Featured Speakers

Kevin Simpson

KDSL is a global educational consulting company launched by Kevin Simpson in 2007 in the USA and in 2013 in Dubai. We partner with organizations worldwide to increase student achievement, teacher knowledge, and education leadership. Simpson has served 400+ schools and thousands of educators worldwide in 19 countries. The majority of his work in education has centered on American curriculum schools. He has served as a math coach for 30 schools in Washington D.C. and Maryland. In addition, Simpson has collaborated on math reform projects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria. Since 2008, he has been focused on education in the MENA region, assisting numerous schools with accreditation, training, and development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University (USA).

Alison Burrows

Alison Burrows is from New York City and has been in the field of education since 2004. She attended Bard College where she wrote a thesis entitled "The Effects of Parenting Styles on the Development of Self-Esteem and Other Behavioral Characteristics in Children" and graduated with honors with a Bachelor’s degree in Development Psychology. After college, Alison received her Master’s degree in Education from New York University. She has taught in both public and private schools in New York City, Scarsdale NY, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE.) She has furthered her studies by obtaining a certificate in the practice of Montessori education and is a member of the Columbia University Reading and Writing Program.

Currently, Alison lives in Dubai and co-owns KDSL Education, an international education consulting company. She provides professional development to teachers at regional private and in all aspects of teaching with a focus on the English Language Arts Common Core Standards. Alison also works with schools in an advisory role on various projects centered on accreditation, curriculum (writing and revision) quality assurance, and teaching and learning. In addition, Alison has partnered with the Emirates Festival of Literature, TESOL Arabia, Oxford University Press, Scholastic, Pearson Education, Garnet Education, and other organizations on various education initiatives in the region and has been a speaker at several of these organizations’ events.

The Super Sprowtz, a multi-platform nutrition education company, is Alison's latest endeavor. As director of education, she wrote the Super Sprowtz school curriculum for early education classrooms that is being used in schools across America and Puerto Rico.


Julia Hedges

Julia is an educator with experience teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL) in the United States and throughout the Middle East. She holds a Master of Education with an emphasis on teaching ESL. She has extensive experience with curriculum design, lesson planning, assessment, and successfully developing and delivering English language classes and IELTS test preparation courses.

Dr. Sudha Govindswamy Sunder

Dr. Sudha Govindswamy (Sunder) is a certified concept-based curriculum consultant from the Lynn Erickson Institute, Whitefish, Montana, UAS. In this capacity, Sudha consults for international schools on concept-based curriculum development. She recently earned her doctorate in education degree from the University of Bath, UK and through her research inquiry explored teacher perceptions in school-based curriculum development initiatives. Sudha also serves as a Curriculum Reviewer for the IB Americas.

More about Sudha’s work can be found here: http://practicalthinkingclassrooms.wikispaces.com/


Amine Kamal Hamdan

Amine currently works as an Educational Consultant / Trainer at Focal Point Management Consultancy in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. As a highly compassionate and dedicated educator, he has had more than 10 years of teaching and training experience dealing with multicultural students and teachers.

Amine has leadership experience as a Science Coordinator for three years in one of the high performing schools in Al Ain. In his current position as an educational consultant, he has to build quality relationships in order for teachers to confidently deliver the curriculum requirements and to improve educational outcomes for all students. Being a versatile educator he has taken the opportunity to work with a wide variety of teachers and students from many different backgrounds.

Dr. Steve Kellett

Doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of Calgary, 13 years experience as a teacher and leader at international schools, pizza lover. He is the Curriculum Coordinator at Dubai American Academy.


Libby Kokemoor

Libby graduated from Pomona College with a BA in International Relations. At Pomona, she sang in the choir and Glee Club, wrote for the student newspaper, and studied abroad in Alexandria, Egypt. Prior to advising in the UAE, Libby taught and consulted in Singapore, where she was also a member of the Singapore Symphony Chorus, and pursued internships at non-profit and government offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. As an experienced consultant for international applicants to top undergraduate and graduate programs, Libby particularly enjoys working closely with students to identify the right fit and tell their stories effectively to realize their ambitions. Originally from Wisconsin, she loves music, traveling, and learning new languages.

Jordan Benedict

Jordan Benedict is the Head of Middle School Mathematics at the American School of Dubai and a teacher of mathematics for grades 6-8. He earned his Bachelors in Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin, his Masters from the State University of New York and is currently finishing his Masters in Mathematics (Statistics and Applied Emphasis) from Emporia State University. Jordan is a Varsity Wrestling coach, MathCounts coach, Ironman Triathlete, and Data Science Enthusiast.


Sarah Toa

Sarah Toa is a Teaching and Learning Coach with a focus on Literacy, Sarah currently works at the American School of Dubai in grades K to 8. Sarah originally comes from New Zealand where she worked as a classroom teacher from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Sarah also worked at the Shanghai American School as a classroom teacher before moving into coaching literacy.

Sarah Harger

After graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor degree in English literature, Sarah returned only 4 months later to earn her master degree in secondary English education with a concentration in reading. She began teaching high school in Indiana, teaching mainly 9th and 10th grade English language arts. After four years, Sarah moved to a large suburban high school outside of Chicago. Here she began teaching advanced placement English literature, Honors British literature, and reading. She also created, taught and wrote the curriculum for a team- taught, two year pre-ap history and thought of western man course, incorporating history, philosophy, literature, art history and music. Ten years later, Sarah moved to Dubai with her husband and two daughters. Sarah's daughters attend American School of Dubai, where she teaches grade 6 English language arts.


D. Nickie Manja

Since the start of her career in 1988, Nickie has had the privilege of teaching from 1st through undergraduate courses as adjunct faculty. Since 2007 she has served in international schools as head of English, Middle and High School Girls Supervisor, and most recently as Academic Coordinator. In this new position, Nickie oversees curriculum, assessment, and faculty development. Her love for teaching has not left, and she has substituted in classes, as well as mentored teachers. One of her passions is in improving teacher practice through mentoring with the goal of ensuring quality education for our students.

Joseph Manja

Since the start of his career in 1986, Joe has had the privilege of teaching from elementary through undergraduate courses as faculty. Since 2007 he has served as Foundations English faculty at the Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah Women’s College campus. In this position he hasdeveloped curriculum and teaching strategies to improve student literacy. He has a passion for teaching and mentoring teachers with the aim of ensuring quality education for his students.


Jason Shulha

Jason has been teaching overseas for 12 years. He has worked in Mexico, Turkey, and is now enjoying his second teaching experience in the UAE. Currently, he is teaching ms drama at the American school of Dubai. he also enjoys teaching English, art history, and philosophy. Jason has a drama major from Ryerson University, as well as a double major in English and art history from the University of Toronto. His teaching degree comes from Queen’s university, and his MA in educational technology is from Michigan State University. Currently, Jason is in his fourth year of his PHD at Queen's University with a focus in curriculum theorising and professional learning.

Jae Baik

Jae has been living, tutoring and teaching mathematics and science for the past 9 years in Dubai. In her previous life, she obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA, and has worked in the high tech industry in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area for several years. Jae also obtained a M.S. in Telecom/Electrical Engineering from CU Boulder and has worked in the industry in Colorado (and enjoyed skiing) prior to moving to Dubai. This is Jae’s second year of teaching Computer Science at American School of Dubai and she is currently pursuing her M.Ed. degree from Montana State University, U.S.A.


Mona Fairley-Nelson

Mona Fairley-Nelson has served as an elementary classroom teacher, model teacher leader, vice principal and principal. She has over 15 years of experience, spanning from pre-kindergarten-12th grade. Mona has a wealth of instructional knowledge and skills that include, data driven instruction, differentiating instruction, professional learning communities, curriculum design, response to intervention and best practices. Mrs. Fairley-Nelson's leadership experience includes serving as a principal of an ib world high school in Atlanta, which focused on business and entrepreneurship. Her single gender experience and expertise, helped her lead a start-up single gender stem school for boys. the school added one grade level at a time and Mrs. Fairley-Nelson graduated her first group of seniors in 2013. She facilitated partnerships with local colleges and universities to start a dual enrollment program for high achievers giving students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school. Mrs. Fairley-Nelson worked in collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology to create "Project Engage", a two year program where high school students collaborated with graduate students in biomedical and engineering labs.

Marwa Al Samsam

Marwa Al Samsam has worked as an educational consultant for Oxford University Press since 2009. She is also a teacher trainer delivering workshops in both English and Arabic for a variety of schools in the UAE and other GCC counties. Prior to joining OUP, she practiced English language teaching for different age groups and in different countries like Syria, Dubai, and Canada. As a trainer, Marwa is interested in language acquisition theories particularly the effect of developing language skills for non-native speakers of English being exposed to first language resources.


Paul Woodfall

Paul Woodfall is OUP's Training Co-ordinator for the Gulf. He has worked with school teachers and university faculty in Spain, UAE, KSA, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen and Oman. Prior to joining OUP, he worked at the British Council, Dubai. He has lived and worked in the Gulf Region for 18 years. As a trainer, he is specifically interested in inquiry-based, student-centered learning, classroom management, and activities that encourage learner independence.

Loretta Sanders

Loretta Sanders currently serves as an Elementary Curriculum Specialist, where she leads a team comprised of both teachers and Heads of Department across four different campuses in creating a vertically aligned elementary curriculum. The overall goal is to increase students’ critical thinking using Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for grades 1 through 5. Moreover, in an effort to support the new curriculum changes, she has designed a district level professional development plan to be implemented in the 2015-2016 school year. As Elementary Head of Department and English Language Arts Subject Specialist, she used her knowledge of curriculum to play a pivotal role in the development and implementation of the Kindergarten through Grade 1 integrated curriculum. As a result, student achievement in Kindergarten and grade 1 saw significant growth in both reading and math according to standardized achievement test. During her 14-year educational career, she has been afforded the opportunity to work in various curriculum-based leadership roles, such as: Elementary Curriculum Specialist, Elementary Head of Department, English Language Arts Subject Specialist, School Improvement Team Chairperson, Grade Level Chairperson, Head Student Teacher Coordinator and Professional Development Coordinator.

Loretta holds a graduate degree in Administration and Leadership in Education as well as numerous hours in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently in the dissertation approval phase of my Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction. She is certified as a K-12 school administrator and K-6 elementary educator from the state of North Carolina.


Michael Guttormson

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 balancing mathematical content and practice standards.

Janet Bailey

Janet Bailey teaches in the Middle School at the Collegiate American School in Dubai. She teaches math to the very entertaining 6th and 7th grade. Her home country is South Africa and she has been in the UAE for 2 years. This is Janet's first international experience and she has learned a huge amount! Even though she has been teaching for 30 years.


Christine Nasserghodsi

Christine Nasserghodsi brings 19 years of classroom teaching, school leadership and staff development experience to her work as the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at GEMS Wellington International School in Dubai.

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 generate customized and outcomes-driven programs. At GEMS, Christine focuses on identifying, developing, and scaling impactful 21st Century educational programs, such as Maker Day, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and youth business incubation.

Christine completed the Executive Education Design Thinking program at Stanford University and was the co-founder of an international design thinking summer program and student exchange in 2012. She has delivered design thinking training to the UAE Prime Minister's Office, entrepreneurs, and educators across Dubai. Christine was a participant in Harvard University's Design Charrette at the 2014 Future of Learning Institute.

Prior to joining GEMS, Christine worked as an ICT Advisor for the Abu Dhabi Education Council, a Technology Learning Specialist at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, a Literacy Coach for the Boston Public Schools, and a class teacher and school leadership intern at the University of Pennsylvania Partnership School. Her teaching and professional development experience includes utilizing and training teachers in action research, personal learning networks, 21st century teaching and learning skills, project-based learning, and the Columbia University Teacher's College approach to readers and writers workshop.

Christine is a member the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority Innovation Advisory Board and writes on innovation, education, and entrepreneurship for the Huffington Post. Christine was an Ambassador for the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee's inaugural Innovator event.

Dr. Adrienne Walton

Dr. Adrienne Walton is a veteran educator with more than a decade of experience as a school-based administrator and has served as an educational consultant and mentor, a college professor, and a certified evaluation trainer. She earned her BA and MA in English from the University of West Georgia and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Argosy University Atlanta. As a school leader, Adrienne has served as a principal, assistant principal, and a curriculum specialist, and is presently working abroad as a deputy school principal assisting with the educational reform in the UAE.

Adrienne has delivered numerous state and national presentations and trainings on such topics as "Alternative Educational Options for High School Students", "Effective Strategies for Success in Open Campus Schools", and "The Importance of Monitoring Instruction". Adrienne is the founder of Bridge to Student Success, LLC, which is committed to using current research and best practices to grow the capacity of school and teacher leaders in order to render better academic outcomes for student learners.


Patricia Mezu

Patricia Mezu is the Director of Professional Minds FZ LLC, a Dubai based educational consultancy firm that specializes in pre-school improvement and the start up of nurseries. Patricia is both a Lawyer and an AMI qualified Montessori teacher and has a Masters in Education (Leadership and Management) from the University of London.

She has worked in a number of capacities in Montessori Education, the British Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum as well as the US Common Core Curriculum and has been based in Dubai, UAE for 11 years. Patricia was the founding head of the kindergarten section at Raffles International School. Under her leadership, the Raffles South kindergarten section was rated outstanding for 3 years in a row, by the KHDA. Patricia has worked with a number of unsatisfactory kindergartens in Dubai and raised their status to 'acceptable'. Professional Minds has successfully set up a number of pre-schools in Dubai. Her recent research thesis is entitled 'Effective and Sustainable Strategies for Pre-School Improvement: A UAE Journey'.

Pierre Atallah

Pierre Atallah is an educational professional with 15+ years of experience in the educational arena in three main areas: educational leadership and management, experiential education and integration of technology in Education. His interest and passion revolves around using education and science as tools for community and social development. He enjoys working with people in educational contexts bringing out their potential and enabling them to grow in the face of challenges through impacting their work cultures and behavioural routines. He finds himself influential in policy development, management sustainability and efficiency and integration of technology in leadership and management as tools of institutional effectiveness.

Pierre holds a Master's Degree in International Education Policy and Management from the University of Birmingham, England and a Bachelor's Degree in Physics from the Lebanese University, Lebanon.


Melody P. Traylor

Melody P. Traylor is an English Language Arts teacher in the Middle School at Collegiate American School Dubai. She has been teaching in the UAE for 9 years. She is a Microsoft Distinguished Faculty Fellow. Melody’s educational philosophy is that she will act as a learning resource for students, offering advice and guidance as to how to approach coursework. She understands that the creation of fit-for-purpose course delivery is vital for student achievement. To accomplish this she use a variety of assessment methods including contextualized case studies, assignments and project based learning tasks, performance observations and time-constrained assessments. She places emphasis on practical application by providing contextualized and realistic approaches for students to adopt, making maximum use of practical activities, and understanding that students need to have a great deal of responsibility for their own learning through the Flipped Classroom methodology.

Nathan Menard

Nathan Menard's Bachelor of Science degree is in Elementary Education specializing in Social Studies and his Master's degree from Framingham University is in International Teaching. He has been teaching internationally for 6 years including time in Venezuela, and Argentina. Nate is Chair of the Social Studies Department at Collegiate American School and has taught grades 7-9 at CAS. He is also the co-coordinator of the Week Without Walls program that takes CAS students from the classroom into real world learning. He says "I teach to inspire my students to explore the world around them and find connections between the present and the past".


Michelle Haag

Michelle Haag is the Curriculum Coordinator at Collegiate American School. She has worked in international schools since 2003 and brings her belief that learning is best done through integrated, relevant experiences. As an international teacher and administrator she has put this into practice teaching English, Social Studies, Science and Math from grades 3 through AP in High School. She was a founding trainer for FOSS, the Full Option Science System as well as a designer of the Project 2061 curriculum for American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has directed a successful Center for Science and Math and taught Masters level Curriculum and Instruction courses in universities in the United States and abroad. Even though she loves data, is passionate about Project Based and Integrated learning, her favorite time spent is with her family in or on the water.

Robert Haag

Robert Haag is a long believer in Project Based Education. His background in Computer Technology including AP and Design Tech as well as Business Skills has had his students creating business plans, creating programs, computing finances and working towards real life goals. Robert has worked as an MYP coordinator and as a curriculum director. He has presented in the U.S. and other countries on Progress Monitoring, Integration and Teacher Assessment. He has been an assistant superintendent in Ohio, principal at Bilkent Prep School in Ankara and is currently the Secondary principal at Collegiate American School


Scott Farber

Scott is the President & Founder of A-List Education. Scott graduated with a degree in International Relations from Harvard University in 2001. After serving as CFO of an environmental program in Ecuador and Director at a leading college preparation company in New York, he founded A-List Education with a team of Ivy League graduates. A-List now serves over 50,000 students globally through private client relationships and institutional programs. Scott is a frequent panelist at education forums and media commentator on developments in the education space. He provides professional development to teachers, schools, and educational organizations all over the world helping them develop customized college readiness programs for their students.

Alonzo Sherman

Alonzo Sherman is the General Manager of A-List Education in Dubai. He earned a B.A. degree in Economics cum laude from Harvard University in 2003. During his undergraduate years, Alonzo worked in the Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid where he organized student recruitment trips to high schools across the country. For the last 12 years, he has executed growth capital investments in education, healthcare, and consumer products companies in both developed and developing markets. More recently, Alonzo has spearheaded A-List's expansion to the Middle East and currently runs A-List Education in Dubai.