Image Credit: Supplied

Throughout the month of October, iCademy Middle East, the region’s only KHDA-licensed online school continued to see a steady stream of students seeking enrolment for the 2021-22 school year. Given that UAE schools officially began the new academic year on September 1, iCademy Middle East’s enrolment team has been surprised by the number of high school students still seeking placement.

Jeffrey Smith

“There is still a lot of pandemic anxiety in the community. Families are looking for more flexibility than what a traditional school offers. Whether it is price, blended/in-person, or online options, or even when to start school, we are able to customise a high school experience to meet the academic, social-emotional, and financial needs of most students and families,” said Lucy Dawson, Enrolment Coordinator for iCademy Middle East.

According to school records, iCademy Middle East currently has 574 students enrolled in its high school programme out of overall 1,700 students. The school nearly doubled in size during last year’s pandemic despite closing its in-person learning centre programme.

“Last year, parents were looking for stability and certainty at a time when nothing seemed certain. iCademy Middle East gave lots of families a peace of mind by providing a premium-quality continuity of education at a relatively inexpensive price. Our high school programme continues to be a godsend to a lot of students,” said Lisa Khoury, Enrolment Coordinator.

Samira Mahmoud is an American student who joined iCademy Middle East this year to complete her US high school diploma. Prior to joining the online school, Samira was a high performing student at one of Dubai’s premium American curriculum schools.

“My experience with iCademy Middle East has been amazing! The flexibility to do my assignments in my own time and pace has helped me achieve my goals,” said Samira. iCademy Middle East’s flexibility has provided Samira, and dozens of other high performing students, the opportunity to accelerate their learning pace and complete an entire year of school in as little as one semester. Upon graduation from the NEASC-accredited iCademy Middle East, Samira will attend university in the United States.

“We enrol students from both ends of the spectrum. Some are ahead of grade level and find traditional schools slow and boring. Others are behind grade level and need more time and personal attention than a traditional class of 25-30 will allow. We are able to make our programme fit the needs of our students, as opposed to demanding that our students fit the structure of our school,” explains Nuri Muhammad. As the Online School Registrar, Nuri has been helping students obtain their US high school diplomas for over four years.

Flexibility starts with allowing parents and students to decide how they would like to attend school.

Online only: This allows students to work from home, or anywhere else. Students have access to their learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, unlike homeschooling, students have an actual teacher, who grades assignments; an academic advisor; a school principal, and a counsellor.

VLCP: The virtual learning coach provides “live” virtual support to online students.

Knowledge Hub: A 12,000 square feet learning centre offers daily blended model instruction to nearly 150 iCademy Middle East students. “Families come to the Knowledge Hub for our friendly environment and personalised approach. Our learning coaches offer support to students, building both trust and confidence,” said Angela Johansen, a lead learning coach in the high school section of Knowledge Hub.

High school students are not the only ones who are benefiting from the flexible nature of the online program. From financial woes and job insecurity to non-traditional lifestyles, iCademy Middle East is offering parents a cost-effective and stress-free means to a US high school diploma for their children. Based on their enrolments, this is a trend that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. For more information, visit www.icademymiddleeast.com

— The writer is Director of School Partnerships, Middle East and Africa, iCademy