How did you support the students’ success to perform their best?Posted: June 9, 2013
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” — Max DePree
Reading this quote made me redefine my leadership style as a principal who is leading a unique private school. DWC High School is the first high school in the Middle East, GCC and North Africa that offers an education under the notion “ Blended Individualized Learning”. It is defined as the collaboration between a state of the art online curriculum (K12 Curriculum) and a face-to-face instructional learning environment. Being a part of this experience made me think of how I can inspire and encourage to distinguish ourselves from the rest. Ultimately, the school’s vision is to build a new generation of young women leaders able to lead their country, the UAE, to prosperity in the 21st century. Therefore, I knew that I had to lead by example and be a role model who ladies of my race would look up to and learn from.
“The most successful leader is the one most capable of motivating his people, encouraging them to strive harder and be more creative, to distinguish themselves.” — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
As I began leading this project, I had to go back to the basics of leadership that I acquired from my mentor, my mother Ms. Alia Yahya, a colleague and an outstanding principal, and these are sincerity, humility and civility. I needed all three traits to be able to push my students to boundaries and skills they never knew existed in them. It was important that I began as a “servant” as DePree said, to bring out the best of their traits of being wholehearted, sympathetic, courteous, and unfeigned. When I say “their”, I not only mean students, but also colleagues and parents. It is a fact, that followers feed on their leaders and the more the positivity of a leader the more the positivity of the results. Students will perform better if their teachers are happy and not undermined in the background. Parents, too, are happy when their daughters are cared for and appreciated by their caregivers.
Moving onwards as months passed by, yes, we had ups and downs, students were not on target with the core subjects, teachers were complaining about a few girls who were just not in sync with the curriculum, the K12 curriculum is quite demanding and other girls were just not yet ready for this leap etc. However, as a leader, I knew I had to believe in my students and my teachers. I always had faith in their abilities and I truly believed that they would succeed. But, decisions had to be made to support them, so I extended the school day for an hour, we had our teachers on call for students during their lunch breaks for learning support and of course we sent the parents weekly plans to help us track their daughters’ progress at home to be able to finish on time. But as Maxwell says “ believing in your people alone isn’t enough. You have to help them win.” And sure enough, WE Won! I’m proud of our student achievement and the progress they’ve made. For the first time in history, UAE high school girls attend an online school to achieve 100% passing rate across the school for term 1 with marks no less than a C. In my mind, that is success, that is winning!
Maya Al- Hawary
Deputy Director and Principal
Dubai Women’s College High School