Program Director at Whispering Wind Academy


Ruth Jay - World Language Teacher/Mandarin Program Director at Whispering Wind Academy

My name is Ruth Jay.  I have been teaching Mandarin as an enrichment subject to kindergarten to 6th-grade students since 2009. I teach each class 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes.  Interestingly, I started my teaching career in 2006 as a regular 2nd-grade teacher at Whispering Wind Academy.  I have been at Whispering Wind Academy since 2006 and have loved being here.  My role as a teacher has evolved over the years from being the first Mandarin teacher at Paradise Valley Unified School District to helping implement the dual language immersion program at Whispering Wind Academy.  I am happy and proud to be part of the Whispering Wind faculty.  

I have a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and a Masters in Elementary Education from the Northern Arizona University.  I am currently pursuing my doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Arizona.  I love mountain biking during the weekends and cannot wait to go skiing with my two children, Russell and Stephanie during the winter months.

Mandarin DLI Teacher BIOs

DLI Kindergarden


 My name is Fang Zheng. I'm from Kaifeng, Henan, China. I got my master's  degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland  and started to work as a 1st grade teacher in the Dual Language  Immersion Program in Casper, Wyoming. After two years' teaching in  Wyoming, I moved to Phoenix and began to teach Kindergarten at  Whispering Wind Academy. As a teacher, I love to see my students grow  both academically and socially in a 100% foreign language environment.  Besides teaching, I enjoy traveling, movies, and time with family and  friends.

DLI 1st Grade



I am from Shenzhen China. I got my M. Ed at University of Maryland. I interned in China as a primary school English teacher before, and as a TOEFL and IELTS teacher in an institution. I interned in DC International School and Baltimore International Academy in Maryland when I was in graduate school. I like sharing Chinese Cultures to others, and I like all kinds of languages! I love eating and traveling! I am open to all kinds of advice and wants to be a better teacher. :)  Mali Liao (1st grade) 

DLI 2nd Grade



My name is Niya Ma.  I come from Chengdu, China, which is the hometown of pandas. I graduated from the University of Georgia with my Master's degree of Educational Administration and Policy. I worked as an English teacher in China, and I taught in both Elementary school and Middle school. When I was in Atlanta after graduation, I worked as a kindergarten teacher and taught Chinese in a private preschool. I'm very passionate about getting every student involved in my classroom. In my free time I enjoy walking my dog, watching movies, Llstening to music, and working out.

Niya Ma

DLI 3rd Grade



My Name is Jing Nie. I come from Chengdu, Sichuan, China. I got my undergraduate degree in Sichuan Normal University, majoring in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Language. I taught college students Chinese language art when I was in school and also English speaking/listening on TOEFL test. Then I came to the U.S. and got my master degree from University of Maryland, majoring in Curriculum and Instruction. During my full-time student teaching, I taught 3rd grade in a full immersion Chinese class. I was a kindergarten teacher in my first year teaching and now I am a 3rd/4th Chinese immersion teacher in Whispering Wind Academy. I enjoy Reading, movies, and swimming. 

Jing Nie 

DLI 4th / 5th Grade



My name is Shuang Gou or gòu lǎo shī, and I am originally from Sichuan, China. In 2010, I graduated from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California with a Master's  degree in Foreign Language Education. I have been teaching both ESL and Mandarin Chinese for the past few years. I have worked with students of different ages and backgrounds, ranging from college to elementary level. I have taught in Chengdu, China, Cleveland, OH, Twin Cities, MN, Pomona, CA, Seattle, WA, and most recently in Oakland, CA. I am excited to join the WWA DLI program. And I look forward to building exciting curriculum that will help our students excel in Mandarin and become creative thinkers that will help make our world a better place. 

DLI 6th Grade



My name is Qiong Xia. I am originally from Wuhan, China. I came to  the States in 2007 for my Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics at the  University of Northern Iowa after teaching five years in China. I  obtained the Doctoral Degree (PhD) in Curriculum and Instruction,  specialized in Second Language Education and Culture, from the  University of Maryland in 2016. I have taught Mandarin Chinese to  elementary and college students and have provided workshops and  trainings for Mandarin teachers in the States. I moved to AZ to reunite  with my husband, and we have three children, two boys and one girl! I  enjoy spending my time with my family, cooking, and traveling!  

Qiong Xia:  

English DLI Teacher BIOs

DLI Kindergarden



Ms. Brown - kindergarten

DLI 1st Grade


 Sarah Platten, 1st grade teacher

Educational Background: Master's degree, 

Elementary Education, Arizona State University.  Taught for four years in a private school. Taught two years in a charter school. Has been teaching at WWA since 2016

Teaching styles:Nurture students' love for reading by allowing them to grow at their own pace. Hands-on is Minds-on.

DLI 2nd Grade


My name is  K. Elisabeth Milich.  I have known I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 year old. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. However,  I attended Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois for college.  I was able to pursue a teaching degree while attending school on a soccer scholarship.  I graduated in 1998 with a bachelors in elementary education.  I taught for one year in Illinois, then had my first baby, and was blessed to be able to stay home and raise my kiddos.   I have 3 kids, my oldest is 18, my middle child is 15 and my youngest is 11.  In January I will have been married for 20 years. I have been back teaching for the past 5 years.  I started as a long term substitute teacher, then finally obtained an Arizona teaching certificate and have officially taught for 2 years. I can not imagine doing anything else as a career.  I am passionate about teaching kids to love reading! I am thankful to be working at the best school.  

DLI 3rd Grade



My name is Kelly Van Steenhuyse and I am a 3rd Grade English Mandarin Immersion Teacher at Whispering Wind Academy.  This will be my 5 year at WWA!
I previously taught for 5 years in the Cartwright School District teaching 5 & 6th grades.  I am originally from Chicago, Illinois where I taught 2nd through 5th grades.  This will my 17 year of teaching.  I received by Elementary Education degree from St. Ambrose University  in Davenport, Ia.  in 2001.  I love my job as a teacher and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Parents can feel free to email me @

 or call me at (602) 449-7300. 

DLI 4th / 5th Grade


  My name is Mrs. Wilson.  I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but have lived in Phoenix, Arizona most of my life.  I am married and have two boys.  I graduated from Arizona State University West in 2002 earning an Elementary Education degree with an E.S.L. endorsement.   I also have an endorsement as a Reading Specialist.  My teaching background is mostly in the upper elementary grades (4th and 5th), but I have taught middle and high school students as well.  Before coming to Whispering Wind Academy, I taught at Echo Mountain Intermediate School, Brightmont Academy Private School, and Sunnyslope Elementary School.   When I am not teaching, I enjoy traveling, reading, DIY projects, and playing games with my family. 

DLI 6th Grade


 BIO Under Construction