Pre-K Teaching Team
Zass, as we know her at Clarion, rejoins Clarion this year teaching PreK. Zass was a founding, PreK teacher at Clarion in 2016. A New York City native, she earned a Master’s degree from the Bank Street College of Education in New York in Early Childhood Education and her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Literature from City College of New York. She worked in the renowned Bank Street Head Start program mentoring co-teachers, and providing individualized support for families and goals for children in her role as a lead teacher.
She has published papers in the Integrative Master’s Project on Lap Sitting and Its Impact on Teacher/Child Relationships and on Play as an Early Intervention Tool.
As Zass says, her admiration and passion for progressive education goes beyond words. “It has always been a goal of mine to find a place that would enable me to build a wealth of experience, challenge me but most importantly, be relatable to the real world. My interests are centered on the environment, children’s literature and advocating for children of diverse backgrounds.”
Born and raised in UAE, Shafaq has a unique understanding of the diverse cultures present in our region which forms the basis of her approach to education. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Community Services, concentrating in Child Development and attended Columbia University, Teachers College for her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Shafaq brings over six years of experience educating young minds, most recently teaching at the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre.
She is a collector of children’s books and enjoys conversations with children. Having worked in both play-based and school settings, Shafaq believes each child is unique and curious about the world around them. It is for this reason, that she sees a progressive setting like Clarion, as the right fit for her teaching philosophy.
Alyssa joins Clarion from New York City, where she grew up and has taught for the past 8 years. She graduated from New York’s Adephi University with a Master of Science in Childhood and Early Childhood, General and Special Education. Both from her university studies and teaching experiences in early childhood play–based school settings, Alyssa has a deep understanding of the way children play and the way children apply meaning to the world around them through play.
When in the classroom, she has a passion for developing an inclusive and collaborative environment, conducive to supporting students holistically. Outside of the classroom, Alyssa enjoys practicing yoga, traveling and swimming in the ocean. Alyssa is excited to join Clarion and work in a true progressive environment that will spark inquiry and nurture children’s creativity.
K1 Teaching Team
Erin comes Clarion with eight years of teaching experience. She joins us from Dubai International Academy, where she served as a KG1 and Year 1 teacher. Erin received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications from the University of South Africa and her PGCE in Early Childhood Education from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Prior to earning her university degrees, she lived in the U.S. for two years where she worked as an au pair and was inspired to earn her teacher qualifications at university.
Erin is a progressive/IB trained teacher who believes that children learn by doing. She encourages her students to explore the world around them, ask questions and problem-solve. Erin loves to read, travel and be around her family and friends. She became a teacher because of her love for children and to share the joy of learning.
Elizabeth joined Clarion as a K1 teacher at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. She is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Liz completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh and obtained her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Johns Hopkins University. Liz began her teaching career in Baltimore, Maryland. She most recently taught at GEMS American Academy Qatar, where she served as the K1 Grade Level Leader.
Liz is excited to begin her 7th year of teaching! Her favorite part of being a Clarion teacher is the strong community and progressive values. Liz is passionate about creating a learning environment where students are inquisitive, independent, and excited. Outside of school, you can find her relaxing at the beach, searching for new recipes to cook, or traveling.
Geneva joined Clarion in 2019, with six years of early childhood teaching experience in the UAE. Geneva chose to teach at Clarion because she found a school culture that encourages students’ learning through exploration, seamlessly combining the outdoor and indoor environments into the extended classroom. This year, Geneva joins our K1 teaching team. Her teaching philosophy for early years children is to plan well incorporated, relevant instruction in literacy and STEM through the personal, cultural stories of her young students. Previously, she taught at Dubai American Academy and Dubai International Academy.
Geneva is a dual degree holder from New York University. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Politics and Economics and a Master’s degree in European Politics and Policy. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in Early Years Teaching from the University of Sutherland in the United Kingdom. Outside of the classroom, Geneva enjoys embroidery and trying new foods from different cultures.
Born and raised in New York City, Jenny moved to the UAE in 2018. She has been teaching for almost 17 years in grades PreK to third grade between New York and the UAE. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education from Boricua college and Dual Master’s degree in Early Intervention and Special Education (Nursery to Second grade) from Bank Street College School of Education. In 2014 she worked as a behavioral therapist where she gained her certification in Behavioral therapy, Crisis intervention specialist and as well the CARS (Childhood Assessment Rating Scale) diagnostic assessment. She also earned a CDA certification from the council for professional recognition. Jenny is fluent in Spanish and English and is hoping to one day fluently speak Arabic and French.
“Student success is the primary focus of education. My teaching style embodies the role of facilitator for student success. I model an enthusiasm approach to learning, endeavoring to create experiences that impact information in a way that students will successfully grasp. To create experiences that invokes a students’ natural curiosity in response to their natural environment as well as gives the student independent direction in self learning. Students’ emotional well-being also plays a vital role, and, as a result, I strive to remain a strong source of nurturing support, motivating students to try their best.”
K2 Teaching Team
Rachel joins Clarion as a K2 teacher from teaching experiences in Oman, India and her native Ireland. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Primary Education from the University of Maynooth. Rachel’s interest in teaching abroad has focused on experiencing new learning environments working with early years and primary children. She is excited to bring her own progressive philosophy to a highly recognized progressive school where she will be working with the region’s progressive education leaders.
Rachel is currently in training for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. She has a passion for sport, in particular triathlon/ Ironman, which have been postponed until September 2021. And she plays the piano and violin!
Kristina joined Clarion with eight years of Early Childhood teaching experience. This will be Kristina’s second year teaching K2 at Clarion. Kristina taught for the past five years in the UAE, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, serving as the Math Lead Educator for the past two years. After growing up in Brooklyn, New York, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Mathematics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and her Master of Science in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Touro College in New York. She holds Early Childhood Education and Student with Disabilities teaching certifications from the State of New York. Kristina became an educator because of her passion for teaching young children of determination, and helping all children to realize their own passions and reach their fullest potentials. Her other passions are singing, traveling, and taking on new adventures. She believes that Clarion School is a place where children thrive, learn to take responsibility and ownership for their own learning, as well as a place where children can discover their own curiosity and wonder in the world around us.
Laurine has been teaching early years since 2002. She is from Singapore and has recently moved to Dubai. Her experience includes teaching within the IB PYP curriculum framework, American Common Core and the Australian Early Years Learning Framework in Muscat, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Educational Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) with Adam State University, Colorado. Laurine is bilingual in Mandarin and English and hopes to add French as an additional language.
She believes that each child has their own learning journey and it is important that her students are empowered with the skills to take ownership of their learning. She is passionate about emergent literacy, metacognition and integrating technology purposefully in the classroom and is a Seesaw Ambassador. One of Laurine’s favorite things to do in class is to read aloud to her students.
Jacqueline has been an educator for 23 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood from Nova Southeastern University Florida; Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Studies and Education from the University of Technology, Jamaica and a Diploma in Montessori Education from Foundation for Montessori Education, Canada. Jacqueline believes education is a life long journey and continues to pursue professional development. Jacqueline represented Clarion in several professional training which includes the Reading and Writing Strategies Institute; Handwriting Strategies and Responsive Classroom Practices. As a grade level leader at Clarion, she has helped to train and implement these practices.
Jacqueline is very passionate about Early Childhood Development. She holds professional membership with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an organization that works to promote high-quality learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research. Like Maria Montessori, Jacqueline believes the greatest development is achieved during the first years of life, and therefore it is then that the greatest care should be taken. A strong believer in progressive education, Jacqueline has contributed immensely to Clarion’s vision of igniting curiosity.
K2E, Head of Student Assesment and School Self-Evaluation
Nada comes to Clarion with twelve years of early childhood teaching experience in Dubai. She joins the Clarion leadership team as a teaching member of the team. Her classroom teaching experiences and leadership positions held at progressive IB schools give her a unique background to add to Clarion as we strengthen our assessment and evaluation practices. In 2018, Nada was nominated for the GESS Education Award for Innovation in Education for the creativity of developing and utilizing outdoor learning areas. She is an innovator of learning spaces, a growth mindset enthusiast and a believer in the power of grit.
Nada is deeply excited about early years education and igniting a curiosity in her students that will create an impact on and protect the future we all share. She joined Clarion because of its stimulating learning environments, child-initiated inquiry practices and the close knit community.
“When we encourage children to question we teach them the most powerful tool they will need an ever-changing world.”
Katie, who grew up on a country farm in Tipperary, Ireland, comes to Clarion with a background Early Years and Primary teaching. Katie earned a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in DEIS (Educational Disadvantage) in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She has taught in various settings in Ireland, before traveling to the UAE last year to further her career.
Katie’s love of learning inspires children to love learning. She values the importance of human connections and relationships in the classroom. She is a teacher that insists that every child is the best they can possibly be. The amazing family aspect of Clarion attracted Katie to join us and she believes she ‘won the golden ticket’ when she joined Clarion!
Spending her summers growing up by the beach, Katie has a passion for water sports. She taught swimming to young children with special needs for 8 years. She adores going to the beach and in particular enjoys kayaking and paddle boarding. Katie’s other hobbies include reading and cooking. She can make a mean carbonara and her favorite book is ‘What Alice forgot’ by Lianne Moriarty.
Grade 1 Teaching Team
Like many international teachers, Louise began teaching English to non-English speakers. After returning home to Ireland in 2014 from South Korea, she solidified her teaching degree from Hibernia College, in Ireland, and taught Grades 1 and 2 in Kilkenny for three years. She frequently combines her cultural curiosity with international volunteer experiences, spending a month’s vacation volunteering in a youth center for street children in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia in 2018. Louise joined Clarion teaching First Grade in 2019 and will continue in Grade 1 this year.
She holds a Master’s of Arts in Irish Studies from National University of Ireland in Galway and a Liberal Arts, Bachelor’s degree from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. Her Professional Masters of Education in Primary Teaching is from Hibernia College, Dublin.
The progressive beliefs of Clarion match with the teaching practices that Louise has trained and worked in. Louise says that Clarion has been a wonderful school to spread her progressive wings.
Louise’s passions in life include caring for animals (especially cats), exercising and following her favorite sports team, Kilkenny hurling.
Donna joined Clarion in 2019 and is part of our First Grade teaching team again this year. This is her fifth year teaching in the UAE. She loves being part of the Clarion community since her own childhood schooling was in a progressive, open-classroom model in South Africa, encouraging her outdoor, exploratory learning. Donna’s love for children drew her to teaching where she enjoys growing and learning along-side her students.
Donna has a Bachelor’s of Education in Early Childhood Development and Foundation Phase from the University of Pretoria. She also has a Post Graduate Honors Degree in Inclusive Education from the University of South Africa. She has a passion for travel, trying new cuisines and practicing yoga.
Helena comes to Clarion with experience teaching First Grade both in Ireland and the UAE. Having grown up on a farm in Ireland, she went on to study for four years at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick to earn a Bachelor of Education degree. Helena is passionate about helping every student reach their full potential and is currently studying for a Master’s in Special and Additional Learning Needs with University of East London. In her spare time, she loves to stay active and plays both Gaelic Football and Rugby.
Helena comes to Clarion keen to put into practice a progressive way of teaching and is excited about fostering creativity, imagination and innovation in her students.
Grade 2 Teaching Team
Miff, as Myfanwy is known at Clarion, is beginning her fifth year teaching at Clarion. A long time Dubai resident, she grew up as a Third Country Kid, moving around the world from the far east to the near east with her Royal Airforce family. She started her teaching career in a small village school in Scotland, before teaching in Dubai. At Clarion, through her work with mentor, Janel Frazier, Miff developed her passion for constructive education and found her philosophical home in progressive education. She continues this year as a Second Grade lead teacher. Miff earned her Bachelor of Art (Honors) Edinburgh University. She completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Nottingham.
Three dogs and two rescue cats keep Miff busy, but she also loves cooking, being a trained Cordon Bleu Cook, “I still like to ‘practice’ on my family”.
Jennifer joins Clarion with a Bachelor of Education from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. After undertaking a multi-disciplinary route, she has developed an array of skills in areas ranging from Music to S.T.E.M learning to multi-lingual education. Following her degree program, she taught Grade 1 for two years and also worked as a Special Education teacher for one year. In addition to this, Jennifer has years of experience training adolescents in a youth leadership program that strives to bring an understanding of justice, compassion and humility to young people. This is her second year teaching in Dubai.
Jennifer loves to travel, read and play music. A passion of hers is yoga and she has experience conducting yoga and mindfulness in the classroom. As a teacher in the pursuit of a warm, safe and stimulating center of learning, she believes she has found this in Clarion School.
Grade 3 Teaching Team
Nour joins Clarion as a Third Grade teacher. She recently moved from Beirut, Lebanon where she served as an Elementary Literacy Coach for two years at the American Community School Beirut. In her role as the Literacy Coach, Nour helped support the school with curriculum alignment across K-5, led data-based initatives to improve student learning, and led coaching cycles with teachers on different methods of teaching. Nour’s teaching career began at ACS as an elementary homeroom teacher. She was an active member of her school’s leadership team and worked as a team leader at her grade level. During her work at ACS, she obtained her literacy coaching certificate from the Central and Eastern European School Association (CEESA).
Nour holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Teaching Diploma in Education Leadership and Management from the American University of Beirut. She became a certified Literacy Specialist in 2018 after completing her Master’s degree in the Curriculum and Teaching, Literacy Specialist program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. During the course of her program with Professor Lucy Calkins, Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP), Nour interned as a teacher and staff developer in more than 12 New York Public Schools.
Nour is looking forward to starting her year at Clarion as she has a strong belief that all students are critical thinkers when the work at hand is engaging, well planned and differentiated. She is passionate about inspiring and supporting students and considers herself a lifelong learner. Nour enjoys reading, learning about different cultures, and long road trips.
Cara hails from Toronto, Canada. She received her Honors Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (which is why she questions many things in the world!) and Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. She also has her TESOL Canada certificate, which qualifies her to teach English as a Second Language. Cara has spent four years teaching abroad, in South Korea and Kuwait. She has spent the last three years working in the Toronto District School Board, focusing on Grades 3 and 4.
Cara loves to travel, eat, solve puzzles and visit escape rooms. She became a teacher because she loves to use her creativity and spark the same curiosity she has within her students. Cara is excited to join the Clarion community and push her students to great new heights!
Grade 4 Teacher
Paige comes to Clarion as a Fourth Grade teacher from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With international teaching experience, most recently Paige was teaching in South Korea before moving to Dubai. She completed her Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. During her time in Minnesota, she was an instructor for the English for Academic Purposes program at St. Cloud State. She was also a middle school English Language teacher where she taught SLIFE (students with limited interrupted formal education) students.
Paige holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and was on the university swim team. She holds two US teaching licenses. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Macedonia, and taught English at a local school.
Grade 5 Teacher
Joy Weir is our Fifth Grade teacher, moving up with her Grade 4 Clarion students. She has two Bachelor of Arts degrees; a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Nebraska Wesleyan University, and her Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska in education with an emphasis on language acquisition. She has been teaching for 13 years both in elementary and secondary. She also comes to Clarion with more than a decade of international teaching including Kuwait, UAE, Spain, Costa Rica, and Greece. Joy is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Her experience in inquiry and progressive education is the greatest reason why she chose Clarion and extends beyond Clarion. Her love of sustainability and community development is a major component to her values as a teacher, which are matched well with the program of learning at Clarion. When she’s not working, she’s outside soaking up the incredible nature that UAE provides with its beaches and mountains. She loves to jump in the car with her dog and go on an adventure, seeing where the path will take them.