Mike Cyrus 150

Mike Cyrus (USA) - Director

Dr. Michael Cyrus is a third-generation educator with over twenty years' experience in America and abroad. Mike originally taught Spanish, first at Hinsdale Central High School and later at New Trier High School, the highest performing, regular-admission school in the State of Illinois.

Dr. Cyrus’s first school leadership assignment was at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School awardee and the birthplace of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) movement. At Stevenson, he served seven years, first as Director of World Languages & ESL and later as Director of Human Resources. In 2007, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent of the Lake Forest (Illinois) elementary and high school districts. Dr. Cyrus was named high school principal of the Thai-Chinese International School in Bangkok in 2011. In 2013, he joined the administrative team of the United Nations International School in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A native of Wisconsin, Mike graduated summa cum laude from St. Norbert College in DePere. He earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and his administrative certification from Loyola University. Mike studied school leadership at Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a second master’s degree and his doctorate. His dissertation (2010) focused on resource use in high-performing schools. Dr. Cyrus holds teaching, administrative and superintendent licensure from the states of Illinois and Virginia. Prior to his career in education, Mike worked as the controller of the Mid-America Committee, an association of international business chief executive officers based in Chicago. Dr. Cyrus is the eldest of five siblings, an avid reader and traveler and a great aficionado of the arts.

Bachelor of Arts, (Spanish and History), St. Norbert College 
Master of Education, (Curriculum), Loyola University of Chicago
Master of Education, (Curriculum) and Doctor of Education,(School Leadership), Columbia University

Peggy Smith (USA) – Deputy Director/Curriculum Coordinator

Dr. Peggy Smith has been a career educator with fifteen years of teaching high school English and nineteen years of administrative experience. Dr. Smith has served as a Director of Curriculum, Principal (both middle school and high school), assistant superintendent, and superintendent of schools in Wisconsin public schools.

Dr. Smith has previously worked as a high school principal in San Paolo, Brazil and the Director of Curriculum at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, Russia. Her favorite job is curriculum.
Dr. Smith’s husband, David Awtrey, teaches Science at NCPA.


Bachelor of Science, (Secondary English education), University of Wisconsin
Master of Science, (Educational Leadership), University of Wisconsin
Doctor of Philosophy, (Educational Leadership and Policy), University of Wisconsin

Aracelis Maldonado150Aracelis Maldonado (Venezuela) – High School Principal

Aracelis Maldonado began her career as an educator in the middle school social studies classroom. She has also taught AP Comparative Government and World History to high school students. Before becoming a High School Principal, she worked in Guatemala and Malaysia. She is a United World College graduate and is fluent in English and Spanish.
Aracelis Maldonado worked for the United Nations before becoming a teacher. She holds a BA in Political Science and a Masters in International Teaching. She is also an Educational Leadership doctoral candidate.

Bachelor of Political Science, Universidad Central de Venezuela 
Master of International Teaching, Framingham State University

Hanson Yeung (Canada) - Middle School Principal

Hanson Yeung has found in the classroom a platform on which to fuse his love of working with young people with his love of music. He is one of the founding faculty at NCPA.  Before becoming the middle school principal, he taught in Vancouver, Shanghai, Nairobi, and London, and performed in a number of world renowned choirs.

Bachelor of Music, McGill University
Bachelor of Education, the University of British Columbia
Masters in Education (Leadership), Lehigh University

Cecilia Shang Benting (USA) - Deputy Principal

Cecilia Shang Benting was born into a family of educators, growing up on a college campus in China. She followed her parents when she entered the field of education in 1990. From there, her career spanned the Pacific Ocean from Beijing to New York, including teaching positions with Tsinghua University, the International School of Beijing, Beaverton School District (a public school system in Oregon), EF International Academy (an international boarding school in New York), and Oregon Episcopal School (a prestigious private school in Portland, Oregon). All three of her children graduated from excellent liberal arts colleges in the United States. She studied and earned degrees from universities in both China and the US. She also holds New York State Attorney License. Cecilia embodies a truly multicultural background that allows her to help NCPA’s students successfully navigate Chinese and American cultures and philosophies.


Bachelor of Law (International Law), Fudan University
Master of Law (International Business Law), Temple University

ginger shiGinger Shi (China) – Dean of Students

Ginger Shi has been teaching in NCPA since 2015. During Ginger Shi’s graduate studies, she was dispatched by the Confucius Institute Headquarters and Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) to the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in the Philippines to teach Chinese. She implemented a situational teaching approach in Chinese class and the students improved greatly in their comprehension/listening and speaking. She had been teaching G12 Chinese literature and compositon in the past 2 years in NCPA and done a great job. She has transfered to the position of Dean of Students in 2017.

Bachelor of Arts (Japanese), Shandong University
Master of Arts (Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages), Sun Yat-sen University