Category: Reviews


Updates as of July 10

Ahhhhh… vacation. Readership is averaging about 40-60 views per day.

In other news, it seems that the American School of Kuwait is receiving generally good news regarding Advanced Placement (AP) test results, which are now out. Congratulations to the students and teachers who worked so hard.

Finally, a friendly reminder that it is free to submit a review of a school on International Schools Review. You do not have to have an account and all submissions are anonymous. Doing so is a professional courtesy to other teachers to let them know both the positive and negatives of a school in which you have experience. You can post reviews for your administrators separately from a school review, as well. We have at least one more review posted recently which we are preparing to summarize in the coming weeks. Keep enjoying summer and we’ll try to have some updates every once in a while for you.


Minister of Education on Private Tutoring

An excerpt from the Kuwait Times:

Minister of Education and Minister Higher Education Dr Hamed Al-Azmi said that private tuition was phenomenally spreading amongst student in all stages. Responding to a parliamentary inquiry made by MP Essa Al-Kandari, Azmi admitted that some teachers do not exert enough efforts in teaching their students and instead promote private tuitions…

Read the full article here.


New ISR Review

Checking ISR reviews for the American School of Kuwait reveals that a few new ISR reviews have posted for Michael Murphy. Michael was previously the High School Principal, though he is scheduled to move into a new role next year. We have one of the reviews below:

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 14.05.42

Some additional comments were left:

Mike is a good ‘ol average guy that, at an expedient pace, has found himself in assistant principal, principal, and apparently soon, superintendent positions. Rather than distinguished professional performance, I believe the uncanny situation is an indication of American School of Kuwait’s desperation to stay alive. Mike’s leadership does improves with each passing year of experience. He seems most comfortable fraternizing with students and I find is awkwardly cold with his faculty. In my opinion, engaging authentically with faculty with authenticity and genuinely nurturing staff morale is his kryptonite. But I think, for ASK to stay afloat, the school will need a proper credentialed, experienced superintendent to intervene and save the day.

We find it interesting that the reviewer only gave one “Good” check, and that was for strong ability to relate to kids. The reviewer then went on to describe this as a weakness in their comments. We’ll post some other administrator reviews, both old and new, over the course of the next few weeks.


International Schools Review

International Schools Review (ISR) is an invaluable resource. We have previously previewed some of their articles (link), but we have had many teachers contact us to ask what we thought of particular reviews – either general reviews or reviews or particular administrators. Some administrators have more reviews than others. We at the American School of Kuwait Reviews feel like ISR is a much more valuable resource when a large number of reviews are available from multiple viewpoints, showing both positive and negative aspects of a school or administrator.

We want to take this time to encourage all teachers that are leaving ASK to complete a review. Rather than leaving a school review first, though, we ask you to first leave reviews of your administrators. We ask this because many administrators lack a significant number of reviews.

Posting to ISR is free.

Posting to ISR does not require that you sign up for an account.

You can submit a director-level review to ISR here.

You ca submit a review of other administrators here.

You can submit a school review to ISR here.

The image below shows the current state of administrator reviews:

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 19.26.40

Let’s show a breakdown only with current administrators. We will break down the reviews into groups. First, the school-wide superintendent and director positions:


Title # of Reviews

Wael Abdul Ghafoor

Chairman and CEO 1

Becky Ness

Superintendent 0

Scott Dennison

Superintendent of Learning


Phillip Parkinson Activities and Athletics Director


Abhay Dhanak Director of Technology


It seems incredible that the Superintendent of the school has no reviews. Now, let’s move on to the high school:


Title # of Reviews

Michael Murphy

High School Principal


Monique Livesy

High School Assistant Principal 0
Justin Hazel High School Assistant Principal


The assistant principals are both in their first year, so we expect to see some reviews show up soon. Michael Murphy has been in his position for a few years now, though, so we encourage past faculty and current faculty that are leaving this year to leave a review. Now, we move on to the middle school:


Title # of Reviews

Nancy Abdul Ghafor

Middle School Principal 1
Tim Allen Middle School Assistant Principal


Note – we spelled the names using the spelling from ISR – we are not sure that they are correct. The middle school administration has also been around awhile, so we hope past and current faculty will leave reviews. Remember, many people only leave reviews when they are unhappy. For the reviews on this site to be valuable, they need to reflect all different perspectives – it is possible for these to also show someone in a positive light. This could potentially boost their prospects when they recruit in the future as well. If you asked these people to leave reviews for you, then it is basically a professional courtesy to do the same for them. Let’s move on to the elementary school:


Title # of Reviews

Steve Caley

Elementary School Principal 1
Pauline Roberts Elementary School Assistant Principal


Ana Allen

Elementary School Assistant Principal


The elementary school principal has been around quite awhile, occupying a director level position that no longer exists before he became principal, so it is quite surprising to see that he only has one review.

In summary, we implore you to leave reviews of all of your administrators, whether the review be positive, negative, or mixed. We also hope that you will leave a full review of the school. Remember that the school is currently recruiting for about 6 teaching positions, so your timely reviews could possibly influence whether someone can make an informed decision about accepting a contract at ASK.

This is our last big post before summer vacation. We do not intend to post during the summer unless we receive news that is substantial enough to warrant doing so. We will post a few smaller pieces tomorrow to celebrate the last day of school and then the freedom flight (Qantas – Going Places Together – as long as those places aren’t an extended stopover in Europe). We look forward to posting much more when the 2018-2019 school year commences. In the meantime, we hope that all of you have a relaxing, and enjoyable summer.


Absentee Leadership

We came across an article from the Harvard Business Review discussing incompetent leadership. It included a segment on absentee leadership. With administrators that never seem to step into classrooms, even when they are supposed to for formal observations, and a superintendent who isn’t even at the school for half of the year, it seemed appropriate to include the article here.

Below is an excerpt, followed by a link to the full article:

Absentee leadership rarely comes up in today’s leadership or business literature, but research shows that it is the most common form of incompetent leadership.

Absentee leaders are people in leadership roles who are psychologically absent from them. They were promoted into management, and enjoy the privileges and rewards of a leadership role, but avoid meaningful involvement with their teams. Absentee leadership resembles the concept of rent-seeking in economics — taking value out of an organization without putting value in. As such, they represent a special case of laissez-faire leadership, but one that is distinguished by its destructiveness.

Having a boss who lets you do as you please may sound ideal, especially if you are being bullied and micromanaged by your current boss. However, a 2015 survey of 1,000 working adults showed that eight of the top nine complaints about leaders concerned behaviors that were absent; employees were most concerned about what their bosses didn’t do. Clearly, from the employee’s perspective, absentee leadership is a significant problem, and it is even more troublesome than other, more overt forms of bad leadership.

Research shows that being ignored by one’s boss is more alienating than being treated poorly. The impact of absentee leadership on job satisfaction outlasts the impact of both constructive and overtly destructive forms of leadership. Constructive leadership immediately improves job satisfaction, but the effects dwindle quickly. Destructive leadership immediately degrades job satisfaction, but the effects dissipate after about six months. In contrast, the impact of absentee leadership takes longer to appear, but it degrades subordinates’ job satisfaction for at least two years. It also is related to a number of other negative outcomes for employees, like role ambiguityhealth complaints, and increased bullying from team members. Absentee leadership creates employee stress, which can lead to poor employee health outcomes and talent drain, which then impact an organization’s bottom line.

If absentee leadership is so destructive, why don’t we read more about it in the business literature? Consider a story I recently heard about the dean of a well-known law school: Two senior, well-regarded faculty members called the provost to complain about their dean because, they said, he wouldn’t do anything. The provost responded by saying that he had a dean who was a drunk, a dean who was accused of sexual harassment, and a dean who was accused of misusing funds, but the law school dean never caused him any problems. So, the provost said, the faculty members would just have to deal with their dean.

Like the provost in this example, many organizations don’t confront absentee leaders because they have other managers whose behavior is more overtly destructive. Because absentee leaders don’t actively make trouble, their negative impact on organizations can be difficult to detect, and when it is detected, it often is considered a low-priority problem. Thus, absentee leaders are often silent organization killers. Left unchecked, absentee leaders clog an organization’s succession arteries, blocking potentially more effective people from moving into important roles while adding little to productivity. Absentee leaders rarely engage in unforgivable bouts of bad behavior, and are rarely the subject of ethics investigations resulting from employee hotline calls. As a result, their negative effect on organizations accumulates over time, largely unchecked.

You can read the full article by clicking here.


Teachers Leaving ASK (updated 30-May)

This post is a running record of teachers leaving ASK. As we get new and updated information, we will make changes to this page.

High school

  • 18 teachers are departing ASK from the high school.
  • There are 47 teachers (not counting the Arabic/Religion department), so this is a turnover of 38%.

Middle School

  • 5 teachers are departing ASK from the middle school.
  • We have received word that there are 8 faculty members leaving the middle school (including 1 administrator and 7 teachers).
  • We were also told that 3 teachers are transferring, but we would like to note that we are not tracking teachers that are transferring within ASK, only teachers that are totally leaving the school. While a teacher transferring does create another position for which to hire, it also fills a position elsewhere.
  • There are 27 teachers (maybe 26, but we will use 27 for now) (non Arabic/Religion) in the middle school, so this is a turnover of 26%.

Elementary School

  • 22 teachers are departing ASK from the elementary school. We can confirm 63 (non Arabic/Religion) teachers in the elementary school, so this is a turnover of 35%.


  • 45 47 teachers are leaving ASK. (wow)
  • Wikipedia reports 183 total faculty, so this is a turnover of 25%, which is quite large. We will work to confirm the 183 number, and also to break this down versus local and foreign hire faculty as we update this page.
  • We now have the numbers of faculty, not including Arabic/Religion faculty, for each school and can more accurately reflect the total turnover rate for foreign-hire teachers. Out of 137 teachers, there are 47 leaving, which is a turnover of 34.3%


Note: We are not including Arabic or Religion teachers in our numbers. This is because these teachers report to different administrators and generally are structured totally differently from all of the other teachers at the school. The Arabic and Religion faculty stand apart from the other teachers at the school in many statistically significant ways – the biggest being that none of them are on a foreign-hire contract (that we know of). Each level of the school (elementary, middle, and high) has a different relationship between the Arabic/Religion faculty and the other faculty, and we currently don’t know how to adequately explain these relationships while reporting data.


This post addresses the following parts of our mission statement and beliefs:

  • Educate the ASK community about current events at the school.