Janecke Aarnæs, Head of Dwight School Dubai, on Watching Our New School Emerge from the Sand
Janecke Aarnæs, Head of Dwight School Dubai, on Watching Our New School Emerge from the Sand

The excitement in Dubai educational arena is palpable, as Dwight, which is renowned around the world in educational circles, will be opening a new campus in fall 2018.

“While there are 200 independent schools in Dubai alone, making for a highly competitive market, local parents feel that something has been missing from school choices. They’re looking for a school that’s tailored to individual student development and a forward-thinking community,” reports Janecke Aarnæs, who is heading up our first school in the Middle East. “With Dwight’s spark of genius philosophy, strength in personalized learning, and the IB curriculum, we will be ready to deliver on that promise and bring something new to Dubai. I feel privileged to be part of the journey to build our new school from the ground up, literally.”

Last August, Ms. Aarnæs relocated to Dubai from her homeland of Norway, where she was Head of the Oslo International School, because she is passionate about being a hands-on part of the school’s emergence from the sand. “When I arrived, the foundation was just being created. It’s been amazing to watch the structure take shape every day! When complete, our 430,500-square-foot campus will be a beautiful, flexible learning facility designed with an innovation hub and Spark Tank space; state-of-the-art athletic, art, and music facilities; and a multi-purpose atrium. It will be a purpose-driven facility; nothing will be there without thoughtful intention, thanks to the vision of experienced educator Chancellor Spahn,” explains Ms. Aarnæs.

“The most important thing will not be the buildings, but what we put into it. We are assembling a great team of faculty and staff to create the Dwight ethos beginning day one,” Ms. Aarnæs asserts. “We are seeking teachers who will focus on the individual student, and encourage students to question assumptions and themselves, while also upholding Dwight’s 145-year heritage. We hope to welcome teachers from other Dwight campuses who wish to bring their expertise to Dubai.”

Located in Al Barsha South, Dwight School Dubai will open in September with grades pre-K‒nine and ultimately grow to full capacity with 2,000 students through grade 12. It will stand alongside another new school, Brighton College Dubai, on a super-campus totaling one million square feet. Both schools will share a Center of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture, and the Arts, which will be open to the public seven days a week, making it a destination for learning for all. “While Dubai is a relatively young country, which makes it innovative by design, its traditions are rich, its cultural roots are deep, and we want to celebrate them through the new Center,” says Ms. Aarnæs.

Joining Ms. Aarnæs in this exciting venture is Rebecca Skinner, Associate Head of School, who will be moving to Dubai in January. Currently Head of School and Co-founder of the International School of Brooklyn, Ms. Skinner looks forward to the role that Dwight will play in helping to set the agenda for education in the Middle East. She was on campus recently with Ms. Aarnæs, who visited Dwight to meet more of our community and share a Dubai progress report with faculty, staff, and parents. 

On the heels of her trip to New York, Ms. Aarnæs welcomed Vice Chancellor Blake Spahn in Dubai for the school’s public launch, which garnered significant local media coverage with headlines such as “New York’s Famous Dwight School to Open in Dubai Next Year” and “New School in Dubai to Offer Path to Success in Scientific Age.”

As the school continues to take shape, we look forward to sharing more great news from Dubai ― stay tuned!





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