INSHALLAH:



A PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR PRIVILEGED KUWAITI
YOUTH ATTEMPTS TO STRADDLE A CULTURAL DIVIDE (continued)



Appendix I: ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

 

 

Links to other sites on the Web:
(for links to other chapters go to the end of the file)
Back to Chapter 15: Conclusion
Forward to Appendix II: the KATWII
Back to the Academic Page
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APPENDIX I: ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION


A. Introduction to Appendix I

In order to make these appendixes usable, they occur in alphabetical order as indicated in the bibliography. Hence, one finds, the ADM documents, the informative interviews (Al-Jinnah and Al-Khansa), the AMS documents, and the ECIS home pages.

 

ADM 1-3: Information Provided to Incoming Teachers

Al-Dharra Madressor

Director: Mr. Ralph Newman
High School Principal: Mr. Abu-Byblos
Middle School Principal: Ms. Depusaid
Administrative Assistant: Ms. McIntosh
High School Guidance Counselor: Ms. Predecessor

THE SCHOOL

Al-Dharra Madressor (ADM), established 1997, is an independent, non-profit, bilingual (Arabic-English) university preparatory educational institution whose aim is to help young Kuwait men and women as well as students of other nationalities living in Kuwait, to acquire the ethical values, intellectual qualities, and positive attitudes required for effective participation in the overall development of Kuwait and the rapidly changing world. The majority of students are Kuwait nationals (90%), and the rest are Arab nationals from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Current enrollment stands at 1130. The school maintains two campuses: the Middle School and High School are located in Hawaii; while the Nursery, Kindergarten, and Elementary Schools are located in Jabriya.

ACCREDITATION

Al-Dharra is accredited by both the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the New England Diplomatic Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The school’s Science Branch and International Branch diplomas are accredited by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. This ensures that the school’s programs of study are recognized in the Middle East, Europe, North America, and throughout the world as equivalent to the accreditation standards for schools in their regions.

COURSES OF STUDY

Students follow the Kuwait Ministry of Education course of study for Arabic language, Islamic studies, and social studies. Students study the English language, mathematics, science, and humanities course in English following an American format in which core American texts are used. Students also study art, PE, and additional elective options.

The High School Program is a college preparatory course of study designed to allow students to focus upon either the sciences or the humanities (the arts). All subjects are taught in English except Arabic language and Islamic Education. Students planning university study in science and technical fields must have successfully completed studies in chemistry, physics, biology, and calculus. AP courses and examinations are offered in Biology, Psychology, and Calculus AB, enabling students to earn advanced placement standing at universities.

GRADING SCALE

Grading standards at Al-Dharra Madressor are considered rigorous. GPA is calculated using two scales: the Kuwait Ministry of Education scale based on a 4-point scale and a weighted 4-point scale used for students applying to universities in the USA. An additional GPA credit point is given for honors courses and courses leading to Advanced Placement examinations.

UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS

After the re-establishment of our school after the Gulf War our graduates have been accepted to the following:

Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, University of Colorado-Boulder, MIT, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, BC, BU, Suffolk University, Simmons College, Virginia Poly, Rhode Island School of Design, Babson College, Florida Tech, Cornell, Syracuse, Miami, Vermont, Rhode Island, Kuwait U, Northeastern, Emerson College, Drake, American, American University of Beirut, Marquette, Penn, Penn State, Lebanese American University, Cairo University, Toronto, Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-San Diego, Chicago, ASU, Washington State, and McGill.

MIDDLE SCHOOL and HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM

The middle school/high school is situated at a newly-renovated, well-equipped site in Hawalli, a suburb of Kuwait City. The majority of students entering the school have attended our preschool and elementary programs. The teacher pupil ratio is set at a maximum of 25-1.

Structure of the School

The Middle School is composed of grades 5-8 while the High School contains grades 9 to 12. As a bilingual system, the curriculum is divided accordingly:

In Arabic Arabic, religion, social studies
In English: English, science, math, art, PE, music, sociology,
Electives in history and psychology
Computers

Program

Both the Middle School and High School have specialist subject programs. A core curriculum is operating in all subjects under a two-semester system. We seek strong teachers who understand the importance of following a structured program, but bring their creativity to the process. Progress reports are sent to parents each mid-semester, while full semester reports are issued at the end of each semester. Examinations are given at the end of each semester to complement continual assessment.

Schedules

All teachers are required to teach a minimum of 20 teaching periods (each period being 50 minutes) a week. The schedule is based on a three-day rotation where seven periods are scheduled daily. Clearly, this allows a substantial amount of non-contact time for meetings, student evaluation, and planning.

Pastoral

Al-Dharra Madressor regards the pastoral role of each faculty member to be exceedingly important. An advisory program that defines topics to be discussed with the students is implemented. A set advisory period is assuaged in each class. This program is coordinated by the Middle School Counselor.

High School Program

Students at High School program follow an accredited program of studies. A general program is followed in grades 9 and 10. Two branches of study options are offered for students in grades 11 and 12-the International Branch and the Science Branch.

The International Branch Diploma is based upon the American Secondary School Diploma. It prepares students for admission to US, European, and Arab universities including Kuwait University.

The course of study for students in the International Branch would consist of the following required courses: Islamic Education, Arabic Language, and English language. Students may select the other courses and levels as indicated for their grade level.

The Science Branch Diploma prepares students to participate in Kuwait University, Arab Universities, and US Universities. This branch is designed for students who wish to major in science, math, medicine, and engineering.

The course of study for students in the Science Branch would consist of the following required courses: Islamic Education, Arabic language, English language, Physics, Chemistry, and Advanced Mathematics. Students may select the other courses and levels as indicated for their grade level.

Students must be counseled carefully about the significance of electing to take specific options beginning in the 11th grade. The choice of courses for the 12th grade is limited by options selected in the 11th grade.

Computers

Two computer labs are available for students in grades 5 to 12. While students experience a set computer program, faculty are expected to utilize computer software in all their subjects on a regular basis. The library also utilizes CD Rom computers and is linked with the Internet.








ADM 4: A School Profile of Al-Dharra Madressor Aimed at Persuading Parents to Enroll Their Students in the School

School Profile

Al-Dharra Madressor was founded in 1977 to provided quality education to students in the Arab World. The school offers a bilingual education. The school offers a bilingual education in which both languages carry equal emphasis and status. Al-Dharra stresses Arab culture, traditions, heritage and identity, while preparing its graduates for university placement throughout the world.

The school is located at two spacious and well-equipped sites within Kuwait City. The original campus, located in Jabriya, caters to Pre-School and Elementary students and also houses the main School Administration. The Middle and High School are located in a fully renovated school building in Hawaii.

SCHOOL MISSION

The School Mission

Al-Dharra is a bilingual college preparatory educational institution whose aim is to help young Kuwaiti men and women, and students of other nationalities living in Kuwait, to acquire the ethical values, intellectual qualities, and positive attitudes required for effective participation in the overall development of Kuwait and our rapidly changing world.

School Goals

The school curriculum will reflect a rational balance between maintaining high standards and the need to tailor the program to meet the needs of each child. The instructional content will prepare students for university. The instructional process will prepare them for life. The process of instruction will seek to inspire responsible attitudes towards the individual's role in his or her community while respecting other societies. The educational program will develop strategies to aid students in adapting to the demands of an increasingly complex world.

School Objectives

ADM students should:

1. Acquire the skills needed to pursue knowledge and higher education independently.
2. Learn to seek information from various sources in order to reach conclusions through sound objective reasoning.
3. Adopt a scientific attitude to learning which adheres to high ethical standards and respect for other people's ideals and belief.

4. Acquire problem-solving skills.
5. Develop a positive self-concept, so that they may explore their individual creative abilities.
6. Appreciate the value of time and learn how to manage it productively.
7. Develop an active concern for the preservation and improvement of the environment.
8. Learn how to manage their health and well-being via life-long physical fitness program.
9. Appreciate the fine arts universally.
10. Be responsible and committed citizens in their communities.
11. Acquire, understand, and respect Islamic teachings, traditions, and culture.
12. Understand and appreciate the culture and traditions of Kuwait, the Arab region, and the world.

SCHOOL FACILITIES

The school has the following facilities:

1. Bright spacious fully air-conditioned carpeted classrooms.
2. Two well equipped libraries.
3. Three gymnasiums and latex sports courts.
4. Three theaters and an amphitheater.
5. Three fully equipped computer laboratories.
6. 2 infirmaries.
7. 2 school canteens.
8. 3 music studios.
9. 1 art studios.
10. 2 student counseling offices.
11. 1 conference center.

PROGRAM OF STUDIES

ADM operates a core skills program based up the criteria that all student should acquire mastery of a minimum base of skills defined in accordance with the school curriculum. Students' mastery of the academic program is based upon continual assessment plus formal semester examinations of course content in Middle/High School. The English subjects core program utilizes American materials. Arabic subjects follow the Kuwait Ministry syllabus together with supplementary materials.

Heterogeneous Groups

The school favors heterogeneous classes from Nursery to High School in order to ensure equality of opportunity for all students. Teachers expectations are high for students of all abilities. Enrichment is offered to those mastering the core skills, while reteaching skills are offered to students requiring broader academic approaches to achieve grasp of core skills. All students sit for the same core exams at Middle School level and in Grades 9 and 10.

Middle School (Grades 5-8)

At the Middle School English subjects occupy the majority of instructional time. A much more formal approach is adopted at this level with the stress on developing strong study skill which will permit students to meet the demands of a rigorous High School program. The curriculum extends upon the skills introduced in the core curriculum taught in the Elementary. Science subjects are also allocated more instructional time, and mathematics is taught wholly in English. Computers takes on a new importance with regular classes given in both languages. Minimum grade level skills must be mastered in order for the student to be promoted. When subjects are taught in the Arabic language, Kuwait Ministry of Education materials are used. The English program follows an American format in which core American texts are utilized.

Subjects Taught in the Middle School:

In Arabic: Arabic, Religion* (Moslem students only), social studies, computer

In English: English, science, math, computers, art, PE, and music

 

High School (Grades 9-12)

The ADM High School Program is not only academically demanding, but it also requires students to accept full responsibility for their grades. In the final two years (grades 11 and 12) students may choose to major in one of the following branches:
1. Science Stream
2. International Stream

Science Stream

The option is equivalent in content to the Kuwait Ministry of Education Science Stream. However, all subjects are taught in English except Islamic Education and Arabic Language. Students who successfully complete this program are qualified to enter Kuwait University, Arab Universities throughout the Arab World, and Universities and Colleges in the United States and Europe.

This stream is designed for students who wish to major in science, math, and business fields. Studies in medicine and engineering are also possible by completing this option. The course of study for students in the science stream would consist of the following: Religion, Arabic Language, Advanced Physics, Advanced Math and Chemistry. Students would select other course options as indicated for their grade level.

International Stream

This option is designed to prepare students for Colleges and Universities in the United States, Europe, Kuwait University, and American System Colleges and Universities throughout the world. It is a broad curriculum program which allows students to achieve a balance in the Science and the Arts.

College-Preparatory Programs

Students may sit for PSAT, SAT, TOEFL, and AP. Students in grade 9 must be fully aware of the importance of their GPA for college entrance.

ACCREDITATION

ADM achieved fully accredited status in 1989.

The school in fully accredited by the following:

New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
ECIS
Kuwait Ministry of Education

GENERAL CALENDAR/SCHOOL HOURS

The school year is divided into two semesters as follows:
Semester 1: September to December
Semester 2: January to May

Hours: Middle/High School: 715-1425

STUDENT ENROLLMENT

Why Choose Al-Dharra Madressor?

Is it any wonder that our school motto boasts "The Best in Kuwait"? Just compare our five of the best to any institution in Kuwait and see the difference:

1. It is the premier bilingual school in Kuwait!
2. Is it the only school in the Gulf with 3 full accreditations.
3. It is one of the few non-profit making schools in Kuwait! That guarantees that educational principles are not compromised with business interests.
4. It has fully continuous education program with an experienced and well-qualified faculty!
5. Al-Dharra has a low student/teacher ratio!

 

Student Admission Policy

New student registration usually commences in February of each year. Students are admitted subject to ability and performance in assessment tests. Priority for available vacancies is granted to the siblings of current students, then to top performers.

In our assessment, which is more formal as the grade level advances, we attempt to determine that the student is developmentally ready for the school, that he/she has the basic skills required to enter the grade level in question, that there are no major learning difficulties, and that the student will be able to successfully cope with the heavy demands imposed by a bilingual educational program. All students must have one Arab parent to gain entrance to the school.

School Fees for the Academic Year
Middle School US $6500
High School US $7000

 

FACULTY RECRUITMENT PROCEDURES

Al-Dharra has over 160 faculty members from the Middle East, US, US, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. The Director normally attends fairs for ECIS, ISS, and IOWA. ADM accepts applications from well-qualified teaching and administrative staff with a minimum of three years experience.

Overseas package is inclusive of:

1. Tax free salaries that are transferable.
2. Annual overseas US $4800.
3. Salary is paid for 12 months.

Additional Benefits
1. Free housing
2. IATA plane
3. Electricity, water, and local phone
4. Baggage of up to $330
5. Settling in of $330
6. Interest free car loan of $1665
7. Attendance bonus of #330
8. 15 days gratuity at end of each year.



 

 

ADM 5: Excerpts from An Email Conversation with the Head of the English Department: Ms. DKW

Sent from DKW June 13, 1998:

Welcome to Al-Dharra Madressor. My name is DKW, and I am writing as the Head of the English Department. I must actually apologize for not writing sooner, but I heard about your appointment in the thick of end of year duties and decided to wait until school was out to contact you.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the school, the department, your specific assignment (9th grade), or Kuwait in general. I will be more than happy to assist you in a way as you prepare to move here.

I will be in Kuwait until August, so this address is the best way to reach me. I hope to hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

DKW

Response from this author June 19, 1998:

Thank you Ms. DKW

(1) What exactly am I teaching, all sessions of 9th grade? That does not seem possible given the demographics I gleamed from the website offered by ECIS. At one time, they had me teaching social studies also.

Thank you for your time and attention DKW.

 

Response from Miss DKW, June 20, 1998:

 

Dear Dan,

1) According to the information I have been given, you will be teaching 3 sections of 9th grade (that is all of them) and an activity. The English classes each meet for four periods every three days (50 minute periods, 6 periods a day) and the activity meets for one period every six days....

I would also like you to know about the history of the grade you will be teaching. They have just finished a very successful year of English with Ms. T. They will be moving into high school, and that may give them a "bottom of the pecking order" feeling for a while. They are also being divided for the first time into three classes of 17 instead of two classes of 25. They made up the largest classes in the school for several years.

However, they have a history of being very difficult as a group. This history goes back at least to third grade. The class has the impression, wrongly, that they made at least three teachers leave Al-Dharra Madressor. Behaviorally, they can be exceedingly challenging-they have been known to get on top of desks and dance when left with a substitute.

I taught them in 7th grade and still feel disappointed with the year. Without transferring the responsibility for my classroom off my shoulders, one contributing factor was the information I was given when I arrived-be nice to them, do not give a lot of work, be their friend, and then when they like you, begin to reel them in. This was offered as advice from two experienced educators with many years of experience in Kuwait-they said it was based on cultural factors, and never mentioned the group's history. That first week went all right, but the reeling in part... you can guess.

Ms. R, who had them this year, has done wonders. The combination of respect, discipline, academic expectation, etc. which she gave them resulted in a very successful year. Hopefully you can build on that.

Academically they are very weak as a group. Their behavior and the large class have interfered with their learning. They have begun the process of catching up while with Ms. T, but have a long way to go. I am sharing this information with the idea that knowledge is power....

DKW

Response from this author June 20, 1998:

This is one of the problems with having stability in your student population....Why is it that they [the kids] have that impression? Did the teachers quit in disgust, or were they "counseled out?" Incidentally, what is the gender composition of this group, about even, or a preponderance of males (about 60-40)? What is the basic problem, if you can define it, are they simply in need of attention, spoiled brats, or are they on a "power trip"?

Then we come to the questions concerning cultural norms and expectations. Have the parents been called, enlisted, etc. in making their children behave in an acceptable manner? Does this make a difference? To what extent has the administration become involved? Now that they passed the strenuous entrance requirements are these kids essentially a part of the school until graduation, despite their behavior?

How are they weak? Are they simply students who will not listen, or do they have genuine discipline problems? Do they do their homework, and are they held accountable for doing it?

This does return to one potential problem that I would see in Kuwait in general. In the US, you can always make that case that those who fail will have a lousy later life. In Kuwait, with its welfare state, there seems to be no real final reward for not enjoying success. Incidentally, did not these kids enter school about the time of the war? Could this have affected them...?

Simply respond as you see appropriate to the remarks above. You are being very helpful.

Dan

 

Response from DKW June 23, 1998:

Dear Dan,

Regarding your questions about your future students....

The teachers they think they "got rid of" all left before I got here, but as I recall the stories, one was only temporary in the first place, one was entirely ineffective all-round and was asked to leave, and another simply moved on at the end of a year. The kids refuse, however, to let go of the idea, which they love, that they made it happen.

The gender split is about even, with a few more boys than girls. As for the basic problem, it is a combination of factors. Spoiled definitely enters into it, as does need for attention of any kind and lack of consequences for their actions. There are a few ringleaders, as you may have guessed, but a main trick is taking advantage of their numbers-ganging up to create disturbances, and while the teacher deals with what he/she saw or heard, the others continue the problem, give encouragement in Arabic, deny, etc.

This should be helped a lot by the much smaller classes next year. Consistency and fairness are very important, as is follow-up: too many teachers have let them win in the long run, and they know it. I am hoping the smaller classes will give teachers a chance to work with what I see as the swing kids-those who in a better class would not have/be a problem, but who have been negatively influenced by their environment over the years.

As for parents, they are mostly ineffectual. When you get here, Ms. T and I can point out who is helpful, and who to avoid. And as for students leaving, it almost never happens. Because we are accredited by the Kuwait Ministry of Education, and we are the only English language school which is, we have to follow their rules, and those rules make it impossible to expel a student during the year, and next to impossible to expel one at the end of the year. If students fail, they can be held back, but since the Ministry sets the passing grade as 50% [at middle school level] or above, this also almost never happens. In High School, however, the pass grade is a more normal 60%, so some of your students might find themselves in difficulty for the first time.

I should mention that there is a weird belief among students that nothing they do behaviorally or academically counts before ninth grade-ninth being where records are begun for college admittance. No matter how we try to explain to them that they cannot just wake up one morning and be a completely different student, especially with no academic base on which to build, they persist with this idea. This should be an advantage for you, though, as they will take your class seriously, assuming you do, where they never saw a need to before.

These students will mostly do their homework if they are held accountable for it. Strict rules about lateness will be your friend.

Their academic weaknesses are due to behavior issues for the most part. Each year teachers have had to spend more time on discipline than with a normal class, and this has resulted in them falling slightly further behind each year. As I said, they are beginning to catch up, but they have to fill in a lot of gaps in their knowledge and academic habits first.

There are a number of excellent students in this grade, very strong in English, eager to learn, willing to do what is required. They can be very helpful in cooperative learning if you watch to see that they do not just do the work themselves.

Your welfare state comment is right on, with the corollary that most of these students will not have to rely on it. There is an amazing amount of money in their families. A few will have to work, but for most a real job is an option, not a requirement.

These students were in 2nd grade (I think) during the invasion. That might be a factor, but no other class has had similar problems.

I am sorry that your first year will not be with the best students we have, but upcoming classes are better.

Arab teachers at school come from every Arab country, but the majority are truly Palestinian, no matter what passport they currently carry. The whole Israel/Palestine issue takes on a new light when you get here...

DKW

ADM 6: Transcript of a Conversation Between This Author and a Student, HAH

HAH: You know in January we celebrate Ramadan.

DRF: Yes, I know.

HAH: We do not eat all day and cannot drink either until it is dark. We had one teacher who celebrated with us even though she was a Christian.

DRF: Well, I am almost tempted to do so myself.

HAH: Why?

DRF: it is just the challenge.

HAH: You know what one teacher did. She ate right in front of us-during Ramadan.

DRF (amazed): You are kidding.

HAH: She was mad. She yelled at all of us, and then she took out a chocolate bar and ate it right in front of us. She told us she hated us. I was almost crying (almost crying now). I was eight-years-old.

 

 

ADM 7: Summary of a Number of Meetings Between Different Teachers and the School Director Regarding the School Cheating Scandal in 1997.

The Headmaster indicated that a wide-spread cheating scandal occurred the previous year. When the school originally "keyed" the school locks, all the high school classrooms shared a single, identical key.

A senior student stole one of the teachers' keys and made a copy of it. With that, students then broke into the classrooms of their teachers, stealing tests. They, then, made copies of these to distribute to other members of their class. This entire operation went on, without any student coming forward with this information for almost an entire year. Finally, a teacher discovered what was going on and reported it to the Headmaster.

The Headmaster took minor action against the students. None were expelled. Nor were the GPAs they sent to the United States fundamentally altered.

The Board, apparently, heard of the action in question. One member actually addressed the Board on the issue. In the end, however, the Board, as individuals, exerted strong pressure not to do very much. It is important to note that the students involved included some brothers, sisters, and children of Board members. The ringleader, who was not expelled, apparently enjoyed a close relationship with the Board Chairperson

American Teachers, including the teacher who uncovered the operation, urged greater action. That teacher, in fact, implied, in public, that the Headmaster was not doing his job by backing down. She left the school after.

This scandal became so well-enough known that a prominent American University in Boston refused to accept any more student applicants from this school for its school programs.

 

 

ADM 8: Note of Conversations Regarding Student SEW, the "Worst Student"

in the Ninth Grade In Terms of Behavior

Several teachers commented on the behavior of SEW. SEW typically acts in a manner most teachers would define as disruptive: he talks a lot in a loud brutal, brusque manner; he gets out of his seat without permission; and he talks back to teachers.

A number of teachers have tried to get SEW diagnosed as ADHT. The parents refuse to have SEW tested. While he has failed some classes and had many discipline incidents, no one thinks that SEW will ever get ousted from the school. When asked, they always come up with a simple explanation: SEW is one of two heirs to the vast Al-W corporate holdings, and his father is an important MP in Parliament.

One day, the Disciplinary Committee made a show of gathering all of the disciplinary data and infractions by SEW. According to the principal, they intended to try to have SEW expelled. When other teachers heard of this, they assured this author that this would never happen. The Board would not alienate the family of SEW. Nothing happened.

At parent conferences, this author happened to mention to the father of SAM that his daughter (who was in the class with SEW) had an uphill battle to learn because of class composition. When the father heard about this, he vowed to go immediately to the principal and try to have the misbehaving students, which would include SEW, ousted. He stated he could do this due to his close personal relationship, "wastah," with the principal. This author made no comment to encourage or discourage this course of action.

Though this parent presumably visited his friend that very night, nothing happened.

Postscript: June 20, 2002: SEW graduated as predicted.

 

 

ADM 9: Report of Results of a Survey by a Teacher of Juniors and Seniors

Mr. CN, a teacher of juniors and seniors, polled them to ask what they regarded as the worst aspect of their society. All of them except one student, who chose their religion, Islam, identified "wastah."

It is important to note that Mr. CN did not present a list from which to choose.

Also, bear in mind that these students have a high level of awareness of American culture. The one student who chose religion, for example, lamented the fact that she could not date, go to dances, listen to most forms of music, i.e., things her American counterparts take for granted.

 

 

ADM 10: Cheating Incident Involving Ninth Grade Students

On November 14, 1998 this author found an email message on the desk of a student. The message, dated the day before, contained the contents of a test that students took that very day.

The principal called down the student whose name appeared as the originator. Apparently, that student stole a copy of an upcoming test. He then faxed and emailed copies to any student who requested a copy. That included 11 other students. Altogether, the scandal then implicated (12/51) 23.5% of the class. Of that group, only 2 students actually had grades lower than a "B."

When this author and the principal confronted the students, some admitted to having acquired the stolen copy. A few apologized for their involvement. Only one student, however, expressed any fear of consequences at home, and, as it turned out, may not have been involved.

Subsequently, when this author decided to fail all of the cheating students, he called all of their parents to inform them of this action. Of this group of 12, only one parent expressed any anger with his/her child. The remainder pleaded with the teacher not to fail his/her child.

 

 

ADM 11: Selected Excepts from the Al-Dharra Student and Parent Handbook

[emphasis added]

5. Academic Integrity:
a. Students are expected to complete and submit their own work. Occasionally some students will need assistance from parents or classmates, but it is important that all students learn to work independently.
b. Copying work from other students is not acceptable. Using materials from books, computer programs, and other sources without proper acknowledgment is not permitted. Such actions will lead to a reduction in the grade awarded and disciplinary action.

7. Promotion: To be eligible for annual promotion the student must have:
a. met attendance requirements.
b. an acceptable behavior record.
c. no failure in any subject.

8. Failure: Students who fail to meet all the promotion requirements may be permitted to repeat their grade level. In the High School, a student is not allowed to repeat more than once.

12. High School Diploma Requirements
a. a record of regular attendance.
b. an acceptable behavior record.
c. A total of twenty-seven credits....

SCHOOL LIFE

1. General principals
- The school is a community where all members through the entire school day, including travel to and from home and during school field experience, have fundamental rights, including, but not limited to the following:
a. the right to an education, which means that teachers are free to teach and students are fee to learn without being interrupted by inconsiderate and unruly behavior.
b. the right to develop one's own individuality, so long as it does not interfere with the rights of others, without criticism or pressure from others.
c. the right to be treated respectfully.
d. the right to freedom from physical and mental abuse such as intimidation, harassment, or name-calling.
e. the right to privacy.
f. the right to freedom from being discriminated against because of race, sex, religion, culture, handicap, classroom performance, etc.
- Self-discipline is essential for the maintenance of these rights by members of the community. Self-discipline develops and promotes responsible citizenship. Continued positive self-control requires the cooperation of students, staff, and parents.

2. Improving behavior:
a. In the event a student does not demonstrate appropriate self-discipline regarding the school's policies, procedures, and regulations, a variety of sources are available to assist the student in improving his/her behavior.
b. Initially the teacher concerned interacts with the student. The student may then be referred to the Counselor or to the appropriate Deputy School Principal. Parents are involved in solving recurring misbehavior before it leads to suspension or expulsion.

3. School Expectations:
Students are expected to observe the following:
a. arrive to school on time
b. wear proper school uniform
c. come prepared for all classes
d. speak respectfully to staff and fellow students
e. take proper care of school property
f. have a hall pass to be in corridors during lesson time
g. not eat or chew gum during lesson time
h. not bring to school mobile phones or pagers
i. walk (not run) in the building
j. leave school with written permission form the Nurse
k. not enter the theater or storage areas without an accompanying teacher or written permission
l. leave the school environment clean and free of litter
m. line up when buying food from the canteen
n. follow all the rules of any special area such as: the mosque, library, gym, science lab, theater, and clinic
o. follow exam rules
p. follow classroom guidelines

4. Consequences of misbehavior:
Misbehaviors that are not specifically listed here, but may cause a disruption in the operation of the school, as defined by the school administration, will be treated in a similar way to the list below:
a. tardy to school
b. late to class during the school day
c. not in uniform
d. inappropriate language usage
e. inappropriate use of food
f. littering the school
g. graffiti
h. damaging school property
i. leaving school without permission from the Nurse
j. use of tobacco
k. selling or using alcohol, drugs, and hallucinogens
l. fighting
m. coming unprepared to class
n. skipping classes
o. cheating
- The consequences for these offenses vary from 30 minute recess or after-school detentions to immediate suspension or expulsion. The seriousness of the misbehavior and its repetition will dictate the consequences applied. The School Deputy Principals are the administrators who will decide the seriousness and the consequences of the misbehavior. But as a guideline, consequences follow a hierarchy of actions as follows:
1. Detention: 30 minutes, or more, during or after school hours
2. In-school suspension, one or more days
3. Out of school suspension, one or more days
4. Behavior contract
5. Expulsion: Immediately or at the end of the year

 

 

 

ADM 12: Excerpts from the Al-Dharra Five-Year-Report from ECIS

[aliasing used for school and individual names, emphasis added]

A Report of the Five Year Visit to the Al-Dharra Madressor

ECIS Representative: Arnold Bonaventure , Vice-Principal, Saudia Arabian Union
NEASC Representative: April J. Burhman, Superintendent, Birmingham Schools

Visited November 28th and 29th, 1995

In this report, the representative specifically noted:
(1) a lack of any program of regular, external testing.
(2) a lack of board training

Section C: School Staff

(a) Two of these [problems] pertain to encouraging cultural understanding, and strengthening communications, coordination, and exchange of information between Arab and non-Arab staff members...Efforts by the school to address this important issue should be enhanced to include more on-site language and cultural in-service activities.

(c) [The school needs] resources to strengthen understanding and appreciation of cultural differences.

Section F: Secondary Curriculum Program

(a) The "in progress" recommendations relate to need for more contact between Arab and Non-Arab teachers...

 

 

 

ADM 13: Conversations with Other International School Administrators

One Al-Dharra teacher had an opportunity to spend a day with teachers at other international schools in Al-Dharra.

As a new teacher, he struck up a conversation regarding Arab students' behavior. While the teachers praised their students from the US, Canada, and Europe, they had little positive to say about most of their Arab students. They considered them, in general, poorly-behaved, less-motivated, and prone to cheating.

Later that day, the same teacher complimented a student from another school on the quality of a speech given by an Arab student. The other student (Arab also) drew back in surprise:

"She did not write that speech. She has not done her own homework in her life!"

 

 

 

ADM 14: Conversation Between a Tutored Student and One Al-Dharra Teacher

One new teacher had an opportunity to tutor a student in math, a Canadian by origin. The student attended another Kuwaiti international school. The teacher asked:

"Didn't they teach you that in class?"

"In our class," the boy said, "the teacher does not teach anything. The Arab students are constantly talking and disrupting."

Further conversation revealed that a good portion of his day consisted of going to classes in which teachers tried, but failed, to keep control of their classrooms largely due to Arab students talking in Arabic, acting out, etc.. The student attended KBS.

 

 

ADM 15: The Fate of Mr. C

On March 13, 1999, a new teacher got into an interesting discussing regarding his predecessor at Al-Dharra.

"Whatever happened to Mr. C?" Mr. F asked.

"I really liked Mr. C," MS. D responded, "personally he was a very good man."

"Poor man," Ms. C responded.

"What do you mean?" Mr. F asked.

"The kids just ate him for lunch. He tried to be the big brother to them, and they just ate him up. His class had no control."

"So he taught this year's 9th grade," Mr. F added.

"No," Ms. D interjected, "he taught this year's 10th grade."

 

 

 

 

ADM 16: Ninth Grade Cheating Incidents of the Year 2000

On April 4th 1998, DAS came forward to tell me she saw students already looking at the test this teacher planned to administer in two hours.

This came as a real surprise. Apparently students had lifted the exam from the folder in which I give out daily papers. As soon as one student retrieved a copy, he immediately ran to the locker room and proceeded to show it to the remainder of the class.

 

May 15, 1999

This researcher pointed out to Bader how much his essay resembled that of Sheika, another student in class. This researcher pointed out that, in fact, the three main points in his essay exactly equaled that of Sheika, and that her ideas, in many ways, hit rather far-out points.

Bader argued at some length. He denied that the two tests resembled one another. Then, he argued that, despite the extreme odds against it, he and Sheika came to exactly the same, rather offbeat, conclusions about the story in question.

Eventually, however, Bader got down to the truth:

"Yeah. I copied all right. We agreed to do this [to cheat]. So what? There is nothing wrong with it."

 

 

 

 

ADM 17: Arranged marriages should be prevented (Excerpts) (1998).

[Emphasis added]

Donna Al-Mula
English 9A

There are many reasons as to why arranged marriages should be stopped. One of the many reasons is that the two couples are not in love, and have no idea who his/her partner is or how they might be. it is a very big risk to take; it is a step that might change a person's whole life. Relationships are the most important things in life, and marriage is one of the most important relationships. A person should experience and learn before stepping up to a higher level, and getting married to a complete stranger. They might not end up falling in love, and that will result to disaster. A person should build his/herself up and experience the facts of life before anything.

An example of such an incident would be the author's great grandparents, their marriage was arranged and their first meeting was the day of their wedding. The bride had another man in her life, and had no intentions in forgetting him what so ever. She tried to love her husband, but she could not; he tried to love her too, but their marriage eventually failed, and each one had to go towards opposite directions. All this happened because the girl had no rights in choosing the man that she will spend most of her time with. (Should Marriages be arranged?, Students essay, Siraj Ahmad Shaikh)

***

An example would be Kuwait. The Kuwaiti practice of marrying cousins in the old days was very popular. If the marriage fails, and they end up with problems, then these problems will affect their family, which will cause more problems which will result to fighting and misunderstanding later on in life.

Mona Shah, a 23 year old girl that was arranged with Emanual Ferankiti who her parents thought would be the love of her life, and eventually turned out to be her hate and her enemy in life. After 2 months of fighting over the stupidest things, they ended up divorced. "Why do you style your hair that way? I do not like it" "Why do you put the fork on the right side?" Emanual used to tell Mona. To her it was hell. If they have met before their wedding day then all these problems would not have occurred because they'd get to know one another and know what each one looks like. (Real life Magazine, P.31)

It is often argued that arranged marriages conform to Islamic beliefs, but this is incorrect. According to the Hadith, the scripture second only to The Koran, if a girl does not want to marry someone who her father has arranged for her to marry, she does have the power to make the decision not to wed. The Hadith has a story about a girl whose father had married her to her cousin against her own wishes. She came to the prophet and informed him about the situation, "whereupon the prophet allowed her to exercise her own choice." She said to the prophet, "I am reconciled to what my father did, but I wanted to make it known to women that fathers have no say in this matter." (http:// www.lvtimes.com.engaged.htm)

If parents do not approve of a marriage, the Imam, an Islamic clergyman, can intervene and speak to the parents. (Http://lvtimes.com). Even though the Quran supports women's rights, they are not taken up [sufficiently] by Islam. They do not give the girl what she deserves, the right to choose whom she wants to spend her life with: she has a right to choose. Arranged marriages should be prevented all they do is harm people from different angles and side.

In Kuwait, the number of arranged marriages has decreased after tearing apart women's lives because of their parents' stupid decisions. Girls want the right to make their own decision, have their own choice, and not have their rights violated. The violations of women's rights are un-Islamic. According to the Hadith, the scripture second only to The Koran, if a girl does not want to marry someone who her father has arranged for her to marry, she does have the power to make the decision not to wed.

Bibliography:

1. Swaminathan, Bala. "Love Match and Arranged Marriages". Http://www.cs.wust.edu/~bs/essays/marriages/htm
6. "Love, Honor, and Obey?" Http://www.pastornet.net.au/alt/feb97/arranged.htm
7. Shaikh, Siraj Ahmad. "Should Marriages be arranged by Parents?"
8. "Page 10 of Marriage Overview." http://www.palomar.edu/more/beh_sci/marriage/mar_12.htm

 

 

 

 

 

ADM 18: Excerpts from the Employee Contract [names aliased and emphasis added]

Al-Dharra Madressor
P.O. Box 13245 Safat
Code No.: 13105, Kuwait

OVERSEAS CONTRACT (Teacher/HOD)

The following is an agreement between Al-Dharra Madressor, hereinafter referred to as "the school" and Fred Q. Teacher, hereinafter referred to as "the employee."

VI. Cash Allowance:

A settling in allowance of KD 100 in cash is paid by the school to the employee on initial contract.

VII. Residence:

The cost of the employee’s residence stamp in Kuwait is paid by the school.

IX. Accommodations:

A furnished apartment, including utilities and soft furnishing, will be provided by the school in additional to free electricity, water, and local telephone.

X. Tuitions:

The employee must request authorization from the administration before accepting tuitions outside the school. Tuitions should not detract from the teacher’s performance in school.

 

IV. School Policy:

The employee is required to abide by the policies of the school outlined in the school Policy Manual.

XVI. Certification:

This contract is contingent upon the presentation of all relevant original or attested copies of certificates, references and other documents for approval of the employee by the Kuwait Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Interior of Social Affairs and Labor.

I agree to abide by the conditions of this contract.

____________________________ _______________________________

Signature of Employee Date

_Mr. Headmaster_____________ __18 May 1998__________________

Signature of Director Date

__Mr. Abduldul__________________ __19 May 1998____________________

Signature of Owner’s Rep. Date

 

 

 

 

 

ADM 19: Email Conversation between Nasser Al Qatami and This Author

July 13, 1999

From: "nque@hotmail.com
To: dfruit@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Hello!
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 16:31:27 GMT

Hi Mr. Dan...yes actually he is my grandfather he served as a candidate in the Parliament for 3 times; then he became the president of Kuwait is Human Rights Association,...and now he is Arabia's [president of the Human Rights Association]...any more info~?

Yeah, well he did a lot of political work. I do not know the details.....I did not get it, but I will probably understand it if it was in Arabic! There are a few books that have biographical stuff about my grandfather, but they are in Arabic.--Nasque!

 

 

 

 

 

ADM 20: Letters from a Non-Kuwaiti Student (Italics added)

From: :Suleiman Omari" <>

To: dfruit@hotmail.com

Subject: Daniel Fruit

Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 16:50:13

Hi.

Suleiman: I read your response and would just like to admit that my leadership IS dictatorial to a certain extent, and that is mainly because I am... being conservative and dictate ideas.... Also, it is more effective in terms of work being accomplished.

Mr. Dan: ....A dictatorship is effective in certain situations, particularly where the people are uneducated, lazy, and used to strong rule.

Suleiman: Have you ever seen a foreigner in our school holding a leadership position after being elected by the students? I do not think so. Kuwaiti arrogance (Mr. Dan, my parents and I have lived here more than you have and I've been in this school since gr.4) does not allow them to see themselves as followers to a non-Kuwaiti when it is up to THEM to choose. Well, when you assign me as ambassador, it is different cuz you've done it, but on a larger scale when Kuwaitis are to choose, it is much more different.

 

 

 

ADM 21: Summary of the Cheating Scandal of 1998

When class 9B left the classroom after the English test, I was surprised that one student had left a piece of paper on her desk, an email message:

To:bushmay@hotmail.com. The heading read as follows:
From: <hurrican02@hotmail.com>
Regarding: Hella and Yella, the test.
Date: October 24, 1998

The remainder of the message included all of the answers to the test. While this might not seem too surprising, more strangely, the test occurred on October 25, 1998. Quickly, I realized that "hurrican02" sent the message the day before the test.

After "bushmay" went to the office, she quickly revealed the identity of "hurrican." After some persuasion, "hurrican" revealed that he had faxed or emailed the test to twenty-five students in his section and the other two sections. Further, some of these students circulated the test to others. None of the other twenty-five students gave any of the details of this to the administration.

During the day, the vast majority of the students caught spontaneously apologized. In their apologies, none of them "begged for mercy."

Upon calling the parents, nearly all of them begged that their students "get another chance." None of them asked to see the evidence for cheating. One particular parent, instead of pleading for leniency, said, "So that is all you are going to do to her?" All of the students received failing grades on the test.

Subsequently, two of the students denied receiving the test. This won them the disparagement of the other students who treated them with no small amount of contempt. Since their parents backed them [in lying], their grades on the test stood. One girl said to the other,

"I gave you the test. How can you deny that you saw it!"

One of these two left within the year.

 

 

 

ADM 22: Jane's and Dan's notes from the THIMUN conference regarding student behavior:

I am afraid that the conference was a learning experience for both of us. Students knew the expectations for them, but, unfortunately, sometimes failed to meet them. While they were not out "drinking" and going to Amsterdam, I feel that their behavior was, in its own way, just as malicious.

Ms. Jane and I did not quite understand why the administration wanted these frequent checks on students. We thought it was due to parent concerns; we now understand that this refers to the dishonesty of past school MUN delegations and their disinterest in really participating.

Essentially, students seemed to want to be in The Hague simply to watch movies, stay up late, and hang around. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, this is a colossal waste of the school's resources in preparing them and that of their parents in sending them when this influences them to ignore the primary purpose of MUN: interacting with other students and representing their "country." When confronted with missing meetings, instead of shaping up, students simply thought of more creative lies.

This strongly suggests that, with a few exceptions, the students selected were not of the caliber we would want in a good MUN program. While most of this lying and conniving was not apparent to other schools, their lack of presence certainly was. Al-Dharra could've made a good, strong impression on other schools and countries with this team. Instead, students wasted their time hiding and dissembling while schools with far more mediocre programs performed better. This is embarrassing particularly because our students represent Kuwait.

 

Day 1-lobbying: Monday

1. Mr. Dan was working in the computer room.

2. Students lobbied. Sessions were informal.

Day 2: Tuesday

1. F refused to change her dress despite being told specifically to do so. She was wearing a t-shirt with a smily face.

2. In the light of the next three days, it is suspected that none of the students went to their morning meetings.

3. Mr. Dan was working in the computer room; Ms. Jane was attending random sessions.

Day 3: Wednesday -Ms. Jane starts going to meetings to check on attendance.

1. F was not in her meeting at 1000. She had no idea where it was.

2. S and N were both locked out of their meetings (showed up at 1010) due to lateness.

3. Ms. Jane did not check DL because we thought that she was in a meeting with limited attendance.

4. DH claimed that there were not enough chairs in his room. Mr. Dan met him going out to get a chair. Ms. Jane later found that the room was very full, but there were still empty seats.

5. DN was not in her meeting. She claimed to be meeting a delegate to work on her resolution.

6. DN forgot the ambassador's meeting.

7. At the usual 1730 meeting students suggested NOT meeting at breakfast as they claimed that simply made them late due to their having to stop there. They also requested a later wake-up call. They claimed that they were simply being called too early. At the meeting Mr. Dan stated that students should go to meetings unless "sick in bed."

8. Later that evening DH pretended to be drunk. Students were very amused. When he finished his act, he tried to retrieve his key from a Jordanian students' room. He had a confrontation with the director of that delegation who grabbed him and shoved him in his room. He called Mr. Dan on the phone and demanded that Mr. Dan get an "apology" from that director. Mr. Dan said he would not do that. DH threatened to take some unspecified form of vengeance on that MUN director.

 

Day 4: Thursday

1. DN claimed to be sick with female problems. Ms. Jane offered to get her any products she would need. She said she just wanted to have more time. Ms. Jane offered to call the doctor. When DN appeared, she seemed spry and not particularly sick (she did not miss the party the next night).

2. S went to his meeting on time.

3. N barely made it to her meeting on time. She informed Mr. Dan that M was seriously sick.

4. Mr. Dan talked to M. She said she wanted to see Ms. Jane. She staggered to the door at his knock. Mr. Dan tried to get her to identify her illness. Mr. Dan suggested she just rest awhile.

When Ms. Jane came, she repeated the crawling act. Ms. Jane offered to call the doctor. M said "No." She thought that she would just rest. Mr. Dan and Ms. Jane consulted the health policies. They decided that either M was sick enough to see a doctor or well enough to go to her sessions. When Ms. Jane talked to M again, and offered these choices, M chose to go to the conference. She made no later reference to any illness and appeared in no ill health.

5. Both adults met DH out in the hallway, not in his session. He claimed to be retrieving his briefing book, and Mr. Dan let him borrow his. Ms. Jane then asked him if he went to his session on time. He said he was not sure. Ms. Jane had been at the session for 30 minutes. He'd never showed.

6. F came to her meeting (which started at 900) at 950.

7. DL was not present at her morning meeting.

8. At the evening meeting that night, Mr. Dan announced that there would be breakfast meetings again. Further, all students would have to be in their individual rooms at 1100.

Day 5: Friday

1. Wake up calls started at 700. Ms. Jane knocked on doors at 715. Mr. Dan knocked again at 730. Then they phoned rooms.

2. N, S, made the breakfast meetings.

3. Ms. Jane escorted DL to her meeting. She seemed totally unaware of its location. When Mr. Dan checked later in the day, she was not present. It is expected that this was the first meeting that DL attended. Ms. Jane also suspects that DL was, in fact, in DN’s room the morning before.

4. DH, MHD were in their meetings.

5. Mr. Dan met F outside of her session eating lunch. She was the only delegate representing Peru. She told him that the chairman had said delegates could eat lunch and rotate in and out. Mr. Dan questioned her as to the wisdom of taking an hour's lunch when 10 minutes would do. She argued that she had a "right" to have her lunch even if it harmed her "country."

 

Ms. Jan offered the following suggestions for next year's chaperone.

1. Wake-up calls followed by further checks.

2. Show students their actual meeting rooms the first night.

3. Breakfast meetings.

4. Meetings at night.

5. Put each student in his/her own room every night at curfew (which other delegations did not, but seems required for our students). [Note: All of these suggestions were adopted.]

The following summarizes my own observations regarding the conference:

1. My perception is that students the last two years did not attend their meetings. DN's comment that they did not have breakfast meetings tends to confirm it.

2. Students who are on this trip should be motivated enough to want to attend their meetings. It is ironic that, though our delegation was one of the best prepared, it performed below average due to student lack of attendance. Not all delegates attended all meetings (say 60%), but our students should. that is a standard we should set!

3. Next year's delegation should have, as its working standard, MFD. MFD was late to only one meeting. Moreover, he attended all of them, and, further, made a big impression on other schools. While every delegate need not excel at that level, they should have maturity. If that means we only send five students next year, then we should do so and simply represent a smaller country. it is better to set a high standard and build the program up than have a low standard and try to improve students who join. Sincerely,

Daniel R. Fruit

 

AMS: Messages from this author to Ms. E regarding GIH, July 9, 2001.

These messages came when GIS, despite their contract, and at the apparent insistence of one student, suddenly decided to cancel a contract for the author to teach a GMAT preparation course. This cancellation occurred after the class met twice and the author spent a fair amount of time preparing the course. A took the lead in both scheduling the class and then, suddenly, canceling it.

**************************

Original Message from DRF

***************************

From: Daniel R. Fruit

Sent: Mon, July 09, 2001 11:38 AM</FONT>

To: Gina Yella

Subject: Attached

I do not like to do things like this. However, sometimes the best way to fight people who use low tactics is to respond. If GIH is still playing games this afternoon, I would fax or email this to the vice-president, A's boss. I think it will have one of two 2 results: they will pay us off without having me teach the course or the course will proceed, but the students will be an extremely unhappy, captive group, particularly A.

*** Selections of the Message I proposed sending to A’s supervisor***

The following passage is from the "Commercial Contracts" section of the Kuwait Pocket Guide:

"Though parties must carry out their side of the bargain according to the express terms of the contract, they must do so in a way that meets the requirements of "good faith and honorable dealing." If unforeseen exceptions circumstances arise that make it exceedingly difficult (but not impossible) for one part to comply with the terms of a contact without incurring a substantial loss, the commercial court may vary the obligation of the parties after taking their respect interests into account." (quoted in pp. 204-205 in the Kuwait Pocket Guide 1998).

Needless to say, the principle of adhering to contracts is one of the basics of commercial law. The reputation of a business, and business people, is built upon these principals.

It is my contention that the students in the GIH group intend to violate these principals by attempting to cancel their contract with AMS. Further, I will offer proof that, in fact, they have not been delivering on their side in terms of meeting the requirements of the contract. While the contract in question is between the students and AMS, the fact that GIH provides a place of meeting and that the employees effectively "represent" GIH means that their failure to satisfy their contract may ultimately have negative implications for GIH.

A has not come on time to any of the three classes....Similarly, A asked to leave early twice.... A has missed 3 hours (not counting tardiness), that is 37.5% of the class. [A] called AMS and tried to cancel the class....On at least one occasion, A engaged in an argument with another student [in Arabic] during the class session. [A] seemed very upset that she'd only improved on the reading section from 0 percentile to 8th percentile. In contrast, I encouraged her to see this as an achievement....

************************************************

G’s Response and Resolution of this situation

************************************************

Daniel, thanks, please do not take any action. I'll handle it from my end. I'll be in contact with you for further information.

Thanks, G

Post-script: GIH canceled the contract. AMS paid the instructor the periods taught but not the preparation time for the periods originally scheduled but not taught. AMS received no payment from either the students or their employer, GIH.

 

 

Al-Jinnah Interview

 

Interview with Ms. Karen Al-Jinnah, Head of English, former Head of PE.

 

Mr. Dan: Let me explain how it works. This is a semi-structured interview. I will ask you a series of questions that I have scripted out. However, if another question occurs as a follow-up, I’ll vary from the script. After I am finished, I’ll print out a copy of the interview. You have the option of deleting out, correcting, or changing your responses. Do you understand?

Ms. Karen: Um-umh.

Mr. Dan: First, let me start from the beginning. You were here at almost the beginning of the school, right?

Ms. Karen: I think three years after.

Mr. Dan: From 78?

Ms. Karen: I started in 1982.

Mr. Dan: How did you come to work at Al-Dharra?

Ms. Karen: I came to work to Dharra through the recommendation of a friend. I was at first working at the American School.

Mr. Dan: KAS?

Ms. Karen: Yes, I was in the English Department and PE Department, but I felt I did not belong there because it was too "American." So I had a friend who was married to a Kuwaiti also [at ADM], so I switched over.

Mr. Dan: So you thought it was a better match?

Ms. Karen: It was a better match.

Mr. Dan: you are a parent as well as a teacher. How many of your children went to ADM?

Ms. Karen: I have two children. My daughter went to ADM.

Mr. Dan: Then your son did not then?

Ms. Karen: No, my son did not. Before the invasion, neither of them went to Al-Dharra. After the invasion, they brought back up to grade 8 at Dharra. My daughter was in grade 8.

Mr. Dan: So which schools did they graduate from?

Ms. Karen: My son graduated from Houghton School in New Hampshire, and my daughter graduated from Al-Dharra.

Mr. Dan: Did you ever consider "not" sending them to Dharra?

Ms. Karen: Before the invasion, yes. Me being a non-Arab, living in Kuwait, I wanted my children to be able to speak Arabic perfectly. So the only way for them to do that was to send them to an Arabic school. After the invasion, when the level of education [in the public schools] went down because of the changing of the nationality of the teachers [loss of the Palestinians], I decided to bring our daughter here.

Mr. Dan: Do you think your motivation is typical or atypical to your situation as a parent of a bilingual family in terms of sending? Do you think you are different from the average parent?

Ms. Karen: The average Arab parent?

Mr. Dan: Yeah.

Ms. Yes, because my daughter was already fluent in English.

Mr. Dan: It has been said that Dharra is a "family school," in both the literal and the more symbolic meaning of the phrase. Do you think it made a difference to your children that they were not a part of the family, at least literally?

Ms. Karen: Hmm. I do not think so with Zain because their class was so small. I mean there were only 17 of them. In that class, [there were] a number of them that were not actually family. So she just fit in pretty easily. She was the type that just insinuated herself pretty easily.

Mr. Dan: Do you think it would’ve been different if she were shy?

Ms. Karen: Hm. Maybe.

Mr. Dan: let us go back to the early days. How would you characterize the school then?

Ms. Karen: There was not much equipment, and the facilities were really meager. We were teaching in a temporary building, a pre-fab, but it was really close, a lot of bonding with the kids. The teachers were really close because we were only a small number. The kids were, I think, more cooperative at the time because we had a mix of nationalities, so I thought it was more "homey."

Mr. Dan: You’ve been here throughout the history of the school. To me, anyway, a convenient dividing line seems to be between pre-war and post-war. Is this a fair statement, or is there another point?

Ms. Karen: I think there is another point of division is when the Kuwaiti Stock Market [Manakh al Suk] went nuts. There was so much fast money. Before it fell, people were making tons of money. People were donating 5000, 10000 dinar to the school to get their kids in. To get a place in the school, you could donate. So the money was really free, and we were getting all kinds of supplies and equipment. After the Crash, that was another dividing point. Some students could not stay at the school any longer. They were getting a little bit more selective.

Mr. Dan: How would you characterize pre-war Al-Dharra, say in 1989?

Ms. Karen: That year we were probably as close, and I do not know if this sounds negative, to being an American type school in terms of the behavior, the attitude. They spoke English quite a bit because we had Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Iranians. So they spoke English. They were a closer group. There was a lot more bonding, more mixing. Just the activities they did, student council, the talent show, students got involved. The high school was very active; students got involved in a lot of things that American kids would be doing.

Mr. Dan: So it was close to, maybe, KAS.

Ms. Karen: Oh yes. It was closer, maybe in sentiment, but they were still gentle. They did not really have the ego [of KAS students] at that time. They were still sweet at that time.

Mr. Dan: What happened to the school during the War?

Ms. Karen: I do not think much happened because Abu Basrani was here. I think maybe a couple of copy machines got stolen. Things like that. On the whole, the school remained intact, thanks to Abu Basrani.

Mr. Dan: He is Egyptian?

Ms. Karen: No, I think he is originally Iraqi.

Mr. Dan: That could’ve been the case [explaining his ability to protect the school]. When the school re-opened in 1991, how did it differ from the school of 1989?

Ms. Karen: Well, we only had grade 8 at that time. There was no longer a division. Before we’d always had a division between elementary, junior, and high school. We had all the way from first grade to eighth grade on the playground at that time. Maybe they felt closer all being together, but it was really difficult. The older kids would have certain kinds of behaviors that they’d be exhibiting, and the primary teachers would come and say: "Your kids should not be doing this. Our kids are picking this up." Then the little kids would kick the high school kids, and the high school kids would get mad. There was a bit of tension.

Mr. Dan: Was it the same basic social mixture?

Ms. Karen: No, no, it was almost all Kuwaiti. They kicked the Palestinians and Jordanians out, and there were very few Iranians left.

Mr. Dan: Do you think that school differs from that of say, 1991? Besides, the obvious difference that there is a high school.

Ms. Karen: Yes, I think so. I think we’ve become more diverse. we are offering a better curriculum although I thought pre-invasion their level of learning was better, and they went to better universities. I do not know if that was just a sign of the times. We have a lot of high fliers now, but we had a lot of high fliers back then. I am just not sure why kids are not choosing the better schools, or, if they are, they are just not getting accepted.

Mr. Dan: As an external viewpoint, we have only two or three students [out of 45] that on their SAT test scores merit going to say, Stanford. I do not know if this was the case before pre-War.

Ms. Karen: Well, some of the kids went to Princeton, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke.

Mr. Dan: We’ve only got 2-3 of this class this year. None next year.

Ms. Karen: Maybe you have to think that the foreign pool [at universities] was a lot more open. Now, mashallah, you have a lot more Asians. You are up against a lot stronger pool.

Mr. Dan: You’ve had a chance to serve under a plethora of different school administrations. Which of them, if any, changed the direction of the school?

Ms. Karen: Change in direction? I have to say Arthur changed the direction. Probably because he is British, and he put a British slant on everything, which does not always sit with the American slant on education. George Flag was American and our principal in high school before the invasion was American, and we really went with the American system before the invasion. Then, after that Arthur came in, and he took on totally British style things.

Mr. Dan: Such as?

Ms. Karen: For example, he wanted to institute suitcoats, caps, and ties, like a typical British school. He was the one who introduced the advisory program, only he had it "pastoral care" although he did not really go through with it. He planted the idea. Some of the grading, like it did not matter what they got first semester, you always mark them lower, and then you are supposed to go back and change the grades which we do not do in American grades. Whatever you earn, in American system, you get. Then, you were supposed to have ‘power exams." If you taught them concepts A-G, you were supposed to test them on A-M, because the higher kids would automatically know it or go search it out before the exams. A lot of kids started getting burnt that way. And their grading system is very different. Like, they do not like to give As. If you get like an A, which is an 87, they do not include that on the report card.

Mr. Dan: How could he do that with an American style curriculum? How did that work?

Ms. Karen: Well, when we got in our classrooms, everyone did what they wanted. And when it came around time to order, the order would depend on who is head of department at the time, or who wanted what. Sometimes we’d get British books in and we’d get British books in or American books in, and they were always fighting each other.

Mr. Dan: It essentially a cultural clash.

Ms. Karen: Uh-huh.

Mr. Dan: That was when he hired on a lot of British teachers too, correct.

Ms. Karen: Yes. I mean they are good in the British system, but it did not jive with our system. They had this attitude that the American system bastardizes the language. They [the Americans] do not know how to teach English. They do this and they do that. So even to the kids they would say that. So that did not help matters.

Mr. Dan: Okay. If you had to describe the social world of the school, which do you think would be the best analogy: the "salad bowl," the "melting pot," the "layer cake," or the "onion?" The salad bowl, flavors do not mix, the melting pot, everyone comes out the same, the layer cake, hierarchical, and the onion, an inner world and an outer.

Ms. Karen: I like the onion or the layer cake. It seems like it might be the layer cake. It is sort of like a hierarchy of families. There is like the Al-Sabah, then through the Asil, then the next level, then down to the families that are originally from Iran [i.e., the Shia], all of the way down.

Ms. Dan: Do you think that is changed over time?

Ms. Karen: Definitely it was a salad with the mix of nationalities. I mean, it did not matter whether you were an Al-Sabah or an Al-Jinnah [Iranian]. They just got along so well. They respected each other. The kids that were Iranian and Egyptian: they were held in high esteem. It did not matter where you came from.

Mr. Dan: it is what you did?

Ms. Karen: Yeah. What you did, how you performed in the classroom, and what you contributed to the school.

Mr. Dan: You think that has changed since the war.

Ms. Karen: Yeah, of course.

Mr. Dan: Do you think that the same analogy would hold true for the staff?

Ms. Karen: I would say the salad bowl. Definitely we do not all come out the same.

Mr. Dan: We are all kind of "maintaining our own flavor."

Ms. Karen: Yeah, I would say that.

Mr. Dan: Which administrations would you characterize as the most effective and the least effective?

Ms. Karen: Mind you, this is really tough because we've only had three administrations. Directors?

Mr. Dan: I think of it in the broader sense. I think of it as "a scheme" because a director might come and go without much change to the school.

Ms. Karen: I would have to say that while pre-invasion, we were a more cohesive, happy school, now we are more of an effective school.

Mr. Dan: Which would you say was least effective?

Ms. Karen: Oh, Arthur.

Mr. Dan: That was because of cultural conflicts.

Ms. Karen: Even if it were not for the conflicts, Arthur had a bachelor's degree in sociology: that was his degree. He took it [the school] as a favor, but he was totally unqualified. He did his best, but he did not know what he was doing. He tried to run the school based on his experiences growing up. The school just...

Mr. Dan: Can I go back. Why would they hire someone like this?

Ms. Karen: Well, it was right after the invasion.

Mr. Dan: And they just hired anyone they could find?

Ms. Karen: Ms. May, the Owners' representative, was in Bahrain working at the time.

Arthur was down there working at the sister school, so she was in touch with him at the time.

Mr. Dan: You mean the other Al-Dharra School?

Ms. Karen: They started their school after ours, based on ours. So they are kind of our sister school. He was teaching their son at the time. She just decided, after the invasion, to get things up and running-

Mr. Dan: They needed somebody there.

Ms. Karen: George had already resigned anyway. He did not get along well with our director because he sometimes tried to buck the system, to go with what he thought was right. He ran a very great high school, a wonderful high school. I mean, the kids who were under him, pre-invasion, always tell me how much fun they had; they ask about how's he doing. She did not even try to contact him. He [Arthur] did what he could, but he was totally unqualified to do it.

Mr. Dan: You once told me that your husband makes more than enough income, even with several of your children in college, that you do not really have to work. To other teachers, of course, this seems amazing since we’d all love NOT to work. What makes you come to work each morning?

Ms. Karen: Wow. I think it is seeing the kids get excited about learning something new, or showing them something in a different way, having them think a different thought. It is not about trying to plant something in their heads, but they are so narrow-minded because of the way the culture is. Sometimes you have to broaden their thoughts; you have to get them to think outside the box, to bring these things to them; to have them think about it; have them write about it. The light dawns. I think that is what brings me here, just to be able to bring that to them, just the rapport I have with them. Because I am older than most of their mothers, they tend to think of me as their mother. Sometimes they confide in me. Sometimes they cry in front of me. Sometimes they ask me for special things, so I feel a closeness to them.

Mr. Dan: So I could say it is partly the "light of learning" and partly "maternal instinct"?

Ms. Karen: I think so. Isn't that funny? I feel that my job is not just to turn them into scholars, but to mold them as people.

Mr. Dan: That does not sound funny to me at all.

Ms. Karen: You know one of my kids the first graduating class said: "You know miss. You did not just teach us English. You taught us life." Wow. That meant a lot.

Mr. Dan: Has that motivation remained constant?

Ms. Karen: Funny, the year of the invasion I was kind of burnt out. The attitude "Oh, I do not want to get my hair wet, I do not want to sweat," and all of this kind of stuff. I got kind of burnt out. I was gonna go part time the year of the invasion. Well, the invasion came, and I did not teach for a year; I came back, and I was ready to go. Well, then two years ago, I had a class that was so stuck on themselves, and they thought that they were all geniuses. They could not possibly be getting a low grade. They just could not understand that they were not "A students." So they complained to the principal, and he got involved. Even though I showed him and said, "This is what I am doing. This is what they are not doing." I said: "Maybe I am getting too cranky to teach." Now I am back, and I am loving every single minute I am here. I just love these seniors.

Mr. Dan: Will your grandchildren end up going to Dharra?

Ms. Karen: I think my daughters will come back and settle here; I think they [her grandchildren] will go here. My son, I do not know because he did not go to Dharra, so he has no affiliation. He might [send his children] because I teach here.

Mr. Dan: I am asking partly asking "Will it still be here?"

Ms. Karen: I think so.

Mr. Dan: And I am also asking, "Would you put your grandchildren in here?"

MS. Karen: I think so. You talking about putting the grandchildren in. Kids I taught pre-invasion, who are married, have their kids in nursery and kg. When I see some of the kids, they say: "When I have a child, I am putting him in Dharra. Hope you are still teaching then."

 

Al-Khansa Interview

 

Interview: Ms. Jan Al-Khansa, Former Head of Science and Currently School Counselor

Date: January 29, 2001

 

Mr. Dan: I am working on my thesis. I want to explain to you how it works. I interview you, and the interview is kind of open-ended in that I have some questions that I want to ask, and I will follow them up if the answer kind of leads towards the work of my thesis. After I finish, I will give you a copy to look over and change if you wish.

Ms. Jan: Okay.

Mr. Dan: Since I feel that you are well-qualified to comment on some aspects of ADM, I will ask a lot of questions. Do not feel obligated to answer all questions.

Ms. Jan: You mean like one where it would lead to a compromising position?

Mr. Dan: Or you feel that your answer is maybe, not as informed as I think they are because some of these are personal questions because you are also a parent of several kids. As you probably know, I plan to use the interview as part of the material for my thesis. That means that at some point the material may appear on print and/or on line. Do you consent for this to happen?

Ms. Jan: Yes.

Mr. Dan: First of all, I do want to talk about you for a while. You've been at ADM from the beginning, is that right?

Ms. Jan: No. I've been here for this is my 19th year. And we've been established for 23.

Mr. Dan: My research says that the school started in 1978, so you were here about the third year. You are also "married to the country" by which I mean your husband is Kuwaiti?

Ms. Jan: Yes.

Mr. Dan: You've also had four boys that attended or do attend ADM?

Ms. Jan: No. I have 5 children: 3 girls, 2 boys, and 1 boy attended ADM.

Mr. Dan: And the other ones went to...?

Ms. Jan: The three girls went to government schools because of the segregation because my husband is very conservative. He does not want his girls in a mixed setting. The other son would be here, but he is not as able. He has a learning disability. He is in a single language school because he can much better manage in a single language.

Mr. Dan: It is challenging. You are fluent in Arabic, also, correct?

Ms. Jan: "Fluent" is a bit of an exaggeration. I can cope. I can do some counseling in Arabic if a parent prefers not to bring in a second person as a translator. I probably speak it ungrammatically and probably "butcher" the language. But, I said, I can usually make myself understood, but that is only in the Kuwaiti dialect. If someone speaks in Classical Arabic, they'll go around me in circles. When I talk to teachers who speak in Classical Arabic, I cannot cope at all.

Mr. Dan: I want to ask you about some of your credentials because I think that helps to place some of your statements as they'd be more important in SOME respects than those by [merely] a parent and teacher. At ADM, you currently serve as Middle School Counselor. Prior to this year, you taught AP psychology, is that right?

Ms. Jan: Yes.

Mr. Dan: You have a degree in psychology, correct?

Ms. Jan: Yes.

Mr. Dan: What other jobs have you done at ADM other than middle school counselor?

Ms. Jan: I taught biology for fifteen years. I was Head of Biology and then Head of Science. I was Head of Biology for 5 years, and then, we had a short interim in which instead of just separate disciplines, we had science. I was Head of Science for 2 years. I was put in a position where there was just too much responsibility because I was doing counseling at the same time. I had to make a choice between being Head of Science and being a counselor. So I decided to keep the counseling. I do not feel that confident in physics and chemistry. Biology, I was very comfortable with, but I'd also taught biology for fifteen years.

Mr. Dan: Yeah.

Ms. Jan: You begin to get tired of the same old, same old.

Mr. Dan: I know exactly what you mean.

Ms. Jan: With the psychology program and the AP, and the counseling, that all seemed to go together, so I went in that direction.

Mr. Dan: Okay. Given your background and your experiences, would you describe yourself as a person with a pretty good insight as to the psychology and sociology of the school? Well, high school and middle school...

Ms. Jan: I would hope so. Twenty years in Kuwait tends to make one sensitive to all of these issues, especially doing counseling with students.

Mr. Dan: Right.

Ms. Jan: Understanding how they see problems: sometimes it is quite different from how kids in the States may see them.

Mr. Dan: Actually, that is some of the later questions. Let us talk about the beginning if we can or when you came here in '81. What was the school like in those days. Could you describe it in terms of, say, culture and school environment if you know what I mean?

Ms. Jan: We were a little more international at that time. Our student population was much, much smaller. We went up to grade 7. We continued to add a grade each year. We started off with KG-4, and as the school went on, each year, we added another grade. We tended to have maybe 50% Kuwaiti, 50% Arab nationals, and, then we had no Americans. We were in a very rudimentary structure, pre-fab, it looked like a warehouse. We had very few supplies, but we had a group of good teachers, very dedicated people. We worked very hard. We were small enough that we could do a lot of team kind of things, which were very, very helpful for kids, in terms of communicating how to work with kids. This helped with the child's growth. When you get very large classes, kids sometimes drop through the cracks.

Mr. Dan: See from my perspective, this school is still small. From your perspective, it would seem to be a much bigger school.

Ms. Jan: You know, I think we had maybe 300 kids, and that was KG-7, and your class size ranged from 10 to 17. Eighteen was a large class. So it was quite different then from the way it is now.

Mr. Dan: My research tells me that, in those days, there were few international schools in Kuwait. Why did the parents, and this is in your opinion, of these first generation of ADM students choose ADM rather than sending their kids to, say, a public school?

Ms. Jan: I think that these parents were progressive. I think they realized that much of what goes on in the government system tends to revolve around rote memorization. The teaching style is not progressive. They wanted something that was bilingual. Even though, at that time, you did not start English until grade 5 [in the public schools], and then it [the English] was VERY rudimentary whereas they wanted Arabic and English from the very beginning, as bilingual as possible. That was the vision of the school.

Mr. Dan: Do you think that vision has changed over time?

Mr. Jan (hesitatingly): I do not think so. The family concept. We used to have a resource room. We used to accept students if you had a brother in school. That almost assuredly meant that everybody else, other members of your family, would be easily accepted in.

Mr. Dan: According to the rules, that is still the case today.

MS. Jan: It is, but it means you make the waiting list. You'll still be screened, but the screening is tougher. We do not have any special needs facilities.

Mr. Dan: Right.

Ms. Jan: So it makes no sense to accept a student that has special needs. It used to be we'd accept a student who is, say, a grade level below in Arabic if he was on level in English and vise versa. Now, we are a little bit tougher because we know we do not have any special provisions. Why take a child that we know we are going to set up for failure? We do not want to do that. Before, we had a resource room that we could pull could pull kids out, we could do, what's the word I am looking for?

Mr. Dan: "One on one."

Ms. Jan: Well, yeah, some one-on-one, but at the same time, work to build up the other language and make up that difference over a course of a couple of years: play a little catch up. But with a small school, and we were a small enough school, we could do that fairly easily.

Mr. Dan: So you are describing the motivation as basically based on education, that the educational benefits of the approach of ADM. So they bought into the less rote memorization and, especially, the emphasis on English.

Ms. Jan: Without losing Arabic and without losing culture. At the same time, you can go in the other direction. We have many schools like that. If you are in an English school or an American school, there is Arabic, but it is very rudimentary, and religion is very different from what you'd expect in a ministry school. We've always insisted that we be in-line with the Ministry [of Education] so that we'd have our kids on the same topics as the government schools.

Mr. Dan: Actually, I think I do have a question that comes back to that later. Now, you yourself chose ADM. I have you down for having chosen ADM for all of your children. In fact, you chose ADM for only one student. Now, you do receive SOME amount of tuition discount, but still, ADM is not cheap. Why choose ADM versus another international school?

Ms. Jan: There is not really that much difference in tuition costs, and I do get the break. If I had my "druthers," I'd would have all of my children here in ADM, but because of religious reasons, my husband wanted [the girls] in a segregated school, and my other son would not be able to cope, so my [one] son could be here, so that sort of limited my choices. I do believe we have the best school in Kuwait in terms of giving students who are capable of managing the program options in the long terms in terms of the university. If you can get through our program, almost all of the options are open to you.

Mr. Dan: Did your husband ever consider sending your girls to say ESG [English School for Girls] or, more recently, AAG [American Academy for Girls]?

Ms. Jan: I have one that started college this year. So they [AAG and ESG] were not around. You know, the other side of this, as an American wife, with English spoken quite a bit, although he never speaks English with the children, which is one of our rules, even in the States, I always speak English to the children. I firmly believe that helps our children in school. I am always counseling our parents not to make the mistake where they go to English at home because then they have troubles in Arabic. He wanted Arabic language to be the stronger one [for the girls].

Mr. Dan: Actually, I know a lot of bilingual couples who are doing the same thing with Spanish and English.

Ms. Jan: A lot of time, I'll get the parent in, and find they are only speaking English at home because it is easier. I speak to my wife in English, so maybe we'll speak to the kids, but they need the Arabic.

Mr. Dan: Okay. I was going to ask: Do you think your motivation is typical at ADM, typical of a teacher and parent, or would you say it is particular to your status as being part of a bilingual couple?

Ms. Jan: that is kind of a tough one. I feel like ADM is a very special school. I've been here since early on, and I've been a part of the growth process. So I have really bought into what we are doing-

Mr. Dan: You have a high emotional investment.

Ms. Jan: At the same time, I have a child here. So I really have a high buy-in value. I really want this school to provide the best possible education.

Mr. Dan: So you are not really sure your answer would be objective.

Ms. Jan: Yes.

Mr. Dan: I'd like to ask a negative version of a prior question. Many in Kuwait have the funds to send their kids to Al-Dharra Madressor, despite the high cost. What are some reasons a parent might NOT choose ADM?

Ms. Jan: Well, one thing would be the boys and girls being together. A second thing might be that depending if they are not Kuwaiti, they might feel like they may not fit in that well, since we are a very close-knit group. Our students are related, and maybe 80% belong, distantly, to the same family. Maybe they would not particularly want that situation. I guess these are the two main things.

Mr. Dan: What do they are feel are some of the stresses, academic and otherwise, that our students face at ADM, and would you say that they might be different for older students?

Ms. Jan: Um. There are a lot of stressors here. First of all, the curriculum here is rigorous. We attempt to give an American curriculum. We also follow the ministry curriculum. They go longer hours, and most of the time, their parents are parents who have a very high regard for education. They feel that, if my child gets a B+, that is not good enough.

Mr. Dan: I've seen that.

Ms. Jan: I've got kids that have test-taking anxiety in grade 5. I have kids who cry when they get below an "A." I have kids who put pressure on themselves. I have parents who will come in and say, "Make my child stop worrying about it. I want my child to just do his best." We have kids who are very competitive and want to be at the top. It is a very rigorous endeavor. It is not for every child.

Mr. Dan: So you see it as mainly an academic challenge? What about a social challenge?

Ms. Jan: It is a challenge if you are not Kuwaiti. If you are Kuwaiti, most of the time, that is okay unless there is some reason. Every once in a while you have someone who is ostracized for some social blunder. They just have a hard time. But for the most part, like I said, we are about 80% related. So if you've got a cousin, someone's going to take care of you. Blood is thicker than water.

Mr. Dan: I learned that from experience.

Ms. Jan: I learned this when the matriarch of the owner's family, the grandmother, passed away. About 80% of the school was absent.

Mr. Dan: That is the current owner’s mother?

Ms. Jan: No. Her grandmother.

Mr. Dan: Oh, okay.

Ms. Jan: She actually passed away after her daughter.

Mr. Dan: I am always amazed at how young she [the school founder] was when she passed away. She was a year older than me. Do you think these pressures have changed?

Ms. Jan: I think they are increasing. As the numbers increases, the individualization decreases, whether we like it or not. We have to teach them where they are, try to individualize instruction, but with 25 in a classroom, how much can you do that? You do the best you can. We want to have heterogeneous grouping. We want to have a lot of group work. Here in the middle school, we have a philosophy of integrating information. We try to do our best to see that no child slips through the cracks, but realistically there are going to be some kids that do not get enough attention.

Mr. Dan: Would you say that academic performance correlates with income, inversely correlates with income, or there is no correlation between the two?

Ms. Jan: I think I've seen enough students that you could connect the two. I've seen students whose parents are struggling to meet the tuition that do extremely well. On the other hand, some of our wealthiest families are pushing education so hard because they feel that they are wealthy, they have to prove that they can do it; it is not just the money. So, there is a variety.

Mr. Dan: One thing I am interested in is "school culture." I would like you to comment on a statement, actually made by me: "The stated aim is bilingual, but success really requires the student to become bicultural." Would you agree?

Ms. Jan: That is probably true. But you have to remember that our faculty has been multi-cultural now, more or less-

Mr. Dan: Actually, I'll return to that in a later question.

Ms. Jan: I think they do have to learn to understand perspectives of other cultures. On the other hand, you have this definition of "bilingual." Are our kids really "bilingual"? Very few. And would you consider them multi-cultural, again, very few. A good working knowledge, yes. Certainly, they are more bilingual than I am. "Bilingual" means equally fluent in both languages, and we have very few who are. They sound like native speakers. In the later years, particularly. Our earlier [pre-invasion] kids were, I think, more orally bilingual. Our kids, now, are better writers, but their oral language may not be as strong.

Mr. Dan: I have the "terrible" question. Do you think that has changed over time?

Ms. Jan: Yeah, I do. I am not sure what the reason was. I think, though, that maybe with smaller groups, and you have to remember that one of our graduating classes had only three students, so when you had seven graduating, then three, you have a lot more discussion because you can. And every student can participate. That may be one of the differences.

Mr. Dan: For sure.

Ms. Jan: When you have the Kuwaiti families that are, now, about 95%, and both parents usually speak some English, but they speak Arabic in the home. The maid probably speaks English, but it is probably extremely weak. So they do not get as much English, and I think it is one of the things we are trying to work on as we are writing the curriculum.

Mr. Dan: Yeah, I've been part of that. In my conversations with Ms. Karen, she alluded to the war causing a change in school culture. What effect did it have, in your opinion, on the student body?

Ms. Jan: Again, this is my opinion. It was very different after the war, and I was evacuated from here with the American nationals. It was a very traumatic time for myself. When we came back, and it was like, business as usual. We started rubbing to get the smoke stains [from pollution caused by explosion of the oil well] off our houses, and businesses started opening up, and there was never any grieving time. There was never any discussion. I think there should've been a lot of support. And I think that the government did try, but I think it was not enough. But even if we could've...who do you get to help with an ordeal like that? You need to bring in counselors to work with anger.

Mr. Dan: Right.

Ms. Jan: How are you going to do that? Because your counselors would all be foreigners.

Mr. Dan: True.

Ms. Jan: You are not going to find many Arab counselors who would come and do that. We have a terrible time, even now, finding enough counselors to handle the schools. We are about 20 years behind the times, where, back in the States, you did not dare send your child to someone like a counselor, or psychologist [for fear of the stigma on the family]. We are battling that. Kuwait has become more open now. Kuwait has become more open to the need for counseling services, but, at that time, everybody went back to work, business as usual. There was a lot of anger, anger at home. At home, kids would hear slams against other Arab nationals who were not supportive enough; they would hear slams against Iraqis, the labor force. There was a lot of anger at what happened. And maybe it was not directed at specific individuals, but just a general anger. So kids come to school angry. [There was] a lot of bullying, a lot more social problems, when our kids came back. A lot of times kids had really struggled in foreign schools and had really bad experiences in foreign schools...or the opposite.

Mr. Dan: Relatively few of them had stayed during the occupation.

Ms. Jan: Very few of them were here. They were out on vacation [at invasion time]. I just happened to be one of the "lucky" ones. Then, many of us left, some through the desert. Thorough many different mechanisms of escape, people left. Still, there were some that were left behind, trying to take care of things. I know my husband carried garbage in the back of his Mercedes to try to keep the rats from coming. People went and worked in the grocery stores without pay to help make things available. There were supplies of food the Iraqis did not know about that they saw that people got. I know that Kuwait really pulled together with the people that stayed together [in Kuwait]. My husband stayed with his family. I left with the children. I was pregnant at the time. I always have breech babies. I knew that they [the Iraqis] had taken all of the babies out of the incubators at the maternity hospital. We thought that it was probably not a good option for me to stay.

Mr. Dan: Of course, you do not want to die. Did the faculty change as a result of the War?

Ms. Jan: The faculty did change. You've got to remember that when the war came along, we had a full faculty. We had an IB. When we came back, we did not have the numbers, say in the high school. A lot of them [the students] that only had a year to complete [high school], so they would leave them in the school to complete in the States or in London, so we did not have the numbers to put the school back together all the way up, nor the finances to have the support for the IB. A lot of the old people came back, but then there were a lot of people who could not get back into the country. They were not letting Palestinians back into the country at that time. Hiring people was very difficult. How many people would want to come here because of what had happened? It was very scary.

Mr. Dan: You'd have to have a good incentive.

Ms. Jan: You'd have to have a very good package. Did we have the finances to provide very good packages? No, we did not. So I think we actually did pretty well. We did most of our recruiting at that time from England because it was closer. It took awhile to put the school back together, to fill the gaps. It just has taken time to get back to where we were before, and actually, just in the last year couple of years we've gotten back to the social feelings and the same feeling we had before the invasion. I think we are going back to a school where there is school spirit, where there is a happier faculty, where there is a spirit of working together, teachers and kids. That is our goal to have that kind of environment.

Mr. Dan: Some days, more than others!

Ms. Jan: that is true. You are never going to have everybody feel that way. You are always going to have some people who are very unhappy.

Mr. Dan: I think a lot of them left two years ago.

Ms. Jan: I think we had a big "house cleaning," but I think most of them decided that they did not like the direction in which the school was going. Having seen the school over a long period, I think it [the new direction] was a good thing. I know that this new administration is exceptional. They let people do their job, they are open to innovation, they are progressive, and they are professional. They handle people in a professional manner, which is not what we had in the interim.

Mr. Dan: I've, unfortunately, found, that it is not the norm, professional management. It is the exception. If I understand it, before the invasion, the school held a lot more diversity in terms of Palestinians and non-Kuwaiti Arabs. If this is true, what changes came as a result of the invasion?

Ms. Jan: This is true, and I think it is unfortunate because they [the Palestinians] tended to be very appreciative of their education. Their parents usually had a very high [regard for] education because they were not going to automatically fall into a family business. They were not automatically going to have provisions made for them whether they were successful or not, so that if they wanted something, they had to work for it. They had to earn the status to be in the country at a later date. They had to be the "best of the best of the best" if they were non-Kuwaitis. So they worked very hard. They provided an atmosphere of competition, friendly competition, but they really stretched the kids that we had. The kids who could get by doing a lot less, when they saw these other kids doing so much, they had to do a lot more. It was a really good atmosphere.

Mr. Dan: that is why one of my pet ideas is to offer the three full scholarships for the same purpose.

Ms. Jan: What I think is that in the high school, we often do not have 25 [in a class], I know in grade 9 you do, but in the higher grades you rarely do. If you offered half scholarships to those of exceptional quality, you've already paid your teacher. The seat is there because you can house 25. I think you could offer several half-scholarship. I think it would enhance the competition, but it would have to be enough that the kids you brought in would not be the 1-2 outsiders.

Mr. Dan: My pocket idea is four per grade level, full scholarships, but it would be re-competitive every year, so every year they would have to apply for it again and meet the same standards. You see where I've tried to do this artificially, with MUN and debate.

Ms. Jan: I'd go half scholarship. I would not want to have to send them out. Once you've accepted them, they'd have a hard time somewhere else. You'd have to keep them to a certain level. We did this for two years, and I do not know what happened. We lost a couple of good students.

Mr. Dan: Maryam Ghaza?

Ms. Jan: Yes and her twin brother.

Mr. Dan: We were actually going to see them in Egypt. Nl [my student] emails her, and I actually had a long email conversation with her. She was going to go to our event on MUN. In the 80s, if I understand it, the school contained a lot of Al-Sabah. Do you think their departure affected the school culture?

Ms. Jan: Maybe. There was some problem between the Al-Sabah family and the owner's family. I do not understand, but that was the rumor. So we lost all of the Al-Sabah, but now they are back.

Mr. Dan: In growing numbers.

Ms. Jan: So evidently, this has been resolved. Or maybe they've just said: "The best education is here." Some of my alumni from grades 7-12 biology they have kids in grades 2, 3, etc.. Our second generation is coming through. We do have a number of kids who've gotten married, and they are bringing their children here. I think that says a lot for our school. Kids value the education they got here, and so they are bringing their children here to continue that tradition here.

Mr. Dan: Okay. Finally, I'd like to turn to the faculty itself. If I understand it, Al-Dharra Madressor always used primarily Palestinians. As an outsider and a psychologist, what do you think of their situation at ADM versus other places?

Ms. Jan: Other places, like?

Mr. Dan: Within Kuwait or other places.

Ms. Jan: I think it is very difficult for Palestinians here, just in that there were a lot of mixed feelings during the invasion. Some helped Kuwait a lot, and others did not. That is why a lot of Palestinians were not allowed back in. From there, when you have a Palestinian on staff, they are apt to feel a little intimidated, if they sense that animosity; and they also may feel that child may be able to cause a problem for them personally, get them kicked out, fired. Personally, I think that fear is unfounded. They are certainly treated differently as a Palestinian than I am as an American.

Mr. Dan: Finally, I think you are going to like this because it is the LAST question. Do you see ADM existing 10 years from now 20 years from now?

Ms. Jan: Definitely. I really believe in what were doing here. I think we are doing something very important. I think that with our accreditation process, which I know is a pain, but it is a very positive thing. In the years gone on before we were accredited, I saw people come from the United States and say "I have to teach with this series of books." So then we had to order that series. Then, they leave after two years. Then we have to order another set of books. Without a really clear curriculum, it is a mess. I had a teacher once who did not come back after maternity leave. Well, we had the PE teacher teach biology. Well, the only segment she was comfortable with, we teach in segments, six segments, 7-12. Well, the only segment she was comfortable with was health, the human body. So she taught everybody that, grades 7-12. It took me six years to sort that out. One group should've gotten invertebrates, another group plants.

Ms. Jan: Having something in place, which people continuously revise, that does not mean you cannot teach improvise, spend more time, extend, on something you are really good at, that everybody's gonna follow. At the same time, in the middle school, we are working with the whole child, through the whole child, through our advisory program: community service, environmental awareness, and drug awareness. All of these things like how to be a good friend, socially acceptable behavior, how to get along with adults. All of these things are very important. I think that a school that does that is going to last for a long time. We are not just about an academic business, turning out kids to go to schools. We are about educating the whole child, nurturing the whole child, and sustaining him.

Ms. Jan: I think we are doing a great job. We have a long way to go. When we think that we are perfect, that is when our downfall will come. We always have to look for way to make it better, look for weaknesses, try to fill gaps, help individual kids, help groups of kids, through the whole time.

Mr. Dan: Would you say to the parents, most of whom are related, that this school has become part of their lives, an expectation, or is only to some of them?

Ms. Jan: I think it is more and more of an expectation. One of the things in my role as counselor, I hope, more and more, to pull families into the school in terms of being active participants in their child's education. This has to be done very slowly and with finesse. I'd like to start a series of workshops where you know your first one is kind of innocuous, like "How to get your child to study." That should get parents in: "Maximizing your child's potential;" "How to get your child to achieve." Then, as you work up, you start to have monthly meetings. Then you can have subjects like "tolerance," not to slam other cultures at home. It is not the sort of thing you want to start with. It is not the kind of thing you want to say is coming from home. It is coming from home, but you try it very carefully.

Mr. Dan: This is the reason I took the topic for debate we took this year, South Asia, and why, with my group, we picked Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Unlike the other schools, that are more mixed in population, the only time these kids see South Asians are as servants. They were very surprised when they went to the Sri Lankan embassy, and the guy actually argued with them and spoke to them as equals, well more than equals since he is an adult. I want them to see these other cultures in a more positive light, at least a more equal light. That was not accident; that was me.

Ms. Jan: That is why going to school abroad is so important to these kids. They going from being a very important person to a number in a class list.

Mr. Dan: I worry about some of our kids adjusting to that. I worry about, say, NN going to the university and a freshmen class with 300 kids, going from a class in which there is seven.

Ms. Jan: I think that is where your counselor comes in. You say, "I think you had have difficulty being in a class in which you cannot ask a question off the top of your head. Maybe you should consider going to a community college for two years." A lot of our kids will not cope [at the university].

Mr. Dan: I think a lot of our kids must make this transition, and NN is one of our most successful students, but I am saying, it is going to be a shock.

Ms. Jan: It is a shock, but most of them love it. Some of them do not make it, but if you look at our alumni, where they've been, most of them graduated, most of them are pursuing graduate schools. I mean, I had a kid at Princeton, finished at Princeton, who never had a science book until he was in the 10th grade. I mean we worked out of these cardboard drawers, called "skiz kits."

Mr. Dan: I think I've seen them.

Ms. Jan: I mean, you have a battery, a wire, and a light bulb, and you taught science from that. We did not have that [much]. We've come a very long way. I am not sure you have to have the latest science, the latest technology. That is why [I do not understand] when we do not get a shipment [of books], and everyone's going crazy.

Mr. Dan: You endure.

Ms. Jan: You can teach.

Mr. Dan: I learned that from the Department of Defense. They tell you something is going to show up, but it never shows up. So expect that. If it shows up, you are surprised.

Ms. Jan: You can teach. Kids learn if you set the right atmosphere. Kids are happy to learn. You do not have to have everything.

Mr. Dan: That is why Bruner says anyway.

 

ECIS Home Pages

 

Al-Dharra Madressor

Director: Mr. Ralph Newman

High School Principal: Mr. Abu-Ramallah

Middle School Principal: Ms. Depusaid

Administrative Assistant: Ms. McIntosh

High School Guidance Counselor: Ms. Al-Khansa

FACULTY: Full time: 37 men, 114 women Part time: 0 men, 6 women

CURRICULUM AND EXAMS: Curriculum: National, US, International, Exams: SAT,

ENROLLMENT:

Age Range: 3-18 Total Enrollment: 1604

Nationalities: 21 853 boys, 751 girls

Nursery: 84 Kindergarten: 357

Elementary: 560 Middle School: 350

High School: 253

FEES: day only -KD 1130-KD 2385

Al-Dharra Madressor is a private, non-profit, co-educational, bilingual school for students which prepares its graduates for university placement throughout the world.

The academic program features options leading to the High School Diploma. Students focus on preparation for admission to universities in the Arab World, the United States, Europe and throughout the world. TOEFL and SAT tests are part of the school's program. The school also offers AP courses.

The administration and staff are composed of qualified and experienced educators from a variety of Arab countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries. The average length of employment of locally hired faculty is 6+ years while those hired from overseas average four years at the school. The student body is approximately 88% Kuwaiti nationals with 12% being students from other Arab countries.

The school is in session for 180 days for faculty-170 for students. The school is situated on two large, well-equipped sites approximately 15 minutes apart. The Pre-School and Elementary Schools are based in Jabriya. This part of the campus has 55 classrooms, two gymnasiums, two theaters, science labs, central library, canteen, infirmary, computer lab, and a number of courtyards, assembly and garden areas. The school day is from 07:30-14:00.

Middle and high school students are housed on a fully self-contained facility which includes 60 classrooms, gymnasium, theater, six science laboratories, central library, two fully equipped computer labs, and infirmary. The school day is from 07:10-14:30. The admissions policy is based strictly upon assessment. Students must pass an assessment in English, Arab and math. Al-Dharra Madressor is accredited by ECIS (UK), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (US), and Kuwait Ministry of Education.

This information was last modified on: 09/04/2001 15:33:14

Kuwait American School

PO Box 6735, Jabriya, Kuwait City, 32042, Kuwait

Tel: (+965) 612 1234/233 2714 ; Fax: (+965) 256 4083

Email: kaso@kuwait.net; Web site: http://www.kaso.edu.kw

CEEB: 368080

ADMINISTRATION:

Superintendent - Johnson Johnson High School Principal - Robert Debruce

Middle School Principal - Jeffrey Lyons Elementary Principal - Ned Wood

Assistant Elementary Principal - Neal Younger

Coordinator of Guidance Services - Rebecca Wyans

FACULTY:

Full time: 51 men, 64 women

Part time: 0 men, 0 women

Nationalities: 36

CURRICULUM AND EXAMS: Curriculum: US, Exams: SAT,

ENROLLMENT:

Age Range: 3-18 Total Enrollment: 1227

Nationalities: 36 695 boys, 532 girls

Kindergarten: 76 Elementary (Grades 1-5): 289

Middle (Grades 6-8): 433 High (Grades 9-12): 429

FEES: day only -KD 1237-KD 2643

Learning Support Program

The Kuwait American School was founded in 1964 by American and Kuwait citizens who wished to organize a school to provide a US curriculum for students preparing for American Universities. The school continues its mission to prepare students of all nationalities for US colleges and universities.

KAS serves some 1,300 children from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. In addition to the school's normal academic and co-curricular programs, the following are available: ESL, reading and learning disabilities; Advance Placement; Computer Studies K-12; Arabic, Spanish and French Languages; Instrumental and Choral Music; etc.. Approximately 40% of the faculty hold advanced degrees.

North Americans comprise 34% of KAS's student body. An equal percentage are Kuwaitis, and the remaining students come from more than 34 other countries. More than 95% of KAS’s students continue their formal education in colleges and universities throughout the world, primarily in the USA [Numbers conflict here with information provided elsewhere].

KAS's school year begins in September and ends in mid-June. A full program of extra-curricular sports, fine arts, and cultural activities is available for students from grades 1-12.

The Kuwait American School is located on a large campus in suburban Kuwait. The facilities include 88 classrooms, 30 laboratories (five computer, four music, five art, seven electronic media, ten science), two large library/media centers, two gymnasiums, an indoor semi-Olympic pool, a large multi-purpose auditorium, three outdoor play areas, etc.. This information was last modified on: 10/04/2001 12:01:11

Kuwait British School

PO Box 80150, Safat, Kuwait City, 22057, Kuwait

Tel: (+965) 533 5216/8 990-0123 ; Fax: (+965) 562 9356/2392

Email: kbschool@kbs.edu.kw; Web site: http://kbs.edu.kw

ADMINISTRATION:

Director - Sarah Al Mammon

Senior High School Principal - Stephie Neal

Headteacher, Primary (yrs 1-6) - Sherry Gore

Headteacher, KG/Reception - Janey Al-Adsanie

Head of Careers - Ahmad Al-Amhoodi

FACULTY:

Full time: 55 men, 125 women

CURRICULUM AND EXAMS: Curriculum: UK,

Exams: GCE 'A', GCSE, IGCSE, AICE,

ENROLLMENT:

Age Range: 3-18 Total Enrollment: 2075 Nationalities: 59

1300 boys, 775 girls Infants/Prep: 697 Junior: 600

Senior: 659 Sixth Form: 69 SEN: 50

FEES: day only -KD 930-KD 2300 Learning Support Program

The Kuwait British School was established in 1979 and exists to provide a British-type education, using English as the language of instruction, to boys and girls of all nationalities from KG to IGCSE and 'A' level.

The School sponsor is Mr. Mohammad Al-Sayfet, a member of the Kuwait diplomatic corps and a former educator. The school is divided into three departments, each with its own headteacher and internal administrative structure. Fifty-nine nationalities are represented in the student population. Students who complete their education in the Senior School enroll in universities throughout the world; in the Middle East, the UK, the USA and Europe.

The academic program throughout the school is based on that of a British private school. From KG to Junior the curriculum is designed to meet local needs but using textbooks and support materials from British publishers. Senior students work towards IGCSE set by UCLES and "A" levels set by EDEXCEL.

The school is housed in a purpose-built facility and is fully equipped with libraries, science laboratories, computer rooms, a theater/gymnasium, music and drama rooms and an indoor swimming pool. The academic program is complemented by a full recreational program, covering sport and arts, so that students are encouraged and equipped to make the best use of their leisure time. The school has an excellent record of achievement academically as well as in sports and music. A sixth form center for "A" level studies is now established where students who have successfully completed IGCSE/GCSE examinations have their own classroom/laboratory facilities and private common room.

The school year is from mid-September to mid-June with breaks in December and in March/April. Applications should be made directly to the appropriate headteacher; there is an entrance examination in English and mathematics for Junior and Senior students and a complete up-to-date report from previous schools must be submitted. KG and Infant pupils are required to have an informal interview and an up-to-date report from their previous school if applicable.

This information was last modified on: 20/11/2001 10:17:51




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