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Education Matters with Marina Dotsenko & Elena Berezhnaya of RISS International School

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

In our Education Matters series, we talk to the Heads of Schools to find out what makes them tick at school and beyond. Today’s conversation is with the co-founders of RISS International School, Marina Dotsenko and Elena Berezhnaya.


When did you arrive in Singapore and from where?

Elena:  I’ve been in Singapore for 12 years, before that I lived in Germany, where I was studying at University, but I originally come from Moscow.

Marina:  I arrived in Singapore in Jan 2009 from the Far East of Russia.

Who or what inspired you to set up RISS?

Elena: Our kids are our biggest inspiration. We struggled to find a proper school for them, all international schools in Singapore are big, expensive and lack individual attention, we had a hard time imagining our kids there. We decided to create a school with a more natural approach. Our school is small, community based, that values every child as an individual, where communication between home and school is simple and ongoing.

Marina: My daughter. In Russia, kids usually spend 3-4 hours per day in primary school years, which I personally find is the right fit for my child. I also wanted to have the flexibility with the school schedule to have time during the week to spend more time with my daughter.

When you were at school yourselves, did you have one teacher or educational experience that stood out and if so, why?

Elena:  I had amazing primary teacher that stayed with our class from 1st to 3rd grade, she was kind and caring and that helped kids to grow their confidence and develop a love of learning.

Marina: In Grade 9 I had a wonderful algebra and geometry teacher who was passionate about teaching. Once she brought a rubber football into class and cut in in half in front of us, then she inserted a pyramid (made from metal wire) inside one half of the football – I learned about pyramids inside the sphere and could easily solve any tasks regarding spheres later on.

If you could be a ‘Super Hero’, which would you pick and why?

Elena:  Super Hero culture lacks female characters that I can relate to.  I know a lot of woman in real life, who are my super heroes, who are changing the world, run their own businesses, while raising kids at the same time. I think we should create more super heroes that are feminine to show that women can save the world too.

Marina:  I was born in the Soviet Union and there were no super heroes, but both myself and Elena became Super Woman ourselves by being an inspiration to other girls and show that woman can be Super Heroes too.

What are the top three apps on your phone today?

Elena:  WhatsApp, Gmail, Spotify

Marina:  WhatsApp, Grab, ClassDoJo

What is your favourite spot / activity in Singapore and why?

Elena:  I like hiking and yoga. I do regular hikes with my kids, because I think it is very important to spend time with nature. And yoga gives me flexibility and provides me with relaxation.

Marina:  I play Badminton with my team.  I love to bring my family to the parks and the beach.  We also cycle through the Green Corridor.

What is the best thing about your school?

In unison: Our passionate teachers!

Elena:  We received over a hundred CVs and interviewed lots of candidates and we chose the best teachers. We are very thorough in our selection process as our own kids go to Razum as well.

Marina:  Our teachers understand how it’s important to start this life journey or learning right – with love, passion and respect.


Razum International School Singapore (RISS) is committed to maintaining a connected, nurturing community that provides students with every opportunity to belong, grow and be respected. RISS is committed to prioritising student welfare in their crucial formative years and is the only school in Singapore offering flexible schooling.

RISS provides quality and affordable education for students from 5 to 12 years of age with 1-2 classes per grade (with a mximum of 18 students per class) to ensure a community environment where every child matters. RISS is located in the heart of Singapore close to Tanglin Road.

To find out more or to arrange a school tour, please visit or contact +65 6974 5700.


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