It is time for a FactCheck of the latest ISR Review that we posted about. Because school reviews include a lot of opinions, it may be more accurate to call this an OpinionCheck. We will try to point out factual evidence to support our opinions and also to point out places where we agree with the review (and there are several). Our comments will be in color. Please comment your thoughts below.
I have worked at six international schools. The American School of Kuwait was by far the best international school I worked at. It is rarely the case you have the chance to work with a community of hard-working, dynamic and positive colleagues. While also being supported by an excellent HR staff who takes care of everything, and having the support of school leadership. Considering how many teachers there are, and that we all lived together, I never noticed any conflicts or toxic behavior.
- We agree that the teachers at ASK are overwhelmingly hard-working, dynamic and positive colleagues. The teachers at ASK are one of the brightest parts of the school.
- The two people at the school who perform HR-like functions are wonderful people who do a great job. You should bring them a coffee, they deserve it.
- We would say that “having the support of school leadership” is definitely debatable. Some teachers do, while others don’t. Considering Mike Murphy’s habit of firing teachers after a complaint from a parent, the support could certainly be better.
- If this reviewer never noticed any conflicts or toxic behaviour amongst staff, then they weren’t paying much attention. We at American School of Kuwait Reviews don’t think that ASK has more than their fair share of this – any professional community that also lives together will have its fair share of discord.
I feel Ms. Ness is a truly incredible woman who cares for her school, her teachers, and the students. I always felt supported. At the time I taught at ASK, Mr. Murphy was the principal. He is one of the most understanding principals I have worked for in over 16 years of teaching.
- Well, that is an opinion. We are going to disagree with you on that one. We will say, factually, that it is difficult for a superintendent to care for her school, teachers, and students when she is not at the school for half of the school year.
Housing is excellent (with views of the Gulf) and the campus is tranquil. There is a nice gym at the teacher’s apartment complex and the gym at school is great. There is also an indoor 25-meter pool if you can handle waking early and getting some laps in before class. There are early buses which will take you to campus at 5:15.
- Housing at the American School of Kuwait has many upsides. The apartments tend to be large (if not in the annex). The neighborhood leaves a LOT to be desired (per our previous posts). More than half of the gym equipment at the teacher apartment complex is broken, so it is difficult to say that the gym is “nice.”
- Is the bubble back up and going? The pool at school is rarely used by teachers, and the pool at the Dunes is often the wrong color…
- The statement about the buses is an indisputable fact. They are not very nice buses, though. We have made a post regarding this. The buses are unsafe and the drivers regularly fill them with smoke.
It is a demanding place to work. You will have a common teaching partner to plan out UBDs. However, I truly grew as an educator. It is an excellent place to start your international teaching career due to its reputation. I have had several principals from other schools offer me a position almost solely based on the fact I worked at ASK. I asked why, they stated, “ASK turns out hard-working teachers.” I also loved my students. I was lucky to have had the chance to work with a junior class that was respected by all of the high school staff. The second semester of seniors caught a bit of senioritis near the end; however, that happens at every school I have ever worked for.
- We agree with a lot here. It is a demanding place to work. The school does emphasize common planning and Understanding by Design.
- We think that ASK is an average (at best) place to start your teaching career because of the limited oversight and professional development provided for new teachers. Admin spend a lot of time putting out fires (that often involve firing teachers) and don’t have time to properly observe classes.
- Fortunately, for now, ASK still has a positive reputation for teachers when they recruit for new positions.
I decided to leave for the same reason almost all teachers who decide to move on from ASK after their contract ends, purely due to some of the challenges of living in Kuwait. It is not the most exciting country to live in. I think for a teaching couple, especially with kids, it is ideal. You will be able to save, and your children will be able to attend a school with great teachers and a very diverse student body. If you take advantage of long weekends, and breaks, you can see visit a lot of countries. In one year, I traveled to Bahrain, Oman twice, Qatar, Jordan, Dubai and others managed to do likewise while also fitting in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Beirut, Cyprus, Europe, etc. One group flew to Iran and had a great time.
- Well, many teachers leave before their contract ends, because they get fired or just pull a runner. We’d argue that many of the teachers who complete their contract leave because they are not happy with the school.
- Inexpensive travel to other countries in the region is an exceptional reason to consider a position in Kuwait.
As for salary, there are schools that pay more than the American School of Kuwait in the country. There is a reason. Student behavior and poor admin support. There were teachers who transferred to ASK and took a pay cut just to work with better students and for the reputation; they repeatedly mentioned it was well worth it. It is very easy to tutor on the side to make excellent money anyhow. If I was married with kids I was go back in a second.
- The tendency of teachers moving schools but staying in Kuwait has lately been teachers leaving ASK to work at AUS…
- See all of our articles regarding salary at ASK. This reviewer left several years ago, so it should be pointed out that there are now schools that offer a better education than ASK and pay more, as well.
- ASK has had several issues with child protection, including multiple teachers fired in the last few years after complaints of inappropriate conduct and a current faculty member who is known for hitting children and calling them vulgar/profane names. Opinion: If we had kids, we would not want them educated at ASK.
On a final note, some teachers make the wise decision to pay for a membership to the Hilton which is close. It is pricey; however, they have a nice beach, swimming pools, great gym, sauna, enormous Turkish bath, etc. Some incorporated it into their weekly routine and it would have made my weekends more enjoyable.
- The Hilton membership provides access to a gym and a pool, which ASK already has. Why do people spend thousands of US dollars to join the Hilton to get things that ASK says they already provide for free? That said, we hear that the Hilton is nice and some people really do enjoy it. Others tell us it is the only thing that kept them sane.