About Us

Since opening the school in 2014, we have welcomed students and families from over 20 countries. We are dedicated to providing a unique learning experience that fosters your child’s natural inclination towards curiosity, self-discovery, personal excellence, and joy. At KAIS Elementary & Middle School, each student is an individual who gets the special care that every child deserves and thrives on.

Our approach is simple; we try to blend established goals with progressive methods through a variety of pedagogical approaches in the classroom in the hopes of striking that perfect balance between the traditional and the novel, the old and the new. We are honored to have you browse our website, and encourage prospective parents and students to inquire further without hesitation.

Our Mission

Our mission is to serve Tokyo’s international community by providing an academically challenging, creatively stimulating, safe and caring learning environment. Our students are seekers of truth and promoters of compassion; we are co-authors of a future that values equality, global awareness, resilience and responsibility over all else.

Our Vision

Education at KAIS nurtures the values, attitudes and expectations necessary to effectively shape one’s life and thrive in a complex and uncertain global environment. Student success is limited only by the expectations we have of them, and so our vision to cultivate their personal, social and global skills sets the bar high. Ultimately, KAIS seeks to foster confident, curious and self-fulfilled individuals; to nurture empathetic, welcoming and socially responsible members of the community; and to cultivate future leaders, conscientious and enthusiastic agents of positive change in the world. KAIS students are …


We cultivate connection, community and friendship with people across a diverse range of backgrounds, interests and personalities.


We exemplify leadership, independence, resilience and responsibility.


We are excited about learning and thrive in a collaborative and spirited environment.


We explore opportunities for creative expression.


We actively engage in the pursuit of truth and knowledge in a conscientious, honest and open-minded way.


We demonstrate empathy for fellow human beings and respect for all living things.


We approach learning with a sense of confidence, earnestness and humility.


We ask questions of the surrounding world, and seek answers to these questions.


We appreciate and respect the diversity and complexity of the surrounding world and are committed to making it a better place.

Guiding Principles

1. The primary purpose of education at KAIS EMS is to foster children’s natural inclination towards joy and curiosity, and to assist them on their journey of self-discovery and self-fulfilment.

2. Our job as teachers is not to tell children what or how to think. At KAIS EMS we are not in the business of promoting an ideology or elevating certain cultural practices over others. Our job, our duty as teachers is to open children’s eyes to the world’s unbounded possibilities. It is to mentor children as they seek to enrich their stock of knowledge, master essential skills, and develop their individual personalities in ways that give true meaning to their lives.

3. At KAIS EMS we think of school life as constituting an important aspect of “real” life and not merely as a steppingstone or stopover on the way to “real” life. We realize that schooling must prepare children for their futures; but we believe that schooling must also have immediate relevance and significance for the lives they are living right now.

4. We at KAIS EMS believe that the defining characteristics of the modern human are a love of compassionate sharing and the desire for true self-expression. With this in mind, we believe that schooling, through various collaborative and cooperative activities, should provide abundant opportunities to allow the free play and expression of these basic traits.

5. We believe first and foremost that children are persons. They have the natural right to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. At KAIS EMS, we do not talk down to children. We do not lecture or berate them. Rather than punishing or “making examples” of students for certain behaviors, we try to find effective ways to foster their ability to empathize with others and to recognize how their actions affect those around them. At times reprimands are necessary, but they are always given in a spirit of understanding and within the context of and as a concomitant part of helping the child to grow. Reprimands do not seek to shame or instill feelings of guilt, but rather to encourage self-reflection and self-improvement. At KAIS EMS, we endeavor to help students to become engaged school citizens, to be active participants in school affairs who have a real voice in the school community. Through these “local” activities, students develop the compassion and confidence they need to become engaged members of the greater culture and global environment.

6. We of course do not know what technology will be like in twenty years, or how far it will have advanced. But we do know that current technology is already an integral part of children’s lives. We do not see technology as separate from human existence but as an extension of who we are and what we are capable of. Thus, at KAIS EMS, we do not teach technology per se: we integrate technology into our lessons, thereby creating meaningful experiences in students’ lives right now and developing in them the tools and skills they need to carry on their lifelong journey of self-fulfillment.

7. Literature and history are worthy subjects of study in their own right, but at KAIS EMS, we examine these and other subjects with a somewhat different objective. We mine these subjects for social and personal relevance; we study them as a way to shed light on the emotional and social and political issues that we face today. We do not glorify nor do we condemn the past. Rather, we see the past as a rich source of learning and object lessons. We see great literature and history as tools that will help students gain insight into human motives and motivation, that will give students a chance to see the peoples of past civilizations in their own context, that will afford students an opportunity to empathize and sympathize with their forebears’ errors and to emulate their successes so that we may better understand ourselves and our world today.

8. We at KAIS EMS aim to inspire our students to strive to do their absolute best in everything they undertake. We provide them with the skills and caring support they need to overcome the low self-esteem, low expectations, and self-limiting habits that can prevent them from accomplishing their goals. We also believe that an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to develop multiple intelligences opens up myriad avenues through which students can learn essential skills and develop strength of character. Under the conventional “stative approach” to teaching and learning, children are apt to put restrictive labels on themselves and thereby limit their goals and underestimate their possibilities. The “process approach” used at KAIS EMS prevents this self-limitation and helps students to understand that they are not “bad at math” or “good at English,” but rather that they are learners standing on a multi-faceted stairway that they can climb one step at a time through effort and effective strategies.

9. We at KAIS EMS aim to help children master skills, not only because of a given skill’s future utility or earning capacity, but because the process of learning a skill—any skill—is a journey of self-discovery that in and of itself helps a child grow. At KAIS EMS, we do not just “scratch the surface” of one skill after another, leaving each only half learned. Instead, we delve deeply into reading, writing, drawing, playing instruments, and other skills, extending the normal “limits” that children impose on themselves, helping them to break through obstacles such as boredom, indolence, fear of difficulty, low expectations, and lack of confidence.

10. KAIS EMS teachers work together as teams to create the best possible learning atmosphere and classroom experience for our students. We embrace the interconnectedness and interdependence of all subjects, all fields of learning. We work openly in a spirit of trust and cooperation and mutual respect to take full advantage of that interconnectedness and the opportunities for cross-situational learning that it offers.

Meet Our Team

Tomoko Aotsuka
Japanese as a Native Language Teacher

Tomoko Aotsuka was born and raised in Sakata, a beautiful harbor town in Yamagata prefecture known for its rice and the views of Mount Chōkai, an active volcano that straddles the horizon. After graduating high school, she moved to Kyoto to study Japanese as a Foreign Language. Although she began her teaching career in a public junior high school in Japan, she continued her passion at a Gymnasium in Austria (and also became a fluent German speaker). After returning to Japan, she taught Japanese at a private school in the Tokyo area for over ten years. Having recently joined the KAIS team, she is excited to further develop the program for native students. In her free time, she enjoys jogging, learning German, and furthering her Japanese calligraphy skills.

Johnny Aravanis
Admissions Director
Johnny Aravanis hails from the state of Maryland in the United States. Since a very young age, Johnny has been obsessed with travel and foreign languages and went on to pursue East Asian Studies at university, focusing on Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Professionally, Johnny worked for years as a translator and instructor before taking a managerial position at KAIS EMS. His years of experience in language acquisition and instruction inform his approach to education at KAIS.
Justin Bethune
Principal & Social Studies Program Coordinator
Justin Bethune was born and raised near Ottawa, Canada. Shortly after graduating from the University of Ottawa with a double major in Criminology and Second Language Teaching, he moved to a rural port town in Fukushima, Japan on the JET Programme where he taught English at the junior high school level for three years. In the year following the 3/11 disaster, he received a MEXT scholarship to pursue post-graduate Social Sciences at Hitotsubashi University, where he graduated with a Master's degree in the Sociology of Education.
Mia del Fierro
Classroom Assistant

Mia was born in the Philippines but raised in Calgary, Canada. She graduated from the University of Calgary, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Japanese. After graduating she moved to Saitama, Japan and began work as an Assistant Language Teacher. The following year, she moved to Kanagawa to work at an language school where she found her passion for teaching. Her new found passion brought her back to Canada, specifically to Toronto, to obtain her teaching certification and Master's in Teaching from the University of Toronto. During her time in teacher's college, she was able to combine her interests in technology with teaching to create interactive technology-based lessons. In her free time, she enjoys photography and discovering onsen around Japan.

Ally Dixon
Classroom Assistant

Ally was born and raised in Southern California. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English literature, she decided to pursue her interest in her Japanese heritage and moved to Tokyo, Japan, where she taught at an international English school for kids. After a few years of teaching in Japan, she worked at a Montessori school in the U.S. Motivated by her experiences teaching both in Japan and America, Ally joined the KAIS team as a classroom assistant. She loves to travel and watch live music in her free time.

Anri Fabrot
Office Manager
Anri was born in Tokyo and raised in California and in Michigan. She returned to Japan to obtain her degree from the Department of Comparative Cultures at Sophia University. Her career was focused on Human Resources in corporations, both in Japan and in Europe, before becoming an Office Coordinator at KAIS EMS. Growing up training in rhythmic gymnastics, dance, and running track she still loves to keep active. She is also a mother to a teenager, a learner of French, and a lover of finding great food spots around the city.
Kevin Haith
Science Program Coordinator
Kevin was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He holds a Master's degree in Automotive Engineering from Oxford Brooks University. During this time, he became interested in Japanese culture and wanted to live in Japan. Kevin enjoys working with electronics, computers, and cars as well as math and science.
David Jackson
Differentiated Lab Teacher
David was born and raised in Southport, in the north west of England, and graduated from the University of Wales, Swansea with a BA in History and Anthropology. He worked for the National Trust (Formby Nature Reserve) in the Education department and focused on primary school education in the fields of conservation, archaeology, and natural history. On a friend's recommendation, he moved to Japan to pursue a career in teaching. After first teaching at Kikokushijo Academy, he joined the KAIS community in January, 2019. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and exploring, studying history and education, and furthering his Japan studies in the city archives.
Michael Johnson
Grade 3 Homeroom Teacher

Michael was raised in the mountains of Colorado in the United States. While putting himself through school, he became a casting instructor and fly fishing guide gaining over six years of instructional experience. Shortly after graduating from Fort Lewis College with a major in Tourism and Hospitality Management, he moved to a rural farming town in Niigata, Japan where he taught English at a children's conversation school. After three and a half years as an English teacher, he joined the KAIS EMS family. In his free time, Michael enjoys going skiing, hiking, and fly fishing as well as studying languages and economics.

Jamie Keith
Language Arts & Humanities Teacher
Jamie hails from Perth, Western Australia where he completed a BA in History at Edith Cowan University along with a Graduate Diploma of Education. He has been a teacher for over 10 years with experience in primary and secondary schools in Australia and Japan. Jamie has taught a number of subjects including Social Studies, Science, English as a Second Language, and mainstream English. Jamie is passionate about cinema and likes to be creative and produce short films in his free time.
Ryoan Ko
Classroom Assistant

Ryoan was born and raised in Tokyo to a big family of seven. She has always had a passion for working together with kids, and has aspired to become a teacher from a young age. Ryoan had a very international upbringing herself, going to an international school in Tokyo during her middle school years, and then moving to Europe to attend high school in Switzerland. This cross-cultural experience led her to develop an interest in different languages and countries. She returned to Japan to study at Waseda University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Sciences, with a concentration in Psychology. She began her career as a teaching assistant in 2014, and joined the KAIS learning support team in 2016, where she has been able to support a variety of children with unique backgrounds, much like her. Even outside of the classroom, Ryoan enjoys spending her time with children, dedicating her time to being a camp counselor every summer, and teaching and sharing with kids the joys of friendship and adventure in the outdoors.

Justine Lejano
Grade 1 Homeroom Teacher

Justine was born in Thailand, but was raised in Australia by her Filipino parents. After graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts Education, majoring in languages, she worked at an all-boys junior high school in Brisbane teaching Japanese, French, math, and science. With a love for language learning and travel, she had always dreamed of living overseas. In 2016, she took the plunge and moved to Japan on the JET Programme where she taught English at private junior high school in Tokyo. After three years as an Assistant Language Teacher, she joined us here at KAIS. She is currently completing her Master of TESOL online through Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. In her free time, Justine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and playing the ukelele.

Paul Luc
Mathematics Program Coordinator
Born and raised in northern California, Paul graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a minor in Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After a variety of teaching positions around the Bay Area, he received his Master's degree in Mathematics Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. After several years abroad as an IB teacher, he worked as a mathematics lecturer at the University of Utah Asia Campus in South Korea. In his spare time, Paul enjoys playing guitar, skateboarding, drawing, reading, playing basketball, and keeping up with his favorite sports teams.
Ansophie Niemand
School Counselor

Ansophie Niemand was born and raised in Amanzimtoti, South Africa. She enrolled in the University of South Africa and received her degree in Health Sciences and Social Services with a specific focus on Psychological Counselling. Afterwards, she completed her PGCE as she realized her passion lies with supporting students at school. She believes all students have the ability to become successful on an academic and social emotional level and endeavors to promote their opportunities to reach their goals. She has worked as a Classroom and Learning Support Teacher in both South Africa and China. She is also currently pursuing her BEd Honours Degree. Ansophie loves exploring new places, reading, spending time with her young son, and socializing with family and friends.

Eri Nozaki
Japanese as an Additional Language Teacher

Eri was born and raised in Kanagawa, Japan. She holds a Master's in Humanities from Ochanomizu University, focusing on Japanese Language Learning and the education of multi-lingual/cultural students. As a university student, she put her theory into practice while supporting foreign students with various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Upon graduating, she worked at an international school in the Tokyo area, teaching Japanese to both native and non-native students for three years. In her free time, she enjoys studying Korean, spending time with her family, reading novels, and watching Japanese dramas and animation.

Maha Sa'di
Vice-Principal & Language Arts Program Coordinator
Maha Sa’di was born in Amman, the capital of Jordan. After attaining a degree in Modern Languages at the University of Jordan, Maha spent four years teaching at one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious international schools, The Ahliyyah School for Girls. Motivated by her passion for Japanese language and culture, she came to Japan on the MEXT scholarship programme to study modern Japanese literature at Sophia University, graduating with a Master's in Japanese Studies.
Sachiko Samata
School Nurse
Sachiko was born and raised in Saitama, Japan. She has been working as a nurse for more than 15 years, with experience in pediatric nursing. She started her career at a cancer center in Japan, and eventually moved to Australia to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing and a Master's degree in Palliative Care from Flinders University in South Australia. In her free time, she enjoys performing Japanese festival music with her children at community events.
Ruthy Sekine
Head of Early Years & Grade 2 Homeroom Teacher
Ruthy Sekine grew up in the sunshine state, Florida, USA. After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Ruthy moved to Japan in 2005 to begin her teaching career. Prior to joining the KAIS EMS team, she worked at Kikokushijo Academy for six years, where she demonstrated a flair for early years curriculum development. During that time, she also oversaw the implementation of a new phonics program (Read, Write, Inc.), which we have also adopted at KAIS EMS. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. Ruthy’s passion for helping children find and reach their true potential is what drives her teaching philosophy.
Kate Sikora
Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher
Kate Sikora is an early childhood educator with over fifteen years of experience in the classroom, both in the United States and Japan. She studied Early Childhood Education and American Studies at Rutgers University, in New Jersey. During this time, she worked as a teacher’s assistant in an on-campus preschool. It was there that she found her love for teaching children as it allowed her to employ her artistic and musical talents, as well as her love of children’s literature. She has been living in Japan for over a decade as a traveler, a teacher, a musician, and (recently) a mom.
Randy Sithole
Athletics Director

Growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, Randy’s life has been outlined and landmarked by a love for sport, outdoor activities, and culture. Although his interests are broad and varied, his true love has always been sport. He played for TUKS Football Club (at the University of Pretoria) from a young age up until 18, during which time he also played in provincial teams and represented his province at international tournaments, both at home and abroad. Randy began his coaching and teaching career in 2009 at Waterkloof House Preparatory School. During his tenure as a coach, intern, and teacher’s assistant at Waterkloof, he studied Sports Management and Education at the University of South Africa and simultaneously began collecting international qualifications for FIFA Football, Boksmart Rugby, ICC Cricket, and IFP Tennis. Since his move to Japan in 2017, Randy has been studying with FC Barcelona Universitas.

Kurumi Yamada
Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher
Kurumi was born in Osaka, but moved to Oregon at a young age. She graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor's in Sociology, before eventually returning to Osaka to work at an international preschool. These four years of teaching experience encouraged her to get certified as a licensed teacher, so she returned to school, this time at Portland State University, to earn her Master's in Education along with her teaching license. Upon returning to Japan, she moved to Tokyo and worked at an international preschool for two years before joining the KAIS team to lead the Grade 4 homeroom. Kurumi enjoys singing and hiking (and was even a member of a Search & Rescue organization for 10 years).


Where is KAIS EMS located?
KAIS EMS is located here, 1-2 minutes away from Toritsu-Daigaku station on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line.

Does KAIS EMS offer financial aid?
For families who cannot afford the standard KAIS tuition, KAIS EMS does offer some financial aid. Those wishing to apply are asked to submit an annual family income statement.

What goals does KAIS EMS have for its students?
We want our students to grow up to be inquisitive, intelligent, inspired, and happy adults who never lose their passion for learning. Our progressive approach towards education reflects this goal. On the other hand, we understand that for our students to be successful in university and beyond, they will need mental toughness, practical skills, and a strong foundation in academic subjects such as Mathematics and Language Arts. Our classes are designed to give students all this and more — to help them become both collaborative and independent learners.

My child’s experience in English is limited. Will you still accept him/her?
Our guiding principle for admission is this: we only accept students we are certain we can help. Students with limited English skills are welcome at KAIS so long as at the time of application we have the necessary space and resources to ensure a positive learning experience. In cases where we need to hire a private tutor to raise your child’s English level, we may ask for an additional fee, although we will try to avoid this whenever possible.

Is KAIS EMS the right school for my child?
We encourage all prospective students to come in for a one-day trial to see our environment suits their needs, wants, and expectations. Our school culture is vibrant and expressive, and values industriousness, compassion, and enthusiasm most of all. We are a small school and consequently have a strong team mentality, so our students are expected to cooperate and nurture positive relationships. But some children prefer or need to study in a different environment. Fortunately, Tokyo boasts a number of excellent international schools, giving parents and children a wide selection to choose from. KAIS EMS is one of these quality schools, but, again, it is not the right “fit” for every child.

To know more about our guidelines, policies, and practices please consult our KAIS EMS Handbook.