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webinar 26

GESS Talks Webinar 26: Bridging Tomorrow: Navigating the Transition from K-12 to Tertiary Education and Beyond

Join us for a thought-provoking webinar that delves into the critical transition from K-12 to tertiary education and beyond. Navigating this educational journey can be both exciting and challenging, and our expert panel will explore key insights, strategies, and resources to empower students, parents, and educators. Discover the essential skills and knowledge needed for a successful transition, as well as the evolving landscape of tertiary education and its impact on future career paths.






Chairperson: Fiona McKenzie Head of Education - Carfax Education

Leading an international education consultancy from Dubai, Fiona is a trusted advisor for many families and aspiring students, providing an invaluable compass through the complex landscape of education options and opportunities. Fiona has dedicated her career to education over the last 30 years and is a highly regarded and trusted figure in the field - often sought after as a keynote speaker at conferences and a media spokesperson, she regularly shares her insights and strategies with educators, students, and parents alike. Fiona is the Head Consultant for a global private schools guide, titled The Schools Index, and also stands as a highly recommended advisor in the Spear’s 500 Index. Renowned for her impartial, tailored and unmatched guidance, Fiona has positively inspired a new generation of learners to embrace their educational journey with confidence and enthusiasm.

Dr Ted Purinton Founding Dean - Sharjah Education Academy

Dr. Ted Purinton is the Founding Dean of the Sharjah Education Academy, a new capacity-building initiative to improve educational outcomes in the Emirate of Sharjah and influence educational policy and practice in the Middle East/North Africa region. Previously, Purinton served as Senior Education Advisor for the Economic Development Board of Bahrain & Chief Executive of the Bahrain Teachers College; Associate Provost (Senior Internationalization Officer) for the American University in Cairo, as well as Dean of the Graduate School of Education; Chair of the Department of Educational Administration at National Louis University in Chicago; Associate at the Center for Literacy, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (now American Institutes for Research); programs administrator at the Paramount Unified School District in Los Angeles; and a high school/intermediate school English teacher and summer school principal in Los Angeles. He holds a doctorate in educational policy, planning, and administration from the University of Southern California. Purinton has served on multiple governing boards and has consulted for a wide range of educational organizations and governments on issues ranging from organizational restructuring to teacher professional development, university budget allocation to tertiary system redesign, and more.

Colleen Menichini University Counsellor - Uptown International School

As part of the work at Uptown School, Colleen works with the Diploma Team to ensure that students make educated and informed decisions regarding their academics to allow a seamless transition to university. Her career in the UAE has been in every sector, from working in government schools with ADEK, to the university system with Higher Colleges of Technology, and now as a University and Careers Counsellor at Uptown School. Since joining Uptown School in 2020, she has worked alongside the Diploma Coordinator and the Head of Year faculty to create an academic advising program that starts in Grade 10, where students engage in sessions to inform about the IBDP program and the options available to them for their DP journey. Parents are invited into the conversation via coffee mornings and evening sessions, where the IBDP is explained, and questions are invited to help ensure that all stakeholders are making decisions that they are comfortable and confident with. This often looks like after-school hours meetings, zoom calls and many emails to ensure that parents and students are equipped with the information that they need for such important decisions. All Grade 10 students meet one-on-one with a member of the DP team, to review the options selections and to lay the groundwork for their future. Parents are invited into the conversation, and this open-door policy exists throughout the years in the DP program at Uptown.

Dr. Shawn Lee Dilly Director - General Emirates National School

Shawn L. Dilly, Ph.D., is a dedicated school leader, mentor, international author, speaker, and innovator deeply committed to ensuring students are well-prepared for the future. Currently serving as the Director General of Emirates National School (ENS) in the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Dilly brings over 17 years of valuable experience in educational leadership. With a career spanning 22 plus years, Dr. Dilly's expertise includes extensive research, organizational affiliations, and meaningful contributions to economic development. His primary focus is on empowering schools with the tools and strategies necessary to navigate the unpredictable and challenging future that lies ahead for students. As an accomplished school leader, Dr. Dilly's contributions extend beyond traditional academic realms, making him a sought-after international figure in education. His commitment to fostering innovation and his dedication to mentoring others exemplify his role as a catalyst for positive change within the educational landscape. Dr. Dilly's multifaceted career underscores his deep-rooted belief in the transformative power of education in shaping the next generation for success in an ever-evolving world.

Nishi Saran Senior Vice Principal - Nexus & Senior School Bloom World Academy

Nishi has worked in education for over 23 years across Canada, the UK and the UAE, bringing a rich secondary school experience in the British, IB and American/AP curriculums to his role. His academic journey is a testament to his dedication, holding Bachelor's degrees (B.H.K and B.Ed) from the University of British Columbia, alongside a Master's in Education (M.Ed) from Cambridge University, specializing in independent learning and educational leadership. Beyond academic accolades, Nishi's leadership shines through various senior roles including inspectorate work with Ofsted in the UK, and consultancy with the Crown Prince Court, Education Strategic Office in Abu Dhabi, where he spearheaded a transformative nationwide educational initiative implemented within every school in the UAE.

Renowned for his dynamic, positive, and proactive leadership style, Nishi is not only a catalyst for change at Bloom World Academy but also an architect of innovation. Having been entrusted with the opportunity to lead the secondary school from its inception, he has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to shape educational landscapes and redefine excellence. At Bloom World Academy, Nishi champions personalized student-centred pathways that transcend conventional boundaries, inspiring learners to pursue their university and career aspirations. His vision for education is characterized by providing students excellent choice, inclusivity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Beyond teaching, Nishi actively participates in philanthropy, school governance, and mentoring with the UAE Oxbridge Society. His commitment to fostering overall growth and community well-being serves as an inspiration to educators and students alike. Nishi is furthermore a dedicated Tri Dubai athlete, showing the same discipline and determination he brings to education.


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