High School Leadership Team

Jim Heister, Head of High School

Jim Heister has a B.S. degree in Mathematics and an M.Ed degree in Leadership. In 2021, he completed the comprehensive Certificate in School Management and Leadership program through the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His educational journey began as a classroom teacher. Following his desire and ability to lead others, he has held many roles such as Head of Department, Dean of Students, Mentor Teacher, Tech Integrationist, and STEM Program Co-Author. Additionally, he has been the Mentor Program Co-Author and Coordinator, Community Time Coordinator, Grade Level Leader, Internship Coordinator, and High School Deputy Principal.

Jim Heister is devoted to fair and accurate assessment that supports accurate data for teachers and ensures inclusive and equitable practices for learners. This is evidenced through his presentations at the Pearson Assessment Institute, the AASSA Educators conference, and the iNNOVATE Educators Conference. He has also led full-faculty professional development around Assessment For, Of, and As Learning for Escola Eleva in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Leadership & Culture for the New English Private School system here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He is a dynamic and mindful leader whose greatest strengths lie in adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, and relational trust-building. Through these, he promotes a culture of mutual accountability and distributed leadership.

He likes to maintain a healthy work-personal life balance. Outside of school, he enjoys reading, hiking, biking, SCUBA diving, and playing team sports. Also, he has coached American football, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, and track & field.


Smita Shetty, DP Coordinator

As an educator, Smita Shetty is passionate about learning. She enjoys balancing creativity and science. Her two passions are Biology and Theatre. She has been an educator in her home country, India, for both Drama and Biology. She has worked in the Indian national curriculum, IGCSE and has been an international educator for more than a decade. She has worked across the spectrum of the International Baccalaureate Programmes as a PYP Drama Specialist, MYP Science and Biology teacher, DP Biology, DP Sports, Exercise and Heath Science as well as a Theory of Knowledge facilitator. She enjoys guiding students through the Diploma core - Extended Essay - and the MYP5 Personal Project journey. She is also a DP Biology Examiner. 

Smita joined International School of London Qatar in 2012. She encourages and facilitates student-led extra-curricular activities such as the Model United Nations, Debate Club (Qatar Debate Tournaments) and hopes to inspire learners to be part of advocating the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She works actively with the Student Council leadership team to enhance student voice and student agency within the community. 

Smita was educated in Mumbai, India and holds a M.Sc. in Biochemistry, B.Sc. Life Sciences and Biochemistry and Bachelors in Education (B.Ed.). She has a LTCL Diploma (UK - Level 6 on the RQF; Undergraduate Degree), Trinity College London for Speech and Drama and is a certified yoga teacher.


Abena Baiden, Grade Level Leader G11 &12

Abena is from Northern Ireland in the UK and holds a BA Honours in English and Philosophy from the University of Liverpool. She also has a Masters in Education and she is currently working toward her doctorate with the University of Bath, UK. Added to this, she is a member of the British Psychological Society and working toward Chartered Psychologist status. She has taught in the UK, Poland, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

In her free time, Abena loves water sports, Capoeira, cycling, and reading. She joined the warm and welcoming ISL community with her 3 children (Kojo, Fynn, and Aoife) and her husband, Chris.

Abena is a Fanti (Ghanaian) name meaning 'born on Tuesday'.


Vanessa Zilio, G10 Level Leader

Vanessa holds a bachelor's degree at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais in Social Communication. She also has a diploma in education and training. Vanessa has been at ISL Qatar for 4 years. She is currently working as a MYP/DP Portuguese teacher and Grade 10 Level Leader.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing volleyball and board games with her family.

Lynette Brink, G9 Level Leader

Lynette is a Physics teacher with 30 years' experience.  She has taught for 26 years in South Africa (which is also her home country) and joined the ISL Qatar team in 2016.  Currently she teaches DP Physics and MYP Science.  Lynette was Head of the Science department in South Africa, which included pastoral responsibilities. 

Thirty years on she still has a passion for teaching and enjoys the challenges and fulfilment of teaching students from a diverse background. 

Lynette holds a Bachelor of Science and a Higher Education Diploma from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.