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Hundreds of education professionals and scholars from the Middle East, North Africa and America gathered in Dubai for a symposium on implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in regional American curriculum schools on October 24th and 25th. The goal of the conference, was to inform education professionals about how to implement the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, empower teachers to increase the academic success of their students, and connect CCSS educators across the Middle East and North Africa.

The MENA Common Core Conference was organised by international education organisation Know.Do.Serve.Learn (KDSL). KDSL is a Dubai based education company founded by Kevin Simpson and Alison Burrows, professional American educators and entrepreneurs. Kevin and Alison saw a tremendous need for relevant and effective professional development for regional educators who work in American curriculum schools. “The Common Core Standards must be implemented at American curriculum schools if these schools wish to obtain or keep their accreditation and receive excellent school ratings,” explains Alison Burrows.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that 48 American states voluntarily adopted. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared for the rigorous requirements of American universities or to enter the demanding global workforce. The MENA Common Core Conference provided extensive explanation, information, and training on implementing these new standards.

Two extraordinary keynote speakers from America, Barb Golub and Dr. Cory Bennett, were featured at the conference. Barb Golub is a leading literacy specialist, international education consultant and has co-authored instructional books on teaching writing to elementary school students. Dr. Corey Bennett is a National Board Certified Teacher in Mathematics-Early Adolescence and an assistant professor of Mathematics Education within the Department of Teaching and Educational Studies at Idaho State University.

“It is always inspiring when educators come together to dive deeply into their curriculum and it never ceases to amaze me when teachers give up their days off in service of their students.  Conferences like the MENA Common Core are important reminders that let us, as educators across disciplines, know we are part of a global conversation about what is good for children.  It is a conversation that does not happen nearly enough,” said Barb Golub.

The conference featured top education publishers, including Oxford University Press, Scholastic, All Prints, National Geographic, and Pearson, who provide schools with resources that are aligned to the Common Core. “The MENA Common Core Conference provides a valuable opportunity for Pearson to stay connected with American curriculum schools across the region,” said Katie Miller of Pearson Education.

In addition to the keynote speakers, 27 experts in education conducted various workshops focused on best practices in implementing the common core standards. Maher Trabelsi, Department Head and Professional Development Coordinator at RBS Kuwait, presented on enhancing learning communities through using the common core. “Looking at all these eager teachers and administrators, I’ve come to realise that learning knows no limits. Everyone came with great expectations and left with mindful ideas to be implemented in their schools. I’m glad to have been part of MENA Common Core 2014 and I look forward to next year’s conference,” Maher stated.

To conclude the conference, attendees from schools worked with an expert facilitator to create an action plan for implementing the common core standards throughout the school year, “At KDSL we realise that action is critical on the learning journey. Therefore, action planning was built in over the two days of the conference for schools to connect with common core experts in a smaller setting,” said Kevin Simpson.

Next year’s MENA Common Core Conference will take place in Dubai in mid-October. For more information on this event please visit