KAIS's teachers are the foundations of our educational environment. The educators at KAIS are carefully chosen for their dedication to building intellect, curiosity, and academic success in their students. Our staff is a diverse and exclusive mix of professional educators from around the world. They are at KAIS because they believe that international education can simultaneously be both academically rigorous and creatively inspiring.

Staff Profiles

  • Thomas House Principal


    Thomas “Tommy” House was born and raised near Chicago, IL, USA. He studied at Southern Illinois University, where he majored in Secondary English Education and minored in Speech / Communications. Mr. House taught American and British Literature at a local high school in rural southern Illinois before moving to Tokyo nearly a decade ago. He has been a dedicated teacher & administrator at KAIS since the school's second year in Jiyugaoka. An enthusiast of designing and teaching multidisciplinary curriculum, Tommy is a firm believer in hands-on education. “When students are engaged, active learners, ‘transformative learning’ can take the place of ‘informative learning’. This should always be our goal as educators, as this is where the real growth and development takes place.” Tommy is an avid runner, snowboarder, and musician.

  • Jonathan Yaffe Founder


    Jonathan Yaffe was raised in California, where his interests bridged both literature and science. He is a graduate of one of the top universities in the U.S., the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied Cognitive Neuroscience and Cognitive Education. Mr. Yaffe is also a published poet, founded the UC Berkeley Poetry Slam, and has competed in many international poetry competitions. Prior to his role of headmaster at KAIS International School, he he taught poetry at UC Berkeley in California and UPTC University in Colombia, and was most recently the founding principal of KAIS for 7 years. Jonathan speaks four languages and has been to over eighty countries.

  • Charles Knudsen Founder


    Charles Knudsen has been living and teaching in Japan for over ten years. He served as the Head of Curriculum Development of the returnee program at Shibuya Junior and Senior High School (Shibu Shibu) until April, 2005. He is a classical pianist and the author of an English language text, Stranger than Fiction, published by Naundo. Mr. Knudsen is the father of two boys, Leo and Andy, and resides in Tokyo. In his spare time, Mr. Knudsen enjoys playing the piano and reading. Mr. Knudsen is also the principal at Kikokushijo Academy.

  • Misako Horikawa Director


    Misako Horikawa was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She studied English from a young age and focused on Japanese literature in university, and has even taught English to Japanese students of various levels (kindergarten to high school). It has been her dream since a young child to act as a liaison between people from different countries in order to improve communication and understanding. Misako derives great satisfaction from helping the students of KAIS become independent and reflective members of both the local and global community. It is a little known fact that Misako founded the REM fan club in Japan.

  • Tomoko KodaSchool Secretary


    Tomoko was born and raised in Japan, but then moved to Canada for high school. Upon graduation, she moved to Minneapolis in the U.S. and went to college where she majored in Cultural Anthropology. Tomoko then worked in child education in Minneapolis, and is VERY excited to be in that field again.

  • Christopher Colucci Athletic Director


    Christopher Colucci was born and raised in New York and attended Loyola University Chicago, where he studied History, Anthropology and Psychology. He has been living and teaching in Japan for eight years and moved to Tokyo from a rural town in Kyushu. Chris is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners as a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Counselor, respectively. Outside of his role as Athletic Director at KAIS, Chris enjoys studying foreign languages, reading nonfiction, and playing ice hockey.

  • Laura MacDonaldHead of the STEP Program


    Laura MacDonald was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has a degree in Business Administration from St. Francis University as well as a degree in Education from Queen’s University. Laura’s love of travel and adventure has allowed her to live, study and work in five different countries and visit many more. Before starting at KAIS, she taught at an international school in Mexico City for two years but decided to move back to Japan to continue her teaching career in Tokyo. When not at school, Laura enjoys hiking, camping, art, books and searching for tanuki.

  • Christopher JonesCurriculum Coordinator


    After splitting his early years between Iowa and Philadelphia, Christopher Jones spent most of his youth in Nashville, Tennessee. From there he matriculated into Northwestern University where he studied Literature and Business. Christopher caught the teaching bug after a yearlong stint in Tokyo, and then he returned to Northwestern to pursue a Masters degree in secondary education. He gained experience teaching at Discovery International School in Honduras before returning to Japan six years ago. Now he lives in west Tokyo with his wife and baby boy. Christopher loves winter sports, reading, running, and being in the outdoors.

  • Nicholas Smith Head of Science and IT


    Nick Smith was born and raised near Washington DC and attended The University of Maryland College Park, where he majored in neurophysiology. Nick has been living in Japan for three years and moved to Tokyo from Marugame, a small town in Shikoku. Nick manages the science department for both middle and high school students, and runs the KAIS Robotics Team. In his free time he enjoys traveling, scuba, lacrosse, and outdoor activities.

  • Christopher PaxtonHead of Math, College Counselor


    Chris Paxton's road to becoming a math teacher has been a windy one. He majored in mathematics at Yale University, went to music school for one year, then became a lawyer. But Chris has known since high school that he wanted to teach mathematics. Among his favorite topics are fractal geometry and continuity. Outside of school, Chris is an active musician, and is a big fan of European and Brazilian soccer. In the Spring, Chris coaches the KAIS futsal teams.

  • Em Bettinger Yoga Teacher


    Em is a popular Tokyo-based yoga instructor known for her classes at Sun & Moon Yoga and KAIS International School. Prior to moving to Japan, Em performed and taught contemporary dance to both children and adults in the UK. She started teaching dance at the age of 15 as an assistant at the dance school she was attending. She was introduced to yoga through her dance studies at The Laban School for Contemporary Dance and Middlesex University and yoga became her passion while living in Tokyo. She is currently training to be a Health Counsellor with a specialty in nutrition.

  • Kazuto OgawaMusic Teacher


    Kazuto is a professional composer who writes music for famous J-Pop groups, commercials, and TV drama scores. He has taught music at many different age levels and has created a groundbreaking music educational program which incorporates music theory, digital music composition, and music appreciation.


Working at KAIS:

We are always looking for vibrant, creative, dedicated geniuses to join our team. We require a teaching or master’s degree, at least 3 years of applicable classroom experience, and a passion for international education. Please send a cover letter, resume, and a recent photo to: apply@kaischool.com