We Will ALWAYS Be Your School!

A Fond Farewell… Or, A See You Soon!

Dear all,

Well, another amazing year is in the books!  Yesterday we said goodbye to our High School Students and tomorrow all students will break for summer.  In High School, Mr. Coppes did an amazing job running the end of year assembly entitled “Gratitude is the Attitude”.  In it we recognized the incredible achievements of our scholars.  So many of our students have worked incredibly hard this year and it was an honor to hand out awards to over 100 of them.

The best part of the event was the open-mic session at the end of the ceremony.  Mr. Coppes started this last year but it was only modestly successful as the students were unaware it was going to take place.  This year, we prepped the students.  In the morning we asked them to reflect on the year.  Then, we invited them to come down to express their gratitude.  This is a risk, as some people would not trust young people to an open mic.  But, as always, our students showed the great spirit that we strive every day to instill in them;  the eloquence and sincerity with which our students spoke was absolutely beautiful.  There was genuine love in the room as the students thanked their teachers & friends or said goodbye to those who are leaving UAS for good.  There were laughs and there were tears.  It was incredible. We even had former students come back just to pay their respects!

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, recently we have had a number of students returning to UAS, both as guests and as also as students.  Some have come by to say hello, and others have come back because the schools they thought were a better fit for them, were not.  I think that says a lot about our culture.  We are a community school.  We were built that way, and the love that was shared in our assembly yesterday showed that we always will be; it was immensely powerful and it showed something that can never be broken: the true spirit of our amazing school!

Last week, I had a wonderful conversation with Mr. Abushakra at the faculty year-end celebration.  The stories he shared about the early years at this school were heart-felt and hilarious.  We got a chance to say goodbye to a number of teachers, including the beloved Mr. Hould and Ms. Kempley – our Middle School Administrators, and of course, Mr. Torris – who was described on the night as the “Steve Jobs of International Education”.  I’d like to thank all of the aforementioned people who have helped shape my thinking and inspired me to be a better educator.  Your wisdom and compassion will be carried with me, always.  I wish you all the very best of luck in your new adventures!

It’s been an emotional week at UAS, but it has been a beautiful one as well.  I attended a board meeting today and their is much to be excited about.  The future of the school is bright and we look forward to welcoming back all our students and parents after the summer.  To those who are leaving Dubai or moving to another school, please know that we will always hold a door open for you; this will always be your school.

Have a great summer UAS!

J-Term!

In the event you had questions about the learning that we did in the last week of school, please take a minute to view this video put together by Mr. Jackson.  J-Term (June Term) was an experiential learning event where our Grade 9 students put their skills to a real-world setting.  It was a wonderful learning experience, and I have challenged my teachers to do more of this type of learning during the school year.  The students who were here learned a lot and benefitted enormously.  Please take a look!

From the first day of school until the last, we will do our very best to EMPOWER our students to be CARING, CRITICAL THINKING and RESPONSIBLE GLOBAL CITIZENS!  Have a great summer UAS!

Communication Re: Students with “I”/1/2 on reports.

Dear Parents,

First and foremost, from all of us at UAS we wish everyone a happy Eid!
HS Exam season has finally come to an end.  Our teachers are working diligently to complete their marking in order to finalize our end of year reports.  Unfortunately, there are some students who will finish the year with a 1 or 2 in one or more of their subjects.  As stated in our HS Student/Parent Handbook, students are expected to earn a 3 or better in all subjects in order to be promoted to the next grade level.
The Student/Parent Handbook specifically states that, “a Student who earns a 1 or 2 in any subject may be promoted under the following conditions: That student must complete a summer work package developed by the department. If applicable, the student will re-sit their final exam in August.”
Any student in this scenario will receive a letter by June 19th at the latest.  In the letter, UAS will outline the procedures regarding credit recovery.  Lastly, any student with an “Incomplete” in any subject will have until June 21st to submit their outstanding coursework.  After this day, the “I” will turn to a 1 which will initiate the credit recovery process.
Once again, Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak, J-Term and More from the Arts!

Eid Mubarak!

First of all, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe Eid al Fitr.  I am always amazed at the resolve of our muslim colleagues, parents and students who work so hard while honoring the fast during Ramadan.  Prior to moving to Dubai, I had a limited understanding of the purpose of the holy month.  It’s great to be a member of a community where everyone is so willing to share these experiences.  I was honored to be a part of a few Iftars this Ramadan, including the wonderful event sponsored by the Islamic Department.  In my new role as Director, I am going to be seeking lots of input from parents.  I have a simple question that I’d like your input on: next year for Ramadan, should we keep the start time of the school at 8:00 like we had this year, or, should we move it back to 8:30 like we had last year.  Please give me your feedback here.

J-Term next week!

There is some confusion out there about what we will be doing after the Eid break.  The answer is… “J” Term!  J-Term is an idea that comes out of many universities where students undertake short-term high-learning projects designed to prepare them for the next term.  Our “J-Term” projects include:

  • Grade 9’s will be undertaking a series of scientific studies, helping them choose which science disciplines they enjoy most.
  • Grade 10’s will be studying “the Great Gatsby” – which is the first novel they will undertake in Grade 11
  • Grade 11’s will be doing an Extended Essay workshop, helping them get a jump-start on one of the most challenging components of the IB Diploma.

This is valuable time.  We have put a lot of energy into making these learning experiences valuable for our students.  We very much appreciate support from parents during these days.  We are confident students will find it useful.  Mr. Coppes will be sending out more detailed information soon.

The Arts Just Keep On A-Growin’

I want to share a clip from Ms. Corarito, who proudly shared with me the success of her students in the new percussion ensemble:

Ms. Corarito is a true visionary.  She was given a generous budget at the beginning of the year and chose to spend it all on percussions.  I questioned her choice on this as I did not see what she saw.  The instruments showed up and she has worked with her students throughout the year and produced some beautiful music.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  I look forward to seeing the music program grow under Ms. Corarito’s leadership in the coming years!

Winding Down and Reports

I’d like to confirm that the last day of school for High School students will be Tuesday, June 26th.  We will do our leaving assembly that morning.  Although some parents have raised questions about why we do this, staggering starts and finishes is good practice for schools.  Having the older students come in early at the beginning of the year gives them a jump-start on learning and allows younger students to ease into the school year.  Similarly, sending the older students home a day early allows us to do a proper transition of files.  We will be pushing reports out to parents on Wednesday, June 26th.  Please read the reports thoroughly and if there are any concerns, we will be in school on Thursday to address them.

Grade 10 Math Update and the Senior Sahoor

Last Thursday, Mr. Coppes and Ms. Abdellateef put together a very informative presentation about the options for Math in Grade 10.  Next year, Ms. Abdellateef is taking over as department chair and her impact has already been felt, working alongside Mr. Campbell to improve the status of our Math department.  Ms. Abdellateef and Mr. Campbell noticed some anomalies the results in Grade 10 and so an analysis has been done and corrections have been made.  She also talked about the options for Grade 11 courses and pre-requisites.  One of the parents in attendance said: “if we had known it was going to be this more parents would have come!”.

Please take a moment to watch this 9-minute presentation

On Wednesday night, we celebrated the Senior Sahoor.  It was a spectacular event!  Inspired by the Red Carpet event sponsored by the Arts Department, the Senior Sahoor recognized the incredible academic achievements of our Seniors.  Graduation is tomorrow night at 9:00 and it is sure to be another wonderful event.

Finally, if you are in your car this afternoon between 4:15 and 5:00, please consider tuning into Dubai Eye.  I have been invited to sit as a guest on the show talking about trends in education, and, discussing opportunities and challenges schools face in the digital age.

Have a great day!

 

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:

fineartsboosterclub@hotmail.com

 

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)
  • DIAMUN
  • 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!