Research has shown that strong home-school partnerships lead to better student outcomes right from the early years to high school and beyond. Esol Education schools recognize that parental involvement is a strong predictor of success, and work together with parents to create supportive environments that nurture children’s learning both at school and at home.
From Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs), sports coaching and art events to school socials, community events and fund raisers, dedicated parents across our schools volunteer their time to enhance academic experiences in and beyond classrooms.
5 minutes with....
Fine Arts Booster Club
Universal American School, Dubai
A group of enthusiastic parents at Esol Education’s Universal American School (UAS) spearhead the Fine Arts Booster Club (FABC), a self-funded, non-profit club, run by volunteers from the school community. The club is dedicated to supporting and promoting the visual arts, the performing arts, literature and language. The FABC’s 2015 project was the highly creative and successful musical production the FAB Broadway Revue held at Universal American School, Dubai in April. The event brought together 153 cast members including students, parents and teachers in a fabulous celebration of show tunes, woven together to create an original story representing life and cultures in the city.
Hear FABC's Ghia Haddad being interviewed about the Broadway revue on a local radio channel in Dubai, and scroll down for her full interview with our newsletter team about FABC and its initiatives at UAS.
How did FABC begin and when did it start?
FABC started in 2008, some six years ago. The idea came from the president of the Parents and Teachers Organization at the school, who was leaving that year. She was involved in an art project in the US, and suggested that we should establish a fine arts club at UAS.
Why was it established?
It was established to develop a cohesive community at the school where parents, teachers and students get together to do something that helps the school.
What kind of projects do you work on?
We do all kinds of art projects related to visual arts, music, drama and writing: mosaics, mural painting, quilting, costume making, poetry, writing competitions and art exhibits. We even published a book where members of the UAS community were invited to write the story of their life in only six words!
What is the goal and mission behind FABC?
Our goal is to raise money to support art, music and language initiatives at UAS. For example, to buy a new stereo for the music department or help make costumes for the drama department. Our mission is to: strengthen the school community; provoke positive changes at the school and promote the arts at UAS.
Who typically gets involved in your projects?
Parents, students, teachers, directors and administration staff! Everybody is welcome to FABC.
Can you tell us something about your first project?
The first project was a school-wide art workshop that involved around six teachers, six moms and 25 students. We created collages as well as paintings using watercolors, anything that had colors and shape.
Which is the most exciting, challenging project that you are most proud of and why?
The most exciting was the “BE Campaign” - it was a yearlong project. This huge mural in the middle of the school is the project I am most proud of because it involved almost 500 people of ages ranging from three to 70! The 50 silhouettes on the mural have individual titles like “BE active” or “Be a thinker”, “BE free”, and “BE balanced”. Each silhouette is sponsored and painted by a different group in the school. It involved a lot of hard work! We also had groups from outside the campus participate, like the autism center who came to paint with us and created a silhouette they named “BE aware”. We even organized a parent-teacher football game to raise funds for a professional mural artist from Philadelphia to come to UAS to be involved with the project.
How do you motivate students to get involved? How about parents, are they involved as well?
Every project starts with a little PR! We get lots of help spreading the word through our librarians and teachers who have direct contact with the students and parents. After our first recruits start working and enjoying it, they attract other students, who themselves encourage their parents to become involved. Also, some of the students who are helping out are kids on detention. Instead of sitting in class, these kids help the club on various projects as community service. This makes them more responsible. Now that they are participating in our projects, they are more aware, more involved, because they have done something good, something that is a part of the school itself. They start caring more and strive to become better.
We heard about your mosaic garden bench project, could you tell us more about it?
We had an event called “Mom’s Got Talent”, where moms showcased their talent to raise funds for the mosaic bench project. They brought in different kinds of goodies like baked goods, embroidered cushions, paintings and handmade beaded jewelry. 19 teachers also got involved in the event to provide the entertainment for the evening. This was a great push for boosting event attendance as everyone came to see the teachers sing, dance and play musical instruments. It was also a great way to promote the parent and teacher partnership that is the basis of the success at any school. We also had a recycling drive where we designated a place for students, parents and teachers to donate their unused beads, plates, marbles and seashells that help decorate the bench we have now installed. We managed to raise AED 26,000, and soon after, we started with our mosaic garden bench project.
Can you tell us more about how you involve the local arts scene with the school through the FABC?
In 2011, we put together a big exhibition in the school foyer. It ran for 10 days and was entitled “UAE & Me”. We got the idea from a local gallery that ran a similar show, and challenged people to find an object in their life that signifies the UAE to them, and write up to 100 words to explain their choice. The exhibit was a huge success and included entries from elementary and secondary students, teachers, parents, and even six renowned Emirati artists. The exhibit was under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Hassa Bint Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who is an artist herself, and submitted an entry to our show. The opening reception was a successful event that attracted the local media, where our students were able to feel proud of their participation. The catalog of the exhibit is still being sold today at the school to raise money for the club.
Any additional words you would like to share?
I just want to express my thanks to the UAS administration for always supporting all our projects and maintaining an open door policy to every idea that we put forth. Also, there are no words that can express the value of the many moms who support the FABC by donating time, talent, and an endless supply of creativity and patience. It is this partnership that is at the core of every one of our successes.