Alison is an inspirational educator who is passionate about helping individuals make progress in their lives through education - and, in so doing, to help their families, communities and countries to prosper. She has a wealth of educational experience internationally and uses her extensive networks to inform and inspire teachers and transform learning outcomes for students. Alison works closely with schools and organizations to ensure that students and teachers are always learning.
Angela has worked in the field of education for over 12 years. Prior to joining Sylvan, Angela taught in the British National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate systems. Angela resides in Dubai with her husband and two children. A native of Manchester, England, Angela relocated to the Gulf in 2001.
Angela has a passion for teaching and thrives on seeing students develop and grow. Angela enjoys her current role as Senior Director of Education at Sylvan because she is able to see results and convey good news to parents on a daily basis.
Golub supports Pre-K through 5th grade teachers at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan. She was a staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for four years, and before that, a teacher at PS 158 in Manhattan, New York. While at the Project, Barb led work that revolved around both vocabulary instruction and the tools that support student independence. Barb has provided professional support to schools in New York City, across the United States, and around the world, including Sweden and India. Last year, Barb co-published her first book, "Nonfiction Chapter Books".
With many years of experience teaching in the public school system of New York State and private school in Jordan, Ms. Taraf Ghanem, is currently a senior program manager for the English network Teach Like a Champion at Queen Rania Teacher Academy in Amman, Jordan.
Her experience in the field of education has trained her to oversee the training program(s) implementation and explore and implement strategies to enhance the implementation.
Taraf has Co-taught and led training workshops in many regions in Jordan, Palestine, and other countries in the region. She has assisted in the planning, designing, developing and implementing other QRTA activities such as short courses, courses for private schools, teacher conferences, EU conferences and meetings.
Cheryl Hall teaches fifth grade reading and writing at the American Academy for Girls in Dubai. This is her second year in Dubai; however, she arrived here from Ashland, Missouri (USA) where she shared her love of words with Middle School and Elementary students for thirteen years. She has her Specialist's Degree in Administration and is a certified Elementary Principal who hopes to use this in the future to influence entire schools to become vibrant, language-focused environments where students strive, thrive, and excel in every content area.
Renee Hill serves 22,000 students and 900 teachers in 30 elementary schools in a city about one hour east of Los Angeles. She has earned a University of California education degree, a Stanford University business degree and many certificates - most recently Blended and Online Teaching from Leading Edge Certification.
Reem Labib, M.Ed., is the President/Owner of EDspired, a global education consultancy focused on school improvement and school reform efforts both in the United States and the Middle East.
Reem has served as a team member in school quality reviews for eight years evaluating K-12 schools. She has also served as head of schools supervising multiple principals, principal of an inclusive arts-infused elementary school and also as deputy director of professional development for a school district.
Prior serving as a school leader, Reem, taught and supported educational programs overseas at American/International schools in Cairo, Egypt and Beirut, Lebanon. These experiences broadened her perspective in understanding the value in developing student competencies for living in a multicultural society.
Reem earned a bachelor degree in psychology from The George Washington University and masters degree in education specializing in curriculum and instruction with a focus on multicultural education from George Mason University.
Maysoon Masoud is Program Manager and teacher trainer at Queen Rania Teacher Academy. In these capacities, Maysoon is responsible for leading teacher training programs on teaching Literacy skills (reading and writing) in English and Arabic classrooms. She trains and coaches school teachers, supervisors and principals in schools across Jordan and 20 schools in Jerusalem. Through her 13 yearlong Maysoon has compiled a thorough experience in instruction, curriculum development and teacher training material development.
James Piecowye is an associate professor of Communication and Media Sciences in Zayed University's College of Communication and Media Sciences. James is also the host of Nightline on DubaiEye 103.8FM.
Henry is an experienced literacy leader, who regularly exemplifies outstanding practice in school, inspiring other professionals in education and of course many children. He has been teaching for 15 years and has a wonderful record for children making excellent, accelerated progress. His passion for children's writing has led him to create LendMeYourLiteracy.com, a website that publishes, shares and celebrates children's writing with a worldwide community.
This exciting platform, created in 2011, inspires young writers all over the UK and is now branching out to many other countries, including the UAE and the USA. The site has taken off in such spectacular fashion, that from September his school in Leeds has released him to tour schools, deliver inspiring creative-writing workshops and make a difference to young writers all over the world.
Henry's aim is to make LendMeYourLiteracy a prominent, supporting feature in many country's curriculums around the world. Henry is in the UAE touring schools during the time of the MENA conference and would be honoured and delighted to share this thoroughly exciting initiative that is impacting so spectacularly on young writers' attainment and enjoyment, at such an exciting event.
Sudha Sunder is an independent consultant and concept-based workshop leader/ trainer who has worked with teachers in international schools in the region in developing curriculum and has widely presented at various international conferences. In her role as the Staff Development Coordinator and as the Chair of the school wide Curriculum Committee, Sudha's focus this year is to provide teachers the necessary support and training in aligning to the Common Core Standards within the philosophy of teaching for conceptual understanding. Sudha is also currently finalizing her doctoral dissertation (at the University of Bath, UK), that explores teacher perceptions in school-based curriculum initiatives.
Sudha's presentations and workshops:
Mr. Jordan Benedict is a Secondary Math teacher from Wisconsin, USA. He currently teaches Middle School Mathematics at the American School of Dubai. Jordan's current interest is looking for classroom strategies, technology & resources that add value to the classroom, not just replace current valuable methods. With a busy schedule as a teacher, triathlete, and Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), strategies that add efficiency and value - and ultimately lead to growth and learning - are a priority. He is finishing his masters research focusing on tiering and dispositions in the classroom and training for an Ironman Triathlon.
Michael returned to the classroom in 2006 after a successful career as a Category Analyst and Product Manager for a global healthcare leader. He attributes his success to an ability to think and reason with data, and believes the integration of academic knowledge and real world application can bring a realistic edge to teaching and learning which is both engaging and motivating for students.
Michael's vision is to equip students with a better understanding of the world they live in, and in doing so, create a platform for future success. He believes a challenge we face in education is how to effectively contextualise learning for all students.
With exclusive experience in standards based education both in the UAE and New Zealand, Michael hopes to share with you what he has learnt about rich tasks.
Kevin Simpson has 15 years in education with K-16 roles ranging from teacher, specialist, lead teacher, mentor, coach, coordinator, adjunct professor, and consultant. He has taught a range of grade levels and content areas.
The last nine years he has focused on mathematics. Simpson has experience with the International Baccalaureate Programmes (Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme). He has also worked in USA, Bahrain, Laos, Thailand, Lebanon, China, Kuwait, Venezuela, Dominica, Qatar, Egypt, Colombia, Nigeria, Jordan, South Africa, Honduras, and the United Arab Emirates with international schools, professional development providers, education organizations, Ministries of Education, and accreditation organizations.
Current Position: Head of Faculty, Abu Dhabi
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Educator of 20 years
Tracey Smith served as an Instructional Coach in the USA and trained teachers and administrators in the adoption of Common Core Standards in Mathematics. Later she was selected as a Master Teacher for the Maryland Department of Education to train administrators and teachers in Science, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Standards.
Current Position: English Medium Teacher, Abu Dhabi
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Educator of 7 years
Erika Walker is a skilled and talented educator with extensive training in English as a Second Language and Art Education. She facilitates creative and strategic lessons that foster higher order thinking of abstract concepts in English, Math, and Science.
Ellen Whitesides works on projects related to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics in the Institute for Mathematics & Education (IM&E) at the University of Arizona. As part of lead standards writer William McCallum's team, she spearheads professional learning efforts related to the Common Core in Mathematics, works as a co-advisor to the CCSSO's MATH SCASS, and as director of community building for the Illustrative Mathematics Project.
She runs the IM&E professional development conferences for teachers. Ellen has spoken at many national conferences including the annual NCTM, NCSM, AMTE, and JMM conferences. Ellen worked for three years as a high school geometry teacher in Greater New Orleans, originally through Teach For America, and also as a teacher trainer and community resource in rural South Africa for two years with the US Peace Corps.
Ellen holds a BA in Economics with a Math concentration from Colby College in Waterville, Maine as well as a Masters degree in Public Administration and International Development from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government where she focused on education and innovation in the education space, both nationally and internationally, and was the recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Student Teaching.
Marni Barron is an educator who has worked in the education field for 19 years and is also a doctoral candidate in educational leadership. She has used a deliberate system of strategies with students at risk of failure in Michigan, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
As a Reading First Literacy Coach in Lansing, MI, Ms. Barron was trained in "best practices" deemed by the U.S. Dept. of Ed. to implement the No Child Left Behind Act at the schoolhouse level.
Michelle Haag, PhD, has been a teacher and leader in science throughout her career. She has taught science at all levels, designed and led an elementary science center, and taught educational methodology at the university level. As a consultant for FOSS Scientific, she trained teachers to implement hands-on science in their classrooms. Her area of interest has always been "hands-on, minds-on" science.
Robert Haag has worked as an administrator and teacher in high school, middle school and elementary school in the United States, Turkey and currently, Abu Dhabi, UAE. He has been a high school principal, Advanced Placement Computer Science teacher, elementary principal, curriculum director and superintendent of elementary education. His current area of interest is empowering students to take control of their own learning.
Zoya currently works as an educational consultant and has over 15 years of teaching experience. She holds a Masters of Sciences in Instructional Design and Technology with specialization in Training and Performance Improvement as well as a Bachelor of Education in English Language and Literature. During her duties as a teacher and department head, Zoya has engaged in delivering several professional development workshops and trainings in different disciplines related to teaching practices.
Christine Nasserghodsi brings 18 years of classroom teaching, school leadership and staff training experience to facilitating professional development. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's MSEd and Educational Leadership Programs, Christine has worked with schools in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai to develop and implement customized and outcomes-driven programs in literacy, STEM education, and innovation.
Christine is a member Stanford University's Design Thinking Corps (d.corps) and has co-founded an international design thinking summer program and student exchange, delivered design thinking training to the UAE Prime Minister's Office and schools across Dubai, and written on the topic for the Huffington Post.
Jenina is in her tenth year in education having taught primarily elementary aged students. As she was entering her sixth year of teaching an opportunity arose for to leave the classroom and become the district instructional coach. Jenina worked on a state grant deepening the level of science knowledge of teachers and increasing their level of confidence in teaching science in the classroom.
Through this experience she had the privilege of working with eight elementary school buildings and three other school districts. Their primary focus was on science but lead to integrating the other subject matters. She thinks the biggest reward besides seeing the teachers' confidence grow in teaching science was also giving them the tools to be successful in the classroom with their students'. In return the students' confidence and knowledge in science grew as well.
She has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Science Education and a Master's degree in Elementary Administration and Teacher Leadership.
Gillian has recently set up her own organisation in Dubai, called INNERG and is the official Middle East Regional Champion for the 'Designed to Move' Global Strategy working between Nike Global and 8- major contributors.
She is also advising Mars Middle East and DiaEdu by providing strategic solutions to their corporate responsibility 'Health, Well-being & Activity' based projects and delivers workshops for staff throughout the middle east and Asia.
Gillian advises Princess Haya's Office and Dubai Educational Zone on their Physical Education Initiatives with the remit to raise the standard of teaching and learning. Gillian has also worked with staff at Aspire Academy in Qatar facilitating actions for staff cohesion.
Mary de Villiers
Mary de Villiers is the Associate Director for Carian College Advisors. She previously served for four years as the International Admission Counselor for Loyola University Chicago. She has worked with both undergraduate and graduate applicants from all over the world and from many different educational backgrounds and understands how to help applicants best prepare for admission to US universities.
Mary previously worked as an Assistant Director for the University of Chicago's Chicago Society, as well as the Central Regional Director for the Golden Key International Honor Society. She has also served as the Special Projects Coordinator for the University of Illinois-Chicago and has taught English in Japan. Mary earned her Master's Degree in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago and her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Abner Oakes is a veteran education consultant based in the Washington, DC area, having worked in and with schools, school districts, and state education agencies for more than 30 years. Most recently, he was a Senior Program Associate at Learning Point Associates, where worked on a variety of contracts, from U.S. federal (The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement) to state level (Illinois State Board of Education) to school district (Winner School District, Winner, SD).
Previously, he worked for nine years at Modern Red SchoolHouse, a provider of high-quality staff development to schools and districts; consulted for organizations such as Eduventures, the D.C. Public Charter School Board, the Center for Education Reform, Walch Education, and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy; and for 16 years taught language arts to middle and high school students. He holds his B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in English from Middlebury College.
Maher Trabelsi is an educator with a seventeen-year experience in the field of education. He has taught students from all walks of life, and trained teachers in the US, Tunisia, and Kuwait. Maher built professional development structures for a number of international schools in the region.
His vast and fruitful experience allowed him to understand students' and teachers' needs while working on their potentials. He has also been training teachers from different nationalities and backgrounds (American, British, Canadian, Turkish, Arabs), and has therefore come close to their trains of thoughts while balancing the curves of their performances and potentials.
Maher speaks four languages fluently (English, French, Italian, and Arabic) and he has helped schools throughout four continents. His professional development model is accredited by the CIS as an efficient tool that helps teachers grow and bond.