Waad Academy School nurtures future leaders for brighter tomorrow

From left: Thuraya Batterjee, Deputy CEO - Waad Holding; Keith Miller, Executive Principal - Waad Academy; Dr. Adel Batterjee, CEO - Waad Holding during a meeting with the parents at the school's auditorium

JEDDAH — In today’s highly competitive environment, parents believe that education – giving the best possible education to their kids at the outset – is not simply a passport to their future, but the very foundation of the future. For parents nowadays, it is a necessary investment that certifies greater productivity in the long run both to the kids and to the society. To this end, Waad Academy K12 school in Jeddah heeds the call. Founded in 2015, its 2 main campuses serve both boys and girls, offering primary and upper grades. With a vision “to bring out every child’s full potential by re-engineering education”, it adheres to Cambridge International Examinations curriculum that guarantees essential skills to primary and secondary students for success at university and in their future careers.

According to Keith Miller, the new Executive Principal, Waad Academy prepares and develops every student’s aptitude in research and leadership, and instills in them the value of resilience to cope and overcome the vagaries of life, quoting Albert Einstein “you never fail until you stop trying.”

“From KG3, we want them to ask questions, we want them to think critically, we want them to be creative, we want them to listen, we want them to take responsibility for their own learning, we want them to be in the working group, we want them to work individually, we want them to understand their own behavior (and the consequence thereof), we want them to gain confidence to express their opinions without offending,” pointed out Miller, who brings over 30 years of teaching experience, of which 25 have been at senior leadership positions and where the last several years were spent in outstanding schools in Dubai as Director of Education and Executive Principal of Sunmarke School, the established British Regent International School and Jumeirah International Nurseries.

Recognized as a visionary leader in the education industry, Miller has transformed the quality of education and standards across all the schools he has worked at. His particular areas of expertise are leadership and management, curriculum design, learning and teaching, assessment, ICT systems and infrastructure, and school self-evaluation and review.

Asked how Waad Academy differs from other international schools, the ebullient Miller said it is the outcome that matters to the Academy.

“More than the learning skills, we are concerned about the extra curricular activities that we nurture in the students. We see to it that we integrate the (students) skills, guide them in honing their creativity... we equip them with the right tools as young men and women to make their choices in the university, and found in them a sense of comfort amid an ever changing world,” he emphasized.

For this purpose, Waad Academy is committed to provide the necessary facilities and environment required for students to build confidence in themselves and acquire the skills for them to be successful, Miller added.

Miller noted: "Our goal is very simple, to help every child realize their vision and full potential,” which complements the Academy’s mission of establishing “successful societies through innovative learning solutions”.

On the issue of comparing the British standard schools vis-à-vis the US standard as English is the language of instruction in both, he said in reality, the approach, even the methodology, is different.

Historically, Miller said, in British curriculum, students “are specialized too early”. With core subjects heavily tilted in favor of science and math, children in British standard begin some formalized schooling at age four, and with a greater early focus on academics. With key-stage examinations and, eventually, the two-year GCSE program, starting at age 14, followed by the two-year A Level program, starting at age 16, the curriculum leads students towards increased specialization, a winnowing system, so to speak.

In this approach, leadership skills are developed at an early age that would serve as the foundation for discovering his own potentials, he further explained.

Another advantage of a UK curriculum is the fact that “they know that when they transfer to another country there is a UK curriculum, secondly, it is easier to move from UK curriculum to US curriculum, but the other way around not straight forward, I am not talking of the academic standard at all, but sequencing of topics, subjects, skills and various different things.”

At Waad Academy, children will be studying the Cambridge International Examinations program. It is dedicated to creating global learners who are confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged. For the senior levels, learners will be given the opportunity to select their own educational path that best suits their personal preferences. They can either continue with the Cambridge Advanced program and sit the IGCSEs/’A’ Levels or opt for the American Diploma Program (G9 - G12).

Radwan Chahrouk, Academic Head, Waad Academy, stressed that the Cambridge program is not a one size fits all pattern, since it undergoes the standardized assessment process.

Moreover, Miller said “we are quite unique in the way we deliver the expectations of the Saudi curriculum in the context of international curriculum... I think it is fantastic... very quickly we can use our cultural identity...and we meet too the expectations of the Ministry of Education as an international school.”

Arabic study is an integral part of the Waad Academy curriculum and it is taught through an effective combination of latest technology-based language acquisition techniques and the time honored and tested traditional methods.

Likewise, the Waad curriculum uniquely blends Islamic study throughout every aspect of the course, rather than adding it as an afterthought. The Islamic program has been carefully designed and customized to enrich the student’s daily lives’.

Thuraya Batterjee, Deputy CEO - Waad Holding, added: “Waad Academy adopts holistic approach to education whereby we emphasize learning by doing and provide hands-on projects and opportunities. Our design integrated curriculum focused on thematic units, which helps our students learn to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. It also provides regular opportunities for group work and the development of social skills aimed at encouraging personal and collective responsibility. Hence, our primary focus is on the development of every person's intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials.”