Clarion School: Bringing the Philosophy of Progressive Education to Families of the UAE

A child with a curious mind will forever be empowered for the possibilities of the future. Clarion school ignites and sustains each child’s endless quest for discovery. 

Following the American curriculum, Clarion School, located in the heart of the city near Downtown Dubai, is currently enrolling up to Grade 6, adding a new grade each year to become a full Pre K – Grade 12 school. The unique progressive program and Master’s Degree teachers deeply engage every child in intentional and meaningful learning built on a solid academic foundation. 

Head of the School

Lisa Ripperger is the Principal at Clarion School. Ms. Ripperger joined Clarion in 2018 to take the school, now in its third year, to a new level of organization and academic achievement.

In the school’s first two years, the focus was on building the foundations of a progressive education in an environment predominately offering traditional education models. The future at Clarion is focused on strengthening their progressive education mission and progressive teaching practice. We nurture intellectual curiosity through experiential, constructivist teaching practice in an environment of creativity and exploration.

Learning Beyond Imagination

Experiential, constructivist learning are important components of the progressive education practice carried out at Clarion. This is done through both exploration of materials in Clarion’s classrooms and numerous field study trips. These field trips take even the youngest children (PreK) beyond the classroom walls to see how the world of ideas and concepts learned in the classroom are expressed in reality.

The school has been designed from the ground up as a haven for curiosity and inquiry. Classrooms and outdoor learning spaces have been planned to stimulate self-driven, deep learning, with spaces to encourage students to construct and deconstruct learning.

Academic program

Clarion is a progressive American curriculum, currently PreK to Grade 5 growing by one grade level each year to become a full-through school, PreK to Grade 12. The early year’s program, PreK to K2 is a world of curiosity, exploration and exuberant guided play. Combined with curriculum goals and the beginning of numeracy, literacy and science studies, Clarion nurtures the early development of critical thinking skills and the foundation of a lifetime of exploration and deeper learning.

In the elementary school framework, the curriculum is one of the integrated disciplines and lessons combining literacy, research skills and writing, mathematical reasoning, scientific method and creative thinking. The school is known for their many field trips that are offered to the students, when experiential, hands-on learning takes knowledge beyond the classroom to understand the link from theoretical to reality.

Next year the school will begin its Middle School with the opening of Grade 6. Within a strong academic program, will be critical discussions, nuanced learning, creative thinking, independent learning and research. The middle school years should be ones of growing self- awareness, self-reflection and self-responsibility, strengthening the ability to think critically and the development of collaboration and communication skills.

Afterschool Offerings

The school supports and expands student’s interests through exposure to new activities and deepening their involvement in activities they are already engaged in through a range afterschool and extra-curricular events.

The school has been recently admitted into the Dubai Affiliated School Sports Association (DASSA), the organization that manages inter-school sports in Dubai. Their first school team, under 11s football, is a mixed group of girls and boys, allowing for greater participation by both genders. The school will soon start its swimming team and track & field team with league level swim galas and track competitions.

The Clarion internal afterschool program offers a wide array of activities from sports to storytelling and is offered from K1 to G5. PreK students have a sibling club at the end of their day offering arts and crafts.

Initiatives that Support Education

Clarion has organized a program of talks and activities under the name of Clarion Commons. The purpose is to establish a progressive learning community for adults aligned to the school’s progressive mission. Among events Clarion Commons has hosted are the annual Harvard/Oxbridge debate, the annual Innovation in Education talk held with speakers from the global business community and Harvard, film screenings, notably “Most likely to succeed” the documentary examining education in America and re-imagining schools, talks by international educators and thinkers such as Grant Lichtman and Dr. Shafali Tsabury.

For school age children, Clarion School initiated and holds the annual Clarion Hackathon, this year re-named Da Vinci Day. All Dubai schools are invited to participate in this event, where students are challenged to use design thinking to solve a real world problem. Children present their solutions using the medium of their choice, from robotics and coding to drawing and painting, to demonstrate their critical decision making and thinking processes as they search for solutions to the real-world problem of the day.

Operating Organization

Scholars International Group (SIG) is the parent corporation for Clarion School. It is an organization that is dedicated to providing high quality, achievement-orientated schools, where educators are empowered to create environments that provide an unparalleled education for children.

Founded just over 40 years ago when they opened their first nursery, which later grew to become the respected Dubai Scholars Private School, SIG has founded three schools. Ten years ago they opened Scholars International Academy and in 2016, their newest school, Clarion School, was opened. The mission of the organization has remained the same – to enrich the education provision for the children of the UAE through high-quality schools and educational leadership.

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