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FLC2015 - Archive

Conference Report

October 22-25, 2015 - InterContinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE

NESA’s last Fall Leadership Conference in Abu Dhabi was in 1996, David Chojnacki’s first conference as NESA Executive Director! This was the organization’s largest FLC ever, with more than 575 delegates, including 100 exhibitors. All gathered once again at the elegant InterContinental Hotel for four days of high-quality professional learning and personal renewal.

At Thursday’s opening plenary, US Ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf welcomed delegates, and Bea Cameron from the Office of Overseas Schools, ACS Abu Dhabi Superintendent Robin Heslip, NESA Board President Kevin Schafer (TAISM-Muscat), and NESA’s David Chojnacki set the tone of professional learning.

Douglas Reeves gave the opening keynote on “Inspiring Creativity and Innovation: A Leader’s Guide”, outlining what school leaders can do at the system and school level to inspire creativity; afterwards, a panel of specialist speakers responded to Dr Reeves’ keynote. On Friday, Jay McTighe and Giselle Martin Kniep, in “Schooling by Design and the ARCS Framework for School Improvement”, explored strategies for sustainable school improvement based on the intersection of these two concepts. Sharnell Jackson, in her Saturday keynote, “Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision-Making”, outlined how to create the organizational and technological conditions that foster effective data use. Sunday morning’s keynoter, Elle Allison-Napolitano, examined how resilience in leaders is transformative in “Super Strong: The Extraordinary Nature of Leadership Resilience”. For the closing keynote Sunday afternoon, NYU professor Eric Hilgendorf held a conversation with a colleague (an engineer) on what innovation looks like in “Key Elements of Innovation with Teacher as Mentor”.

During the four days, delegates took advantage of in-depth training at three-hour workshops presented by 23 specialist speakers, including two sessions by administrators from NESA members the American School of Bombay (on Learning Analytics) and AIS-Chennai (on EAL inclusion). Additionally, NESA members and affiliates presented 25 one-hour General Interest Workshops over three days.

NESA conferences combine professional learning with personal renewal. In that spirit, delegates had opportunities to re-connect during Thursday’s Welcome Reception at the InterContinental’s "Bayshore” waterfront garden and pool area, and during Saturday evening’s Gala in the Intercontinental’s Dar El Istiqbal Ballroom, where they enjoyed a buffet dinner, an amazing “Arabic jazz fusion” live band, and a traditional whirling dervish performance. That evening, David Chojnacki, on behalf of the NESA Board, honored Jaunice Ansell of the International School of Islamabad, for her service to and support of NESA.

Next year’s Fall Leadership Conference is October 20-23 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha, Qatar. Mark your calendars!