The American School of Dubai: A Legacy of Excellence

ASD’s Mission: To challenge and inspire each student to achieve their dreams and to become a passionate learner prepared to adapt and contribute in a rapidly changing world.

The American School of Dubai (ASD) is an independent, not-for-profit, K-12 US curriculum school deeply rooted in the past, having been established in 1966—even before the United Arab Emirates was formally established. And yet, ASD is firmly fixed on the future. Positioning itself as a leader in sustainability for the region, ASD recently won a prestigious Expo 2020 Sustainability Champions award and is a finalist for the Zayed Sustainability Prize—to be awarded in January, 2019. The visionary, progressive leadership is making a case to rebrand homework as home learning, and is implementing an impressive strategic plan to make every student future ready.

Entering my final year at ASD, I am able to affectionately reflect on my past fourteen years here, with an appreciation for all of the knowledge and character that ASD has instilled in me. There is no question that the academic facets of the school are phenomenal, but the truly exceptional aspects of the school are those that can’t be summarized in statistics. Students travel to China for global issues conferences, hold English tutoring sessions for workers on campus, and harvest vegetables from our organic garden; not because they are asked to, but because ASD has empowered them to believe that their strengths and passions deserve to be developed, and that they can be instigators of change. My graduating class has students that have developed apps to combat malnutrition, spent their summers doing investigative journalism with the New York Times, and published books. Few other institutions disseminate the message of empowerment as strongly as ASD, and it is what makes the school so exceptional in every regard. While it will be difficult to leave, I look forward to taking the lessons that I have learned here outside of the context of the school, and will look back on my time at ASD as having laid the foundation for who I have become”, are the words of Lauren Sproule, (12th grade, Class of 2019),  ASD Student since Kindergarten  

A Celebrated History

The American School of Dubai was established by the Dubai Petroleum Company to provide education for the children of their expatriate personnel from the United States. The school opened in an apartment in Deira with eleven students and two teachers. By 1975, the school enrolled approximately 500 students, had a staff of 83, and became accredited by the Middle States and Southern Associations of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 1976, the school opened under a new name, the Jumairah American School (JAS). The school’s name was changed again to the American School of Dubai (ASD) in 1992, and the campus was relocated to Al Barsha in 2011. This school year, ASD welcomed approximately 1,900 new and returning students representing more than 75 nationalities.

ASD celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, and now has more than 10,000 alumni living, working, and making a difference in communities across the globe. ASD also hosts a number of alumni legacy families—a ‘second generation’ family, in that one or both parents attended ASD as a student. ASD has five legacy alumni as part of their current faculty and staff—past students that returned to ASD to give back. ASD parents often extend their involvement beyond the years that their children attend the school, which speaks to the strength of its parent community. Once a Falcon, Always a Falcon!

Nicky Daryani, a member of the Board of Trustees (Alumnus, class of 1996) quotes, “ASD has been my second home for the last 29 years. I was a student here and now an alumnus and involved ASD parent. I’ve learned so much from ASD and it has a special place in my heart. This school has played a key part in who I am today and what I have achieved. I’ve met some great people here that are still my closest friends today. Thank you ASD!”

Academic Programs for Future-Ready Students

The Elementary School
The Elementary School provides a warm and caring atmosphere where students collaborate constructively, think creatively, reason critically, and communicate effectively.

The program includes a combination of core subjects along with encore (specialist classes such as Arabic language, art, music, and physical education. Library and computer technology skills are integrated into the homerooms.

The Elementary School Library hosts the annual Visiting Authors where ASD students and parents have the opportunity to meet renowned authors, attend their workshops and sessions, and gain insights into supporting students’ reading. 

The Middle School
The daily instructional program of the middle school is designed to support the core values of ASD: Compassion, Excellence, Integrity, Respect, and Responsibility.

Starting with the organization and bonding of a daily advisory group, the students charge off into a rich program of core courses, language, music, visual and performing arts electives, and fascinating exploratory courses. In addition to a strong academic program, the Middle School offers a wide variety of after-school activities and clubs.

The capstone of the ASD Middle School experience is the Week Without Walls (WWW) program, a week-long educational travel experience distinguished by promoting global awareness and opportunities to learn through service. Based on a solid curricular foundation, WWW extends its students’ academic skills to authentic, real-life experiences occurring outside the traditional classroom; and develops students’ understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity, different environments, and international awareness. Students participate in service learning activities that directly impact the communities they visit—such as planting trees in Greece or visiting community outreach programs in South Africa. 

The High School
The High School is a learning ecosystem that nurtures students to be passionate learners and compassionate leaders.

ASD’s High School provides a challenging college preparatory program, offering what is best about the U.S. education by providing learning experiences that promote the maximum potential of students. ASD is aligned with Common Core State Standards and follows a Standards-Based grading scale helping to prepare students for college and careers.

High School students can choose from the many core and elective courses, including Advanced Placement (AP) and Virtual High School (VHS) online course offerings. In total, ASD students have over 300 high school courses to choose from. ASD is the only school in the UAE that offers the AP Capstone™, a two-year diploma program developed by the College Board.

The High School’s INSPIRE week is an initiative which extends the ASD classroom experience beyond the school walls to over twenty countries. Through a series of local and international trip experiences, students are encouraged to challenge assumptions, explore passions, transform relationships, and build community. Each trip has a focus on academics, art and culture, eco-adventure, leadership, or service.

A Culturally Vibrant Student Life

The students at the American School of Dubai can pursue their interests with numerous extracurricular opportunities in the Arts, Athletics, and Campus Recreation—and help support their community through campus sustainability initiatives and Service Learning. With world-class facilities, ASD is able to take advantage of local and international opportunities which serve to enhance, enrich, and extend learning opportunities to students. Let’s have a glimpse of student life at ASD:

Creative Arts

The American School of Dubai offers a wide range of visual and performing arts to elementary, middle, and high school students. They may opt for dance, music, visual arts, theatre, acting, choir, and band. The ASD Theatre is a state of the art, professional facility seating 630, and one of the finest in the Middle East. With exceptional acoustics, the theatre is used to showcase campus events such as plays, concerts and dance recitals, as well as host special guest performances.

ASD participates in the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) and the Middle East South Asia Conference (MESAC) festivals. AMIS sponsors a variety of music festivals designed to benefit students in international schools. These events take place in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. MESAC provides ASD music students an opportunity to collaborate with other students in the region. These events take place in India, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.

 Athletics

The Athletics program supports over 1,150 athletic opportunities in 14 different sports within 53 different teams over three seasons of sports. ASD student-athletes participate in two conferences: The Emirates Athletics Conference (EAC), which organizes weekly competitive exchanges amongst the member schools and a one-day championship tournament during the latter part of the season, and the Middle East South Asia Conference Schools Activities Conference (MESAC) which member schools host on a rotating basis.

Interscholastic athletics programs give students the educational benefits of athletic competition, developing lifelong values—and add life to the community.

Campus Recreation

The campus recreation supports the school’s mission by providing a wide variety of positive and healthy activities for students, parents, faculty, and staff to foster and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle. Activities are offered throughout the year for students and the adult community in sports, fitness, intramurals, and creative arts.

Each school division also offers a variety of after-school programs, clubs, and activities to give students the opportunity to be active, learn new skills, develop leadership, and have fun. More than 85 percent of ASD students from K1 to Grade 12 participate in extracurricular activities, student organizations, athletics, and clubs. 

Service Learning

Service learning is integral to the school’s mission and core values and woven into the K-12 curriculum. It is defined by student agency, inquiry, and collaboration through a process of investigation, planning, action, reflection, and demonstration to address authentic needs. Whether engaging in global issues, working in the school’s Sustainable garden, or participating in school-related sustainable change, ASD students of all ages have the opportunity to develop the critical consciousness necessary for informed action.

Student-led Service Clubs: At the elementary school, service is often something found inside the classroom. In grades 4 and 5, the first student clubs are available to our upper elementary students. By Middle School a number of service clubs exist, often led by an advisor and supported by the students. By High School, there are many organizations engaging with the school and wider community. By this age, it is expected that students are taking the leadership role in their organization with a “guide on the side” approach by their advisor.

A Tight-knit Community

ASD prides itself on its family atmosphere and strong sense of community. Faculty members, staff, parents, and alumni often coach and lead activities, further strengthening the home-parent-school bond. ASD families are highly engaged and often volunteer in:

PTSA community events:  These events include the Welcome Coffee for new families, annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat Night, Wild Wadi Nights, Santa’s Workshop, Carnival, Staff Appreciation Week, Speaker Series for Parents, and more.

Arts programs through Creative Arts Support Team (CAST): Parent volunteers are involved in make-up, photography, publicity, costumes, ticket sales, baking, sewing, organizing and hosting events, as well as identifying special guests to enrich student learning.

Activities to enrich the experience of student-athletes: These activities are basically for the Under 14, Junior Varsity and Varsity teams, coaches and athletic department. Parent–and even student–volunteers in Booster Club organize and host sports banquets to celebrate athletic team achievements, operates the spirit store and Falcon’s Nest concession stand. They recruit hundreds of parents to serve as team parents and volunteer at culminating athletic events including MESAC and others.

Student-led Special Events

TEDxYouth@ASD: ASD students will host the third annual TEDxYouth this year. The conference provides an opportunity to learn from many talented and experienced speakers and innovators who wish to speak about their passions.

ASDMUN: Last year, ASD students welcomed more than 150 student delegates, 20 offices, 15 security and press members, and countless volunteers to engage in the third annual ASD Model United Nations (ASDMUN). During the conference, students created platform for debate and resolutions to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Dubai Youth Film Festival: The second annual Dubai Youth Film Festival took place in June. Organized and hosted by ASD high school students, DYFF promotes student passions in digital media, movie, art and photography. The event is a fantastic opportunity to view youth-developed films from students in the Middle East, and enjoy a great evening of entertainment.

 

Visionary Leadership

Dr. Paul Richards, the Superintendent of the American School of Dubai, holds an Ed.M from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.S. from University of Massachusetts. He also holds an MBSR from the Center for Mindfulness, and has almost 20 years of experience teaching. Under his leadership, ASD recently announced the three-year Strategic Plan.

The ASD Board of Trustees works closely and in conjunction with the Superintendent. The Board is a group of dedicated volunteer members of the ASD community responsible for the overall governance and strategic oversight of the school. Their combined talents are focused to support the school’s mission and ensure the fiscal sustainability of ASD.

The ASD Pathways

ASD is making a case to rebrand homework as home learning, and implementing an impressive strategic plan to make every student future ready.

ASD will ensure each student is future-ready through a highly relevant educational program based on flexible approaches, an emphasis on student voice and choice, and by providing students additional opportunities to go deeper in learning relevant to the 21st century.

The ASD Pathways include the following curriculum options: Technology & Innovation (STEM), Global/Internationalism, Business & Entrepreneurship, Language Bilingualism (Arabic), and Performance (Arts & Athletics).

Achievements in Sustainability

Positioning itself as a leader in sustainability, ASD won a prestigious Expo 2020 Sustainability Champions award in the spring of this year. Chosen from more than 100 participating schools, ASD received photovoltaic panels plus support for their sustainability initiatives. More recently, ASD has become a finalist for the Zayed Sustainability Prize, Global High Schools Category (MENA Region). The award, which will be presented in January 2019, celebrates achievements that are driving impact, innovation, and inspiration across five distinct categories: Health, Food, Energy, Water, and Global High Schools.

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