Building a Bridge to
Chinese Language and Culture


Dr. Shu Yu (Sarah) YanPresident and Founder

Dr. Shu Yu Yan always possessed a passion for education and a strong belief in connecting the friendship of China and the United States. As the President and Founder of Texas Phoenix International School, she now has made her dream a reality by making Phoenix International School available to all students who wish to study the Chinese language and culture. Essentially, creating a bridge of friendship through learning more about the Chinese language and culture is Dr. Yan’s goal.

Dr. Yan holds a Ph.D. in Education and Curriculum Development from East China Normal University in Shanghai and has over 20 years of experience teaching in elementary and higher education. She has also taught Chinese at Lone Star College for 10 years.

Dr. Wei LiVice President

As Vice President of Phoenix International School, Dr.Wei Li works successfully to help many students improve their skills in written and spoken Chinese. Dr. Li has always believed the future of students is very important, and that there is no better way to help students than to encourage them to learn something new and broaden their horizons.

Dr. Li received his doctorate from Missouri University-Columbia in 1992.  He taught English and Chinese at Lone Star College from 1992-2016.  As Lead Faculty, he also taught at Qufu Normal University from 2014-2016 and led three China Study groups of Lone Star College Honors students to visit Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai in the summers of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Kim LeePrincipal

I’m truly delighted to be a part of Texas Phoenix International School. For the last twenty five years I’ve been working with students, training teachers and conducting family education seminars all over China and the United States. My personal and professional connections to Sino-US education are broad and deep. I’ve not only taught extensively in both countries and published many English learning textbooks, my very own children were born and raised in China. My three daughters attended Chinese public schools and can communicate freely in Chinese and English. They are equally comfortable in either of their two cultures. I truly believe that this is the right time for American students to learn Chinese and enjoy the many benefits this skill will bring to their lives.

I join the TPIS family with a shared dream of connecting Chinese and American culture. It’s my honor to take on the role of principal. I look forward to combining the best practices of East and West to educate confident, capable and of course, Chinese-speaking future global citizens!

Julie BellDirector of Development

Ms. Bell’s love and admiration for the Chinese language and culture and language started with her first job working at a wonderful Chinese family restaurant at the young age of 15 and later continued when her brother’s job required him to be fluent in reading, writing, and speaking Mandarin. Ms. Bell is an accomplished real estate agent with extensive knowledge of The Woodlands and surrounding communities and fifteen years’ experience living and working in the area. An award-winning Certified Relocation Specialist, Julie has assisted clients with international moves and has great respect for the challenges and special needs which are part of that transition process. Julie’s background provides her with a strong network, which includes area leaders and high-level executives. Her goal is to boost Texas Phoenix International School’s growth and influence to benefit the community that she loves.

Jingli TalkingtonGeneral Manager

Mrs. Talkington is from Beijing and has lived in the USA since 1991. She is married and the mother of three children. Her passion for education began as she homeschooled her children through the seventh grade. She has taught Chinese language to children at Hua Xia Chinese School and Northwest Chinese Academy, and to adults at Lonestar College’s Continuing Education School. She is also a private tutor for many individuals looking to improve their Chinese, and actively volunteers at school, church, and at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Jingli is a driven and dedicated achiever who brings a fresh and creative perspective to Texas Phoenix International School. She appreciates the challenges and the rewards of teaching Chinese language to children and adults, both beginners and experienced learners.

Dr. Xiaohong WenSpecial Advisor

Dr. Xiaohong Wen is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Chinese Language Acquisition at the University of Houston. Her publications include three books (Teaching Chinese as a Second Language: Curriculum Design and Instruction, 2015; Studies of Chinese Language Acquisition by English Speakers, 2012;  Learning and Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, 2008). Her motivation instrument has been adapted and used in other language studies such as ESL, Spanish, and Arabic. Xiaohong Wen is the founding director of Chinese Studies at UH. She is a Guest Seat Professor at four universities in China and Taiwan. She has received teaching awards including the Sydney B. Karofsky Teaching Prize, the Lence Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Global Faculty Award from Bowdoin College and the University of Houston. She has been invited to be a keynote and plenary speaker to many conferences and conducted teacher training workshops numerous times in the USA and abroad. She has served on several editorial, national and international boards of directors for academic associations.

Dr. Donald StewartVice President and Co-Founder

Dr. Stewart has more than 10 years of university level instruction in Spanish Language and more than 13 years as a Labor Certification Specialist in immigration law. As a publicly elected Trustee of North Harris Montgomery County College District (now Lone Star College) from 1985 to 1996, including two years as President of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Stewart oversaw policy for operations of a multi-campus college district, including expansion of the District and construction of new campuses in Tomball and The Woodlands.

As a special advisor of Texas Phoenix International School, he has been a great source of support and encouragement. Dr. Stewart cares a great deal for his students and always encourages them to improve their education and better themselves. He also studies Chinese himself and has developed a great love for the Chinese language and culture. So, not only does he motivate others to improve their skills in Chinese, he has made himself a student of the Chinese language.

Dr. Janet Beckwith StewartSpecial advisor

Dr. Stewart has more than 8 years of university level instruction in Spanish Language and more than 24 years as a Business Analyst and Contracts Specialist in upstream and midstream sectors of a major international oil company, including 7 years work overseas in the Caucasus.  As a publicly elected Director of a local Municipal Utility District for six years, including 4 years as the President of the Board of Directors, Dr. Stewart oversaw contracted services for legal, engineering, operations, and accounting.

As a special advisor of Texas Phoenix International School, Janet Stewart has traveled the world and seen the great advantages of being bilingual and multicultural. She has also traveled to China with her husband and learned more about the Chinese language and culture. She is a great source of support and encouragement for our team and students here at Texas Phoenix International School.

Leigh Ann VuSpecial Advisor

Ms. Vu has 25 years of progressive experience in management, finance, accounting and payroll. She possesses high-level analytical and interpersonal skills as well as computer skills with demonstrated ability to quickly grasp new software. Her extensive technological background and experience will facilitate student motivation and creative learning. Ms. Vu first came to the United States when she was a teenager, and her international experience and intercultural skills combined with her financial expertise make her a perfect advisor for Texas Phoenix International School.

Andrew NeilsonDirector of Communications

Andy Neilson is currently a graduate student at the University of Houston, where he is focusing on teaching Chinese as a second language.  Andy studied Chinese at the University of Texas at Austin and furthered his education in China at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Beijing Youth Politics College. His passion for the language and culture runs deep, and he is always excited to share it with others!

As Director of Communications at Texas Phoenix International School, Andy will serve as a great example to students who are passionate about furthering their skills in the Chinese language and culture. Andy has a deep passion for continuing his education and helping others on that path to success.

Rachel CiampichiniDirector of Education

Rachel spent 10 years growing up in China, immersed in the Chinese language and culture. When she was taking classes at Lone Star, she attended the International Chinese Speech competition. She won 1st place in the USA, and later as the representative for the USA team she won 2nd place world-wide. Now, she is continuing her passion in education and Chinese language at Sam Houston State University majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies for general and special education students. She has always had a deep passion for teaching children and enjoys exploring new ways of learning.

As the Director of Education of Phoenix International School, Rachel will be a role model to those wanting to learn more about the Chinese language and culture.

Justin EngExecutive Assistant

Justin is majoring in International Business at The University of Texas in Austin in pursuit of his goals to build a bridge between China and America. After Justin graduated from high school, he became an exchange student in Taipei, Taiwan for one year. There, he started learning Chinese language at the National Taiwan Normal University.

As the Executive Assistant at Texas Phoenix International School, Justin has always had a deep passion for learning the Chinese language and continuing his education. Along with bringing new and creative ideas to the team, he is also a great role model for our students who are learning Chinese as a second language. Justin continues to study Chinese at his university to better improve his understanding of the Chinese language and culture.

Franklin TamProject Manager

As an American born Chinese, Franklin has been in Houston his whole life. It was not until his first time in China in 2015, studying abroad at Jiaotong University, when he learned about his cultural roots. Franklin graduated in May 2017 with honors from the University of Houston and now aims to spread the culture he experienced to the city he grew up in.

As the Program Director at Texas Phoenix International School, Franklin handles daily operations, communications, and information technology.