Our Team

Agnes Kong

Agnes Kong

Agnes completed her primary and secondary education at Diocesan Girls' School. She achieved high distinctions at the HKCEE and HKAL exams (scoring 9As and 4As respectively) and was awarded the Hong Kong Sir Edward Youde Memorial Scholarship to study abroad. She attended Yale University and graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa in three years. She received her Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Agnes has worked for prominent investment banks and private equity firms, including Goldman Sachs (New York), J.P. Morgan (Hong Kong), IFC World Bank (Washington, DC), and the Carlyle Group (Hong Kong).

Although Agnes’ professional experience has been focused on finance, she has always been passionate about education. With her local and Western educational background, she designed a curriculum combining the strengths of both systems. Her professional experience further enabled her to incorporate in her curriculum elements that will help students develop skill sets that are essential for a successful career. Her aspiration is to inspire and develop children and teenagers into global-minded, socially responsible, and happy individuals who are well equipped to succeed in whatever career they pursue when they grow up.

Being brought up in a traditional Chinese family, I was taught to persist and excel in whatever I do. This has led to academic success throughout my 13 years of school in Hong Kong, then at Yale and Harvard. Professionally I also excelled at what I did – having worked at some of the most prestigious companies in the finance industry. However I was constantly struggling to fulfill my inner desire to make real impact, to be happy, and to feel truly motivated and passionate about my job. Founding The Open Classroom was the turning point in my life when I realized I could bring a new dimension to teaching, leveraging my unique educational and professional experience and network. My aspiration is to inspire and develop children and teenagers into global-minded, socially responsible, and happy individuals who are well equipped to succeed in whatever career they pursue when they grow up.

Yvonne Chu

Yvonne Chu

Yvonne spent nine years at Diocesan Girls’ School and continued her high school education at Crofton House School, Canada. Yvonne completed her undergraduate studies in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at Cornell University and received her Master’s Degree in Financial Engineering from Columbia University. Yvonne has accumulated work experience at Goldman Sachs New York, Sino Land and Asia Pacific Land Real Estate Fund.

Founding The Open Classroom is the fruition of her conviction to become an educator as well as an entrepreneur. With educational and work experiences in both North America and Asia, Yvonne possesses a solid understanding of and deep appreciation for Eastern and Western education systems alike. Fusing the strengths of both systems, Yvonne is committed to creating an educational program she wishes she had — a curriculum designed to broaden students’ horizons, promote academic excellence and cultivate a service mindset.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I spent 12 years away from home to complete my education and enrich my professional experience. My academic training and career pursuits have taken me to Vancouver, New York, Singapore, different cities in China and ultimately back to my home in Hong Kong. Founding The Open Classroom has been one of my most rewarding and challenging experiences. As I mature as an educator, my conviction for teaching grows as I see the value and impact of supporting students’ development through curriculums that promote character development and cultivate a service mindset. 

Huijun Kong

Huijun Kong

Huijin works closely with The Open Classroom to develop the “Young Leaders of Tomorrow” Summer Leadership Program for high school students. She graduated from Wharton with a 4.0 GPA, and has an MBA degree (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School where she was classmate with Agnes. She then worked at Mckinsey & Company and SCMP Group before pursuing her passion in leadership development and entrepreneurship.

Life was a never-ending series of challenges to be defeated — from mastering English in a year and half, regaining my academic confidence in a Canadian high school, becoming the best among the best at Wharton, and proving my distinctiveness at McKinsey — until I realized I wanted meaningful life and work, and it was not the path I had been on. That led me to leave McKinsey, become a media executive, and now an entrepreneur devoted to realizing my calling of supporting people’s development as leaders.

Kristin White

Kristin White

Advisor

Kristin M. White is a specialist in U.S. boarding school admissions. She has over 12 years’ experience as an independent educational consultant focused on the boarding school admissions process, and has placed over 200 students at boarding schools throughout the United States. She has extensive knowledge of the academic profiles and attributes each school is looking for, which enables her to facilitate admission preparation.

She is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and a member of the IECA Outreach Committee. She is also a member of the New England Association of College Admissions Counselors. Kristin visits many boarding schools each year, regularly attends professional development meetings and conferences, and gave a presentation at the May 2012 IECA conference.

Kristin has also attended the Harvard Institute on College Admissions and other yearly consultant conferences and school tours. Kristin has worked with many high achieving and ambitious students, including an internationally known violinist, an award-winning author, a Morehead Scholar, several young math prodigies, an internationally ranked teen golfer, a few hockey recruits, a young filmmaker and a determined teen actress. She also works with many wonderful students and those who need inspiration, encouragement and focus to make it through the school search and application process.

Kristin is the author of “The Complete Gap Year Guide” published by Jossey Bass, and “It’s the Student, Not the College" published by The Experiment.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University and has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

HanLing Petredean

HanLing Petredean

Born and raised a coastal Californian, HanLing Petredean ventured eastward to complete her undergraduate degree at Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies and Energy and the Environment. She has had the fortune to travel extensively throughout numerous diverse urban and rural areas of the world, experiences that have both solidified her passion to pursue life in the international sector and to facilitate cultural and academic exchange through the realm of education. She received her TEFL Certification in 2015 and has extensive experience in teaching English and creative and analytical writing to students both within national and international settings.

“Growing up as a multicultural child in a dominantly Caucasian, Coastal Californian beach city, I learned early on the struggles and the overwhelming rewards associated with exposing others to alternate cultures, languages, and customs. My appreciation for education has only grown throughout my academic career. From my primary school teachers to my esteemed professors at Harvard University, I have gained not only invaluable lessons for myself, but also the skills and knowledge so as how to instill the same joy for learning and growth to my past and future pupils. I fundamentally believe that education is the essential lynchpin towards building a more progressive, culturally aware, and integrated future for our next generations.”

Jailene Vazquez

Jailene Vazquez

Born and raised in New Jersey, Jailene graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Comparative Studies and minors in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (formerly Women’s Studies) and Political Science. Her first transition from student to teacher was in high school, working as a Program Leader with the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey for two years, an opportunity that allowed her to teach middle school girls an array of core school subjects, current events and social issues, and give high school admissions guidance. She continued teaching in college, serving as a Teacher’s Assistant for a semester and spending her summer teaching and college consulting with the Larkin Street Youth Foundation in San Francisco, California in conjunction with DukeEngage, the Gates Foundation’s international civic engagement program.

Understanding the classroom from both a student and teacher’s perspective, she is excited to join The Open Classroom and have completed her TEFL Certification.

Risa Pieters

Risa Pieters

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Risa moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Global Health with a focus on education development. She found her passion for education while teaching English to girls in Battambang, Cambodia for four summers. During her undergraduate career, she was a Bass Connections Education and Human Development Research Scholar and worked with an interdisciplinary research team to create a rural entrepreneurship curriculum for girls in rural Appalachia. She has a strong passion for traveling and has spent time learning about different education initiatives in both urban and rural environments. Her personal experiences of academic exchange, teaching, and education research have inspired her to pursue a career in international education policy and development. She received her TEFL Certification in 2016 and has experience in creative non-fiction writing, college admission writing, and international student mentorship.

I have loved the classroom since I was a young girl, it was a place for adventure, creativity, and stimulation. As I grew older, I expanded my classroom by studying abroad and teaching overseas and the classroom felt like a second home wherever in the world I was. My experiences inspired me to build upon my passion for education in my undergraduate studies, education and human development research, and career. From my involvement in girls’ education, rural education, English as a foreign language, and health education, I have seen the successes of an innovative, experiential, and interactive pedagogy that is core to The Open Classroom and I am excited to teach their rich and unique curriculum. The education field is constantly evolving and The Open Classroom is at the forefront of promoting excellence both academically and personally and I am happy to be a part of this empowering community.

Victoria Siu

Victoria Siu

Victoria was born in Canada and raised in Vancouver, BC. She attended Richmond Secondary School where she was awarded the English Achievement 10 award for being on top of her class. After high school, she attended the University of British Columbia and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in English, in hopes of entering the teaching industry. Before joining us, Victoria worked for three years at the University Writing and Research Centre. She offered writing support for college students working on a variety of writing assignments. She assisted international students to execute effective sentence structures and build beneficial writing habits for the future. Victoria has moved to Hong Kong to learn the culture and lifestyle her parents had that she never experienced.

"I strongly believe, from personal experience, the importance of student-teacher relationships in order for students to be successful recipients of learning. Learning should be a natural and lifelong experience, but it can become quite difficult to grasp new concepts when subjects are taught in a strict and restrictive manner. That is why I aspire to be a dedicated and intuitive teacher who encourages students to be curious and motivated. I am thrilled to be a teacher at The Open Classroom because I want to promote teaching with innovative and effective approaches, assist students to achieve academic success and cultivate their minds to tackle what life has in store for them."

Annabel  Lau

Annabel Lau

From a young age, pursuing a career in education has been Annabel’s long-term goal. Born and raised in the UK, she has spent almost twenty-two years of her life in England and graduated from Newcastle University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. As a student, she studied child development and the psychology of teaching and learning. During her final year, she volunteered as a teaching assistant in a local primary school. She had also volunteered in various university events for potential students, including campus tours and presentations regarding higher education in the UK. She later received her TEFL certification as well. Since then, her dream has been to teach in Hong Kong and reconnect with her roots as an adult.

Creativity has always been a vital part of my own learning experience and I truly believe that it is essential to facilitate growth in students. The Open Classroom’s approach to teaching places an emphasis on this in order to not only assist them with their academic progress, but also their development as individuals and I am delighted to be a part of this team. I aim to be a teacher who will uphold TOC’s values with dedication and positivity and, through that, prepare students to achieve their own dreams.

Jason Liao

Jason Liao

Born and raised in the U.S., Jason graduated Boston College with a degree in Communication and History. He has also just completed a Masters of Arts Degree in Teaching and received his multiple subject teaching credentials from University of Southern California. He received his CELTA TEFL-TESOL Certification in 2012 and previously worked as an English teacher with a focus in teaching writing, speech performance and debating.

In recent years, not only have I been a teacher but also a student. Most importantly, I am still a learner who is accruing valuable insight into education. My experience thus far has included an in-depth opportunity to instruct and interact with various groups of students. These close contacts enabled me to develop my abilities with instruction, in retention, and application as well. Furthermore, it has been rewarding to correspond with children of all ages. While the chapter has been holistic, I am further inspired to continue and fulfill in teaching with compassion, enthusiasm and care. It is in my belief to educate, encourage and grow as a teacher, a student and a person.

Mark Sun

Mark Sun

Mark was born in the US and raised in Hong Kong, where he attended Hong Kong International School. He graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor's degree from the College of Social Studies, and was awarded the Briggs Prize for intercollegiate debating.

He spent two years in rural Yunnan working for Teach for China, where he taught English at a government secondary school, developed curricular frameworks and objective-driven lessons to prepare students for public examinations, and ate copious amounts of rice noodles (mixian). Since returning to Hong Kong, he has spent one year as a Native English Teacher at Wu Si Chong Memorial Primary School, and taught English enhancement courses for primary and secondary students at local schools. Subsequently, he worked for two years as a teaching assistant and research assistant in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Natalie Kwan

Natalie Kwan

Born and raised in Canada, Natalie moved to Hong Kong after middle school where she completed her secondary education at South Island School. She graduated from Hong Kong University with a double major degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Following graduation, she studied in New York for a professional diploma and worked as a merchandiser. A year later, she decided to pursue a career she is passionate about, which can also bring her great satisfaction. She spent one year teaching phonics to toddlers and young children. As she wanted to further challenge herself, she decided to join The Open Classroom to teach older children. To date, Natalie has been teaching three years and is also currently finishing her thesis for the Masters of Psychological Medicine Degree at HKU.

Jozanne  Murphy (Summer Intern)

Jozanne Murphy (Summer Intern)

Raised in Southern California, Jozanne is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Her interest in foreign affairs and passion for social impact stems from the two-year, expatriate experience she had while attending Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China. At Penn, she is Chair of the Admission's Dean Advisory board, volunteers as a university tour guide, and works for the College of Arts and Sciences as a public speaking coach. Her work involves advising undergraduate and graduate students on the development and delivery of their academic presentations. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new eateries and traveling with friends.

Some of the best ideas can be lost if communicated ineffectively. Being able to present one's thoughts articulately and concisely is a fundamental skill. The Open Classroom's dedication to empowering its students with the preparation and tools necessary to develop critical writing and leadership skills is one of my favorite aspects of the organization's mission. I look forward to working with students this summer to further their educational development.

Sabino Padilla (Summer Intern)

Sabino Padilla (Summer Intern)

Sabino is a rising senior attending the University of Pennsylvania where he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics with a minor in Asian American Studies. On campus, he serves as the Vice Chair of Political Affairs for the Asian Pacific Student Coalition and the External Chair for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. Prior to these positions he was on the board for the Penn Philippine Association and Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. He is also the current President of College Admissions Mentors for Peers Philippines, a non-profit that helps high school students in the Philippines through the college admissions process for universities and colleges outside the Philippines as well as helping students through the transition between high school and college abroad.

I know I am where I am today because I had amazing mentors and role models to help me and for me to look up to. As my time in college comes to a close, it is my hope that I have grown enough to now be that mentor and role model to other people. Success this summer, to me at least, will be seeing my students leaving the TOC programs, confident in themselves, proud of their abilities and achievements and ready to take whatever challenges come their way next. I look forward to working with some amazing and talented individuals both as my colleagues and as my students in my time with TOC.

Gelila Yitsege (Summer Intern)

Gelila Yitsege (Summer Intern)

Gelila Yitsege is a rising senior at Columbia University, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Education Studies. She was born and raised in a city right outside of Washington, DC, where she was able to try out teaching for the first time as a tutor in high school. She loves spending her time teaching health to NYC high schoolers with Peer Health Exchange and working with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Columbia University. Interacting with prospective students is one of her favorite things to do! She hopes to go on to be a pediatrician after graduating from college and attending medical school, because she wants to be able to help the next generation out in more ways than one!

Interacting with high schoolers on a daily basis has allowed me to see just how much a single program can change someone’s life. Being given the opportunity to help out students that I know will become our future leader is one of the most amazing things to happen in my life! I can’t wait to see what I can do for the students and what they can become.