Last year, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com joined Dubai's newest founding 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 the schools again, this time to ask their founding principals what they’ve learned and enjoyed during their first roller-coaster year at the ‘helm.’
We speak to Dr Kandace Williams about her first year as founding principal at the 'bespoke' Clarion School, Dubai's only progressive US curriculum offering.
Describe your school in one paragraph?
Clarion School is an amazing place and you will often hear me say, “It is what good looks like.”
When you enter, you will see children eager to be at school and engaged in active learning. You will immediately notice a feeling of calm. The authenticity of relationships and the commitment and caring of every staff member is evident in their every action. Clarion provides a unique and joyful learning experience where everyone it touches learns and grows.
Describe the last year in 3 words:
Joyful learning experience!
What have you learned about yourself over the past year as a founding principal?
It has been reaffirmed to me the importance of staying strong; letting your beliefs be your compass; and listening to your inner voice to do what is right by treating others with kindness and respect.
Have you enjoyed being a 'founding' principal as apposed to simply a 'principal? If so, can you explain the main differences and why you enjoyed them?
I do enjoy being a founding principal. I have been a principal of five schools and in two of the five, I have been a founding principal. To me the difference is the creativity involved and the ability to choose your teachers and administrators. I enjoy setting effective practices in place and enjoying the culture created by people who are truly on your team.
Are you ‘on-track’ with your plans for year one outcomes? If not, can you explain?
We had an amazing first year as a school. It was a year of setting procedures and programs in place that would measure our success.
Have there been any surprising positives over the last year, that you didn't expect?
I had high expectations and they were definitely exceeded. My surprising positive was how quickly I got attached to my students, teachers, colleagues, and parents.
Did you experience things you didn’t expect/plan for? How did you overcome these?
Expectations and procedures were adjusted daily. We gave ourselves the room to continue to try new things until we get them “right.”
If you could go back one year in time and give one piece of advice to your old self, what would it be?
Looking back, my advice to me would be to relax and enjoy it because it has all worked out—better than I knew to hope.
What will be your primary focus for year two?
The school enrolment is growing in year two and our focus will be welcoming new students and teachers and enticing them to believe in the 'Clarion Way' as we extend the Clarion family.