Senior Leadership Team

Mr. David Baird, 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.

Mr. Baird'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. Mr. Baird 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. He enjoys camping, sailing, and biking; being a husband, father, and grandfather; and fixing all manner of objects.

Dr. Tim Kaiser, Upper School Principal
Dr. Kaiser is originally from Canada and has been at CDNIS for 24 years. He taught English Literature, History, and Philosophy for a number of years before becoming Vice Principal and now Principal of the Upper School. Dr. 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, Dr. 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.

Dr. 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 and EdD from the University of Bristol.

Dr. 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, Dr. 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. He is currently working towards his EdD from Western University.

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 over 20 years of experience as an educator, administrator and leader of private-independent schools to her role as Lower School Principal. Prior to arriving in at CDNIS, Dr. Kelly served as an educator and senior leader in IB and British international schools in Egypt, Kuwait, Thailand and Germany. She has been an elementary principal for 13 years. 

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 Master’s in Education in 2010 and a Doctorate in Education in 2017 with a thesis entitled "International Schools as Emotional Arenas: facing the leadership challenges". Helen actively promotes educator and school leader wellbeing and delivers workshops and publishes articles on this subject. 

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. Helen presents at conferences around the region on the subject of future-ready learning.

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

An educator for over 20 years, Mr. MacPherson served as a classroom teacher at several international schools in the southern China region before moving into school administration. He has demonstrated himself as a leader in curricular development and committed to a student-centred, inquiry-driven approach to teaching and learning. Mr. MacPherson is a strong advocate for student well-being. He believes that a core purpose for educators is to establish a learning context that is positive, joyful and inspiring for children so they can become confident, self-driven learners. 

Mrs. Zoe Heggie, Lower School Vice Principal
An educator for over 20 years, Zoe Heggie (nee Jeynes) completed a BA in Modern Languages at Bath University and a PGCE in Primary Education at Warwick, before taking up her first teaching post at a small infant school in Bath, where she formed part of the Senior Management team.

A product of an international upbringing herself, itchy feet soon got the better of her and she left her homeland once again. She was appointed Early Years Coordinator (Pre-K to Grade 2) at the International School Moshi, Tanzania. It was there that she met her Australian husband and moved with him to Southern Queensland where she worked at schools in both Queensland and New South Wales, while juggling the demands of being a mother of two small children and completing her Master’s degree in Education.

Wanting their own children to experience the cultural diversity and richness of experience that being part of international communities affords, Mrs. Heggie and her husband later joined the International School of Manila, where she was the Programme Leader of the Early Childhood Learning Centre.

Since coming to Hong Kong in 2012, Zoe has held various teaching and leadership positions at ESF and CDNIS. She is driven by a desire to ensure that schools continue to look for all the best possible ways to provide a cutting edge global education for the next generation. As such, she feels very fortunate to be part of the dynamic and forward-thinking leadership team here at CDNIS.

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.

Mr. Peter W.H. Wong, Director of Business Administration
Mr. Wong has been in a leadership role for many years with extensive experience in leading projects focused on driving growth and operational efficiency. He was a former Partner in KPMG Hong Kong, where his roles included Sector Head of Education, and a member of KPMG’s Global Education Network. Mr. Wong has over 18 years of professional experience in leading a diverse range of engagements ranging from financial statement and special purpose audits, risk management, due diligence, financial modelling, people and change, and accounting advisory. He has over 10 years of education-sector related experience in supporting and working with a range of educational organisations which has enabled him to develop a strong understanding of the operations of international schools in Hong Kong. His leadership roles in the respective Education Committees of the British Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has also enabled him to develop a good overview of education related matters both locally in Hong Kong and beyond.

Originally from and educated in Scotland, Mr. Wong holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Studies. He is a Qualified Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and a Qualified Certified Public Accountant from the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.