Maintaining Equilibrium

This past week, Assistant Principal McManus and Dean of Students Hall conducted tardy sweeps.  The essence of this task was to set a tone regarding our high school expectations of arriving on time to each and every class, event or activity.  We hold these standards for both students and staff.  We saw tardies drop from 43 on Sunday to 12 on Thursday, but at what cost?  Some of our teachers asked really probing questions regarding our school culture.  They asked if we were moving too far, too fast.  They questioned if we might be alienating Mr. McManus and Ms. Hall from the student body they are here to serve.

Our answer: Maintain equilibrium.  This past week we held students to very high punctuality standards, arguably higher than we ever have at UAS.  So how did we maintain equilibrium?  We celebrated their success of improving attendance rates by handing out ice cream sandwiches in the form of “tardy for the weekend” slips.  Mr. McManus and Ms. Hall excused students five minutes early from their last period to let them know they were late for the weekend and they needed to pick up their tardy slips (ice cream sandwiches) on their way out of school.

Moving forward, this will be an operational principle for this high school administrative team.  When we push students hard, we will celebrate their successes in a big way!

 

From the Counseling Department

From the PTSO

From the MS/HS Library

Upcoming Important Dates

  • September 24th – HS Back-to-School Night from 6:30 – 8:30 in the MPH
  • October 6th – SAT Test Date
  • October 14th – 18th – School Pictures
  • October 15th – Grade 12 Family College Night

So it Begins…

We kicked off the 2018/19 school year with our first day assembly!

The message we sent students is that UAS is a place where we can work together to be creative, innovative and have fun in our learning journey!  We discussed that as a K-12 school, we are looking into establishing an overarching set of core values.  These core values will guide our practices and help create alignment across our three divisions.  Last year, a group of high school students and teachers came together to draft a version of what might inform these new values.  They came up with respect, community, resilience, compassion and innovation.  Although these might not make the final cut, I am proud of the work and thought that was put into creating this set of core values.  I see these values alive and well each and every day I am at UAS!

 

Message from Ms. Hania

Please note this message is only for the KG1, KG2 as well as the new students joining UAS from outside of Dubai

Dear Parents,

As a school we are required to register all students with the Knowledge & Human Development Authority (KHDA). As such, all parents are required to bring both their child’s and their own original Emirates IDs to school where we will scan the ID’s and transfer the information into the KHDA system.

Once your child’s details are registered into the system, we will be able to download your Parent School Contract which you will have to sign. For your information, the contract includes all relevant information pertaining to the school, including school fees and transport fees.

In order to complete the registration, you are kindly requested to attend the Admissions Office, from 8.00 am to 4.00 pmSunday to Thursday and no later than Thursday, September 27. If the registration is not done by this date, students will not be able to request or receive any official documentation required from the school, such as report cards, enrollment letters, etc.

Thanking you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

Regards,

Hania Kabbara-Zaghloul, Director of Admissions/KHDA Liaison

Early Release Tuesdays

In view of the fact that the Hijri holiday will be observed on Thursday, September 13, there will now be school on Tuesday, September 11. We would like to remind you that, as of next Tuesday, September 11, and every Tuesday hereafter (unless otherwise specified) students will finish school at 2:00 PM.

Early Release Tuesdays allow teachers valuable time to collaborate, plan and improve instruction within their discipline. Leading schools across Dubai and the world have implemented this program, and we truly believe this is key to the academic and social success of our students.

Important Dates

September 12th (Wed.) – High School WWW Parent Presentation (7:00 – 8:30)

September 24th (Mon.) – High School Back-to-School Night (6:30 – 8:30)

September 26th (Wed.) – Principal Coffee Morning

A Week Full of Milestones

This week marks the beginning of a new school year, one that is full of milestones.  For our graduating class of 2019, Tuesday will be their last first day of school. Many in our junior class will embark on their journey through the IB.  Our freshmen will enter UAS as high school students for the first time. As for me personally, this year represents an important milestone as an educator.  The 2018/19 school year will be my first as a divisional principal.

I spent the summer balancing between prepping the upcoming year and spending quality time with my family.  One project I chipped away at throughout the summer was the creation of a Principal User Manual. It is a pamphlet which describes how I operate in order for teachers to get the most out of me with the least amount of frustration.  When we buy a new microwave from Plugins, it comes equipped with a detailed user manual outlining all of the functionality of the device. As consumers, it is crucial to know exactly how to use the appliance as misuse can lead to inadvertently damaging the product.  The same applies here. However, the damage I am attempting to avoid is the positive working relationship we as educators need to continue to push the school forward. I shared my user manual with the staff during orientation and the feedback I received was fantastic! In the spirit of open and transparent communication, I am including my Principal User Manual here for the community to have a look at.  I am happy to answer any questions that may pop up after reading through it. Feel free to reach out and set up a meeting!

Lastly, please find the supply lists for grades 9 & 10 here and for grades 11 & 12 here.  Students should get everything they need by Sunday, September 9th.

Upcoming Important Dates

September 2nd and 3rd – IB Diploma Workshops (all full IB Diploma students must attend from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM).  Students are responsible for transportation to/from the school as we are not running buses on these days.  Additionally, students can either bring a packed lunch or cash to purchase lunch.  A survey will be taken first thing in the morning and those with cash will order from one collectively agreed upon restaurant.

September 3rd – High School Exam Re-sits (for students who finished with a 1 or 2 last year in a core subject – Report to High School Office at 8:30 for 9:00 start).  A confirmation email will be sent to specific students and parents later this week.

September 3rd – High School New Student Orientation 10:00 – 12:00 (new students to meet in the Secondary Library – parents also welcome).

September 4th – First Full Day of School for all students

September 4th – Principal Parent Evening (7:00 – 8:00 PM) in the HS Library

 

 

Welcome to the new HS Admin Team!

Brian McManus – High School Assistant Principal

The 2018-2019 school year marks Brian’s thirteenth year an educator.  He started his career in education in 2005 working as a high school English teacher at Everglades High School in Miramar, Florida.  In 2008, he moved to Beijing where he taught IB Literature, Language and Literature, and Theory of Knowledge at the International School of Beijing.  In 2015, he transitioned into the role of Strategic Learning Coordinator, where he focused on incorporating experiential learning opportunities and Chinese cultural elements across all divisions of the school.

Brian earned a Master of Arts in Writing and Literature from Deakin University, as well as a Master of Education and Post-Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey.

Having grown up on the beaches of central New Jersey, Brian spends his summers with his feet in the sand and a fishing rod in his hands.

Brian is excited to join the UAS team as the High School Assistant Principal.

Kyle Coppes – High School Principal

Kyle Coppes is beginning his third year at UAS and is eager to take on his new role as High School Principal after serving as Assistant Principal for the past two years. Kyle began his career in education fourteen years ago at an American international school in Egypt where he taught in the social studies department.  Before leaving Cairo, Kyle served as head of the humanities department and taught in the IB Diploma Program. Kyle also proudly served as the IB Diploma Coordinator at an American School in Cyprus prior to joining UAS. During his tenure as a DP Coordinator, his focus on school improvement efforts yielded an increase in the school average from 30 to 34 points overall.  Additionally, students scoring two or more core points went from 23% to 100% over the course of his fours years at the school.

Kyle considers himself a lifelong learner and will embark on a journey to earn his EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California beginning this fall.  He also holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership from George Washington University.

Education is a family business for Kyle as his lovely wife Dina works at the school as an instructional coach. They have two amazing children, Ramzi and Sophia, who attend school here at UAS. Their greatest joy is random interactions in the library or cafeteria with their kids throughout the work week.

When not working, studying or parenting, Kyle enjoys the occasional round of golf or spending time with friends.

 

Both Kyle and Brian have been working closely with the Senior Leadership Team since August 5th planning for the 2018/19 school year.  They can’t wait for the liveliness that comes with the entire student body walking the halls. They look forward to proudly serving the UAS community in the continued pursuit of educational excellence established by previous administrations.

 

Upcoming Important Dates:

September 2nd and 3rd – IB Diploma Workshops (all full IB Diploma students must attend from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM).  Students are responsible for transportation to/from the school as we are not running buses on these days.  Additionally, students can either bring a packed lunch or cash to purchase lunch.  A survey will be taken first thing in the morning and those with cash will order from one collectively agreed upon restaurant.

September 3rd – High School Exam Re-sits (for students who finished with a 1 or 2 last year in a core subject – Report to High School Office at 8:30 for 9:00 start).  A confirmation email will be sent to specific students and parents later this week.

September 3rd – High School New Student Orientation 10:00 – 12:00 (new students to meet in the Secondary Library – parents also welcome).

September 4th – First Full Day of School for all students

 

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!