Head of School's Welcome

Head of School Green Shoots International School
Welcome to Green Shoots International School, located in the heart of the beautiful, historic coastal town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam. Green Shoots is a vibrant, engaged international community made up of families and teachers of multiple nationalities. This rich diversity provides a unique and exciting learning environment for every child.

We provide an educational experience of the highest possible academic standards, rooted in values that prepare students to thrive personally, and contribute meaningfully, to whichever aspect of our global society they chose to join. We are committed to meeting the needs of the whole child and to providing them with opportunities to connect with their studies, their classmates and the broader world around them.

Effective education involves a partnership and an alignment between the school and the home. We welcome parental involvement in school life and have a friendly and committed Parent Network Group that provides an introduction for newly-arrived families, and serves as an ongoing bridge between the goals of the school and the community. We strive to ensure that our channels of communication are clearly articulated and convey timely information about your child’s learning and well-being.

I invite you to explore this page further to learn more about who we are, and how the vision, resolve and perseverance of the Green Shoots founders, Catherine and Sue, has brought Green Shoots to where it is today.  It is our intention to continue to grow and adapt to a changing world whilst we maintain the school’s core values and academic standards. It is our priority that students’ continue to develop a sense of social responsibility as we plan for sustainable organizational growth.

I welcome you to our Green Shoots community and look forward to the exciting year of learning ahead of us!

Warm Regards,

Rick Elya, Head of School

For more information, please read further on the website
For enrollment inquiries, please contact Sue: admissions@greenshoots.edu.vn
To continue the conversation, please email me: r.elya@greenshoots.edu.vn


Guiding Statements

Our Vision and Values


Green Shoots Values Tree
Green Shoots International School students are passionate, independent, lifelong learners who strive for personal best and are responsible global citizens. Ours is an inspirational learning community that fosters happy, mindful and creative thinkers committed to the sustainable development of our world.

The Green Shoots Core Values underpin individual qualities that will equip our students for the continually changing contexts of their lives. Opportunities to learn, experience and practice these are developed at an age-appropriate level and are celebrated in assemblies where we acknowledge these positive attributes in daily life on our campus.

Our Values Tree shows how seven of our core values feed into and sustain the eighth. We teach our students to be adaptable, tenacious, independent, thoughtful, and cooperative. We help them to understand the value of living sustainably and with integrity. Through these values, we remind them of the importance of respect: for themselves, for others, and for the world we live in.

Our values provide a foundation upon which each child can mature, growing over time like the branches of a tree. How each child lives these values depends on who they are and how old they are, and for this reason Green Shoots’ values are translated into action in different ways in our kindergarten, primary and secondary classes.


Advisory BoardStrategic Plan

The Green Shoots International School Board is a proprietary board of advisors and is the guardian of the school’s vision and values. Its purpose is to provide the school’s owner and Head of School with sound advice upon which decisions impacting our long-term development can be made.

The Board meets throughout the school year to consider issues such as Green Shoots’ standards of service provision, finances, facilities development, strategic planning, major policy changes, and governance. Its members offer their substantial expertise in the areas of educational leadership, financial management, and property development to ensure that Green Shoots grows steadily and sustainably, ensuring continuity for the families enrolled with us.

The Board is not a management board and is not responsible for day-to-day management of the school. This duty is held by the Head of School, who is recruited by the Board.

A brief biography of each Board member is given below.

Mike Johnston

Education Advisor

David King

Financial Advisor

Simon Craig

Property Development Advisor


Green Shoots develops a Strategic Plan every three years to guide our growth and define our priorities. Our current plan covers the years from 2017-18 to 2019-20 and focuses on five core areas of development. The key points in each area are given below. For a more detailed explanation of our current strategy, please download our full Strategic Plan here.   

Leadership and Governance

Our pledge to you

We will raise leadership standards and improve accountability to stakeholders through greater transparency

Specifically, we will

  • Appoint and develop school leaders who are sufficiently empowered and professionally prepared to meet the needs of our growing school
  • Improve communication to offer appropriate levels of access to information and decision-making processes

Teaching and Learning

Our pledge to you

We will continuously improve our Teaching and Learning programmes to meet the needs of our growing community

Specifically, we will

  • Ensure that Green Shoots’ taught curriculum, extra curricular and other learning opportunities are relevant, innovative, and meet the long-term needs of our student body
  • Continuously develop our staff capacities through new hires, leadership oversight, and professional development, to ensure that Teaching and Learning is of the highest possible quality throughout the school
  • Sufficiently resource curricular and extra curricular areas
  • Develop our pastoral care programme and services to meet the needs of students and staff
  • Consolidate our Special Educational Needs programme to meet the needs of exceptional children within our school


Our pledge to you

We will increase community engagement locally, regionally, and within the wider community of international schools

Specifically, we will

  • Improve dialogue between Green Shoots leadership, teachers, and parents with the shared aim of building a coherent and mutually supportive school community
  • Engage more actively with respected international schools, sharing experiences and gaining access to expertise that enhances our school’s development
  • Support, through fundraising and direct action, organisations and individuals working to help those in need in Quang Nam and Da Nang


Our pledge to you

We will upgrade our facilities to meet the current and future needs of our growing student body

Specifically, we will

  • Ensure that our current facilities are maintained and developed to meet the needs of enrolled students
  • Work towards the creation of a purpose-built, sustainable campus to meet the needs of current and future students

Business and Administration

Our pledge to you

We will work to ensure financial sustainability and establish systems that meet the needs of a growing school in a diverse, dynamic and expanding community

Specifically, we will

  • Ensure that Green Shoots is financially secure; able to fund both its operations and its expansion sustainably and ethically
  • Develop administrative and operational systems and procedures that are efficient, effective, ethical, and able to meet the needs of a growing school as it plays an increasingly important role in our community



Green Shoots gained Vietnamese government approval to offer kindergarten services in Hoi An in 2011 and primary and secondary services from 2012. Since our launch, we have worked hard to integrate into the international education community, providing links with other schools for our students, assurance of academic quality for our parents, and access to a wide-reaching community of peers for our staff.

We are a member of the Council of British International Schools, which upholds standards among British-curriculum schools overseas, and in 2016 were accredited by Cambridge International Exams, the body that administers our secondary programme and is recognised as the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds.

During the 2019-2020 school year we earned our membership with the Council of International Schools (CIS). CIS sets high standards for its members in a range of areas (including governance, purpose, internationalism, teaching and learning, facilities, staffing, and child safeguarding) and our membership represents further evidence of our standing in the world of international education.

Thanks to our founder’s links with the school, Green Shoots enjoys strong support from the United World College of Southeast Asia (UWCSEA), a school of almost 6,000 students with a 45-year history of educating expatriates in Singapore. As a young school, we look to more established like-minded schools for guidance in order to ensure that our services meet the expectations expressed by members of our community, and with this in mind UWCSEA generously offers support in areas such as curriculum development, school management, and staff training.

How We Came to Be

How we came to beGreen Shoots Voices


Green Shoots was established by Catherine McKinley, a self-confessed ‘education junky’ who sought something new and different for her children.

Born and raised in rural Oxfordshire, she moved to Singapore at the age of 13. There, her eyes were opened to life in a very different part of the world and education in a very different environment from the one she had left behind. Through middle and high school, she attended the United World College of Southeast Asia where the philosophy of educational thinker Kurt Hahn was deeply engraved upon the curriculum. Hahn’s assumption that ‘there is more in you than you think’ has inspired her ever since, pushing her to test her limits, try new experiences, and question assumed boundaries.

She moved to Vietnam in 1999 and lived for 11 years in Hanoi. It was here that she married and became the mother of two wonderful children. But as the city’s living costs rose and pollution levels climbed she looked for other ways to live and work in the country that had become her home. In 2010 she and her family moved to Hoi An.

Green Shoots was born little more than a year later. Its philosophical foundation remains true to the ideas of Kurt Hanh and the movements he founded and inspired.

Each member of our community is a member of the Green Shoots family, cared for and nurtured as an individual but also reminded of his or her role in ensuring the sustainable future of the greater whole. Our healthy menu, child-centered pedagogy, and focus on sustainable education all stem from Catherine’s desire to raise her own children to become active, mature and responsible members of a global society.

To continue the conversation, please email Catherine: c.mckinley@greenshoots.edu.vn

We wanted to know what our community feels is special about Green Shoots. When asked, this is what they told us. Our thanks go to secondary student, Theo, for compiling their comments into such a wonderful video.

In 2014-15 we played host to a Korean high-school graduate from UWCSEA’s sister school in India (UWC Mahindra), who joined our school for six months and worked with our teachers to guide students through their learning journey. When he returned home he left a gap in our community that we are still trying to fill. But fortunately for us, he also left us this video. Thank you June Soo!

Our Team

At Green Shoots we are incredibly proud of our staff and the effort and energy they give to the important job of educating your child.

All of our international teachers hold a graduate or post-graduate degree in teaching. Many also hold specialisations such as reading support, special education needs, and EAL teaching qualifications. Our Vietnamese teachers and co teachers hold either a Vietnamese teaching qualification or have undergone internal professional development to ensure they understand and support our ethos, values and standards.


See Our Staff

Endicott Survey 2018

We are extremely pleased to share with you the results of our Endicott Self-Study Survey, which was given out to Green Shoots parents, staff and students in October 2018. Please access the survey by clicking on the document below:


Endicott Survey 2018