Elementary School Principal at Saigon South International School, HCMC in Vietnam
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Elementary School Principal
Saigon South International School, HCMC (Vietnam)

Sep 29, 21
Oct 24, 21



Elementary School Principal

Saigon South International School

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Application Deadline

October 24, 2021

Start Date

July 2022


*Please see this PDF for a more extensive job description







  • Considerable experience and successful track record of administrative leadership in a high-performing independent, international, or public school

  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice

  • Experience with developmentally appropriate teaching and assessment practices

  • Ability to foster an optimal learning environment that nurtures the development of foundational skills and supports language learners

  • Ability to guide and foster collaboration between homeroom and learning support teacher to address students’ instructional and socio-emotional needs

  • Deep understanding of play-based and inquiry-based pedagogy 

  • Ability to establish culturally responsive practices

  • Ability to build relationships with parents, teachers, students, staff supporting a culture of trust and open communication

  • Excellent organizational skills with a record of implementation success

  • Ability to identify and act on issues of importance: proactive, not reactive

  • Insight to identify and plan for strategic initiatives for the elementary school

  • Data-driven decision-making

  • Ability to implement policies and protocols effectively

  • Successful teaching experience at the elementary school level

  • Graduate study at the master’s level or beyond


  • Intelligence and warmth

  • Well-developed interpersonal skills

  • Honesty and integrity

  • Flexibility and a growth mindset

  • Approachable and caring

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills


Start Date: July 2022

Application Deadline: October 16, 2021

Please submit your application to odao@ssis.edu.vn

Applicants are requested to send the following documents by October 16, 2021 (interviews will be conducted via Zoom).

  • A letter of application, no longer than two pages, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in this particular position.

  • A current resume.

  • A list of references of immediate supervisors, including current email addresses and phone numbers. 


One of the three largest international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon South International School (SSIS) stands out as a leading school in terms of its university placement, innovative programs, well-trained international faculty members, and the commitment to knowing and supporting all students. A competitive admissions process and English-language expectations also distinguish the School in terms of academic performance. 

The only K-12 international school run as a not-for-profit entity in the city, SSIS opened its doors in 1997. Created to be “a community school” for the newly established area of Phu My Hung in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City, the school has enjoyed great success from the start and grown exponentially over the past 24 years. Today, Early Childhood through Grade 12, consists of approximately 1200 students, and plans are to grow to 1800 over the next decade. 


The mission and founding Core Values of SSIS reflect the clear intentionality of the founders, and the School remains true to its original focus today:

Mission: SSIS is a college preparatory school committed to the intellectual and personal development of each student in preparation for a purposeful life as a global citizen.

Core Values: Academic Excellence, Sense of Self, Respect for All, Balance in Life, and Dedicated Service.

Our Core Values have always been tied to the growth of character and balance, and it is important that each child thrives. Going forward, SSIS is embracing the tenets of positive psychology as integral to the student experience. This dual focus—on academic and personal development—distinguishes SSIS from its peer schools.


Dr. Catriona Moran, Head of School, has just started her fourth year at the School, and there is unanimous excitement about her leadership and influence on SSIS. Her infectious enthusiasm, tireless commitment, and wise stewardship of the School are acknowledged as important influencers for the future of SSIS. 

The new elementary school principal at SSIS will join a Senior Leadership Team composed of the three school principals, three assistant principals, the associate head of school for teaching and learning, the associate head of school for finance and operations, the director of admissions, marketing, and communications, the director of activities and community outreach, and the technology director. A subset of the overall leadership team also meets regularly to direct the School’s academic leadership. The new elementary school principal will be an integral part of that team.


The School operates as a not-for-profit proprietary school owned by the Phu My Hung Corporation. All revenue generated by the School is invested solely in the School, and all decision-making is filtered through the lens of the mission and core values.

Exciting plans for facilities upgrades and expansion are in place and include a new middle school facility, new arts classrooms, a new STEM center, and other upgrades. 



There is widespread acknowledgment of the quality of the faculty: “dedicated, hard-working, intelligent, experienced, qualified, passionate, and challenging.” Recognized for their support of students, parents also appreciate the generous amount of time teachers devote to individual students.

All of the faculty either coach or lead club activities after school, so students have the chance to see faculty members in a variety of settings. 

Faculty members appreciate the “inclusive” working environment at SSIS and appreciate working in a school that wants to “renovate, innovate, and grow.” Professional development grants are generous and faculty make the most of the opportunities.

Of our increasingly diverse full-time faculty and administrators, 71% are North American. European, Asian, and African backgrounds are represented, as well. Over 72% of the faculty hold advanced degrees.


Students at SSIS care about the world and strive to make an impact through their daily actions; they know that their voice and contribution matter. Their teachers describe them as inquisitive and empathetic.

Parents often express that their children experience a strong sense of belonging in our elementary school. They highlight the welcoming, and supportive environment and the “wonderful community,” and teachers that are patient, kind, encouraging, and respectful.

The student body is Vietnamese, Korean, North American, and Chinese, including other Asian and European nationalities and Australian/New Zealanders.


The Elementary School program, and school year, are designed around four units of study, called ‘Super Units.’ The units are planned, taught, and assessed using a project-based learning approach and structured inquiry to support students in making connections between the core subject areas. The four Super Units are:

  • Understanding Ourselves: Achieving my Goals in Life

  • Understanding Others: Serving the Needs of Humanity

  • Understanding our Environment: Sharing the Resources of our Planet

  • Understanding our World: Managing the Complexity of Systems

For unit-planning purposes, the elementary school uses American standards as guides for subject area units: Common Core (Language Arts and Mathematics), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and AERO (Social Studies).

Active engagement in our Super Units is a high priority for our Elementary School. Connecting to our community within the gates and beyond provides valuable learning opportunities for our students. Students may be learning from a guest speaker, on a field trip, or meeting their High School buddies to connect throughout the elementary school campus. They engage in various events on campus that involve other divisions, such as a TOK exhibition or the annual Space Conference for Grade 5 students. Engaging within SSIS and the larger community makes learning come alive.


The Early Childhood program holds student agency, play, creativity, interest, and social-emotional development at the core of its delivery. The central method of understanding and how teachers guide students through their learning is based on the five developmental domains. They are:

  • Approaches to Play and Learning

  • Cognitive Knowledge and Development

  • Communication, Language, and Literacy

  • Physical Development and Motor Skills

  • Social and Emotional Development


Teachers collect anecdotal evidence, observations, various summative and formative assessments, data, and collaborative information throughout the learning year that guides the curriculum. The developmental domains and standards are woven into the four Super Units with daily/weekly/monthly student interests and used as a springboard for the child’s daily learning. Students’ day flows from indoor to outdoor learning and focuses on high-interest experiments or provocations that combine multiple developmental domains. Teachers mold the students’ future learning experiences by observing, guiding, and supporting their interests. Maximizing the child’s agency and excitement to learn through play is the top priority. 


Our Learning Support team’s focus is academic. Learning support teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to develop a plan for student support guided by a detailed referral process. They collaborate with classroom teachers and deliver small group instruction in an inclusive setting. Additionally, they work one-on-one or in small groups with students who need further academic support in a pull-out session. 

Our ES EAL team’s focus is academic language acquisition and development, with the goal of equitable access to the curriculum. There is a designated EAL teacher for G1-5, led by the ES EAL Coordinator.

Collaboration by all these teams is constantly visible. Both Learning Support & English As an Additional Language teachers’ schedules are flexible and built based on support needs. 


The Wellness Program is based on Positive Psychology (PERMAH) and incorporates education and practical application for teachers, students, and parents.  In the homeroom, there is an emphasis on students forming positive and meaningful relationships with their peers and teachers. Students learn about making good decisions, managing their emotions, and the benefits of having a growth mindset. Lessons are taught focusing on health and well-being concepts that provide students with both understanding and practical knowledge. 


Overall we have a rich community of specialist teachers who inspire, energize, uplift, encourage, celebrate, and support the holistic child. Each specialist teacher works closely with the homeroom teams to integrate within the Super Units, which results in deep, authentic learning and exploration. Student art is displayed prominently throughout the school as a visual representation of student learning and artistic expression. There is a constant buzz of creativity within our specialist classrooms, whether on the stage, in the pool, or on a canvas.

As an international school, it is important to celebrate our multicultural learners, one of the ways we do this is by celebrating multilingual abilities starting in Kindergarten. Our grade-level teaching assistants are led by our two Vietnamese instructors to provide lessons throughout the student’s elementary career. 


SSIS has been designated the only Apple Distinguished School in Vietnam and technology plays a vital role in our elementary school facilitating innovative learning experiences for our students and enhancing the workflow and productivity of our faculty.

Our youngest learners build foundational computational thinking skills using hands-on, screen-free robots and from Grade 1 with their own iPad. From Grade 4 students expand their knowledge with Mac laptops allowing them to take their creativity to the next level. In our Spark Lab and Makerspaces students can design, code, and build with a combination of recycled materials, natural materials, and electronic components and are a hive of activity during recess times and after school.  


As with all of SSIS, the ES division has seen a growth in enrollment in all its enrichment learning programs, and an increase in staffing. While the ES division embraces its growing population, it seeks to continue to foster a nurturing and inclusive environment for learning. It aims to further extend opportunities for students to create, innovate, discover and explore while reveling in the joy of childhood.  

The challenges brought forth by the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented transition from classroom to virtual learning have created a unique opportunity for curricular changes that promote student autonomy and student agency. 

Areas outlined for improvement are more after-school activities, more sports, increased student leadership opportunities, and a greater focus on inclusiveness and respect among students. 

The successful candidate and new SSIS elementary school principal will have the combination of skills, experience, and successful track record to effectively lead the elementary school through the next growth and development period.


Located just south of Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown area in District 7, SSIS sits in a model community planned and built by the Phu My Hung Corporation and known as the “greenest” section in all of Ho Chi Minh City. Most of our classrooms and offices either look out over our lush 6-hectare or a tributary of the Saigon River which runs alongside our grounds. District 7 was planned so that residents can walk, ride a bike, or use a scooter and be within 10 minutes of all-important services, including green spaces for relaxation and exercise. 

For those that enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big city, the downtown area is approximately 20 minutes away by car. The most populous city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is the vibrant, energetic home of over 8 million people. It is considered the financial center of Vietnam. Also, the most visited city in Vietnam, welcoming over 7 million visitors a year, it is easily accessible from the larger cities around Asia making it a great travel hub. When welcoming guests, the four-hour Vespa food tour is not to be missed! The climate in Ho Chi Minh City is defined as tropical, and the average humidity hovers around 78-82%.

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Dr. Barry Drake has over 40 years' experience in administration and teaching in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South East and East Asia.