Al Nasha’a Al Saleh Private School lies tucked away behind the beautiful architectural structure of an unfinished palace in Al Towayya, in the Garden City of Al Ain. The school was established in 1994. On the outside the school appears to be a quiet oasis. Inside tells the story of an industrious hub filled with students and teachers collaborating on classroom activities, administrative staff bustling about to ensure the smooth running of the school and key staff members providing crucial support.
Helming the school of approximately eight hundred students from KG to Grade 12, Principal, Mr Naser Sallam is tasked with ensuring that his teachers are at the top of their professional game so as to improve the level of education that the students receive.
Making National Identity a priority
“Our school is known by the Al Ain community as the school with an American curriculum and that we also focus heavily on Arabic Islamic Studies,” said a dapperly dressed Mr Sallam, “we celebrate national identity and this is what makes us special.”
Another notable achievement for the school is the award for Best Chess Player, given to eleven year old, Grade 5 student Khalaf Saeed Al Dhaheri after the recently held Chess Competition organised by Child Protection Officer of Al Nasha’a Al Saleh, Nashwa Hassan, under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
Mr Sallam elaborated on the significance of teaching about national identity by explaining that the UAE is a melting pot of various nationalities and that each expatriate student should know and understand aspects of the local culture. It is important that when these students return to their own countries, they remember their stay in the UAE.
Teamwork is optimal
“Educators at Al Nasha’a Al Saleh believe in teamwork, they know that for any strategy to work well, it needs all members of the team to work in harmony,” Mr Sallam pointed out. “Teachers collaborate heavily with each other especially on new ideas and strategies. They are encouraged to sit in each other’s classes and share ideas that work across the various subject areas”.
Of note is Ms Yasmine Tahhan, who Mr Sallam lauds for her innovativeness in creating impacting lessons for her English classes. He added that through collaborative efforts on the part of the teachers in each department, they are able to learn from each other.
When asked what was special about Al Nasha’a Al Saleh School Mr Sallam said without hesitation, the students. “…Our special thing is our students and the kind of education we are giving to them. This is what keeps the students here in this school. If you go to Grade 12 students, you will find that most of them started here in KG.”
Ideas that work
The school will be going through the inspection process in the upcoming months. This is a commonality that all schools in the UAE share. Also common is the sense of foreboding that inspection creates among some educators and administrators. Mr Sallam deflects the negative connotations that some associate with inspections by outlawing the use of the word among his staff. He assures them that it is a learning experience that is geared at improving specific areas within the school.
Encourage good practice
When faced with the question on how he encourages his teachers, Mr Sallam shared,
“We encourage our teachers to work towards their full potential and to actually create something that they are proud of. If we are to look at Maslow’s hierarchy, most of our employees are at the top level of his pyramid… they want to create something worthwhile. There are a few who are behind but most of them are there. I will never say no to any teacher who wants to do something special, have some initiative or wants to start something new. When it works we can then copy the good practice across the school.”
Future plans for the students include introducing some of the students to alternative activities for Physical Education such as swimming and/or shooting. Additionally, whilst he did not get into details, Mr Sallam stated that there are ambitious improvement plans in the pipeline to propel Al Nasha’a Al Saleh forward into the 21st century.