If you are part of the vibrant education scene in Dubai, you may have encountered or heard of Kevin Simpson, the effervescent CEO of Know Do Serve Learn (KDSL).
KDSL’s enigmatic leader is a native of Flint, Michigan in the USA. A seasoned educator, Kevin has taught in Michigan, Virginia, Dubai and Laos. He has served as an instructional coach for over 30 schools and participated in math reform projects in four different countries.
His entrepreneurial passion was ignited in 2007, when he conceptualised KDSL in a bid to remain in the education sector. Kevin is currently enrolled in the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) Institute for School Leadership.
His brainchild, KDSL is now a global educational consulting company, which was started in 2007. In 2013, KDSL was established in the United Arab Emirates. Since then, the majority of their work has focused on American curriculum schools. In his role at KDSL, Kevin has been instrumental in assisting numerous schools with accreditation, training and development.
The company has served as a thought partner on school start-up projects. They have collaborated with over 500 schools and thousands of educators worldwide in over 20 countries.
Kevin’s vision for the company is that it becomes the leading learning organization focused on empowering American curriculum educators in the MENA region.
Know Do Serve Learn (KDSL) will be celebrating ten years in 2017. What motivated you to start KDSL? What are some of the services that you provide?
During the summer of 2007, I was a consultant with the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Teacher-to- Teacher initiative. I wanted to continue to work in education around the world. At that time, I had worked and lived in Laos and had no clue where to begin. I took a risk and registered KDSL.
Our big three services at KDSL in the MENA region include:
- Supporting new American curriculum schools start-up.
- Providing on-going professional learning and partnering with schools to ensure continuous improvement.
- In the USA, we partner with a variety of organisations such as, Edspired, RYE Consulting, The Global Sleepover and MidSchoolMath.
We look forward to sharing our next venture soon in celebration of 10 years.
The education landscape of the UAE has changed significantly over the past few years. What role has KDSL played in contributing to some of these changes?
At KDSL, we try to stay a step ahead of what will happen in education with a focus on professional learning. Common Core Camps was launched in 2011 when I was a freelancer in the region. This led to finding out the needs of many schools. In addition, as the new Common Core State Standards were being released in the USA, we tried to keep parents, leaders and schools aware. We have written two white papers focused on American curriculum. Our next white paper, coming out this year, will address the latest American science standards and implementation in the USA and in the region. Teach Middle East Magazine and KDSL collaborated on the bilingual supplement highlighting American curriculum in the UAE. Now we are collaborating with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and have set up the GCC ASCD. Founded in 1943, ASCD is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner. The GCC ASCD will kick off this year at the MENA Teacher Summit in Dubai in October.
You are a trained and certified educator. What has been one of your most memorable moments in the classroom?
This would have to be stopping my class of 10 year old boys in Flint, Michigan from arguing over who would be the first one to read a book about Michael Jordan. Right then I knew that they loved books and reading.
Share three key things that every education entrepreneur should consider before going into business.
1. Be willing to take risks.
2. Sometimes you have to say no so that you can grow.
3. The process is as important as the product.
Do you have a philosophy that you use to guide some of the key life decisions that you make? If yes, what is it?
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
What do you do for fun? Why?
5. Watch TV 6. Travel
Running a business is stressful but when I play sports or travel I get the chance to really de-stress. I am a sports fan but above all I believe that, it is good to have balance. These activities help me to stay alert, healthy and focused.
What is the best advice that you have received? How has it helped you?
Relationships matter. I see this as a daily act whether it is with family, friends or colleagues. In the midst of being busy, it is always important to remember that I am who I am because of my family, mentors, friends and community.
To learn more about the work that Kevin is doing, visit http://knowdoservelearn.org/ or connect with him on Twitter @KDSL07.
By Carolyn Lee