|Abdulla, Nidal and Abu Keegan on National Day.|
When Jacky and I arrived in Al Ain we were very pleasantly surprised on a number of fronts.
|Jacky and Al Ain in the distance from Jabal Ali|
My old muckers from Doha - Colin Donald, and Graeme McFadyen were in the UAE as lead advisers and Brett Sloan from Taranaki was also in Al Ain. I was amongst friends.
|CJ, Brucie, Brett, Graeme, Ali and our Principals|
Trees and gardens and manicured hedges were everywhere in this beautiful oasis town. We fell in love with it - the place (apart from the traffic and the madness of driving), the lifestyle and when I got to Ali bin Abi Taleb school - the people!
|Jan Thomas - a good egg|
This excites me no end. I've missed being in a school; a place I've lived in for the last 26 years.
Schools are special places with their own individual worlds. Each school world has its own culture, its own characters and customs and ways of doing things. There are leaders and helpers, outsiders who interact with the organisation, rules and regulations, parents and their children - all moving and working in a symbiotic relationship. The movement can be in a variety of directions but when all are working together in a positive way a school is a force to be reckoned with.Yeah, okay - I admit - I started with a positive attitude but then it all got better and better. I've loved plenty of my jobs but this one was special. Really special!
|Mohammed at work|
And it was great. Really great! I had time to settle in and get to know people and the routines.
|With Mohammed and his ESOL teacher|
The English teachers (Nidal, Magdi), Mohammed the librarian, the Arabic teachers (Abdulla, Shaban, Salem, Abdul), Hassan the art teacher, and Khalifa would all became special friends.
Eventually an advisory team was constructed and support came in the form of a (great) translator - Hisham, ESOL advisers came to help Mohamed and Fadhil like David Wallace, and other advisers arrived on a more permanent basis: Dave (Davego) in science, Alvin in maths initially and then the wonderful Jan Thomas, Gavin - IT, and Pete Kehayioff in English.
|Music teacher, Ahmed, at taboor|
During my blogging at this time I wrote the following post:
Here's my list (in no particular order) of 25 things to be thankful for in my job as Lead Adviser at Ali bin Abi Taleb School.
- The laughter I hear in the corridor outside my office every day (from a revolving cast).
- Air conditioning - couldn't do it without you Mr General.
- Barbecues organised by the irrepressible Abdulla
- My dream team of advisers. Take a bow Jan, Peter, Davego, David, and Gavin.
- Sharing an office with our translator, Hisham (a mutual support network of two).
- The band at taboor (assembly) every morning.
- Watching the teachers walk arm in arm with students.
- Shaking hands with students at break time.
- The Arabic teacher meetings - a riot of laughs.
- Morning greetings with the staff and handshakes all 'round.
- It's a boys' school with an all male staff - alhamdolilah (praise to God).
- It's a Cycle Two school (Grade 6-9) so nowhere near the same pressures as in Cycle Three.
- Mohammed, the Principal.
- Holy Qur'an readings by the students which float in the morning breezes.
- The view of the trees outside my office window.
- School rituals.
- The music coming from Ahmed's room (with Nidal's singing from time to time).
- Abdulla (one of the Arabic teachers) and his daily greetings.
- The boys' enthusiastic singing of the national anthem at taboor.
- The friendly warm relationships.
- Vice-Principal Fadhil's laugh and cheeky smile.
- The enthusiasm for learning and embracing change.
- The lack of private agendas that sabotage improvements for students.
- The sweet black tea.
- The open gate that symbolizes a lot about the welcoming atmosphere at the school.