Better Homes School Guide
In her first leadership position, as principal of a Charlotte, North Carolina (US) middle school, her school won national recognition for academic achievement and social inclusiveness. Later, as principal of the Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany she lead the bilingual, bicultural K-12 International Baccalaureate school to full enrolment and academic successes. In Saudi Arabia, she lead the founding team in opening first co-gender school on the campus of the first co-gender graduate university in SA, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She then served as the founding principal there for 700 students from 75 countries. In the second year of operation, the school was accredited as an International Baccalaureate World school.
Dr. Williams’ most recent position was the Chief Instructional Services Officer for the Reading School District, in the US, where she was passionate about the challenge of supporting the 19 schools comprising her organization. She is the proud mother of four grown children who have all graduated from university.
She earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in the College of Education.
1. What sets your educational institution apart from others in the city?
The Clarion School is set apart by its unique approach to teaching and learning – the progressive education model. In a rigorous academic environment each child is known and respected as his individual talents emerge.
A progressive education model relies on the observation of the child during the lessons to guide him or her to explore a concept, find real examples, analyze, and draw their own conclusions under guided inquiry by trained teachers. This method has been proven to embed knowledge through experience, rather than purely through rote memorization.
The progressive approach to teaching and learning allows for a highly dynamic responsible approach to teaching, with cultural and linguistic responsiveness, and an emergent element that allows teachers to finely articulate the curriculum throughout the year, matching in response to the prior learning and background of our students, while reflecting their interests, needs and strengths.
Setting our school apart is the requirement that all classroom teachers hold a Masters Degree in education in addition to a four-year university degree. This standard matches the US standard for teachers. To ensure the delivery of the curriculum to the rigorous progressive standard, educator hiring will take place in the US and will be extremely selective.
2. Which grade does it go up until?
When all grades are added, Clarion will go from Pre-K to Grade 12. We will maintain a community school by opening the school with only Pre-K to Grade 2. Each year group will be limited to 4 year group sections. The community of parents joining the school in September will be the founding families of the school. We are purposefully limiting the opening enrollment in order to form a strong community of family whose values and ethos match those of the school and progressive education.
3. Why should a parent enroll their child at your school?
Our values rest on two pillars through which we will deliver a new gold standard in education in the UAE:
- Quality of our pedagogical approach. We nurture intellectual curiosity, reflection and higher order thinking through experiential and meaningful learning and innovative applications of understanding and skills.
- Quality of our educators: All our class teachers are professional educators with Masters Degree in Education so as to be able to deliver on our approach that is nuanced and reflective to meet the needs of every child.
These pillars are a foundational base, which opens minds and doors to a better choice for higher education, rewarding careers and above all personal fulfillment.
4. Apart from academics, what else does the school focus heavily on?
We have a rich athletic program allowing children to explore a range of sports and focus on those of particular interest to them.
We also have a comprehensive extra-curricular program through which our children have more opportunities to interact with the community and engage with the rich culture of the UAE and develop their civic engagement.
5. Facilities – the main ones
Clarion’s campus is quite unique and aligned to the ethos of our progressive curriculum. It has been designed to enable learning to take place throughout the campus and is particularly reflected in our outdoor learning spaces. For example, we have an area that we call the ‘Street’, including a woodshop and learning ramp, an outdoor area where children tap into their creativity and curiosity.