Dr. Paul Lieblich

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Lieblich has been recognized as a National Distinguished Principal by the US State Department, Office of Overseas Schools. He has held Headship positions at several leading international schools since 1995, including Lyford Cay International School, Zurich International School and the International School of Amsterdam.

Dr. Lieblich’s global recognition stems from his co-initiation and authorship of the International Schools Curriculum Project which is now the IB PYP. Dr. Lieblich has also served on the advisory council to the IB regarding the integration of IB programs and the development of IB professional development programs.

Dr. Lieblich earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. He holds a Master’s in Diagnostic & Prescriptive Teaching from the College of William & Mary. He received a Bachelor’s in Economics from Bethany College.

Featured Speakers

David Muir

David Muir (Owner and founder of Muir Education), is currently a school improvement consultant with many years working in a variety of roles in education in England and the Gulf region. He worked as a principal of two all age schools, was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) in the UK. Additionally, David worked as an Education Adviser to the UK’s Department for Education on setting up new schools. He was previously a Principal Inspector in Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

David’s works successfully as a School Improvement Advisor with a prestigious group of schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by preparing them for inspections. He is a technical expert for special educational needs with the World Bank in Kuwait and works as a School Reviewer in Bahrain. David also provides mock inspections for schools and works on specific areas of school improvement with large school groups and standalone schools on areas such as: school improvement, inclusion, and what an inspection looks like. Finally, David is also a governor in several schools and is working as an education consultant, advising multi-academy trusts in England.


Nargish Khambatta

Nargish Khambatta, Principal and CEO of GEMS Modern Academy. With over 30 years of experience in the field of education, she is the recipient of the first ever GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award 2018. Under Nargish’s leadership, GEMS Modern Academy has received the result of “Outstanding” school from the Dubai School Inspection Bureau for seven years in a row. A passionate educator with a simple educational philosophy – All children deserve to be given ample opportunity to discover their worth, their interests and their passion in a secure and happy environment, for them to grow into confident young adults with a sound intellectual and moral compass to guide them to their goals. Nargish has been a panelist and presenter (Educare) at the first international iPEN 2016 Conference in Dallas, USA and iPEN 2017 Shenzhen, China and iPEN 2018 Dallas, USA. She is the convener of the three CISCE (affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi) Schools in Dubai from April 2014 to March 2018. Nargish is also a freelance writer who has published articles in Gulf News, Friday Magazine, and The Times of India. An adventure enthusiast, she accompanied a group of 10 students to Antarctica as part of Sir Robert Swan’s expedition in 2014.


Dr. Kay Gallagher

Kay Gallagher currently serves as Associate Dean of the College of Education at Zayed University. Kay is an Abu Dhabi-based teacher, teacher educator, educational leader, and scholar in English language education and language teacher education. She holds academic qualifications from the University of Kent in the UK (PhD), Trinity College in Dublin (MEd), St Patrick’s College at the National University of Ireland (BEd 1st class hons), the University of Melbourne in Australia (PGCert), Trinity College in London (DipTESOL), and the University of British Columbia in Canada (SOTL Leadership). Kay is also a Senior Fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Kay has extensive experience of leading education programs, including previous positions as Chair of the Education Department at Abu Dhabi Women’s College, and as Head of Education Studies and English at Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Teachers’ College, ECAE. In the past, Kay was the founding Principal of a progressive, learner-centered, multicultural school in Ireland, and later was a Teaching Fellow in the English Language Education Division of the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong in China.

Kay has created and facilitated numerous professional development courses for teachers in the UAE and in Ireland, and has provided consultancy, external review, and external examiner services in the UAE, the UK and Oman. She has presented her work at international conferences in Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Japan, Oman, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the USA. Her research interests encompass teaching and learning, language teacher education, language in education, trans-languaging in teacher education, and classroom-based action research.


Stephen Cox

Stephen has worked at a senior/board level for 3 of the largest K-12 organisations in the Middle East region over the last 11 years in all aspects of school improvement, professional development, business development, technology and school start-up. He led and designed education Professional Development programmes which have been the envy of other organisations including International Leadership, Coaching, Teacher Training, Masters and Digital Technology programmes, drawing upon best practice internationally.

Stephen has worked as a consultant in the government and private sector on various projects related to corporate and education leadership, change management, education consultancy, school management, start-up, IT digital strategy and innovation in the MENA region and Internationally.

Stephen also introduced and delivered self-evaluation and performance management frameworks into and across schools for effective education improvement and accreditation. He has significant

experience in business development, HR, marketing and the financial side of education and is commercially savvy. Finally, Stephen is also an Apple Distinguished Educator having led on many innovating technology initiatives which have led to sustainable change across the region and internationally.

Additional Speakers

Monica Hong

Monica Hong develops assessment materials for elementary students for the Ministry of Education in the UAE. She has been an education professional for 10 years and has worked with students ranging from kindergarten to university level in four different countries. Particular areas of interest for her are improving educational opportunities for women and project-based assessment. Monica studied at the Gallatin School at New York University, where she created her own degree that combined education, philosophy and music business.


Dr. Ann Dillon

Anna Dillon is the Chair of the Department of Education Studies and Associate Professor in the College of Education at Zayed University. She is the former Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center, the on-campus laboratory nursery. She has worked in education as a class teacher, head of faculty, school principal and teacher educator. Her research interests include dual language education in the early years, classroom-based research and co-teaching.


Jamie Kirkaldy

Jamie Kirkaldy is Head of Teaching and Learning Support for Oxford International AQA Examinations. Before joining OxfordAQA, Jamie was Head of English at one of the largest secondary schools in Oxford, UK, and a member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team. He therefore has an insider’s understanding of the challenges schools and teachers face and is dedicated to supporting them. Having worked under the UK school inspection framework, Ofsted, Jamie also has a keen insight into the challenges of meeting the demands of an inspection body.


Marwa Al Samsam (DELTA; CELTA; TESOL; BA)

Marwa Al Samsam ((DELTA; CELTA; TESOL; BA) has worked as an educational consultant and a teacher trainer for Oxford University Press since 2009. Prior to joining OUP, she practiced English language teaching for different age groups throughout various countries in the MENA region. With over a decade of experience in providing professional development Marwa has been successful in transforming teacher practice, for teachers of Arabic in particular. As a trainer, Marwa is interested in language acquisition theories particularly the effect of developing language skills for non-native speakers of English being exposed to first language resources.


Paul Woodfall

Paul Woodfall is Oxford University Press’ Regional Training Co-ordinator and senior trainer for the Gulf, Yemen and Lebanon. He has been successfully providing professional development  to educators for over 20 years. Paul has trained both  K1 -12  teachers and university faculty in Spain, UAE, KSA, Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman.

Paul has lived and worked in the MENA region for over 19 years. Specifically interested in “learning by doing”, his main goal is to promote a greater understanding of the student-centred, enquiry–based learning approach with teachers.  He also endeavours to encourage communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking in the classroom with the development of strong study skills that aid learner independence.


Alison Burrows

Alison Burrows is currently a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University School of Education studying education technology. For the last nine years, she has lived in Dubai and is the founder of Edvolve, an international education consultancy. Edvolve’s mission is to raise student achievement and preparedness for college and career by enabling administrators and teachers to improve teaching and learning and effectively implement 21st Century Skills into their schools. Edvolve creates collaborative partnerships with international private schools, premium education resource providers, education leaders, and the MENA education community.

Alison has participated in various important education initiatives throughout her career as an education consultant. She was selected to be part of new education initiative mandated by the Iraq Ministry of Education where she delivered professional development to over 3,000 senior Iraqi educators. The Super Sprowtz, a New York City based nutrition education company, selected Alison to write the Super Sprowtz Nutrition Education Curriculum. In addition, Alison has been a featured keynote speaker for Scholastic, Pearson Education, National Geographic Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Oxford University Press. She has partnered with notable organizations such as Microsoft, The Northwest Evaluation Association, Webb Align, and Garnet Education on various education initiatives. Finally, Alison is the co-founder of The MENA Common Core Conference, The Next Generation Science Standards Forum, Edcamp Dubai, and Edcamp Abu Dhabi and is the founder of the annual Arabic Conference.


Khawla Al Shehhi

Khawla is an Emirati from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She holds a Master’s degree in Special and Inclusive Education (Special needs) (SIE) from the British University in Dubai (BUiD). Khawla has taught in association with the University of Birmingham and is currently a doctoral student at the BUiD, completing  a Ph.D. in Special and Inclusive Education (SIE).  She graduated from Al Maktoum College of Higher Education in Dundee, Scotland, from the UK’s Multicultural Leadership Summer Program.  Khawla has participated in several conferences and training programs related to special education and inclusive education in the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and the UAE.  Her research interests are regarding persons with disabilities at Higher Education Institutions and inclusion across the UAE. Her doctoral thesis is entitles  “Accessibility of Inclusive Provisions for Students with Disabilities Transitioning into Higher Education in the UAE: An Investigative Study.”

Khalwa is also Vice Chairman and Head of Events Management for Yes2MyGiving Initiative www.yes2mygiving.org .This is a charitable voluntary community-based initiative that helps create an ideal environment for People with Determination, by providing innovative solutions on various social networks and activities. It further clarifies the needs of People with Determination and sheds light on the challenges that hinder their lives to live in a healthy and comfortable environment that ought to be flawless not to limit their giving. This promising scheme will be a robust start of a new chapter in the voluntary work in the United Arab Emirates, and it will complete the role of other initiatives.


Dr. David Litz

Dr. David Litz currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Assessment and School Evaluation Division at Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he teachers several courses in teaching methodology, leadership, and educational policy. He also has an EdD in Educational Leadership from The University of Calgary, Canada. His current research utilizes mixed methods to investigate teachers’ and principals’ perceptions about K-12 school leadership in the UAE, as well as the links between emotional intelligence and leadership practices. Some of his other research interests include globalization and education, comparative education, cross-cultural understandings of leadership and management, leadership development and preparation, and educational policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Prior to joining ECAE, Dr. Litz taught academic English writing and presentation skills to college students in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program at UAE University. He has also worked as an advisor and trainer for the UAE military language program, an English language lecturer at Sung Kyun Kwan University in South Korea, and as a social studies teacher in Toronto Canada.


Dr. Rida Blaik Hourani

Associate Professor, Assessment &School Evaluation
Division Head
Emirates College for Advanced Education

Dr. Rida Blaik Hourani earned her Ph.D. in Policy and Management from The University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Blaik Hourani has taught and authored diverse courses in various disciplines at the higher education level. Her professional expertise are within the realm of education leadership, school management, policy, school reforms, school  evaluation, school  improvement,  educational  equity and social justice and building capacities. Dr. Blaik Hourani has worked on several educational projects, pertaining to constructing and reviewing programs and enhancing quality assurance, within higher education institutions.  Moreover, she has constructed, facilitated and implemented educational projects relevant to building capacities. This includes teachers and school principal’s pre-service and in-service preparation and training.   Within the perspective of curriculum innovations, Dr.  Blaik Hourani has been involved in authoring and revising social studies curriculum and pedagogies. She has worked in the capacity of a Division Head for Arts and Humanities and Educational Leadership, at the Emirates College for Advanced Education, Abu Dhabi. Her research focus is in policy and leadership, school management, educational reforms and innovation, peace education and sociology of education.


Dr. Fatima Bailey

Dr. Fatima H. Bailey is a full-time faculty at Zayed University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses and supervises clinical field experiences for pre-service teachers. Dr. Bailey holds a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Studies; K-12 Education. She earned an Masters degree in Curriculum and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. She provides mentoring, coaching, and professional development training for in-service teacher leaders in the Al Jalila Foundation, Ta’Alouf Program for Career Based Teacher Development. This program is an innovative and global initiative of HH Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, dedicated to supporting children with special needs. Dr. Bailey’s expertise and experience encompass pedagogical leadership, experiential learning, play based and emergent early childhood curriculum, authentic and innovative curriculum design, culturally responsive pedagogy, inclusion, salient school reform/improvement, and developing PLCs. Dr. Bailey previously held positions as a School Principal, Vice Principal, Director for Early Childhood, teacher/practitioner and consultant in P-12 schools in the USA and UAE.

Dr. Bailey has an active research agenda. She disseminates her research in scholarly journals, books, and presents at international, local and regional conferences. She is an awardee of the highly distinguished California Legislature: “Teachers of Excellence Award”. Dr. Bailey is a recipient of the prestigious Gordon Allport Prize for Outstanding Papers on Intergroup Relations, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.


Dr. Beatrix Henkel

Dr.  Beatrix Henkel is a teacher trainer, mentor and ICF accredited neurolanguage and co-active coach who has been working in the field of education since 2003. She is currently leading on the Mentor Program at the EMI department of the Ministry of Education, UAE. Her main interests are language motivation, brain-friendly learning techniques, and learner autonomy.



Skenny Darbouze

When students use online simulations to explore topics in Algebra, Biology, Physics and more, their conceptual understanding soars and Math and Science come to life. Join us for a free workshop designed to introduce participants on proven teaching strategies and to help drive instructional change in Math and Science using online simulations. Teachers will explore inquiry-based instruction to engage students by using Gizmos in classrooms. Gizmos are used in top schools in over 60 countries and align to various curricula and over 300 textbooks. Gizmos’ interactive online simulations help students develop a deep understanding of challenging science and math concepts through inquiry and exploration.

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