The following are excerpts of biographies from two years ago.
Dhahran Hills School Delegates
Bernadette is a 1st grade teacher from Chicago, the windy city. She loves the energy of it; it’s definitely her kind of town. She has two grown children, a son and a daughter who truly light up her life. She has four sisters whom she absolutely adores. She has been in Dhahran for just three years, but has already caught the travel bug. Her two favorite trips thus far have been Iran and Nepal.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the tail end of World War II, Laurie Swanson grew up in Allison Park roaming the woods and following rainbows. Her childhood friendship with Nancy Jean (which continues to this day) is legendary in her third grade classroom. She traces her roots in the Middle East to her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Floyd Wagner, whose sister sent vivid letters from the souks and streets of Cairo, which Mr. Wagner read with gusto to Laurie and her more than forty classmates.
After attending The College of William and Mary, Laurie chose teaching in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn over Guam as the place to launch her life. She soon met and married Frederick J. Swanson with whom she eagerly moved to Saudi Arabia along with their two sons, Eric and Peter. Her family has lived in Abqaiq, Udhailiyah and Dhahran for most of the years since 1973. Laurie has loved teaching the children at the Aramco schools for more than nineteen years.
I’m a native Texan who arrived here 21 years ago to find similar weather and similar flora as my hometown, Brownsville. Early Childhood Education is my specialty and I love my job in Kindergarten. I’ve been very lucky to work with wonderful people in our school as well the many wonderful kids and their parents. And, after 21 years here, that adds up to quite a few!
Chris Wollak - Principal
This journey to Saudi Arabia started about 7 years ago. My wife, Kerry, had been dropping a series of hints over the years that she would like to investigate teaching at an international school. During the 18 years of teaching in Wisconsin, I did a lot of nodding and “Yes, dears” for as long as I could. But then she got me to go to an international schools job fair in 1994, and before I knew it we were on a plane to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Looking back, it was the best decision of our lives. Our children, Hailley, 13, and Cole, 12, along with Kerry and I, have had a wonderful experience. Socially, it is a terrific place to raise a family. Professionally, the schools are a wonderful mix of rich resources, high academic standards, and culturally diverse students. If you would like any information regarding the Aramco schools, or Saudi Arabia, please send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to help out in any way I can! Maa Asslama
Being a computer facilitator is lots of fun. I especially enjoy working on computers that have totally crashed. The first thing I always ask the teacher is, "Have you backed up your data?" Often the response is, "How do you back up?" From that point on the REAL fun begins! I also enjoy it when kids mispronounce my name - like when a First Grader called me "Mr. Lavoris".
During my spare time at work I try to think of words that rhyme with "Easy Peasy". If you think of any send them to me and I will add them to the list.
At home I enjoy taking embarrassing pictures of my cat, DJ, posing with stuffed animals. That keeps me busy for hours of hi-jinx and laughter at my cat's expense.
Last but not least I enjoy walking and playing and just watching my Golden Retriever, Harley and his best friend on camp, Duncan Driscol.
Gotta go now: I have to see if all the computers here at The Hills are cooperating today.
In September of 1981, the Dhahran Hills School opened its doors to students. Those doors also opened to me. I worked in the library cataloging the 18,000 new books that needed to be placed on our shelves. I remember that year well. My eyeglasses prescription changed three times as a result of the tedious task of processing all those library books! It was an exciting time. Everything was new, including most of the teaching staff.
When my husband and I arrived in 1980, there were over 500 people in my orientation group! Aramco chartered flights to bring new employees to Saudi Arabia. We were housed off the compound at North Camp. After 18 months, we were eligible for temporary in-camp housing. Two years after that, we settled into our townhouse in Dhahran Hills. I left the Hills School in 1986 to return to the United States and attend graduate school. When my schooling was completed, I returned to Saudi Arabia and resumed my career at the Saudi Aramco Schools.
My daughter, Emily, was born in 1989, and my son, Daniel, was born in 1996. We have an 8 year-old Anglo-Arab horse named Duriyah and a solid black cocker spaniel dog called Abby. In addition to storytelling, I love to umpire softball games and take flying lessons. Our favorite family activity is reading together at home!
Dhahran Middle School Delegates
Dr. Pat Finochio, Principal
We want parents and students alike to know that you are very important to us and that the number one goal of our entire Dhahran School staff is to provide the best possible education to the students of Dhahran.
The Dhahran School serves a total school population of over 550 persons. The school enrolls more than 500 students in grades 6 through 9. In addition to the day school program, vast arrays of extra-curricular activities are available for all students.
The most important characteristic of the Dhahran School is its commitment to excellence for all learners. It is our hope that each learner's potential is developed to the fullest. We believe in lifelong learning, and are constantly exploring new ways to improve our educational offerings.
Bio: Dr. Patrick Finochio joined Aramco Schools in 1991. Before coming to Aramco, Patrick was a high school principal in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania for five years. His students have ranged from grades two thru college freshmen since his graduation from Penn State in 1978. During his tenure with Aramco Dr. Finochio taught grade five and has been in administration for the past nine years. Patrick and his wife Bonnie have two children Alec and Taylor, both of whom have attended Saudi Aramco Schools since Kindergarten.
No photo available. Charlie is the Dhahran Middle School / Junior High placement counselor for boarding schools.
Excitement and eager anticipation fill the Franck household as we prepare to return to the place our international teaching careers began in 1977...ARAMCO. Abqaiq was our home from 1977-85 , where we taught and also began our family. (Our son and daughter were both born in Dhahran.) Since leaving ARAMCO we have taught in Bangkok, Thailand, Nairobi, Kenya and most recently Cairo, Egypt.
Helping students acquire the skills necessary to achieve their optimum level of performance is rewarding.
I will be discovering what life is like without having children at home, as our youngest child, Katie, will begin her freshman year at Elon University. Our son Nathan works in Ukiah, California. My interests include desert camping and exploring, reading, exercising, meeting new people and enjoying life!
Betsy Calabro has been a member of the Dhahran community for the past eight and one half years. Prior to substitute teaching and filling in for Mr. Horwood she has been an active member of the volunteer community at Aramco. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors and past president of the Dhahran Women’s Group, a Community Representative for SAEA, a Girl Scout Assistant, and home room volunteer at the Hills Elementary School. She has taught full and part-time at Collin County Community College in Plano, Texas, Rancho Santiago Community College and Long Beach State University in Orange County California, and at Great Valley High School in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She holds a bachelors of science degree in Family and Consumer Studies and a Masters’ Degree in Human Behavior and Development. Her teacher certifications include Applied Arts, Reading Specialist, and Community College Counseling. She and Carl, her husband of twenty seven years have two children. Victoria, a graduate of Aramco Schools is a freshman at Rollins College in Florida, and Blaire is in the 4th grade at the Hills Elementary school.
Mark is an Aramco Brat, now Middle School P.E. teacher.
Mr. Snakenberg has worked at Dhahran Middle School for 9 years. He joined Aramco after working in Lahore Pakistan and in his home state of Iowa. Mr. Snakenberg has a son Justin Snakenberg who is 20 years old and a college student in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mr. Snakenberg and his wife, Pamela, share many of the same interests as well as an office in the Physical Education/Health Department.
Mrs. Snakenberg has been with Aramco for 15 years. Starting as a teacher's aide during the Gulf War, she became a Physical Education Teacher and Dhahran School Activities Coordinator in 1985. Mrs. S has 2 children who attended Aramco Schools, Dillon and Burgundy, both currently in college in Florida.