About Dr. Eddie Kim

Founded in 2007 by Dr. Eddie Kim, Asia Pacific International School (APIS), was born out of his own personal life experiences of having lived internationally, as well as an international educator for over 20 years.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Kim moved to New York City (NYC) when he was just 12-years-old. As he did not speak a word of English, Dr. Kim was placed in the school's special education program upon arrival. Back then, students taking English as an Additional Language (EAL), were commonly treated as students with learning disabilities. Being pulled-out and isolated from the mainstream student body, Dr. Kim's early school experience was anything but engaging and motivating. He felt that he was labeled as a 'special' student who could not learn.

Fortunately, music teacher, Ms. Theressa Lyles, was there to save him. Ms. Lyles showed genuine care for the young Dr. Kim, both personally and academically. She expected the highest learning standards from all of her students, scaffolding and differentiating so Dr. Kim could achieve those high standards. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Lyles even drove Dr. Kim to Staten Island borough-wide chorus rehearsals every Saturday morning.

Ms. Theressa Lyles is pictured playing the piano.
Dr. Kim is the second student standing from the right.
Through Ms. Lyles' extraordinary care and dedication, Dr. Kim was able to develop a sense of confidence and motivation to learn. The school then became a place where Dr. Kim could actually shine. Ms. Lyles even allowed Dr. Kim to sing a solo at the Christmas concert. Ms. Lyles said to Dr. Kim, "If your English is not good enough, then you will sing 'Silent Night' in Korean!" Dr. Kim could have memorized the song in English, but Ms. Lyles wanted him to feel proud of who he was and not felt ashamed of being an EAL student.

Music kept Dr. Kim in school, and Dr. Kim eventually learned to speak English, as all EAL students would. He was then able to excel in other subjects as well. Ms. Lyles was the first person to show Dr. Kim that a school should be a place where all students come to learn and not a place where students come to be judged. Moreover, Ms. Lyles showed successful learning is impossible without a genuinely caring relationship.

The legacy of Ms. Lyles planted the seed for APIS’ growth mindset philosophy of believing all students can learn. As a school, APIS does not aspire to be known as an 'elite' school but rather as an inclusive school. The sole purpose of the APIS admissions evaluation is to determine how APIS can support each incoming student.

Thanks to educators like Ms. Lyles, Dr. Kim eventually went onto higher education. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University.

He began his teaching career at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), University of California San Diego, where he taught four years as an assistant professor of Korean economy and development. Dr. Kim’s bicultural and bilingual background was an invaluable asset in him pursuing not only his research interest in East Asian development but also in his decision to move back to South Korea. As a tenured professor, Dr. Kim taught at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), Yonsei University for 15 years.

It was not long before Dr. Kim realized from both his personal and professional experiences that the value of an international education starting at the earlier, K-12 stage would be more critical and impactful in preparing our students for the New Pacific Century.

APIS was founded in 2007 with Dr. Kim’s conviction that international education should not merely teach about issues that are global but should also provide authentic global learning experiences and contexts. Purpose-driven, APIS operates two global campuses under one school, where APIS Seoul serves as the campus of the East and APIS Hawai‘i as the campus of the West, allowing students to take advantage of APIS’ global learning environment.