BASIS International Schools is rapidly expanding and we are adding a new location in 2022: BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu! This beautiful campus will be the first in our network to house both an international and bilingual school program.

Head of School Dr. Ryan Kelly brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the leadership of the school. His background in chemistry and mathematics, and extensive studies in educational leadership, will help this new campus grow in ways that will benefit both students and teachers, and build up a vibrant educational community.

Ryan Kelly Head of School, BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu


Ryan was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, USA. He grew up with a deep love of the outdoors and being active. Ryan spent his youth racing bikes, skiing, and playing as many sports as possible. He has fond memories of spending time with his family and friends and will always call Boise his true home.

Ryan learning how to type with his dad.

After graduating high school, Ryan attended the University of Oregon (U of O), where he studied chemistry and advanced mathematics. While at U of O, Ryan was active in the Outdoor Program and took part in mountaineering and rock climbing. Ryan was also a member of the U of O Triathlon Team.

During Ryan’s senior year at U of O, he realized that he loved teaching chemistry. This realization proved to be a pivotal point in Ryan’s life and has shaped his course ever since. When asked why he moved from a career direction in chemical research to education, Ryan had the following to say:

“Throughout college, my sights were set on entering academia or industry to work with my dad. As I was filling out Ph.D. applications, I realized what gave me the greatest joy was seeing a fellow student’s eyes light up when they understood a problem after I had explained it. I was told repeatedly I had a knack for making the complex more transparent, so I decided to pursue my happiness of making chemistry accessible for all and allowing students to enjoy chemistry rather than dread the course.”

With love for teaching chemistry and a desire to pursue it as a career, Ryan attended the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) to pursue a master’s degree in science instruction and curriculum. He continued his love for the outdoors and triathlon and joined the coveted CU triathlon team. Ryan became the team’s president, and during his tenure, the team won three National Championships.

Teaching and Leadership

After Ryan finished his master’s degree, he immediately began his teaching career. He has taught honors/AP chemistry, honors mathematics in both charter and public schools, along with teaching IB MYP/DP chemistry and mathematics in an independent school, Riverstone International School located in Boise, Idaho. Ryan ascended the administrative ladder rapidly at Riverstone, where he advanced to grade-level lead, department chair, and then the Head of Upper School. While at Riverstone, he obtained the National Board-Certified Teacher of Science certification along with receiving the Boise Rotary Award for Distinguished Educators.

Ryan blowing up a hydrogen balloon to teach about electron excitation.

Wanting a change and further growth, Ryan became the Head of the Upper School at Carrollwood Day School (CDS) in Tampa, Florida, USA. While leading the Upper School, the division saw enormous growth and programmatic expansions. He continued to further his leadership knowledge while Head of the Upper School by taking part in Harvard University’s Principal Training Program for New and Aspiring School Leaders. He was also named a fellow of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Aspiring Heads’ Institute. Ryan was then named the Associate Head of School, and shortly thereafter, he became the Head of School at Carrollwood Day School.

Being a teacher/student-centered Head of School and desiring to be re-immersed in teaching and learning, Ryan enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Ryan’s dissertation focused on the STEM and Entrepreneurship programs at his school and how they impacted the girls in grades 5 – 12. Ryan stated the following about this experience:

“The time I spent in this program is one of the most impactful experiences of my life. It allowed me to focus on teachers and students, and I loved being able to do research at my school site and bring back knowledge and research that applied to everyone in our school.”

After twelve-years at CDS, Ryan and his family wanted to embark on a new journey and pursue opportunities overseas. On July 1, 2021 Ryan became the Founding Head of School of BASIS International & Bilingual School in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

BASIS International/Bilingual Schools’ Mission:

To provide our students with a transformative early childhood and K – 12 education. With the cutting-edge BASIS Curriculum, through exceptional teaching and faculty mentoring, we will produce graduates who have the broad intellectual and international perspectives, critical thinking capabilities and creative problem-solving skills to be leaders in their future world.

A great international school in contemporary China must fulfill two important promises to our families: we must connect our students to educational and professional opportunities across the globe, and at the same time ensure that our students are deeply rooted in the language and culture of this nation’s uniquely rich, vibrant and ancient civilization.

Why BASIS International Schools and China

“My wife, Kate, and two children, O’Neill (7) and Kata (4), and I are thrilled to be moving to China and opening the BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu.

BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu

BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu

I chose this particular opportunity because I believe in the vision of Dr. Guan, Chairman of Ascend Corporation, and Dr. Reford, Chief Executive of Head of Schools. To be part of an ecosystem of schools growing in numbers, striving to be the best in China by focusing on high-quality teaching and learning is music to my ears. To collaborate, not compete against, other BASIS schools is another factor that drew me to this opportunity, as this is a model that does not exist in U.S. Independent Schools. Further, to open a brand-new school with a team of outstanding administrators, teachers, and high-quality operational support is exhilarating to me.

China is extremely fascinating to me for so many reasons. China is on the move, and its constant growth and focus on being a global leader in education, technology, etc. appeals greatly to me. Further, with my wife being Korean-American and our two children being half Korean, we wanted to be in China to expose them to various Asian cultures and countries and learn all we can about Chinese culture.”

BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu

BASIS International/Bilingual School Chengdu

Visit our careers website to submit your resume for future opportunities with this brand new school!

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