Renee Gian

Director of Admissions and Marketing
The Western International School of Shanghai

Like many admissions professionals, my journey into this field was unplanned. Thinking back to my childhood, my life now would have been unimaginable. I could have never predicted the places my life has taken me and the amazing opportunities I’ve had. I studied Education and French at Canisius College, and began my career teaching in Buffalo, NY. But my fondness for travel soon led me to international education and Egypt. I fell in love with Egypt’s complexity and warmth. Giving birth and raising my son there gave me roots and allowed me to say, “Anna masreya.”

When my son grew, he attended a large international school in Cairo. After many years of teaching there, I was given the opportunity to work in admissions. As both a parent and a teacher, a foreigner and a local, I was able to share insights and act as a bridge for many families who, for various reasons, were also between two (or more) cultures. I knew the school from many facets and took great pride in helping families find a good fit for their child’s education. I also discovered just how much I like working in admissions.

Making connections and having meaningful conversations with people from all over the world is interesting and fun. Because I’m a teacher first, I value education and enjoy talking about it. Helping people understand differences in curricula so they are confident in choosing a school is very satisfying. Another delightful part of admissions work is being a cheerleader. I work with wonderful, dedicated educators who have the privilege of educating incredibly bright and talented students from all over the world. I get to share all of their accomplishments, projects, and programs with prospective families and the community.

At this point in my career, it’s also very important to me to work in a school whose vision and mission matches my core values. So, I’m very excited to be the new Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Western International School of Shanghai. WISS, like Shanghai, is dynamic and culturally diverse. I’m thrilled to be part of this unique and caring community, especially during this very exciting time of growth in the school’s history. I have no idea where this new opportunity will lead and that’s what makes it so appealing because the unplanned journey is what led me here in the first place. And it’s what has taught me to “keep some room in my heart for the unimaginable”. (Mary Oliver, poet)


Mona Stuart

Communications and Admissions Consultant
Turntable & Co

I began my teaching career as a middle and high school English instructor in Canada, Germany and Switzerland in public, international and boarding schools. This foundation in teaching and learning has been invaluable to my work in Admissions and has helped me understand with empathy the impact of placing new students in a learning setting.

I then worked as a College Counselor for one year, before my kids came along. After that, I took on more flexible options. I worked as a full-time Dormitory Head at Leysin American School in Switzerland for 3 years, with 127 high school girls and ten teaching supervisors under my care (and in my very big house, the Beau Site!). This gave me the inside scoop about the holistic needs of kids and how school and home must support each other. I learned what it meant to be in locus parentis, and this job became my training ground for having hard and meaningful conversations with parents who were trying to understand a decision a Swiss school was making for their child while the parents were in Alaska or Jeddah or Lagos.

When we moved to the U.S. for my husband’s doctoral studies, I became a certified grant writer, and eventually owned my own grant writing and communications consulting business called GrantWise. It was a great opportunity to work with educational non-profits, universities and schools, telling their stories and matching their visions with people who believed in what they were doing. Kind of like admissions.

Prior to Singapore, we lived in Jakarta. I loved working there as the Director of Communications at Jakarta Intercultural School, which also gave me lots of exposure to Admissions communications and materials, and allowed me to work on the school’s Transition Program Team. The insight into communications and schoolwide leadership were a great set-up for my role at Singapore American School where I served as the Director of Admissions for 5 years.

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