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Future-ready Education

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Future-ready Education: 1-on-1 with Dr Shawn L. Dilly, Director General, Emirates National Schools

The UAE’s laser focus on education forms part of the nation’s ambitions to develop a knowledge-based economy. Within this context, schools across the UAE are taking pioneering steps, introducing new innovations and putting radical theories into practice.Emirates National Schools (ENS) are a series of schools offering primary and secondary education across the Emirates to help to help students reach their full potential and become role models in the community. ENS follows a combined US curriculum with more recently introduced the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, including the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and the Diploma. While its programs are in the line with best international practices, it is the content and culture underpinning the curriculum that warrants attention.

There is risk in leaning too heavily on traditional career models given the rapid changes that have taken place in recent decades. There is now a clear need to continuously evolve programs based on changing labor needs and the emergence of new technologies and trends, such as automation, AI, and sustainability. It is this approach that lies at the heart of Emirates National Schools’ mode of thinking. ENS is focusing on “future readying” its students for the challenges of the 21st century.

Amidst these exciting developments, The Business Year sits down with Dr. Shawn Lee Dilly, Director General of ENS, to discuss his vision and the schools’ approach to some of the most engaging issues facing education institutions today. Moderated by Neslihan Aydagül, TBY’s Managing Director in the UAE, this 1-on-1 live event will shed light on the challenges and opportunities ahead for ENS.


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Shawn L. Dilly
Dr Shawn L. Dilly
Director General
Emirates National Schools (ENS)

Dr. Shawn L. Dilly is the Director General of Emirates National School (ENS). Prior to starting with ENS in July of 2021, Dilly spent over 20 years working in education in the US. Those years included serving as the superintendent of Mineral County Schools for five years. Dilly also served during his career as a Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction, Facilities Director, Transportation Director, Career & Technical Director, Administrative Director at a Multi-County Career & Technical Center, Principal, Asst. Principal, Health Science Technology Academy (HSTA) Teacher, Cross Country Coach, Track Coach, and Art Teacher over his 20-plus years in public education. Dilly also managed and supported over USD30 million in school renovations and construction during his tenure along with successfully soliciting for over USD500,000 in educational grants and donations. Dilly also achieved a designation of an Innovation Zone in 2011 and received the APEX Award (recognizing innovative partnerships between school districts and community colleges) for the 2017-18 school year. Dilly achieved, in 2021, his PhD in education, specializing in leadership, policy, and change in education from Walden University. Dilly was also engaged in a several organizations and affiliations.  He was a member of the Greater Cumberland Committee (economic development partnership for Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia), the District Consortium for Economic Development, West Virginia (WV) Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Administrators, WV Association of School Human Resource Officers, and a member of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce.  Dilly has previously served on the WV Home Builders Foundation and the WV School Leader Research Alliance.  Dilly was also appointed to the Board of Governors for Eastern WV Community and Technical College in 2018.

Interviewed by: Neslihan Aydagül
Interviewed by: Neslihan Aydagül
Managing Director UAE
The Business Year

Neslihan Aydagul is the Managing Director for The Business Year in the UAE. Ms. Aydagul's experience in the research field pans to the early 2000s where she lead research projects in Qatar and Bahrain as well as opening her employer's offices in South East Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. After successful launches, she switched her focus to the GCC, and has been based in the Gulf for the past 10 years, Saudi Arabia and the UAE particularly Abu Dhabi, during which time directed the production of 12 annual investment manuals and gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Gulf.

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