Educational Leadership Team


Julie Lawton - Head of School

Julie is originally from Yorkshire, in the North of England. She gained her BA in German, Spanish, and Business Studies in 1988 in the UK. She then went on to study for her Post Graduate Certificate of Education (Primary) and her TEFL/TESOL Diploma.

Julie's first teaching position was for two years as a Grade 2 homeroom teacher in a small school in her hometown. She then chose to head overseas and worked as a Grade 3 homeroom teacher for two years in Kuwait. She moved to Beijing and joined an international school in 1996 where she held a variety of positions, including G3, G4, and G5 homeroom teacher, G1-6 ESOL teacher, Primary Years Programme (PYP) Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Lower School Principal.

Julie was delighted to join BCIS as the founding Elementary Principal in August 2005, a position that she held for 13 years. She also held the role of Deputy Head of School and became the Head of School at BCIS in 2018. BCIS continues to grow, develop, innovate, and care for all students and adults in its community, and she is delighted to continue on this journey with the BCIS family.

Julie has worked closely with the International Baccalaureate for many years, has benefited from a variety of professional development opportunities, both inside and outside BCIS, and is a committed life-long learner.

In 2014, Julie was honored to receive the ‘Great Wall Friendship Award’ by Beijing Municipal Goverment, which is awarded to foreigners who have made a significant contribution to China.

Julie has three children, Jack, Finn, and Molly. Jack graduated from BCIS in 2016; Finn graduated from BCIS in 2018; and Molly graduated from BCIS in 2019.

Debra Cota - Early Childhood Center Principal

Debra was born in Minnesota, United States of America. Debra has spent her life surrounded by children, being one of eight siblings. She graduated from Saint Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She has taught Grades 2, 5, and 6 in Minnesota and Texas. When Debra had her own children, she realized the early years was her specialty. She opened her own preschool program in Minnesota and ran that until she and her family moved to Ankara, Turkey. She learned the PYP, specifically PYP in the Early Years, while teaching in Turkey.

Debra is now at BCIS after spending nine years in Santiago, Chile where she was a kindergarten teacher and, most recently, Principal of the Early Years School for the past four years. She is very excited to share her passion and experiences of working with young learners with the BCIS community.

Debra loves to travel, cook, read, laugh, as well as participate in various types of exercise. She is happy to be a part of the BCIS community and welcomes anyone to stop and introduce himself or herself to her as she believes in building connections with people around her.

Sally Richmond - Elementary School Principal

Sally comes from England and gained her Bachelor of Arts in Education and English Literature at the University of Winchester. She has taught in the UK, Kuwait, and most recently here in Beijing at BCIS. This is the eighteenth year that Sally has worked overseas. She has thoroughly enjoyed the challenges she has faced when working with children for whom English is a second language, while also working with native speakers. She has completed a tutors' course entitled, "ESL in the Mainstream for the Early Learner," which allows her to train other teachers. She enjoys working with colleagues from around the world and also with children from many different nationalities. This year, she has taken on the role of Elementary School Principal.

When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and her children, Jacob and Annabel, who both attend BCIS. She has a number of interests and enjoys reading, photography, and trying out different types of exercise. She is an active participant in the Beijing International Triathlon and has helped encourage many of her colleagues to join in on the fun too!

Mark Sullivan - Secondary School Principal

Mark was born in California and soon after moved with his parents to Egypt. A product of international education, he graduated high school from Cairo American College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the American University in Cairo, a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University, and a Certificate of International School Leadership from the Principal's Training Center.

Before BCIS, Mark was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he was the High School Principal at the American International School of Jeddah. He has a rich background as an Arts Coordinator, Activities Director, Assistant Principal, and is an experienced Principal. Mark is a strong proponent of experiential learning and student voice and is committed to empowering students, faculty, staff, and parents to further the school’s mission.

Phil Clark - Director of Communications

Phil is originally from the UK where he gained his Bachelor of Education (Honours) degree from the University of Lancaster and later gained his Master of Education degree from the University of Sheffield. He also holds a Certificate in Educational Leadership from the Principal’s Training Center.

Phil is passionate about the power of education to inspire others to make a positive impact. He has wide ranging experience in international education as a teacher and has held a variety of leadership roles. He has worked in schools in the UK, Turkey, Kuwait, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Phil is also a consultant, workshop leader and visiting team leader for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Originally joining BCIS from 2009-2012 as Middle School Principal, Phil was delighted to return to the BCIS community in August 2019 as Director of Communications. When not working, Phil enjoys running, walking the dog, reading and listening to music.

Amanda Zhang - Director of Operations

Amanda graduated from the University of Wollongong, Australia, where she received her Master of Strategic Human Resource Management.

She possesses more than 20 years of work experience in the Human Resource and administrative fields, having worked at various multinational companies in the Automotive, Optoelectronics, Investment, and Government areas. Before she joined BCIS, she was the Senior Human Resource and Admin Manager of IEE China, being responsible for HR, Administration, PR, PM, and other departments for the Asia region. She also has rich cross culture management experience and was a part-time internal trainer.

She is passionate about leadership, personality assessments, and strategic thinking development. She has dedicated herself to properly lead and coach teams, as well as emphasize cross-function communication. She has acquired SPA Certification (Sales Performance Assessment), Soft Skill Trainer Certification (TFT from Schouten), MBTI Step I and Step II Certifications, and China Human Resources Professionals Designation (CHRP LEVEL 1).

Wang Yan - Chinese Director

Wang Yan serves as the Chinese Director at Beijing City International School (BCIS), and has been in this role since June 2016. Her previous roles at YueCheng Education since August 2010 include Executive Director at the YueCheng Educational Innovation Center (YEIC), and Executive Dean at the YueCheng Education Research Institute (YERI).

Before she Joined YERI and BCIS, Wang Yan worked at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) as School Affairs Director for 11 years, worked at China Office, World Bank as Administrative Officer for 7 years, worked at Ministry of Education, P.R. China as Senior Officer for 2 years.

Wang Yan received two master degrees (Med and MA), one in Educational Administration and the other one in Higher Education from Teachers College Columbia University. Before she studied in NYC USA, she studied at Guangxi Normal University locating at Guilin Guangxi.

Wang Yan is an active advocator for creatively and authentically implementing the Chinese national curriculum in an internationalized way. She promotes Differentiation (Personalized Learning), Professional Learning Community (PLC), Cognitive Coaching and other advanced educational theories and practices through conducting PD workshops for national as well as international educators here in China. She is an expert in school accreditation.

Deputy Principals

Lucila Zornosa-Sanchez - Early Childhood Center Deputy Principal, PYP Coordinator

Lucila is originally from Bogota, Colombia. She spent her early years in Colombia and moved to the United States at age 17. She speaks Spanish, English, and she is always interested in learning more languages. She moved to Beijing with her husband Ilich, who is also a teacher at BCIS. Outside of work, she enjoys dancing, traveling, exercising and kite surfing.

Lucila graduated with honors from Texas Wesleyan University in 2008 with a Major in Bilingual Education in Early Childhood through Grade 4 and a Minor in Spanish. She then obtained a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction Design with emphasis on Mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington. She has been in the teaching field for 16 years and has had the opportunity to work in public, private, and international schools around the world since 2008.

Lucila joined BCIS in 2014 and has been part of the Early Childhood Center since it was open. She has enjoyed seeing the fantastic journey and development our ECC has gone through the past few years and looks forward to continuing to provide a safe, playful, and loving environment for children at BCIS.

Yooah Nguyen - Elementary School Deputy Principal, PYP Coordinator

Yooah, born in Seoul, Korea, grew up in New York City and Montreal, Canada. She majored in Social Sciences at Marianopolis College and earned her undergraduate degree at McGill University in K-6 Elementary Education. As a multicultural family, they’ve always wanted to move internationally. So, after teaching in Canada for a few years, she made her way over to Beijing in 2008 with her husband, Dave Nguyen, who works in the Secondary School. They were lucky to have two daughters, Sidney and Avery, both born and raised in China.

Yooah has been a homeroom teacher in Grades 3 and 4, the Social Studies and Science Team Leader, and a Grade Level Team Leader. She has been at BCIS for the past 10 years. She is excited to have taken on the role of Elementary School Deputy Principal and PYP Coordinator. She is a strong believer that students learn best through inquiry and by giving them a voice, they have ownership over their learning.

Yooah speaks Korean, English, and is loving learning Chinese. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike, playing badminton, reading, and traveling to experience new parts of the world. She loves the city of Beijing and feels very fortunate to be a part of the BCIS community.

Donald Caldwell - Secondary School Deputy Principal

Donald was born in Providence, Rhode Island but grew up mainly in Canada. He studied a Bachelor of Information Systems and a Bachelor of Business Management at Saint Francis Xavier University before moving on to study a Bachelor of Secondary Education at the University of Maine and a Master’s in Educational Leadership at the American College of Education. He is also currently completing courses at the Principal Training Centre.

Donald has lived and worked in Venezuela, South Korea, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates before coming to Beijing. He is here with his wife Dina who teaches Business and TOK in the Secondary and their daughter Ava who will be attending the ECC in the Toddler class. Donald has taught both in the MYP and DP, has been a Technology Director and DP Coordinator. He also participates on CIS Accreditation Visits and is a DP World Examiner.

Donald loves to play, coach and watch all kinds of sports with hockey, baseball, tennis and American football being his favorite. He loves to travel with his family and has been to more than 60 countries. His philosophy on teaching and leading stems from coaching with relationships and timely feedback being a main focus for growth.

Darren Skov - Director of Athletics and Activities

Born in Canada, Darren grew up in Adelaide, Australia where he completed a Diploma of Teaching and a Bachelor of Education. During his career in Australia, he taught in a variety of school settings, from a small area school in the middle of Kakadu National Park to large, prestigious private schools in Perth. His classroom experience has ranged from Grades 1 through 12, mostly teaching Physical Education and English.

August 2005 saw the start of his adventures in China in Fujian Province. He moved to Guangzhou and the International Elementary Program at Clifford School in July 2006. It was there he gained his first insights into international education and through conversation with friends became interested in the IB.

Darren loves living in China and the myriad opportunities on offer, but dearly misses his beloved ocean activities. Before leaving Australia, he always felt happiest in the wide open, deep blue sea.

Darren with his wife Andy and son Cail enjoy the close and supportive BCIS community.