Last year, Whichschooladvisor joined several of the city's newest school principals as they negotiated the construction, set-up and launch processes across each of their brand-new schools.
Now, as their inaugural academic year comes to a close, we visit each school again and ask their founding principals what they've learned and enjoyed during their first roller-coaster year at the 'helm.'
Our first founding principal to, 'take the WSA hot-seat' is the Swiss International Scientific School's Beat Sommer...
Describe the Swiss International Scientific School in one paragraph?
SISD is the number one choice in Dubai for families who recognise that the next generation of international citizens will need to be dynamic, flexible and linguistically ambitious: this is why we offer both immersive bilingual programmes in either of the Swiss languages of French and German, but also a strong English programme with foreign languages. Our wide array of passionate teachers, exciting after-school activities and cutting-edge campus in the heart of Dubai all explain why we have managed to build a truly international yet tight-knit SISD community.
Describe the last year in 3 words:
Incroyable, wunderbar, maddhhash
What have you learned about yourself over the past year as a founding principal?
I have learned how important the school community is to a positive learning environment. Regardless of how much experience I have in the education sector, each of SISD’s first students and staff have had an impact on me and my work. Being around such positive and engaging minds is truly enriching.
Are you ‘on-track’ with your plans for year one outcomes? If not, can you explain?
Yes, we have 300 students in class, our sports facilities are set to launch in time for the next school year and our Middle & High School and boarding buildings are also set to launch on time, beginning in the 2017/2018 academic year.
Have there been any surprising positives over the last year?
The whole experience has been truly positive. With great registrations to start off our inaugural year and a continued positive outlook on both student development and academic growth, SISD is very excited to see what the future holds.
Did you experience things you didn’t expect/plan for? How did you overcome these?
Overall, our first year was rolled out as expected. The biggest challenge we’ve had to overcome I would say was to align all processes – be it student recruitment, staff hiring, completion of construction and approval procedures – for the promised timely opening of our new school.
The UAE is a rapidly changing market environment, but we overcome challenges exactly how we’d teach our students to face any bumps in their path, by facing them with hard work, patience and positive thinking.
If you could go back one year in time and give one piece of advice to your old self, what would it be?
Don’t dwell on individual tasks, look at the bigger picture and get things done.
What will be your primary focus for year two?
Continuing the positive experience we’ve had thus far, really focusing on growing our student body and further developing the school according to our quality standard and values. Having just launched our Middle Years Programme, we are really focused on building this up not only in terms of our staff but also students.
We are also working towards the launch of our sports facilities, which will be among the most complete in a Dubai school for both physical education and extracurricular activities. SISD sports facilities will among others include a full size football rugby pitch, an Olympic size swimming pool, tennis and paddle courts, indoor running track and Swiss climbing wall.