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Guest Speakers

Lower School girl working out a problem on the Smart Board
Always looking forward, always learning
Upper School student in the science lab, one student is looking through a microscope
Where students take their own path

The whole school community benefits from a range of guest speakers who share their expertise and experience on a variety of topics with students, faculty and parents.

Recent visitors have included authors, puppet makers, cartoon drawers and improvisation comedians who held workshops for students, and a math expert who helped faculty develop our program.

Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to welcome guest speakers on campus since early 2020, but have continued to engage with experts virtually with live and recorded sessions. One example was when United Nations representative Iona Allan, Associate Expert in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General, New York, joined students for an online session during a ZIS-run Montessori Model United Nations in May 2021.


Upper School - November 22, 2021

Clinical Psychologist, Adèle Zufferey

Clinical psychologist, Adele Zufferey

The ZIS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Student Group has invited clinical psychologist, Adèle Zufferey, to visit the Upper School. Adèle, who works in a private practice in Lausanne, has training and a professional background in gender identity, sexoanalysis, affirmative approaches and integrative sex therapy. 

Adèle has supported many trans and non-binary people. She also helps provide educational talks to deconstruct the codes of gender, identity, performativity, expression, sexual orientation and affective, as well as promote the diversity of development (intersex, ...).

To prepare for her visit, this week students watched a short lecture about understanding gender identity and how to be an ally. Students will have an opportunity to anonymously submit questions that Adèle will answer during a live interview with our Student Council on Monday, November 22. This interview will be recorded and shared next week. On the same date, Adèle will also visit the IB Psychology class and be a guest at the SAGA lunchtime cafe. 

All School - February 6, 2020

Student Inventor, Ann Makosinski

Ann Makosinski

Ann Makosinski is an acclaimed student inventor interested in alternative energy harvesting techniques and their applications in improving the life of people all over the world. She is best known for her invention the Hollow Flashlight, a flashlight that runs solely off the heat of the human hand. The flashlight was recognized with the Gold Medal and the Energy Award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, the Google Science Fair Award, and received four awards at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. 

Parents and students were invited to a talk by Ann entitled "Inventing My Life" sponsored by the Annual Fund.

Lower School - January 14-16, 2020

Educational Consultant, Kath Murdoch

Kath Murdoch, Educational ConsultantKath Murdoch is an experienced teacher, author, university lecturer and popular consultant who has worked for many years in schools throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia, America and Europe. She is widely respected for her work in the field of inquiry based learning and integrative curriculum in which she has taught, researched and published for well over 20 years.

Kath worked with homeroom teaching teams on 'inquiry as a way of being', looking specifically at launching new units with an inquiry mindset. Faculty meetings will see Kath delving deeper into her latest work and thinking around inquiry practices. 

Kath also visited and worked with faculty in March 2018 and November 2017.

All School - 2019/20

Science unit speaker: Catherine Rassat, PhD

Chief biologist and teacher, Catherine Rassat is a member of the leadership team of Biomimicry Switzerland. Biomimicry can be defined as design inspired by nature's forms, strategies and functions. By studying biomimicry, natural systems may provide insights into solving systemic human sustainability challenges. Sponsored by the ZIS Annual Fund, Catherine will work both with teachers and students on biomimicry this school year. In November, she met with Upper School Applied Design students; in the spring, she will teach Grade 9 and 10 biology classes and work with Grade 1s in their STEAM project science unit.

Fascinated by biodiversity, Catherine became a nature guide for the Singaporian Environmental Council, which allowed her to introduce local biodiversity to high schools and corporate organizations. Her interest in biomimicry has resulted in the development of children's camps in Singapore, focusing on the discovery of local fauna and flora and their technologies, inviting students to reconsider nature as a model of inspiration.


Lower School - November 4-6, 2019

Early Years Consultant:  Debbie Keyte-Hartland

Debbie Keyte-Hartland

Debbie is an international arts-educator and early years pedagogical consultant who has worked in education, health, social and cultural fields for 20+ years developing creative and transdisciplinary approaches to learning and inquiry in the classroom.  She uses her ongoing practical research in the classroom with children to develop rewarding and supportive professional development opportunities and consulting experiences to explore and discover the possible ways in which we can work alongside children.

Debbie will be visiting the Lower School on November 4-6 and will be working with Faculty. 


Middle School - November 2, 2019

Visiting Author:  Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz and his book, Refugee

Alan Gratz is the author of fifteen books for young readers, many of which have won numerous awards, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, been voted favorite book of the year by students and librarians and were on this year’s summer reading list for all MS students. We’re going to have a great time hearing more about the exciting books he’s written on November 5th. 

Alan’s 2017 novel Refugee has spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list, and will be the focus of the Grade 7 presentation.

Middle School - September 25, 2019

Grade 8 Assembly on Climate Change:  Charles Soothill

Charles Soothil

Charles Soothill will be talking to Grade 8 students about climate change with the aim of supporting students to develop ideas on actions they can take, that can mitigate climate change.

Charles has worked for 40 years in the energy industry as a researcher, engineer and executive leader.  Many of the planes you fly in, the equipment that makes the electricity you use and the systems to supply the water you drink were developed or worked on by Charles.

He led the creation of the Zero Emission Platform in 2005, a group in Europe, across industry, academia, environmental groups and governments to define realistic routes to reduce CO2 emissions. 

He contributed to the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan and has written 5 reports for the EU on climate change mitigation. He is a speaker at the European Parliament, the Climate Change Leadership Forum and the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Lower School - September 19, 2019

Songwriting Theory:  Manè

Manè - swiss recording artist

Songwriting theory, how to come up with original ideas, singing exercises and analyzing pop music were part of an exciting workshop for our Grade 5 choir members who spent a day with Swiss pop recording artist Manè.

The young singers put it all into practice by writing their own lyrics and melody with the help of Manè, who performed her new song and explained the writing process.




Lower School - May 20, 2019

Parent Cafe on German Language Track:  Dr. Laura Loder-Büchel

Dr Laura Loder-Büchel

The Parent Cafe on the German foreign language track on Monday, May 20 at 13:00 will be led by Guest Speaker Dr. Laura Loder-Büchel, who chairs the Language Experts Committee at Zurich University of Teacher Education.

Dr.  Loder-Büchel has worked in the Department of Languages (elementary school teaching) for almost 20 years. After completing her BA at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA, she moved to Arizona and worked in the area of heritage and English language acquisition whilst working on her master’s degree in Multilingual Education. Her PhD work from the University of Fribourg was in the field of English language teacher effectiveness in Swiss elementary schools.



March 16-20, 2019

Youth STEAM Speaker - Kari Lawler

Kari Lawler, youth STEAM speaker

Kari will spend five days at ZIS, from March 16 to 20, working with student groups on all campuses and speaking at the TEDx Youth@Zurich event at the Upper School on March 16. Her visit is sponsored by the ZIS Annual Fund.

Kari was accepted onto the City of Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) incubator at just 14 years old, where she became the youngest ever start-up entrepreneur on the Innovation Birmingham campus. Now, at 15 years old, she helps start-ups and small enterprises understand and deploy artificial intelligence within their businesses, through education, development and training.

In May 2018 she founded Youth4AI, an Artificial Intelligence Youth Program with the sole aim to encourage more young people to explore and understand the world of AI.

Kari has received multiple awards, including the coveted UK Space Agency SatelLife challenge ‘18, for her AI proposal. She was named one of 10 top teen female tech talents in the UK through the InspiringJuniors UK competition. Recently, she became the youngest ever nominee and winner of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Future Face 2018 award for Technology & Innovation.

ECC / Lower School - March 18, 2019

Author Charlotte Guillain

Charlotte Guillain

Author Charlotte Guillain will be visiting the Lower School on Monday, March 18 and ECC on Tuesday, March 19, meeting with all grade levels and sharing from among her collection of fiction and nonfiction books for children.   






Upper School / Middle School - March 12-14, 2019

Richard Bell Brethour, President of Pride Santa Fe and the VP for the Human Rights Alliance

Brethour will be speaking with students, staff, and parents school-wide about how, as a community, we can have a lifelong positive impact on our LGBTQ+ students. Brethour will speak at Upper School assemblies: March 12 and March 14, and at the Middle School on March 11.



Upper School - December 12, 2018

Keynote Speaker - Career Forum: Agostino Renna

Agostina Renna


Agostino was Keynote Speaker at the Grade 10 Career Forum held at the Upper School on December 12, 2018.

Agostino leads the High Performance Laminates business unit within Amcor where he has P&L responsibility while serving customers with high spec packaging needs. The business has strong expertise in the areas of coffee, pet food, ambient ready meals and home and personal care products. The perimeter includes 14 Amcor plants across EMEA (inclusive of Amcor's footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa) and is powered by 3,000 Amcor colleagues.


Upper School - September 20-21, 2018

Playwright, Rohina Malik and Musician Aliya Cycon

Rohina Malik

Playwright Rohina Malik and musician Aliya Cycon will visit the Upper School on September 20 and 21, working with students in some theater, music and theory of knowledge classes. 

On Friday, September 21 they will perform Rohina's piece, Unveiled, at 19:00 in the Upper School theater.







Lower School - December 4 and 5, 2017

Visiting Author, M G Leonard

M G Leonard, Visiting AuthorOn Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5 the library will be hosting visiting author M.G. Leonard, the author of “Beetle Boy”, one of this year’s Golden Cowbell nominees.

Ms. Leonard will be presenting to students in Grades 1 to 5 and children will also have the opportunity to purchase books and have them signed by her. If your child wants the book signed, the signing will take place in the library on Tuesday, December 5 during your child's lunchtime. Her books are most suitable for children Grades 3 to 5. Please see this form.


Lower School - 7 November, 2017

Sensory Integration Specialist Melanne Randall

Melanne Randall, Sensory Integration SpecialistMelanne Randall, a Sensory Integration specialist, ran a parent workshop for all Lower School and ECC parents in Wadenswil on November 7, 2017. Melanne spent the whole week at ZIS working at all campuses to help everyone better understand the importance of identifying sensory needs in children and young adults and the impact it has on student learning. Melanne is a world recognised specialist and presenter on Sensory Needs and we were excited to have her share her expertise with ZIS community.

October 2, 2017

Visiting Author, Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman, visiting author

Author, Neal Shusterman visited the Upper and Middle School and spoke to faculty and worked with young readers and writers at both campuses. National Book Award author, Neal Shusterman has published over 30 novels. Shusterman, a native New Yorker that graduated from the University of California, has received numerous honors for his books including the National book Award for Young People's Literature and the Golden Kite award for fiction.

September 30, 2017

Dr Lynn Erickson

Dr Lynn EricksonDr Lynn Erickson, the author of "Concept-Based Curriculum" led a workshop at ZIS during the weekend of 30 September. Dr. Lynn Erickson is a private consultant assisting schools and districts around the world with curriculum design and instruction. During the past twenty two years she has worked extensively with K-12 teachers and administrators nationally and internationally on the design of Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction.

May 15-19, 2017

Executive Director Emeritus, National Science Teachers Association Dr. Gerald Wheeler

Dr Gerald Wheeler

Dr. Gerald Wheeler worked with teachers in support of implementing the NGSS Science standards.

Gerald is the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the world’s largest professional organization representing science educators of all grade levels. During his tenure at NSTA he oversaw the creation of several science education initiatives and resources aimed at strengthening the quality of science teaching and learning.

Upper School - March 31, 2017

Pianist Elisabeth Brauss

Elisabeth Brauss, Pianist

In conjunction with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich's youth concert series, German pianist Elisabeth Brauss played a special concert at the Upper School Theater. Just 22, Brauss studied at the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater in Hannover, and is the winner of several prizes including the 2013 Grand Prix and Audience Award at the TONALi competition, and first prize in the 2015 Ton und Erklaerung competition. She previewed some of the works that she will later performed at the Tonhalle.

Upper School - Wednesday March 8, 2017

Professional Multi-Sport Athlete Emma Pooley

Emma Pooley, Professional AtheleteEmma Pooley spoke at the Upper School as part of International Women's Day.

Emma is one of Great Britain’s most respected and successful road cyclists of the past decade, winning the UCI time trial World Championships as well as 5 further cycling medals at Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Upper School - Wednesday March 8, 2017

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden

Eleanor Tabi Haller-JordenEleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden spoke to Upper School students as part of International Women's Day.

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden is the President and CEO of The Paradigm Forum GmbH (TPF), a global consultancy and think tank operating at the intersection of social justice and workplace innovation.

All Campuses - Wednesday March 8-Thursday March 9, 2017

Science Expert Dr. Emily Grossman

Dr Emily Grossman, Science ExpertDr. Emily Grossman spoke at the Upper, Middle and Lower Schools

An expert in molecular biology and genetics, who also trained and worked as an actress, she now combines her skills as a science communicator, broadcaster and educator.

Her focus is on making science more accessible by explaining complex concepts in a fun and engaging way, and by inspiring more young people, especially girls, to study science.

Dr. Grossman's visit is made possible by an anonymous donation to the ZIS Annual Fund.

Upper School - December 11-14, 2016

Mindfulness Expert: Dr Philippe Goldin Ph. D

Dr Philippe Goldin, Mindfulness ExpertThis was Dr. Philippe Goldin's third visit to ZIS. While here, he led a workshop with faculty across all campuses, worked in classes and gave presentations to Upper School students, and presented and worked with the ZIS lnnovates research group that is examining approaches and strategies to incorporate wellness and mindfulness in our community.

He also gave a talk to parents and was the keynote speaker for the Career Forum for the Grade 10 students.

Upper School - Monday November 21, 2016

Theory of Knowledge expert Nicholas Alchin

Nicholas Alchin, Theory of knowledge expert

Nicholas Alchin spoke to students and staff on the topic of 'Perception' as pertains to Theory of Knowledge.

A former chief examiner for Theory of Knowledge and author of Theory of Knowledge, a course text, he attended both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He has taught Mathematics in Switzerland at the International School of Geneva, and has also taught and been the head of a school in Mombasa, Kenya. Currently the Upper School Principal of UWCSEA - East Campus in Singapore, he also teaches Theory of Knowledge and Mathematics.

Lower School - November 14, 2016

Writing consultant Christy Currran

Christy Curran, Writing ConsultantChristy Curran, who held a parent cafe on writing, worked for many years as a literacy staff developer for the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been working with Lower School teachers on the teaching of writing for 18 months and is an engaging speaker and expert in her field. Christy's visit was sponsored by the ZIS Annual Fund.

Lower School - Monday November 15-December 6, 2016

Makers Unite! Hands-on Information Sessions

During four Makers Coffee Mornings Series sessions with expert Elif Raskin, parents learned about the ‘maker culture’ which embraces discovery, innovation, learning and creativity, and embodies the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Maths) learning model.

Middle School - November 18-19, 2016

Mask Workshop: Emma-Rose Payne

Emma-Rose PayneGrade 6 and 7 students took part in a mask workshop with Emma-Rose Payne. She believes that masks have the potential to develop the whole performer in a fun, engaging and holistic way. Students learned how to perform wearing masks and then performed to ZIS families.

Middle School / Upper School - November 2-5, 2016

Improvisational Theater professionals Amy Shostak and Joleen Ballendine

Grade 6-10 students took part in workshops led by Amy Shostak and Joleen Ballendine of Canada's Rapid Fire Theater. These professionals have been performing and teaching for over a decade. After the workshops, the students and guest artists presented a live improvisation show.

Upper School - September 27-October 4, 2016

Freedom from Chemical Dependency Officer Deirdre Flynn

Dierdre Flynn

FCD Prevention Works™ is the leading international nonprofit provider of school-based substance abuse prevention services. FCD works worldwide to provide students and the adults who care for them with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to make intelligent, healthy choices about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.
Senior Prevention Specialist and Regional Officer Deirdre Flynn spent time with students in Grades 9 and 10, Upper School faculty, and parents during her week-long visit at ZIS, building on work she has done with the school community over the past years.

Upper School - October 4-6, 2016

Music Education Expert Michael Griffin

MIchael Griffin, Music Education ExpertMusic Education expert Michael Griffin is a speaker, conductor, performer and author of Learning Strategies for Musical Success. He addresses and works with schools throughout the world. His subjects also include fostering intrinsic motivation and expert learning. Michael offered a variety of lectures to groups of students, parents, and faculty during his visit ZIS. He worked with music classes and Theory of Knowledge students, and offered two lunch lectures for faculty, staff and parents. Michael's visit was made possible by the ZIS Annual Fund, the theme of which this year is arts and creativity.

Lower School - May 11-13, 2016

Visiting Author Diane Ferlatte

Diane Ferlatte, Visiting AuthorDiane Ferlatte is a storyteller from the southern part of the US with a passion to preserve the oral traditions she grew up with. While her stories have many African, Southern and African-American roots, her performances weave tales from many cultures with songs, acting and music. She has a repertoire of hundreds of folktales, fables, legends, historical and personal stories for all ages. Students in the Lower School and Early Childhood Center enjoyed her presentations, which helped connect units of inquiry on global issues such as migration and sustainability.

Lower School and Middle School - Tuesday, April 5 & April 18-19, 2016

Visiting Author Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis, Visiting Author

Deborah Ellis is an award-winning author, a feminist and a peace activist who wrote the international bestseller The Breadwinner, as well as many challenging and beautiful works of fiction and non-fiction about children all over the world. Deborah is a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised.

She helped Grade 4 and 5 to connect with units of inquiry on global issues such as migration and sustainability, and also visited the Middle School where her presentations complemented the Grade 8 Global Issues unit and several themes studied in the Grade 7 English and Social Studies classes.

Lower School - Friday March 18, 2016

Learning from the Brain’s Perspective speaker Andy Habermacher

Andy HabermacherSome researchers have claimed that teachers use of neuroscience is more damaging than helpful! There are some uncomfortable truths in this - Andy Habermacher bust some myths and gave some insight into how the brain develops, where genetics beats nurture and were nurture beats genetics and what this means for classroom learning.

Upper School Theater - Wednesday, March 2 18:30-20:00, 2016

Math Consultant Dr. Steven Leinwand

Dr Steven Leinwand, Math ConsultantInspirational speaker, author and internationally recognized mathematics leader, Dr. Steven Leinwand explored a wide range of examples of what best serves our children - both in school and at home - and how the ability to apply mathematics and see mathematics everywhere is more important than ever during a presentation to Upper and Middle School parents.

Dr. Leinwand has over 35 years of experience as a leader in mathematics education. He is currently a Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., where he supports a range of mathematics education initiatives and research. Steve served as Mathematics Supervisor in the Connecticut Department of Education for twenty two years and is a former president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. Steve Leinwand is the author of several mathematics textbooks, numerous articles as well as the bestselling books Accessible Mathematics: Ten Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement and of Sensible Mathematics: A Guide for School Leaders in the Era of Common Core State Standards.

Upper School - Tuesday March 1 - 7, 2016

Project Based Learning expert Suzie Boss

Dr Susie Boss, Project Based Learning ExpertSuzie Boss focused on deepening enquiry and project based learning when she worked with faculty.

Focusing on the power of teaching and learning to improve lives and transform communities, she is the author of Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World and co-author of Reinventing Project-Based Learning and Thinking Through Project-Based Learning. She is a regular contributor to Edutopia and the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and a member of the Buck Institute for Education National Faculty.

ECC & Lower School - Friday, March 18, 2016

Irish Storyteller Niall de Burca

Niall de Burca, StorytellerIrish storyteller Niall de Burca together with our Early Childhood Center and Upper School students to help them develop their stories for our end of year performing arts show, an ongoing collaborative project involving students from both campuses. Niall will helped our oldest students guide the youngest as they imagined the world inside Monet's garden. He also performed for students in the Lower School and held a morning of storytelling at the ECC.

Lower School - Monday February 29, 2016

Artist in Residence Stuart Stotts

Stuart Stotts

Author, storyteller, educator, and songwriterStuart Stotts talked about the importance of kindness and Mindfulness for children with our teachers, helping them with many strategies and deep thoughts to enhance learning by focusing on conscious interaction between us as human beings.

Stuart is a Kennedy Center teaching artist and a frequent presenter at educational events, keynoting conferences and leading workshops for early childhood and elementary school teachers, librarians, and social service professionals.

Guest Speakers