Important End of Year Information

I absolutely can not believe there are only 7 and a half weeks left for High School Students!  Wow!  Where did the time go?

Final Grades:

It’s a good time to check in on your children’s grades.  Please go into Engrade and take a look at how your children are doing.  As you may remember from the beginning of the year, the school will not promote students who have a “2” or lower in any core class.  A core class is defined as a full-credit course that is not an elective.

To clarify:

  • a “1” represents a failing grade – this student has failed that course.
  • a”2″ represents a grade that is technically a pass, but does not meet the standard for promotion at UAS.

We expect our students to achieve at least a “3” in every subject.  Our students are more than capable of this and the school will no longer pass students along without expecting them to pursue their personal best.

What happens if my child gets a 1 or 2?

If your child has a “1” or “2”  in any subject they can do one of two things:

  • Go to an externally accredited on-line agency such as iCademy and get the credit.  They can also go to summer school overseas.  We will accept the credit as proof from an appropriate organization.
  • Or they can complete a summer work package designed by the school, these students will use that as a study guide and they will re-sit their exams in the last week of August.  Students who are in danger of this will be contacted in the coming weeks.  All of these students will already be on academic probation.

What happens if my child has several 1’s or 2’s.

This is rare, but it does happen.  If the student has three or more 1’s or 2’s, they will automatically not be promoted.  This means they will repeat the year if they are to return to UAS.

I am pleased to announce that as a result of the hard work of Mr. Pomainville, over 50 students have successfully pulled their grades up and are off of academic probation!

Math Improvements

I am delighted to announce that there will be a change in leadership in the Math department next year, as Ms. Soha Abdullateef will take over.

Our MAP data is showing very promising trends in Mathematics.  We have some incredible students at UAS who are not being served by the IB 1 to 7 scale.  This is another reason we are putting in the American Curriculum.  Many of our newer teachers are new to the IB system and we have had conversations focused on the fact that were we to be grading on the American System, many students’ GPAs would be much higher.  These grades do not appear to be aligned to the students’ progress according to the MAP results.  Ms. Abdullateef and I are working closely with those teachers to ensure that the grades we give students accurately reflect their abilities in Math.  We are investigating the cause for this discrepancy and if appropriate, corrections will be made to student grades.

The changes coming to the Math Department are long overdue.  Ms. Abdullateef and Ms. Gibson will be presenting the changes at an upcoming High School Coffee.  I’m sure parents will be enthused with what they hear about them!

Ramadan Hours

School will run from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM During Ramadan.  Here is a breakdown of the schedule:

End of Year for High School – Tuesday June 26th

Although some parents find it inconvenient, many schools do staggered starts and finishes.  I have been asked why several times recently and would like to communicate the answers.  For the little ones, KG1 and KG2 a staggered start is essential for the emotional well-being of the child.  We bring students in in small groups so they can get to know the teachers and the new environment.  This is the first time many of them have been away from their parents and having 18 three year olds in a room without their parents for the first time is scary for them.  Smaller numbers mean fewer meltdowns!

For older students, much of the more meaningful learning time is better served at the beginning of the year.  You may recall that we had high school students come in 3 days early this year to introduce the IB and to work on Extended Essays.  We anticipate big gains in the IB Core points.

That said, we have a very exciting program for students post exams.  The Grade 9’s will be doing a STEM project centred around physics.  We will take the students to IMG and study the physics of roller coasters.  The students will then come back to school and create roller coasters.  This will help them get ahead of the Grade 10 Science curriculum.  For Grade 10’s – they will start their IB work!  Every year the English Department covers the Great Gatsby as it’s first IB book.  Since all students take this course, we are going to get a head start on Grade 11!  Grade 11’s will get a workshop on the Extended Essay.

In the past, we have not done a good enough job of supporting students after exams.  We intend to change that this year.  Parents, please support us.  All returning students must be at school until Tuesday, June 26th.

School Culture and Fundraising

As we develop as a not-for-profit school, we will be looking for alternate streams of revenue so that we can The Fine Arts Booster Club supported the Arts Department with our first ever red-carpet celebration of the Arts.  What an amazing event it was!  The kids were all dressed beautifully and the speeches were amazing!  The FABC donated the amazing artwork, portraits of celebrities that are absolutely beautiful.  If you are interested in purchasing one, several are still available.  We are asking 1000 Dirhams per poster (they are worth it – I bought 3!).  All proceeds will go towards supporting the Arts Department so we can continue build capacity to showcase the enormous talent of our students.  We will use the money to upgrade sound and lighting equipment and run arts events.  We hope you will contribute.  If you are interested, please contact:


Have a great week!


Introduction of new team members, updates, and looking ahead to next week

Dear Parents,

Last week I wrote about some upcoming events and I wanted to follow that up.

Athletics and Arts Awards Nights Next Week!

Please join us on Monday and Wednesday Next Week for two important events.  On Monday we will have our Term 3 Athletic Awards Ceremony.  This is where we celebrate our Term 3 sports as well as give out our Athlete of the Year Awards.  It will follow the regular format.  Mr. Coppes will be representing High School at this event as unfortunately, I am off campus that day.

Fabulously, our Arts Department has decided that they would like to celebrate our students as well.  The idea is a Golden-Globes type event with Artistic Awards for those students.  I am delighted to attend and I hope you will too!

Senior Attendance

Senior Attendance has been disappointing this week.  Our teachers have prepared active review lessons for our students and those who have been here have benefitted.  There is a belief among some of our students that we “aren’t doing anything”.  This is not the case.  I have been in and out of classes and seen some wonderfully well-prepared lessons which directly support preparation for our IB exams.  Many students believe that they will be better off studying on their own at home.  The other important point is that due to the late start this year, we need to teach up until the end of this week to get our students to the 240 hours required for HL courses.  That number is reached on Thursday.

For that reason, Thursday we will allow academically eligible students to choose to stay at home for next week.  We strongly recommend that students come in, as “study weeks” often put students in a negative rhythm.  They study at night and sleep in the day, but then when they write exams they are often sleep deprived which impairs cognitive function.  School will be open and we recommend students come to class.

Some students are expected to come in.  Those who have a 3 in any subject, or are predicted on less than 26 points will be asked to come to school.  Ms. Cummins is working on an intervention plan to help those students achieve their personal best.

Parent-Teacher Conferences and Q3 Grades.

Next week we will be hosting our Parent-Teacher Conferences.  You should have received an email with instructions on how to get into PTC Fast, our sign-up program for conferences.  The sign-up system is now live so please feel free to go in and book your appointments.

In my last post I promised that Q3 Grades would be on-line by Thursday.  A number of teachers asked for an extension as several large projects have recently come in.  We have extended the deadline for teachers until Sunday.  All grades will be on Engrade before P/T Conferences.

Required After School Hours (RASH)

Did your child get a RASH?  Last week I wrote about the mandatory after school hours, which one of our teachers cleverly dubbed “RASH”.  Required after school hours ensure that students get their work in.  Many teachers were concerned that certain students were not staying on top of their obligations.  This week we launched RASH and it’s been a huge success.  So far over 100 pieces of work have come in.

RASH is successful because many teachers are involved.  We have one subject area teacher from each department on hand, so that students can get the support they need while working on their projects.  Last year we simply had one teacher, but often times if a student got stuck, that teacher could not help.  With this system, we have appeared to fix that problem.  Work is coming in and students are supported.

Best RASH ever!

Director’s Forum Next Tuesday.

I do apologize to Grade 4 parents who noted that next Tuesday’s Forum conflicts with the Grade 4 performance.  We can not change the time as we have Ms. Iman Fattoum joining us to talk about her experience running and managing curriculum.  We will also introduce Dr. Farah Sarraj, who is the new Managing Director of Arabic and Islamic for the Al-Futtaim Education Foundation.  Ms. Fattoum will be the lead on Arabic at UAS and both her and Mr. Fayez will report to Ms. Sarraj and myself.

We are eager to learn together and to hear about the experiences of parents in Arabic at UAS.

Seats Filling Up Fast!

The school is going to be smaller next year as we are targeting a lower enrollment.  Obviously, our budgets are based on the number of students enrolled and so this year we are going to cap enrollment across the school.  There are fewer than 50 seats left in High School; Grade 10 having the fewest at less than 10 seats left!  If you have not re-enrolled, it’s best you do so because we will fill the school next year and we’d hate for anyone to miss out!

Important Information regarding: the Home Stretch for High School!

Dear parents,

Where has the time gone?  It seems like only a week ago we were just coming back from summer and now there is only 11 weeks left until next Summer!

Seniors – Attendance is Crucial!

I was visiting Senior classes this week to see the active review that is taking place in all the classes.  I saw some very creative and engaging review lessons.  In some classes, the content is still being delivered.  Here is the plan for the next 2 weeks for Seniors:

On Thursday, all Seniors will have a “Q3” Grade on their Engrade.  This will be the final mark for IB Diploma students going into their final exams.  If you haven’t used Engrade yet, here is a video to remind you of what Engrade is.

ALL Seniors are to be in school until April 19th – classes are still going on, and teachers are giving “active review”.

After April 19th, Academically Eligible Seniors may be allowed to stay home.  To qualify, students must have over 26 points and no “3’s” on their Engrade reports, and, they must have their CAS completed.

We will send a letter home to those who qualify.  If you do not receive a letter, your child is expected to be at school!

Parent-Teacher Conferences Coming Up.

On April 25th and 26th, we are having our last Parent-Teacher Conferences of the year.  Priority sign up will be given to parents whose children are on Academic Probation.  Sign up will open on Sunday April 15th for those parents, and for everyone else we will open sign up on Tuesday, April 17th.

On Thursday, April 19th, we will be placing a year-to-date grade on Engrade (Q3).  Please make sure you check this before the conferences.  It is the grade your child would get if the year were to end today!

Mandatory After School Study Hall for Incomplete Work.

As you probably remember from last year, it is an expectation that all work be completed, in full, otherwise they can not be promoted to the next grade level.  Starting next week we are re-structuring our Study Hall to ensure that all students get their work in.

Here is how it will work: when an assignment/due date is missed, the student will be placed on the Study Hall register and parents will be contacted.  Parents and students will be given 2 days notice so parents can arrange transportation.  If the paper comes in within the two days, the student can be removed from Study Hall.  If not, the student will come into Study Hall from 3:15 to 4:30 every day after school until the work is completed.  If, after 2 weeks of Study Hall, the work is still not done, the student will receive a zero.

Study Hall is mandatory for all students who do not submit work and we appreciate parental support in this matter.  Thank you for helping us help your children!

HS Principal Coffee Next Monday

Next week on Monday, April 23rd, Mr. Coppes will be running his first High School Principal’s Coffee morning at 8:00 AM in the library.  It will be a great chance to interact with the new High School Principal and give feedback about what you want the American Curriculum to look like for 2019 and beyond.


We look forward to seeing you April 25 and 26!  Have a great day!

Wizard of Oz this week!

Dear Parents,

It’s been a wonderful few weeks at UAS.  Here are a list of things we have done in March:

  • Women’s Week
  • Stitching for Palestine Movie Event
  • Season Two Athletics Banquet
  • Grade 11 IB Music Recital
  • High School Student Recognition Assembly
  • Director’s Forum (click link for presentation).
  • WeWalk (click link for information)
  • Senior Fun Day.

UAS is a busy school, and we love it!  These celebrations are a huge part of who we are, and we have (or will be) uploading photos of these events to our UAS Instagram Page.

Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year, the opening of the school Musical.  This year, we are performing The Wizard of Oz.  It is sure to be a wonderful event!

Please join us tonight, tomorrow night, or Wednesday night for this amazing performance.  Doors open at 6:00 and the show starts promptly at 6:30.

Hope to see you there!

Stitching Palestine tonight!

UAS proudly presents: Stitching Palestine!

If you have been in the school this week, you will notice the beautiful pieces of embroidery in our lobby and library.  The reason for this is that UAS, as part of Women’s Week is sponsoring a screening of the film Stitching Palestine.  Members of the cast of the film will be present to answer questions.  Please join us tonight at 5:00 PM in the library to see the exhibit.  The film will begin at 6:00, followed by a Panel Discussion.  We look forward to seeing you there!


So much to be proud of!

Looking Back to Last Week!

Wow, what an amazing week I just had!  I had the honor of traveling with 8 amazing Grade 11 students to Tanzania as part of our Week Without Walls.  I cannot tell you how impressed I was with our students.  We worked from dawn to dusk, building desks for Manzi School.   In three days, we built 10 desks, enough for 30 students to have a place to sit!  This might not seem like much, but it was very challenging work in the heat of that Tanzanian summer.  Our guides informed us that we far exceeded their expectations, the previous school group that came to Manzi school had more students and managed to build only 3 desks in as much time.  Our students were organized and focussed.  Because of the clear needs of the school, UAS students were more than willing to go the extra mile.  On our first day, we visited a class with 64 students, many of whom were sitting on the floor as there wasn’t enough work space for the kids.  They would take turns sharing the desks so that they could do their work.  It was very eye-opening for how lucky we are to be able to provide such a world-class education to our students.  And in turn, our kids gave everything they could to make the learning just a little easier for the kids at Manzi.  It was so wonderful to see.


Of course, there were other elements to this trip.  After our three days of service, the students got to experience the wonders of Tanzanian Nature, History and Culture, but ultimately, it was our mission to empower our students to become Caring, Critical Thinking, Responsible Global Citizens that brought us to Tanzania.  To see more of our trip, and the amazing other experiences of Week Without Walls, click HERE to go to our WWW Instagram Feed.  There you will learn about all the amazing things we did!

Looking Forward to This Week!


On Saturday, March 3rd we have our annual International Day!  The PTSO have done an amazing job getting everything prepared.  Please come support the school, there will be music and laughter and things for the whole family to do!  Please make an effort to come out Saturday from 11 to 5!  Hope to see you there!

Looking Forward to Next Week!

One of the things we are empowering is a more substantial look at social issues.  Some of our teachers, supported by the Fine Arts Booster Club are hosting a Women’s Week from March 4th to 8th.  While most of the activities are taking place at lunch, we would like to invite ALL members of the community to a special event on Monday, March 5th:

This wonderful event is the screening of a film called Stitching Palestine.  As an American and IB school, part of our mission is to make the world a better and more peaceful place.  Led by the Fine Arts Booster Club (click to see their instagram page)  This is going to be a wonderful event.  There will be an exhibition of over 160 pieces of work, followed by a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion.  I am very excited to learn about this important topic and I hope that you will join us.  Seats are limited to 200 people.

Reports to go home at 3:00

Dear Parents,

We are finalizing reports and due to the new structure, they will be going home later than expected.

As always, each report is double proof-read, and as always some mistakes will get through.  Our Department Heads, then Senior Administrators read each report, correcting errors.  We usually catch 95%.  Producing high quality reports is enormously important to us, so if a mistake got through, please reach out to me and we will have it corrected.

For information on how to access your reports, please open this document:

Report Cards Thursday!

Dear Parents,

I have just returned from an amazing recruiting trip to the United States!  We have such an exciting year ahead and I can’t wait to get started.  I intend to write more details in the coming days but I wanted to drop a quick note about Reports on Thursday.

Reports will be going out on Thursday.  These are the official reports of the school.  With open gradebooks there should be no surprises, but these reports include comments on how your child is doing as well as an official GPA.  Please remember that our Grade 9 students will have the adjusted GPAs that match the KHDA guidelines for American Schools.  Grades 10 through 12 will have the same GPAs that were developed by the school.

As always, some parents were contacted by email regarding accounts that are in arrears.  If you received an email regarding monies owed, please reconcile that prior to Thursday so that your child’s reports can released.

We look forward to continued learning in Semester 2!


Ole Sealey

High School Principal.


A Very Good Start to the New Year!


Well, we are in week two of 2018 and things at UAS are in full swing!  Last week we had our KHDA inspection and I am pleased to report that it was an exceptionally positive experience.  The inspectors took a long, critical view of the work we have undertaken and were very complimentary of the things we so around here.  Middle School, in particular, was applauded for their growth, a fact that is sure to pay dividends for High School as these great students transition to the older grades.  I am not at liberty to give the overall judgements, but I can say that the school’s improvements have been recognized by the KHDA.  In my time at UAS, I have been proud to serve on the leadership team that has now improved the school in over 40 areas!  We will continue along that trajectory in the coming years.

It is important to communicate that the AFEF board WILL NOT be raising fees next year, even with the successful inspection!


One of my favorite parts of inspection is the National Agenda mandate for schools to become more innovative.  The inspectors asked us to put together a presentation on innovation.  Wanting to take an innovative approach, I asked Mr. Jackson to set up a camera in our media centre, in front of the green-screen.  I then put out an all-call to the teachers to come and share some of the great things we do in the school.  57 people came to share their ideas. Here is what we came up with in less than 24 hours!

First Ever Cohort of National Honor Society Students at UAS!

We do not do anything at UAS to impress inspectors, rather, our relentless dedication to improving the quality of education we provide your children is being recognized.  Last week, Dr. Haag led the inaugural cohort of UAS students to join the National Honor Society (NHS).  NHS is the most distinguished academic and service learning society in America.  UAS has been working for two years to get accreditation and we are so pleased that we were able to induct almost 30 of our best students into this prestigious club.  We had a guest speaker, Dr. Kamel Haddad who gave the most eloquent speech on understanding the sub-text of such an honor.  It was a truly wonderful night!


One of the goals of the school is to improve the learning experiences of the our students.  Yesterday, I was delighted when 60 students and 18 teachers gave up a portion of their Sunday to participate in the first ever UAS Arts Retreat.  Led by Ms. Williams, Ms. Etmadi and Ms. Corarito, the students participated in acting, performance, visual and musical arts.  It was a great event.  Teachers got in the fun as well, and despite a lifetime of stage-fright, I was even coerced into going on stage to participate in the event.  It was a lot of fun!


In the next two weeks, there will be a lot of assessments.  We will not collapse the timetables, but students will be writing a number of assessments, up to two per day in Grade 11.  We are hoping to put a little pressure on the students to get them used to managing their time while still preparing for assessments.  We will use this week to give some final in-class assessments for Grade 10 students in semestered classes.   It is important that students attend in the next two weeks as they could miss a great many assessments which will be challenging to catch up.

Upcoming dates:

  • Jan 14 to 18 – CIS/MSA/IB verification visits
  • Jan 15 – 6:30 PM- MS/HS Choir Concert – MPH
  • Jan 17 – 6:30 PM- MS/HS Band Concert – MPH
  • Jan 21-25 “Assessments Week”  – Grade 10 finals and Grade 11 IB week of assessment
  • Jan 27 – Feb 1 – MAP TESTING
  • Thurs Feb 1 – End of Semester 1 – All Engrade Gradebooks to be fully updated at that time.
  • Feb 1 to 3 – UASMUN conference
  • Sun Feb 4 – Sports day (collapsed schedule / MS WWW)
  • Thurs Feb 8 – proofed reports and comments to be on Engrade.
  • Thurs Feb 15 – Reports go home.
  • Feb 18 – 22 Week Without Walls / IB Mock Exams (Grade 12)

Invitation to Director’s Coffee on Wednesday 8:00 AM and 6:30 PM


Dear parents,

First of all, I would like to thank so many of you for your supportive emails, texts and drop-ins regarding my appointment as Director for next year.  I have fallen in love with this school in the last three years and am very proud of what we have accomplished.  I have been honoured to be a part of Mr. Torris’ team and have helped plan, build and oversee many of the initiatives that team has put in place.  I am relieved that we will be able to take that work forward, as there are no plans to change course.

To help communication, on Wednesday, Mr. Torris, Mr. Dorn and I will present information about the direction of the school on behalf of the AFEF board.  As communicated in my coffee two weeks ago, the board has three key roles:

  1. Provide fiduciary oversight to ensure the finances of the school are stable and sustainable.
  2. Approve academic proposals brought forth by the Director.
  3. Contribute to, and approve strategic plans brought forth by the Director.

It is not the case that the board will make substantial changes to the school.  As Director, my role will be to lead the school, develop the strategic plans, manage faculty and liaise between the board and the stakeholders.  The board’s job is to hold me accountable for those things.

When we met two weeks ago, I asked for a number of questions from parents to report back to the board.  Those questions will be answered at the meeting.  We will be running a session at 8:00 in the morning in the secondary library and another in the evening at 6:30 PM.

We do hope you will come support the school and we look forward to working with you.

Reflections from a School Visit

Last week, I was in Saudi Arabia evaluating a group of schools.  I have been a school evaluator for the IB since 2010, and am now an evaluator for the Middle States Association of Schools as well.  School accreditation is a rigorous process!  It keeps schools and boards accountable, in this region, 50% of schools do not get accreditation!  The school we inspected was recommended for accreditation.  I am writing this because it’s important parents know that I believe our school – UAS – is doing a much better job in many areas than the school we just accredited.

We have our KHDA inspection and our CIS/MSA/IB accreditation visits coming up in January.  These are hugely important for the school.  KHDA gives annual inspections and in my time here I have seen enormous growth.  My first year here (2015-16) was the first year the KHDA has “Very Good” as a rating that year the school increased in a net total of 17 areas.  Last year, we improved in another 15 areas.

When we get our accreditation in January, the CIS and IB accreditations will be valid for five years, and MSA will be valid for seven.  The school is determined to continue to improve.  We want all our students to achieve their personal best, and we are putting in place the structures to attain that goal.  By putting in an American Programme to run parallel to the IB, we anticipate seeing further student success in both areas.  It is an exciting time to be at UAS!

Community Involvement

I am enormously proud of the school and particularly the students for their increased involvement in community.  Last Wednesday, our Emirati Committee, led by Hind Al-Futtaim did an amazing job running our National Day celebrations.  The students planned, organized, decorated and carried out the event.  The learning they did was phenomenal and if you attended, you would say it was the best National Day the school has ever had.  We look forward to seeing future events being run at UAS.

In addition, our CAS students continue to do amazing things in the community.  Last weekend, 14 students supported the media tent at the Emirates Airlines Rugby 7’s event and this weekend we have seven more taking place at the Dubai International Film Festival.  Volunteering is a huge part of learning and the work the kids are doing has been great.  Ms. Ray has worked tirelessly managing the student reflections and work (each experience needs to be documented!).  Of course, it takes a village and these incredible opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the support of our parents, particularly Ms. Haddad and Ms. Khatib.  If you have any ideas for ways the school can get more involved in the community, we would love to hear them!  Check out the great things our kids are doing at DIFF:

That’s all for me!  Have a great Winter Break and we will see you all on Wednesday!