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:
- Provide fiduciary oversight to ensure the finances of the school are stable and sustainable.
- Approve academic proposals brought forth by the Director.
- 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!
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!