After breakfast the members of the Memory Lane Tour began their day with a visit to the Dhahran Ahliyyah Schools in Dammam to meet their host for the morning, Sally Al-Turki.
Founded in 1977 by Khalid Ali Al-Turki and his wife, Sally, Dhahran Ahliyyah Schools (DAS) aim to prepare girls and boys to be thinking, caring individuals who will contribute to the development of their societies and thrive on the challenges of the changing world. The Schools are a professional learning community that is committed to the continuous learning of all members, including students, faculty, staff and others who participate in its development. The school budget is covered through tuition and donations.
The ladies of the group made a brief tour of the girls’ school while the men toured the boys’ school and all found their visit very interesting.
The Schools are fully licensed and accredited by the educational authorities of the Saudi Arabian Government as a non-profit, private, day school with separate sections for boys and girls. DAS offers all grade levels, including nursery care for babies and young children, three years of pre-school, six of elementary, three of middle school, and three of secondary. With a total student body of more than 1700, class size ranges from 13 to 24 with an average of about 23 per class. The school provides bus service to many areas of Al-Khobar, Dammam and Qatif.
As a school approved for Saudi Arabian students, DAS bases its academic program on the curriculum prescribed by the Saudi educational authorities. However, teachers are given extensive training in ways to modernize and enrich their methods and extra class time during which to work on research and other projects that will extend students' thinking and interest. Thinking and learning skills provide a major focus at all levels and in all subjects. A strong English program is well supported for all age levels and expanded with extra reading, research, and required presentations. Technology is integrated into the normal instructional process as well as being a separate topic of study.
The DAS faculty members are selected from the best available applicants from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunis and other Arabic countries. From the time they join the school community, they become part of the process of continuous progress by participating in training and development activities. All employees are in the school for approximately four weeks every year during the summer without students for training and work in committees to improve methods, plans, materials, and coordination.
The schools' beautiful buildings, leased from Saudi Aramco, are specially designed to give each age grouping its own separate cluster of classrooms and facilities. All clusters share the schools' several science laboratories, special English classrooms, fully equipped industrial arts and home economics rooms, multi-purpose rooms, gymnasiums, a theater and many playgrounds. There are seven computer laboratories spread throughout the two schools as well as computers in each room and movable multi-media presentation towers. The English and Arabic libraries of the two schools contain approximately 80,000 books, which are available for students, faculty and guests from the area. The boys' school also has a full sized soccer field, running track and courts for basketball, volleyball and tennis.
On their return from the Ahliyyah Schools, the gentlemen of the group went to the Dhahran administration area to tour Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Computer Center.
The ladies remained with Sally Turki who took them on a very interesting visit to the Gulf Women’s Association – Early Childhood Center, which has four main areas of involvement in the community.
It is a foremost a charity for women that supports widowed or divorced women with children who have no family members to take care of them and women with children whose husbands are disabled and can’t support them.
The Charity Suq is run by the members of the Gulf Women's Association to help support the center and the charitable gifts of food and substantives given to disadvantaged women and children.
It is also a Women’s Training Facility, incorporating Employment and Development, which was started by Sally Al-Turki in 1975.
This part of the association is an Early Childhood Center which educates potential young women to become teachers. One curriculum focuses on high school graduates in a 3-year training program for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades; including Year 1 – theory, Year 2 – English and Arabic, and Year 3 – Practical teaching experience in an in-house school. The students of the Center are very much in demand by private schools in Saudi Arabia.
In its College Graduate Program, young women come to the Training Facility for one year after college to obtain a teaching certificate for all grades and subjects.
The facility also has a Continuing Education program which concentrates on groups of teachers coming to the facility for workshops and also a “Let’s Read” program where educators learn a strategy for teaching reading and writing, incorporating “learning with fun” and “developing language skills”.
Practical Training is held in school classrooms within the facility for Kindergarten to second grade. All students work in groups as they move from one activity center to the next. The students take English and Arabic starting in Kindergarten.
After the morning tour, the group met for a wonderful, hospitable luncheon hosted by Ismail Nawwab, his wife, Wasimah, and their children, Nimah, Muhammad, Huda and Rahmah.
Hugh Renfro kept us in stitches with his stories from his 23 years living in Saudi Arabia.
We were told by one of Howard Norton's ITC students that he was really a tough teacher until he met and fell in love with Mary. The students could not understand what had come over him until they found out that he was engaged to be married!
In the evening, after a very short rest period and informal camp visits by the retirees, the party dined at Sheikh Khalid and Sally Al-Turki’s beautiful beach house on the Arabian Gulf.