Interview with School Principle, Mrs. Fatin Ataya

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The interview started with Mrs. Fatin's warm welcomeand a "chat" - as she refers to- about her trip to LAU (Lebanese AmericanUniversity in Beirut ,Lebanon) , presenting a marvellous presentation about oursecond home Dar Jana International School, and it went a bit like this:

Najwa: Good morning. How are you, Mrs. Fatin?

Mrs.Fatin: Surviving! (laughter)

Hala: So, last year the juniors and seniors started the trend of the "School Magazine" and formed a team which we refer to now as the Wattpad Team, and we thought that "why not get to know our principal a little more by including an exclusive interview with her?"

Mrs.Fatin: (Laughs) I hate interviews. Let's refer to it as a chat.

Hala: There's a couple of questions, sort of related to each other, that we would like for you to answer. PS: We are recording this conversation.

Mrs.Fatin: Ohhhh (Laughs)

Najwa: First, who came up with the name "Dar Jana"?

Mrs.Fatin: The name was there when I joined the school and was chosen by the school owner Mr. Osama Mutabagani, because one year before opening the school he used to go to a place 'and always fish and no matter what he always came back with fish', so the meaning of the word "Jana" itself in Arabic is to harvest things like to harvest success (Jana al Najah), harvest money (Jana al Mal). So he called it Dar Jana.

Najwa: How did he end up having Dar Jana, and how did DarJana come to be?

Mrs.Fatin: It was a very difficult start. We started the school after I got rid of the old system and implemented the American system starting with 23 students. We started a campaign and presented it at LAU. We took some chocolate cookies and we wrote on them the humble journey of Dar Jana, I wrapped it with a blue ribbon- because it was our colour symbol- then we brought a sticker, and at the end of the presentation we distributed these cookies and they were wondering : what's wrong? what is she doing on the stage?, then I told them "that cookie is the recipe for Dar Jana's success".

Najwa: What do you wish for your students according to academics in their future?

Mrs.Fatin: To join the best universities, to be the elite over there, to join committees that will enhance their personality, and not to be on a low profile - i.e. I was in a university and I was part of the social service committee, so I used to join activities of the school daily – along with keeping your academic level on standard, and I wish them the best. I am sure of that because really the feedback, God bless our students, is very well. Their feedback internationally is very well, and the students that applied in Jeddah universities like Dar-Al Hekma and King Abdul-Aziz University, are having no trouble at all and are enjoying college. I am proud of our students, really. We are moving smoothly and gradually, because we didn't used to do well in the writing (score: 300), and Mrs.Shabana knew we had to fix it, so we worked hard with the students and thank God, most girls are getting 800 and the lowest ones are getting high scores. You are getting good grades, and you are good girls.

Hala: Our teachers helped us all the way.

Najwa: Yes, they really worked hard.

Mrs.Fatin: We have qualified teachers, and really in Dar Jana School I don't like to call it Dar Jana School I like to call it the family of Dar Jana, because we really work as a team. We have an open door policy ; my door is an open door.

Najwa: Is there a constant struggle you constantly face in managing the school?

Mrs.Fatin: It's not really considered "managing", sometimes things happen out of school that affect the smooth running of the school. Of course you have to be on top on the job ; you know I come so early and leave the last one, and you have to work very hard, be matriculate , be following up with the teachers and the coordinators, and improve your programs on yearly basis. We study all of us the team, we stay Wednesdays long days, Thursdays and sometimes we come on Saturdays because we are training the teachers - they can't do the extra jobs-, we review the curriculum on daily basis ; if you notice we change either the physics, chemistry, biology or science because these facts and facts are always changing so you need to work on that and update the curriculum. And if you go to a university you are updated with information. Managing, of course, I find a lot of difficulties in.

Najwa: What is one specific problem you face?

Mrs.Fatin: Pregnancy (laughter) of the teachers. Because the teachers leave at the beginning or middle of the year to deliver. Of course it's her right, but in the first semester I tell her get pregnant second semester and not first (laughter). And sometimes teachers with no experience are being trained and some take more time than the others to finish their training, and it will be acclimatized with our system since we have a very tough system so their training must be accurate and we cannot play around with the teachers. And of course the feedback comes to us directly, no playing around, that is why we have a contract with the American university of Beirut (AUB). We meet Wednesdays and Thursdays, we have a teaching certificate court, each 5 months on a Wednesday, Thursday or whatever, and Mrs.Ghada comes and praises the teachers, and if we have a biology majored teacher, it is not necessary for her to teach because she cannot send the message to the students. Teaching is a gift ; you have to be talented to teach, so that's why we are training our teachers to have various ways in sending their message. Don't you see any improvement in the school?

Hala: Yes, several teachers have 5 to 6 ways to give us the information required.

Mrs.Fatin: The dashboard, report card, grades have become all online. The school is now mobile friendly; it is with you wherever you go. So you are always updated without facing difficulty.

Najwa: How would you like your students, especially graduates, to remember you?

Mrs.Fatin: I don't want them to say how tough I was (laughter). No I want, really, I deal with you in a straight forward way, and I want my students to be the best, and I want the best party for you graduates, I worry about the graduation day from day one, and I start planning and thinking of it and how will it be different from last year, and I want them to have a good idea about school, I want them to enjoy it, I want them to remember these years all the time because these will be their best years, hopefully in university they will remember us all the time. Once I went to LAU I met Dr.Mona Rabahani, she is the head of the education department, and she was once my colleague in school. They are the good times - sneaking a sandwich here, having a picnic there – and they were the good days. I want to make an open relationship with my students but with a certain extent.

Hala: Thank you so much Mrs.Fatin for sparing us some time from your busy schedule to meet with us. It was a pleasure.

So there you have it! It was a greatpleasure interviewing our beloved principal and getting answers to questionsthat might or might not have been on all our minds. We hope it was a pleasurereading it as it was a pleasure writing it.   


Najwa Hubaishy & Hala Bedewi

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