Our educators

Andy Lyons
Andy Lyons
Director

Mr. Andy Lyons is an American educator with 20 years’ experience in the USA and the UAE. Andy holds a M.ED. in Educational Leadership from Trevecca University and a B.S. in Elementary Education. He has served as a teacher, head of faculty/academic coach, Vice Principal and Principal. He truly believes that every child can learn and should have a remarkable educational experience. Andy feels that reading is the foundation of a solid education so he encourages his students to read every day. He also considers that every child is a leader and should take the lead on their educational experience and future. If you believe it, you can achieve it with hard work and dedication.

Scott Poloff
Scott Poloff
Principal – Elementary School (ES)

Mr. Scott Poloff is an American educator with over 20 years of experience. He holds a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Point Park University and a B.S in Elementary Education. Scott believes that student success begins with building a positive school culture based on strong relationships with students, staff, parents and the community. He is an advocate of shared leadership and supports professional learning communities of teachers that focus on empowering teachers to lead, to grow and improve student outcomes.

Nzinga
Nzinga Ebron
Curriculum Coordinator

Ms. Nzinga Ebron is an American educator with over 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, 9 of those years in New York. She is passionate about building the learning capacity in students and teachers, and believes that the Growth Mindset must be a significant part of any educator’s philosophy.  Nzinga holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and School Building Management from Brooklyn College, New York and a B.A. in Mathematics/Special Education from Keuka College, New York.  She has New York teacher certification.

Maher
Dr. Maher Hattab
ES Department Chair Arabic

Dr. Maher Hattab is a Palestinian educator with 32 years’ experience in UAE / Dubai and Palestine. Maher holds a PhD in Islamic Education from Azaitouna University. He has served as a teacher, Head of Arabic and Islamic Departments, academic coach, vice principal and acting principal. He strongly believes that if teaching is good, learning will be good and if learning is good, academic achievement and progress will be good. Teaching is good only if the students are able to learn independently, research, think deeply and critically. Students can evaluate themselves and participate in a plan to improve their levels. Maher also believes that everyone has the capacity to achieve their goals, and that human goals evolve after every step of success. We need to look at our reality, evaluate ourselves transparently, develop a plan, implement, re-evaluate and go on. Nothing is impossible with hard work, continuous training and honest evaluation.

Behman
Elizabeth Behman
ES Learning Support (SEND) Educator

Ignite School would like to welcome Ms. Elizabeth Behman to our team. Ms. Elizabeth Behman is an American educator, specializing in the area of special needs education. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors of Science in Mild to Moderate Special Education. She has experience working with students with a wide variety of disabilities in elementary and middle school settings in Washington state and Arizona.  Elizabeth brings a passion for empowering students. She believes that every child has the opportunity to change the world around them when given the right tools, strategies, and encouragement. She believes that as a teacher, her role is to provide those things to uplift and empower her students in the classroom.

Ms Hayley Belknap
Hayley Belknap
ES English as a New language (ENL) Educator

Ignite School would like to welcome Ms. Hayley Belknap to our team. Hayley has 7 years of experience working with elementary aged children in the United States. She is originally from Texas, where she earned her elementary teaching certification. She taught ESL in the Dominican Republic but most recently has been living and teaching outside of Austin, Texas. Hayley states, “I am ecstatic to be joining Ignite School this year and look forward to having fun and learning together!” In her spare time, Hayley likes to explore new places, read books, and shop.

briana
Briana Billings
ES PE Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Briana Billings, to our founding faculty team. Briana is from Houston, Texas and has over 10 years of as a PE educator and head of the Physical Education department. She also has prior experience teaching in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Her passions are playing, coaching, and talking sports, and she is enthusiastic to teach anyone, anything sports related. When she is not engaged in sports related activities she is somewhere around music. Briana has a real gift of getting the students excited about the endless was of enjoying physical education. Briana looks forward to sponsoring extracurricular activities and developing programs to engage the interest of all students.

Hussein Bitar
Hussein Bitar
ES Islamic Educator

Ignite School welcomes Mr. Hussein Bitar.  Hussein comes from Syria and joins Ignite School with 4 years of teaching experience, including 2 years in Dubai.  He is a graduate of the University of Aleppo. Hussein enjoys travelling, reading and playing sports. He is extremely enthusiastic about teaching and sets high yet attainable expectations for the children.  Hussein believes that children learn best through exciting, challenging, relevant and fun lessons. Hussein’s objective as a teacher is to instill a passion for learning in all the children so that they become independent learners equipped with skills ready for the 21st Century.

castillo
Darcell Castillo
Early Learning Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Darcell Castillo as Kindergarten Educator. Darcell was born and raised in Texas in the United States of America. She has been teaching for a total of 11 years and is excited to be back in Dubai for her 12th year of teaching. She has experience teaching Pre-School, Kindergarten, First grade, and Second grade, with half of her years being in 2nd grade. She looks forward to going back to Kindergarten as she believes there is so much learning that happens at this age. She previously lived in the UAE for 5 years, spending 3 in Abu Dhabi and 2 in Dubai. She considers the UAE her home and has been looking for the right opportunity to return. Darcell has also spent some time teaching in Japan and in her home state of Texas in the USA.  She currently speaks 2 languages (English and Spanish) fluently and hopes to make Arabic her 3rd fluent language.

Colin Donovan
Colin Donovan
2nd Grade Educator

Please help us welcome our 2nd Grade educator, Mr. Colin Donovan, to the Ignite School founding faculty team. Colin has 7 years of experience working with children of all ages, in the US, South Korea and Chile. He is originally from the state of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Elementary School teaching certification. Most recently, however, he has been living and teaching in Phoenix, Arizona. Colin states, “I am very excited to be joining Ignite School this year and looking forward to meeting and learning all about my new students!”  In his spare time, Colin likes to spend time exploring new places with his family.

Heather Dryden
Heather Dryden
Early Learning Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Heather Dryden as Kindergarten Educator. Heather, a certified American educator, is a proud West Coast native who grew up near Seattle, Washington, USA. She earned her B.A. in Spanish and Elementary Education from Gonzaga University, and attended the M.A. TESOL program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Heather is an experienced early childhood and elementary educator who has taught in a variety of international and domestic contexts, including China, Bolivia, Panama, Thailand, and Mexico, among others. She believes the teacher should support, facilitate, and empower children on their educational journey, while capitalizing on the unique interests and abilities each student brings to the classroom community. This belief is reflected in the warm, inclusive, student-centered classroom Heather maintains, as well as in a learning environment that encourages inquiry and collaboration, as well as the development of perseverance, integrity, empathy, and individual responsibility. Heather is thrilled to be living in UAE for the first time, and outside of work, looks forward to going to the beach, exploring Dubai, and traveling!

Rahma
Rahma Mohamad Elsaid
ES Islamic Educator

Ignite School introduces Mrs. Rahma Mohamad Elsaid. Rahma although from Palestine was born and raised in UAE. She holds a KHDA Approval Certificate in Islamic Studies.  Rahma graduated from Sharjah University Islamic studies with Honors. She has more than 3 years of experience in teaching Islamic studies in American schools in Dubai. She has visited Tucson, Arizona and several other American states where she enhanced her English language proficiency, explored methods for student-centered learning and discovered more about American culture. She loves teaching and Rahma believes that every child has an amazing ability to learn.

Shimaa Fady
Shimaa Abdelshafi Fady
ES Arabic Educator

Ignite School would like to welcome Ms. Shimaa Abdelshafi Fady to our team. Ms. Shimaa is a graduate of Cairo University. Shimaa has 5 years of experience in teaching, including 3 years in Dubai. Also, she has been assisting the students to learn Arabic whom were having challenges in learning. She believes that children are a gift and possess diverse talents and capabilities. Her philosophy is to teach from the heart while allowing students to discover their own abilities to be a scholar and positive leader in our school community. In her free time Shimaa enjoys traveling, reading, swimming and photography.

Ms Brittney Freeman
Brittney Freeman
5th Grade Educator

Ignite School presents Ms. Brittney Freeman as our 5th grade educator. Brittney has over 10 years of experience working with elementary students in the United States. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, USA where she earned her elementary teaching certification from Valdosta State University. Brittney later transitioned to Florida to teach 5th ELA, math and science. She has served as a 5th Lead teacher, Cornerstone curator, Science Fair coordinator, after school care lead teacher, and Safety Patrol Sponsor. Brittney is excited and thrilled to join the Ignite Team. She is looking forward to a fun filled year of learning and growing. With students in mind, Brittney focuses on hands on instruction and engaging the students with inquiry based lessons. In her spare time, Brittney teaches cheerleading camps all over the United States with the National Cheerleaders Association where she serves as a Head Instructor.

Matthew Frey
Matthew Frey
ES Student Counselor

Ignite School presents Mr. Matthew Frey as our Elementary School Student Counselor and founding faculty member. Matt is from New York state and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from State University of New York (SUNY). Matt is a certified International School Counselor with experience in the US and abroad. As a Student Counselor, Matt has a strong passion for helping young people with overcoming any obstacles they might encounter in or out of the classroom. He strives to bring a vibrant sense of enthusiasm to every environment. Matt says, “The school is a place where a young mind can become anything and I am dedicated to that endeavor. I want to create an energy that is contagious about learning and growth”.

Melissa
Melissa Gonzales
Early Learning Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Melissa Gonzales as Kindergarten Educator. Melissa was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas but she lived in Texas for over ten years.  Kansas and Texas are both home for her. She received her teaching license in the state of Texas.  This year will be her tenth year of teaching elementary children. She is certified in Special Education as well.  She’s very active and love all sports.  Melissa have been teaching ESL in the UAE for the last three years in Al Ain. She is very passionate about teaching and traveling.  She loves learning with the children and exploring new concepts in all core subjects.  Melissa’s favorite part about teaching is having fun learning and learning together!

Taylor Hogan
Taylor Hogan
Early Learning Educator

Ignite School presents Ms. Taylor Hogan as a founding faculty member and Kindergarten Educator. Taylor was raised on the northwest side of Chicago. Taylor received her Elementary Education degree from Northeastern Illinois University and is certified to teach grades K-9 and English as a Second Language. Taylor has worked as a classroom teacher, after-school program Site Director, Special Education Paraprofessional, and after-school ESL Teacher. Taylor says, “My passion for meeting the needs of every student has contributed to my successes and will continue to contribute to successes at Ignite School.” Taylor likes to listen to music, play with her two dogs, and enjoy the many fests/events that Chicago has to offer.

William Pic
William Hutchinson III
ES Librarian/ICT Educator

Ignite School would like to welcome Mr. William Hutchinson III to our team. William is from Miami, Florida but has resided in the United Arab Emirates for over 4 years. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Degree from Florida A&M University and has earned his master’s degree in Information Studies & Library Science from Florida State University. His previous experience as a librarian includes working at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System and the Miami-Dade Public Library System. William enjoys emerging technologies, teaching information literacy and computer applications. He believes that students and teachers need to understand that there are valuable resources in the library and strives to promote them throughout Ignite.

Evan new
Evan Johnson
1st Grade Educator

Ignite School is pleased to welcome Ms. Evan Johnson, to our founding faculty team. Ms. Johnson is from the state of Alabama and received her Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama. Evan has a passion for educating young children how to read and will be teaching 1st grade here at Ignite. She has taught a range of elementary grade levels, including 1st, 3rd and 6th grade and will be entering her third year of living and teaching in the United Arab Emirates. Evan’s classroom philosophy is built upon the foundation of making the classroom feel like home. She believes that when a learner is comfortable in their learning space, the possibilities of growth are endless.

Ms Kimberly Kimbrough
Kimberly Kimbrough
4th Grade Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Kimberly Kimbrough as our 4th grade educator. Kimberly is from Florida, USA and has over 10 years of classroom experience, teaching in Florida and Georgia public schools. Kimberly is a graduate of University of North Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, with an ESOL Endorsement. Her hobbies are photography, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Kimberly’s philosophy is “Every child is unique and reachable, which makes them teachable. Learn the learner while creating a well-rounded environment that’s conducive to learning, and watch their growth to success.”

Enriqueata Mayra Mariscal
Enriqueata Mayra Mariscal
3rd Grade Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Mayra Mariscal as our 3rd grade educator. Ms. Mayra was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Mayra received her Bachelor’s degree, in Elementary Education from DePaul University and her Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University. She believes in the importance of incorporating rigorous curriculum into content areas, while also focusing on the development of students’ values and positive self-image. She also believes in the education of the whole child, and believes it is necessary to foster an environment of diversity, while celebrating students’ cultures. On her free time, she loves to do yoga and travel the world. Mayra states, “I believe it is all about passion, drive, and challenging my students to be the best that I can be. Having them go out of their comfort zone and truly trusting themselves, because it is then, in those experiences that they find out some talents and abilities they never knew they had.”

Danielle Photo
Danielle Marshall
1st Grade Educator

Ignite School presents Ms. Danielle Marshall as our 1st grade educator. Danielle grew up in Salt Lake City where she loves hiking, paddleboarding, and snowshoeing. She received her BS in Elementary Education from the University of Utah, and she has 4 years teaching experience. Danielle is certified to teach grades 1-8, and has taught grades K-6. She has taught in 4 different countries, including theUnited States, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Nichole Mattila
Nichole Mattila
Early Learning Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Nichole Mattila as Kindergarten Educator. Nichole is a certified US educator with 7 years of classroom experience. She has taught students from a variety of backgrounds and grade levels from Pre-K to 5th grade. She spent time teaching abroad in Japan and most recently taught kindergarten and pre-kindergarten in Washington, DC. She believes the kindergarten year sets the stage and foundation for a lifelong love of learning and school success and could not be more excited to meet her new kindergarteners in Dubai. Her goal for her students is that they love school, enjoy learning, and develop a confidence in themselves and their abilities! In her free time, Nichole loves reading, traveling, and spending time outdoors!

Sydney
Sydney McDonald
1st Grade Educator

Ignite School presents Ms. Sydney McDonald as our 1st grade educator. Sydney is an American educator and has been teaching for three years. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, and Reading endorsement. Sydney has a passion for expanding and molding the minds of the future. She has used her passion for children in her previous fourth and second grade classes. Sydney is excited to join our team and create a learning environment where the students and teacher can learn from each other.

Athar
Athar Mohammad
ES Arabic Educator

Ignite School welcomes Mrs. Athar Mohammad as an Arabic Educator with over 4 years of experience. Athar was born in Jordan and raised in Abu Dhabi. She studied Arabic Language and Literature at Yarmouk University (Jordan). After her graduation, she has taught in several schools, most recently at the German International School Dubai. Athar is skilled in teaching children from different cultures.  She likes to model the William Arthur Ward quote, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. … The great teacher inspires”.

Anthony Maurao
Anthony Mourao
ES French Educator

Ignite School presents Mr. Anthony Mourao as our ES French educator. Anthony comes from France (Poitou-Charentes). He holds a Master’s Degree in Modern Foreign Languages delivered by the University of La Rochelle. Anthony started his career as French teacher in Colombia, where he worked in schools linked to the French Embassy in Bogotá and received the certification of exam corrector of the DELF / DALF. For the past year Anthony has taught in the UAE. Anthony adopts student-centered methods in an intercultural approach. He is a motivated and enthusiastic teacher. Anthony speaks French, Portuguese, Spanish, English and Romanian.

Aisha refaat
Aisha Refaat
ES Arabic Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Aisha Refaat. Aisha has 5 years of experience in teaching Arabic Language in the UAE. She holds a KHDA approval certificate. Aisha says that Teaching is a noble mission that she loves to practice. Aisha feels very proud to join Ignite school and to be given the opportunity to contribute to its journey towards an outstanding level. Aisha’s present information to children is the most simple, interesting, and amusing way possible to instill the love of the Arabic Language. As she believes encouraging children to learn by creating the motive to search, discover, and innovate.

Tanja Robinson
Tanja Robinson
2nd Grade Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Tanja Robinson as our 2nd grade educator. Tanja was born and raised in Savannah Georgia, USA.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida. Tanja switched her career path to education because she felt that she could contribute making a difference in children’s lives.  Tanja received Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah Georgia. Tanja has five year of experience teaching students in Kindergarten up to grade three.  She also had the opportunity to work as an Early Intervention Teacher, Response to Intervention Coordinator, and Testing Coordinator.  Tanja believes that every child can learn, it just takes patience, passion, time, and rapport with the child for him or her to be successful.  She’s very excited about meeting the students and watching them develop a love for learning and becoming strategic thinkers.

iman
Iman Salameh
ES Arabic as a Second Language Educator

Ms. Iman Salameh is an experienced educator with over 18 years’ experience as a class teacher in the UAE.  Her specialty area is Arabic as a Second Language.  Iman is passionate about building the learning capacity of students and her peers.  She has completed a BA in English Language and Translation from Ajman University and other qualifications in Special Education. She holds a KHDA Approval Certificate for Arabic Teacher as a Second Language.

Heba
Heba El Tomaily
ES Arabic Educator

Ignite school welcomes Ms. Heba El Tomaily to our team. She has 12 years of experience in teaching.  She graduated from the Faculty of Arts – Cairo University 2005 and since then she has been teaching in Egypt and Palestine. Heba recently received a Diploma for Teaching Arabic as a foreign language from the American University in Cairo. She has been taken part in many workshops that support modern methods of education and add to the Arabic language classes. She is excited to work at Ignite School to maximize student’s language and help them reach the highest academic level. She believes that the students will participate in their work by investigating their daily goals and researching, thinking and creating according to their different levels.

Charlise Jewel Walters
Charlise "Jewel" Walters
4th Grade Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Charlise “Jewel” Walters as a member of our 4th-grade team.  Jewel was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio.  She has enjoyed teaching various grades at the elementary level over the last 14-years, in the U.S.  Jewel earned her Bachelor and Masters degrees from Eastern Michigan University.  Jewel has a passion for educating all students.  Creating meaningful relationships allow her to push her students to achieve the high expectations she sets.  It is her goal to foster a learning community that engages students with authentic, hands-on, student-centered learning experiences that excite and motivate students to achieve success.  Outside of the school day, you can find Charlise playing, coaching, or watching sports!

Ashanta Washington
Ashanta Washington
3rd Grade Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Ashanta Washington as our 3rd grade educator. Ashanta has over 8 years of experience working with elementary students in the United States. She has taught students in grades 2 and 5. Ashanta is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree from Florida Atlantic University. She mentored young girls and instilled the basic foundational and social skills needed to become lifelong learners. Ashanta is enthusiastic about joining the Ignite team and looks forward to making a positive impact academically, socially, and emotionally in each of her students lives on a daily basis. In her free time, Ashanta enjoys talking with friends and family, listening to music, and reading different genres of books.

Soher
Soher Al-Rifay
MS Islamic Educator

Ignite School welcomes Mrs. Soher Al-Rifay.  Soher comes from Jordan where she completed her studies at Yarmouk University. Soher has 4 years experience as an Islamic educator in UAE. Soher would like each child to leave her class with a better understanding of the social impact of their choices. Working with her students, she ensures a student-centered learning environment for Islamic Education in her classes. Her passion for professional learning and her personal interests of reading, painting and writing enable creative student-led learning activities. Soher holds a KHDA Approval Certificate in Islamic Studies.

Photo_Jacquelyn Banks
Jacquelyn Banks
MS Science Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Jacquelyn Banks as our MS Science educator. Jacquelyn is a 10 year educator from the United States of America. She has a combination of public and private school teaching experience from USA and the UAE. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Miles College and a Master’s of Education in STEM Leadership from the American College of Education. She has taught students in 1st-7th grade and has taught many different subjects. She has served as Head of Department, Lead Teacher, Mentor Teacher, and has led various other school-wide projects. Jacquelyn has been focusing on project-based learning and promoting STEM literacy in the last 2 years. She is very excited to be joining the Ignite School family and looks forward to educating its young learners. “I really love helping students to build foundational skills. Learning the basics is the key to success. I truly feel that it makes learning easy, enjoyable, and continuous.”

Hammad Elgendi
Hammad Elgendi
MS Arabic Educator

Ignite School welcomes Mr. Hammad Elgendi. Hamad holds a bachelor’s degree of education specialist in Arabic. He has completed two diplomas (Methods of teaching Arabic and Difficulties of learning). Hamad is an experienced educator of 10 years in Egypt and UAE. He is excited to join Ignite school this academic year to raise the standard of Arabic language. Hammad’s hobbies are playing football, swimming, and writing poetry in Arabic and English. He believes that cooperation leads to success.

Serah Klemm
Serah Klemm
MS Mathematics Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Serah Klemm, to our team. Serah is an American Certified Math Teacher from the State of Wisconsin.  She received her Bachelors of Mathematics from Western Governors University.  She offers a broad range of experience – teaching pre-algebra all the way up through calculus – while utilizing the Common Core American Curriculum.  Serah views Math as a Language and leads students to see, hear, and speak the fundamentals of Math.  Through a variety of instructional techniques she enjoys leading students progressively forward – reaching a strong real world understanding of Mathematics.

Ms. Donna Reeves
Donna Reeves
MS ELA Educator

Ignite School welcomes Ms. Donna Reeves, to our team. Donna is an American educator with over 30 years of teaching experience in Washington State, USA and the UAE. Donna holds a M. ED in Curriculum Development and Administration from Gonzaga University and a BA in Education from Central Washington University. She has taught Middle School English for the last 10 years in Dubai. Donna’s experience includes service as Head of Department for Learning Support, reading specialist, and classroom teacher. She believes that strong, positive relationships are the key to all effective teaching and learning. Donna is very excited to be joining the Ignite family.

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