First Week of School is Here!

On behalf of the new High School Leadership I would like to introduce the team.  My name is Ole Bernard Sealey, but people call me “OB”.  As Principal, my primary goal this year will be to ensure the best quality teaching and learning.  I’m looking forward to building on the incredible work of Ms. Simone Sebban, an inspirational educator with whom I had the pleasure of working with last year.  I will be spending most of my first month inside the classrooms, learning with teachers and students and helping to develop the culture of excellence that UAS constantly strives for.

Our new Assistant Principal, Mr. Coppes, along with his Grade Level Coordinators will be found in the hallways, helping ensure that our students get to class on time and ready to learn.  He will be promoting the values that articulate what we stand for: Respect, Punctuality, Uniform.  UAS is dedicated to empowering students to be caring, critical thinking, responsible global citizens and we believe strongly that emphasising the three values above will help us achieve that.

Ms. Cummins has taken on the role of IB Diploma Coordinator.  A nine-year member of our community, she understands the needs of the school as well as anyone.  Ms. Cummins is organized and forward thinking.  She has begun a review of the assessment calendar to ensure that our students have balance in their projects, enabling them to submit their best work.  Under her guidance, I fully expect to see further improvement not just in our IB Diploma Programme, but across the school.

As a team, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome the students and begin the year!

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(Mr. Coppes, Ms. Cummins and myself)

Day 1 Schedule – Monday August 29th.

6:00 AM – Student-Run Grad Breakfast in the New Senior Lounge (Room 3300)

7:45 – 8:25 Assembly in MPH – All students report to assembly before 7:45.

8:45 AM – Students go to Homeroom.

10:00 AM – Recess

10:20 – Students report to their Day “2” classes (this will be Period 3).

3:25 – Busses depart.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THIS YEAR?

Last week I wrote about how we plan to make the year come A.L.I.V.E.  In addition to those important initiatives, we must start thinking about what the next 5 years at UAS is going to look like.  We will begin by conducting policy reviews to understand whether our existing practices reflect best practices.  To make informed decisions, we need parent and student input.  We will be doing lots of surveys to ensure everyone’s voice is represented in the strategic development of UAS. Your input is essential in ensuring a smooth transition from a good school to a great one!  For clarity on our policies and procedures, it is essential the all parents and students thoroughly understand the contents of our handbooks.

An important development this year will be made in our Homeroom programme.  Last year, I fielded some important questions regarding where we actively teach things like academic writing, research, goal-setting, study tips, and time management.  These skills are essential in all classes but are often overlooked in any one class as teachers are focused on delivery of their subject matter.  Homeroom is the perfect place to teach these skills.  UAS has dedicated 35 minutes per day to Homeroom, which we used primarily for reading last year.  Reading will remain a part of Homeroom, but we will be expanding the progamme this year to actively teach these important skills and habits.

Senior’s Lounge – last year I asked the Grade 11 students what they wanted most in their Senior Year.  Their answer was a Senior Lounge; a space just for them to study, relax, and socialize. Despite a very busy timetable, with some creative scheduling, we were able to create a lounge for the students.  We are very excited to see the development of the lounge.  The students will furnish and decorate the lounge.  The skills in learning to work together on this project will help them enormously when they move off to university next year.

COMMUNITY FAIRE:

On behalf of the School-Wide Senior Leadership Team, we would like to invite all members of the community to join us in the MPH for the school’s first Community Faire.  As stated in the Director’s Blog, the point of this event is to meet the teachers, generate some spirit and learn about the various resources we have within our community.  We hope to see you there.

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KEY DATES:

  • Monday, Aug 29th – 1st of school (6:00 AM Grad Breakfast in New Senior Lounge)
  • Wednesday, September 7th – UAS Community Faire 4:00 to 7:00
  • September 10th to 13th – Eid Al Adha. Approximate dates – Not Confirmed by KHDA!
  • Monday, September 19 and Tuesday Sept 20th – CAT 4 Testing (Grade 10)
  • Wednesday, September 21st – High School Back to School Night
  • Thursday, September 22nd – 2:00 PM (Full HS Aspirations Assembly – guest speaker)
  • Friday/Saturday September 23/24 UAS hosts teachers across the UAE at an Inquiry/Technology Workshop.
  • Week of September 25-30 (Grade 9 and 10 MAP testing)
  • Saturday October 1, SAT testing

Have a wonderful last weekend of summer holiday!

OB Sealey

High School Principal

High School Principal’s Welcome

Dear Parents and Students,

WOW!  What an amazing week it has been back at UAS.  Since Sunday, the Senior Leadership (SLT) team has been integrating our new teachers into life at UAS so they can be ready to greet our students with open arms both on new-student orientation day (August 25th) and the first day of school for all students (August 29th).  I can say with confidence that our new teachers are a diverse and talented group of educators who genuinely care about students and learning.  It’s going to be a wonderful year!

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In addition, SLT couldn’t be more excited about the direction UAS is taking. I came to UAS last year and discovered that this is a great school with extraordinary potential!  The foundations for being a top performing school are well and truly in place and the leadership team is determined to make learning come “A.L.I.V.E.”.  Here is a little more on what that means:

A is for Aspirations.  Our students have big ideas and big dreams and it is our responsibility to make sure each student can identify and achieve their Personal Best.  Pursuit of personal best is the foundation of my educational philosophy.  A few years ago when I was Principal at a different school I was approached to write an article about it in the Gulf News.  This year, we are going to start off by reviewing student performance over time and setting both academic and personal goals for the year.  We are delighted to have Dr. Russell Quaglia return to UAS next week to help us become just the second International School to become an Aspirations Institute.  These initiatives are going to help us better understand our students and how we can effectively support them.  Aspirations month will go from September to October.

Dream Big Work Hard

(image taken from mattandkatieblog.com.au)

L is for Literacy.  By putting in a 35 minute reading period last year, our students improved the literacy scores on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment by 5 percent in the top-tier of literacy and an incredible 31 percent in the mid-tier.  We intend to continue this initiative, but also to expand our understanding of different types of literacies to ensure that UAS students are prepared for the ever-changing future.  Examples of our expanded emphasis includes understanding of digital literacies to help our students navigate the rapidly moving technological landscape, and physical literacies to help them make healthier choices and live better, longer lives. Applied Literacy will be an 0n-going theme throughout the year and will feature heavily in our developing Homeroom program.

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I is for Internationalism.  The UAS Mission Statement insists that we empower our students to be “Responsible Global Citizens”.  Internationalism is a hallmark of our school and we will continue to develop both our understanding and our practice of Global Citizenship.  For example, we will continue to run exciting Week Without Walls excursions but we will also develop greater service learning opportunities through our CAS and Homeroom programs. Internationalism moths will take place in November and December.

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(image taken from www.bisnet.or.id)

V is for Voice.  Dr. Quaglia’s input is essential to our school and we have already begun to establish a culture of student voice.  Last year, we began to create a more authentic student government.  At various points we had over 60 students involved in creating and managing student-led projects.  We will be growing that culture this year.  Further, in response to their voice, our Seniors year will be given a student lounge where they can enjoy some quiet study time without mandatory supervision.  As principal I will be developing a number of surveys and asking students to join committees to improve our school.  We will also have Student Voice months in January and February.

Student Voice

(image taken from Amazon.com)

E is for Engagement.  This, perhaps, is the most important aspect of an education.  Everything we do at UAS is for the students, and through our voice initiative we hope to also improve student engagement.  This will help our students to take greater responsibility for their learning and for their actions. Active, engaged students get better results, better university placements, and better future prospects than passive or disengaged students. More importantly, engaged students end up happier and more fulfilled than students who do not engage.  We intend to spark their curiosity, give them opportunities to shine on stage and on the sports fields, create meaningful lessons, and create the conditions for open, intellectual debate.  Engagement Months will take place in April and May

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(Image taken from edtechvision.org)

These events will serve to augment the good things we already do at UAS.  As principal I am enormously proud to work for such a well-established and prestigious school. Our returning teachers are arriving next week and we will be putting these plans into action.

If you or your children would like to take a more active role in any of this year’s events, please feel free to reach out to me at osealey@uasdubai.ae. Otherwise, we look forward to welcoming you and your children on the dates mentioned above.

Have a wonderful weekend!

OB Sealey

High School Principal