards before beginning his overseas adventure. During his 13 years at Dhahran High School in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Butler served as a History teacher, department head, and six years as High School Assistant Principal, where he helped lead the school as it adopted the IB Diploma Programme.

Mr. Butler is a graduate of Queen’s University where he received both his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Bachelor of Education degrees. Prior to beginning his teaching career, he graduated with a Master of Philosophy degree in European History from the University of Cambridge and has since completed a second Master's degree in Educational Leadership through Western University in Ontario. He also holds his Principal's Qualifications from the Ontario College of Teachers.  

Since joining CDNIS in January 2016, Mr. Butler’s responsibilities have centred on supporting the teaching of Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) courses within the frameworks of the IB Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. He has also taught Theory of Knowledge, performed in the school musical, and continues to advise the Junior Model United Nations club.

Mr. Butler strives to lead through integrity, transparency, and collaboration. He is thrilled to be part of the CDNIS community and to do his part to provide students with an academically rigorous education infused with the joy of learning.

Dr. Helen Kelly, Lower School Principal
Dr. Helen Kelly brings 20 years of experience as an educator, administrator and leader of private-independent schools on three continents to her role as Lower School Principal. Dr. Kelly has served as an educator and senior leader in IB and British international schools, most recently serving as Primary Principal of Berlin International School and Head of Upper Primary at St. Andrews International School, Bangkok, Thailand.

Throughout her career, Dr. Kelly has been committed to the development of the whole-child and fostering a lifelong love of learning. She is a strong proponent of inquiry based learning and providing students with opportunities to find and pursue their passions.

Dr. Kelly is well versed in curriculum alignment and teaching and learning across primary and secondary school and has led IB, CIS/NEASC and BSO reaccreditation visits in previous schools. 

Helen was awarded her  Masters in Educational Leadership in 2010 and a Doctorate in Education in 2017 with a thesis entitled "International Schools as Emotional Arenas: facing the leadership challenges".

Since arriving at CDNIS in 2016, Dr. Kelly has led Project Innovate, working with teams from across the school to provide future-ready learning for students and forging links with innovative schools around the world.

Mr. DJ MacPherson, Lower School Vice Principal
A Canadian citizen from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Mr. MacPherson holds a Bachelor of Arts (History) degree from St. Francis Xavier University, a Bachelor of Education degree from Brock University, a Master of Arts (History) degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Master of Education degree (Curriculum Studies) from the University of Western Ontario.

An educator for almost 20 years, Mr. MacPherson served as a classroom teacher at several international schools in the southern China region. He has demonstrated himself as a leader in curricular development within the PYP framework. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and has proven himself to be innovative in the use of technology in driving teaching and learning. 

Mr. MacPherson is passionate about student well-being and is committed to the holistic development of the child.

Mr. Rob Grantham, Lower School Vice Principal
An educator for 25 years, Mr. Grantham began his career as a classroom teacher in Grades 3 to 8, teaching in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. His administrative leadership career began in 2005, and together with his family he came to CDNIS in 2010. After a two-year term as Lower School Guidance Counsellor and a brief return to BC during which he served as a high school Vice Principal, they returned to CDNIS in 2014, and since the Fall of 2015 Mr Grantham has been a Vice Principal (Grades 1-3) in our Lower School.

An avid outdoorsman, Rob majored in Environmental Biology (and hiking) at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he obtained his B.A. prior to obtaining teacher certification from Simon Fraser University. He holds a Masters’ degree in Educational Leadership from City University. At the core of Rob's passion for education is cultivating a positive learning culture throughout the school that supports all students to thrive and develop academically, socially and emotionally, encourages staff to grow and develop as educators, and engages parents in their kids' learning. His wife is an Upper School Guidance counselor at CDNIS, and their two children are attending university in Canada. 

Ms. Lisa Kipfer, Lower School Vice Principal
Ms. Kipfer joined CDNIS after serving as the Elementary School Director of Instruction at Quality Schools International (QSI) International School in Shenzhen, China for the past five years. During her eight-year stint at QSI, Lisa served in a variety of other leadership roles including Grade Level Leader and Principal of the Early Childhood Centre. She also coached numerous student basketball and track and field teams.

Currently working on her Doctorate in Education (Ed.D), Lisa graduated from Ball State University, where she was also a member of the Track & Field Team, with a B.S., Education, majoring in Elementary Education, minoring in Math. She earned her administrator certifications in the United States and has a strong background in leading developmentally appropriate inquiry-based curriculum development and implementation in elementary classrooms. Lisa also speaks English, Spanish (basic) and Mandarin.

Ms. Penny Pan, Director of Chinese Studies
Ms. Pan holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Australia and a Masters Degree of Curriculum and Teaching from the United States. For more than 20 years, Ms. Pan has taught Chinese in international schools in Australia, China and Hong Kong, and has worked with international students from K-12 within IB, AP, British, Canadian and Australian curriculum frameworks.

Ms. Pan also served as curriculum coordinator for Utahloy International School of Guangzhou, Hong Kong Academy and Hong Kong International School before she joined CDNIS as Director of Chinese Studies. Her key tasks as the leader of the school’s Chinese programme are teacher professional development, curriculum design and alignments, teaching strategies and teaching as leadership.

Ms. Pan has organized several Chinese language conferences and was invited by CIS/WASC to serve on the accreditation team as the Chinese expert.